How to Build Affordable, Professional Looking Acoustic Sound Treatment Panels – Part 1

Building Acoustic Treatment Wall Panels

KRK DIY acoustic panels finalJimmy from KRK here, and I wanted to share my experience of building my own sound panels for a home studio.  I built wall panels, corner traps, and an overhead-cloud which will be shared on three separate articles—this article is strictly about building wall panels.  KRK pioneered the home recording revolution and it is no secret that many recent hit songs have been either partially or completely recorded and mixed in a home or project studio.  Whether you are in a basement, a bedroom, or a living room, acoustic treatment will go a long way for your final production results.  Many overlook the importance of sound treatment after spending a lot of money on high-end recording gear.  Quality recording gear such as a pair of KRK Monitors is certainly important, but it is also important to keep in mind that good gear magnifies the sonic environment for better or for worse.  Sound treatment panels help shape these scenarios for more professional results.

Acoustic treatment wall panels are very important for a few reasons:

  1. They absorb the first sound reflections from the speakers so that the frequency waves are dampened and tamed.
  2. In general, they absorb the sound in the room to control echo and reverberation. For modern music creators this is essential because many people track vocals and instruments in the same room as the mix position.

20200427_172238_HDRFor truly professional results, it is essential to have a controlled environment for tracking, mixing and mastering.  For those on a budget and space-constraints, it is difficult to create a perfect listening environment unless you are building a room from scratch (floating room, sound proofing inside the walls, etc.,) but it is possible to greatly improve your surroundings for successful professional results.  A smart way to look at it is to figure out what it is you are trying to accomplish before you purchase or build anything.  Some of the important questions to ask are:

  • How much can I afford to put into the project?
    • (I wanted to keep my costs as low as possible.)
  • Is it important for the place to look professional?
    • (I wanted to room to look as professional as possible.)
  • Will a room with a “vibe” make you or whoever is using the room feel more creative?
    • (I wanted a great vibe to the room.)
  • What are the basic sonic elements and trouble-spots in the room?
    • (I have an uneven 13.5-foot x 11-foot room with low ceilings which creates a lot of bass problems.)
  • Will the room be used for mixing, recording, mastering, or for everything?
    • (I will be using the room for mixing, recording (including vocals and acoustic instruments), and some mastering depending on the project.)
  • What genre of music will the room be used for (i.e. Hip-hop with a lot of low end, Jazz, Rock, EDM, etc.)
    • (I will be using this room for many genres of music.)

In this article, by taking all those questions into consideration, I came up with a game plan to build my own acoustic treatment for the room.

Before I go into any detail, I would like to mention that I am not a professional carpenter, and these are not direct instructions on “how to” build acoustic panels.  In this article I show how I built my sound panels—and if you attempt to build your own you are responsible for how you use this information to build and install them on your own, and at your own risk.  You are responsible for how you use this information.  I am also not claiming in any way to be an expert on this matter.  I simply did some research, talked to a lot of trusted friends, used my past studio experience, and then built the panels in my own way.  Also, I used some basic power tools and hand tools that I will recommend, so if you are uncomfortable using tools please seek help from a professional – thanks!

(Click on any of the images below for a larger image.)

KRK DIY ACOUSTIC PANELSFor my room I measured the walls and decided that I would place eight (8) 4-foot x 2-foot x 4-inch panels strategically hanging around the perimeter.  From research and talking to those who have built panels, I decided that these panels would not go flush against the wall but rather would sit 1.5-inches away from the wall.  This creates an air gap that allows the panel to absorb sound from both sides which in turn creates greater sound absorption.  Later in this article I will explain how I accomplished this feature.

After pricing out the insulation, I decided to go with a mix of Owens Corning 703 (I actually used Knauf which is the same specs just more organic) and Rockwool sheets both being 4-foot x 2-foot x 4-inch (I had to double up the Knauf as it came in 2-inch thick sheets.)  From what I understand they are very similar in nature but the Knauf and OC703 are more expensive.

Here are estimated costs for building one panel:

  • Roxul 4-inch thick Mineral Wool 4-foot x 2-foot sheet, Cost:  $14.50
  • (2)  8-foot x 3-inch x ¾-inch Furring strips (wood) from Home Depot, Cost:  $2.75 (for the exterior frame)
  • (2)  6-foot x 4-inch x ¾-inch Pine, Cost: $11.13 (for the box-frame)
  • Fabric – CASTIELLE ACOUSTIC SUEDE FABRIC BY THE YARD, Cost: $6.50 (1 panel)
  • Wrapping for back of panel- Home Depot paper-throw tarp, Cost: $1:75 (1 panel)
  • Screws for assembling the box and frame, Cost:  $.72
  • Screws for mounting the panels to the wall, Cost: $.10
  • 3/8 Staples, Cost:  $.35
  • Polyurethane/Stain, Cost:  $.95

Tools Used:

  • Sandpaper (I used a motorized sander which was easier)
  • Electric Power Miter Saw (you can very easily achieve the same cuts with a hand saw)
  • Pro grade staple gun (not electric)
  • Staples (“T50 3/8th” 10mm Heavy Duty made by Arrow)
  • All-in-one polyurethane/stain and a brush
  • Stud-finder
  • Philips head screwdriver (I used a power driver, but a regular screwdriver will work fine)
  • Knee pads
  • Protective rubber work gloves, eye protection, and a breathing mask

BUILD THE BOX-FRAME – MEASURE AND CUT THE WOOD:  There are basically two components to the frame on these: The box-frame that houses the insulation, and the external frame that goes over the box to make it look nice.  For the box-frame, I first took each 6-foot board and cut them down so that there were two (2) 4-foot pieces, and two (2) 2-foot pieces.

KRK DIY Acoustic-Panels-sandingSAND THE EDGES: Using a power sander (you can easily accomplish the same task with sandpaper) I sanded down all the edges of each piece and made sure there were no splintering ends popping up.  So now I had 4 sanded pieces of wood to work with.

 

KRK DIY screw-frame-box-1BUILD THE FRAME BY SCREWING TOGETHER THE PIECES:  This can get a bit tricky if you are working alone.  Joining the first 2 pieces of wood are the hardest.  The ends of a long piece and a short piece are joined with the short piece on top.  Using a table as a sawhorse to stabilize the pieces since I am workingKRK DIY screw-frame-box-21 alone, I lined up the pieces and drove the first screw in so that it went through the top end of the short piece into the end edge of the long piece.  I drove the screw in very slowly and carefully to minimize the chance of splitting the wood.  The second screw was then driven into the other end of the corner. KRK DIY Acoustic-panels-finished-frame-boxOnce the two screws were in, I then worked my way around the perimeter of the frame until the box was built.  The most important thing to remember here is to make sure the screws are put in straight, and to try to drive the screws down the middle of the long pieces.

BUILD THE EXTERIOR FRAME – MEASURE AND CUT THE WOOD (FURRING STRIPS):  The exterior frame is what makes these panels look professional.  To accomplish this, KRK DIY acoustic-panels-attach-frames-2first I exactly measured the inside perimeter of the box-frame so that I knew how to cut the exterior frame.  The exterior frame goes over the box-frame, so it overlaps—meaning that the inside perimeter of the exterior frame is smaller than the inside perimeter of the box-frame.  This helps to keep the insulation in place and makes it easier to staple in the fabric – it also covers up the box-frame.  So, with my inside perimeter of the box-frame being 48-inches x 22.5-inches, I measured out the furring strips and made my 45 degree angle cuts so that the inside perimeter of the furring strips were 46.5-inches x 21-inches.  This created an overlapping boarder over the box-frame to keep in the insulation and fabric.

SAND THE EDGES:  I then sanded the edges of the furring strips with a power sander so that there were no rough edges to be found.

KRK DIY Acoustic-panels-staple-exterior-frameASSEMBLE THE EXTERIOR FRAME:  I inspected the wood and identified the best sides.  These furring strips are so cheap that you must check out each piece to make sure they are visually suitable, and usually one side is better than the other.  Next, I laid out all 4 pieces on the ground upside down so that the staples that join the pieces are not on the visible side.  Starting in one corner, I then began to staple the pieces together until the frame was one rectangular piece.

KRK DIY acoustic-panels-attach-frames-3ATTACH THE EXTERIOR FRAME TO THE BOX-FRAME:  The biggest thing to remember here is that the exterior frame is not very stable until it is screwed into the box-frame.  So, knowing this I carefully lifted the exterior frame in one motion, flipped it over and placed it on top of the box frame.  Starting at one of the 2-foot ends, I visually lined up the frame so that it was evenly placed on the box-frame.   This is not too important because you can manipulate how it sits as you start to screw it down.  I then took a screw (the same screws as the other step) and in one corner, carefully screwed through the top of the exterior frame into the edge of the box-frame.

KRK DIY acoustic-panels-attach-frames-5This can be tricky as you must make sure you are aligning the screw correctly so that it hits the middle of the box-frame edge.  The best way to do this is to move to the opposite corner and then align and drive another screw.   Continue onto the other end and manipulate the exterior frame so that it lines up straight.   Once you have 4 screws in the corners and the exterior frame is straight and aligned properly over the box-frame, continue to drive 4 more screws into the opposite edges and then more screws in the middle of the frame for stability.

KRK DIY PANELS STAINSTAIN AND POLYURETHANE THE FRAME:  After the frame was assembled, I used an all-in-one polyurethane/stain to finish the panel.  You can also paint the frame, but either way make sure that you allow it to dry so that you do not ruin the fabric when you go to the next step.

 

KRK DIY ACOUSTIC PANELS STAPLESTAPLE IN THE FABRIC:  After the frame dried, I turned it upside down and stapled in the fabric.  It is important to note that the fabric is being stapled to the underneath-overlay of the exterior frame.  The best way to do this is to start in one corner and work your way down the long side laying in staples about every 5 inches or so.   The corners are the most KRK DIY Acoustic-Panels-Frame-overlayimportant thing to consider.  Next lay in staples on a short side and continue along the other long side.  You need to get a feel for it, but you want to gently pull the fabric as tight as possible without ripping it out from the other side.   You want to pull the fabric toward you and away from each last staple you laid in.  Leaving one short side un-stapled, I then went back between the 5-inch staples on each long side and laid in more staples pulling the fabric tighter.  Finally, I went to the last short side and laid in staples to pull the fabric as tight as possible.  It is helpful at this point to double check the corners to make sure they are covered and tight.KRK DIY ACOUSTIC PANELS FABRIC

LAY IN THE INSULATION:  Wearing protective gloves, KRK DIY Acoustic-Panels-insulationa long sleeve shirt and a low-grade breathing mask, I handled the insulation carefully and laid it into the upside-down frame.  I then stapled the insulation to the box-frame around the perimeter, but did not go overboard on this step.

 

KRK DIY ACOUSTIC PANELS WRAPWRAP AND STAPLE THE BACK OF THE PANEL WITH PAPER/POLY DROP CLOTH OR WRAP COMPLETELY IN FABRIC:  As I stated before, I was going for a “cost-effective” approach here with my whole room.  One of the ways I saved money was by covering the back of the panels with the above noted cloth, opposed to wrapping each panel completely in the acoustic KRK DIY Acoustic-panels-wrap-backfabric.   I think wrapping the insulation completely in fabric is much easier and probably a much better all-around solution, but in my case, I was trying to save some money.  I achieved this by just sealing the back off with the cloth and staples.  I went around the perimeter of the frame over the insulation, and then I folded the cloth back over so that it was double wrapped.

 

INSTALLING THE PANELS TO THE WALLS:  After many considerations, I came up with a unique and inexpensive way to get these panels up on the walls using 4 short screws and 1 long screw—this created that air-gap which creates even better sound absorption.  Since the wood I used was so inexpensive, it was also very light which helped with the installation.

KRK DIY ACOUSTIC PANELS BACKUsing the same screws to assemble the frames, I drove in a screw in the back of each corner so that there was 1.5-inches from the head of the screw to the frame.  Once hung, this created the “air-gap” between the panel and the wall that I was talking about earlier in this article.

Next, I found the first points of reflection on each wall and determined where to place the first two (left-wall and right-wall) panels (search: “acoustic panel mirror trick” for help with placement).  Once I determined this, I then used a stud-finder to see if I could utilize a wall-stud to drive the holding screw in.  On one wall I got lucky and on another I was forced to use a heavy-duty wall anchor.

KRK DIY PANELS WALL SCREWOn the wall, I made a mark roughly where the speaker cone hits and then I made two more marks roughly where the top and bottom of the panel would be centered vertically considering the cone height.  Referencing by eye, I then drove a long 6-inch screw into the wall so that roughly 3-inches were exposed.  I then simply hung the panel on that screw and the 1.5-inch screws rest against the wall to create the gap.  In my case, nothing brushes up against these panels, but you may want to come up with a more secure installation method if there will be a lot of activity around the panels.

KRK DIY acoustic-wall-panels-installation-3The result is 8 professional-looking custom panels floating off the walls.  The difference in the sound control of the room is astonishing and the look is very professional.  The clarity and control I now have from my productions are accurate and inspirational, especially knowing that what I am hearing will translate correctly though other listening environments and devices.KRK DIY acoustic panels final 2

Next month I will focus on Part 2–corner trap panels.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and please post questions and comments below.

What Makes the ROKIT G4 Different From Every Other Studio Monitor in its Class (and beyond…)?

The ROKIT G4 Difference

rokit g4 what makes them differentNot too long ago, we released the new generation 4 (G4) of the ROKIT professional studio monitors.  Over the years many monitors have come and gone, but the ROKIT legacy is unlike any other studio monitor and surely you have seen the iconic yellow cones everywhere.  Some have even contended that the ROKIT monitors are to home recording, to what the old NS-10s were to professional studios back in the day.

The Hit FactoryFast-forward to 2020, and it’s no secret that most of those big-player recording studios have closed due to the fact that musicians and songwriters can record professionally on their own.  There will always be a need for large-scale/hi-end awesome studios such as The Hit Factory in New York City (who utilize ROKIT G4 7” monitors for reference speakers among others), but even most productions out of those studios have some tracks recorded at home.

So what has made the ROKIT G4 monitors earn so much critical acclaim? What sets them apart from other affordable studio monitors? Here are 5 important elements of the ROKIT G4 that completely set them apart from any other monitor in their price range and beyond.

BUILD-QUALITY AND COMPONENTS

Rokit 7 2 for cutsheetFirst and foremost, the ROKIT G4 monitors are new from the ground up.  These monitors were not “built on” a previous monitor line, and have all new components.  Behind those components are painstaking years of research and development in order to make an affordable monitor that can compete with others way beyond their price range.  For example, the drivers are made with a top-quality rigid aramid fiber found in monitors far beyond the ROKIT G4 price tag.  This material is used in both the woofer and the tweeter so that the frequency reproduction is accurate and balanced throughout the whole frequency range.

inside monitorAlso, the custom cabinet itself was designed at our lab in the USA in a way so that all the parts on the inside work together in harmony to reproduce the most accurate sound.  This is important because every small part to a monitor can make it sound different—we used science to make sure the physical parts and location-layout all worked together to correctly aid the voicing of the monitors.

LCD DISPLAY

RRokit-5-back plug 2OKIT G4 is the only monitor in its class with an LCD display which helps the user understand the chosen EQ and frequency response.  There are also other preferences and options that can easily be utilized on the LCD making it a super user-friendly experience.  The tactile selection knob dials through the presets and options and has a “push to select” feature which makes it simple to navigate.  This LCD directly ties into the next feature of built-in room acclimation and tuning.

BUILT-IN ROOM ACCLIMATION WITH 25 EQ PRESETS GUIDED BY AN APP

No other monitor even close to the price class of the ROKIT G4 works with an app.  The KRK Audio Tools app is a free (and ad-free) app available on the iOS and Android stores and houses 6 useful audio tools helping to setup any studio space.  Five of those tools work with any monitor of any manufacturer, and one tool is specific to ROKIT G4.  For any monitoring system, these tools include Spectrum Real Time Analyzer, Level Meter, Monitor Align, Delay Distance, and Polarity.  Specific to the ROKIT G4 monitor is the EQ Recommendation Tool.

App with ROKITThis EQ Recommendation tool is really what separates the ROKIT G4 from any other monitor on the market.  Simply stated, the KRK Audio Tools app sends pink noise through the monitors and analyzes it along with the rooms physical environment.  After this cycle, the app will recommend the best EQ preset on the ROKIT G4 getting the user to a “flatter” working environment.  Why is this important? Because when you are “mixing” music you want the most accurate representation from the monitors so that you can make precise mixing decisions.

Think about it this way: when mixing, if you hear too much low-end from your monitors you will pull those frequencies back—this is a “mix decision.”  If the abundance of those frequencies was falsely created from your monitors (inaccurate monitors), your final mix will now lack low-end.  It’s a story that happens over and over again—it sounds great in your studio, but then on other systems it sounds completely different.  This result is most likely because your “mix decisions” were not based on monitors with an accurate frequency response.  ROKIT G4 monitors were made to fix this problem by adjusting to different environments, resulting in flatter frequency responses.

Rokit-5 LCD PngOne more advantage on having the built-in EQ is the option of diversity between “creating” and “mixing.”  Sometimes when we create music in different genres, we want to feel more energy from our environment.  The older ROKIT generations where known for this “vibe” and really gave the creator some thump on the low and low-mid frequencies.  That “thump” can still be obtained with the ROKIT G4 by adjusting the EQ settings to your taste, so you have the best of both worlds between music creation and music mixing.

ISOLATION PADS, LIMITER AND CLASS D AMPLIFICATION

KRK ROKIT G4 ISOPADROKIT G4 monitors have high-density isolation pads on the bottom which help decouple them from the surface they are on.  This helps with frequency definition and a more focused sweet-spot.  They also have an on-board limiter working with the power amp in an unobtrusive manor which kicks in only when the system has hit its limit.  This has two benefits: to protect the system from damaging the drivers, and to also give you clear consistent sound reproduction at very high volumes (SPL).  In testing KRK ROKIT G4 with other monitors in its price class you will find the competitors either greatly distorting or even shutting down altogether with possible damage.

PROTECTIVE GRILLES AND COLOR OPTIONS

Woofer_Rockit_8ANo other monitors in the ROKIT price class offer an option for protection.  You put a lot of time and effort into your music, and KRK ROKIT G4 Studio Monitors are an investment into that dedication.  Fortunately, you can protect them with the new stylish ROKIT G4 Grille Covers made specifically for RP5G4 (5”), RP7G4 (7”) and RP8G4 (8”).  These grilles are made with premium components and built to spec insuring a seamless integration into the monitor’s cabinetry system itself.  The form factor of these stylish monitor accessories have been tested not only for solid protection against all elements, but also to ensure that no frequencies are hindered by their use.  Durably crafted perforated steel is the defense mechanism in place from anything getting between the monitor’s drivers and your environment.  Whether you’re a producer on the move creating tracks in different places, a touring DJ, or in need of protection against whatever alien-intruders you fight off in your studio, ROKIT G4 Grille Covers will have you protected.

KRK ROKIT G4 5″ 7″ AND 8″ are also available in the stunning “White Noise”

Sales sheet shot crop-2

Click here more information on ROKIT G4

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How Songwriter-Producer Gabe Simon Approaches His Craft with Artists from Dua Lipa to Fever 333

Gabe Simon KRK 1Just like KRK Systems, ROKIT G4 user Gabe Simon is Behind Great Music as an all-in-one songwriter/producer/musician.  He began his career while in college, writing for and fronting the indie-rock band Kopecky which had great and widespread critical acclaim and Alternative Radio success for the 2012 release of “Kids Raising Kids” via ATO Records and the 2015 sophomore release of “Drug For The Modern Age.”  Since then, Gabe has been busy producing and writing songs for numerous projects including Dua Lipa, Wilder Woods, Jai Wolf, American Authors, Adam Lambert, Coin, and Fever 333 to name a few.  Gabe is currently working with Grandson, MXMTOON, Miya Follick, Whethan, Lovely the Band, and Grizfolk.

We are fortunate to have Gabe as a “KRK Blog-takeover Artist” who has shared his songwriting approach and perspectives with us through his unique world:

As a producer/artist/creator, I spend about half my time co-writing. Before Covid-19 2020 I brought people into my home to collaborate 3-4 times a week. And now, with Zoom and plug-ins like Audiomovers, I’m collaborating probably 2-3 times a week.

Gabe Simon KRK 11I think people have trouble getting into co-writing because they think it’s scary to work out great/shitty/weird ideas in front of people.  Or they think it reflects on their creativity in some negative light.  But music is collaborative by nature.  Playing guitar in your room is just playing guitar, but bring a friend over on drums and it becomes music.  A great idea can happen in a split-second flash and if you’re not paying close attention, the moment will slip by without anyone noticing.

I’m terrible with this—I have a horrible memory and half the time I forget to hit record on my iPhone to capture the 30-seconds that happened over a 3-hour period of coffee and cigarettes with another songwriter, so I started tracking the entirety of my sessions.  I don’t like when people feel like they are being recorded, (even though, ironically, that’s what we are there to do). People have a tendency to change once they know they’re on tape.  So now, I’ll usually turn on my piano mics (a pair of Electro Voice 635As), and they pick up conversation incredibly well.

As a co-writer, you have to be spontaneous.  Sometimes the moment is perfect, so we just have to record it where it is.  I operate a studio that’s ready to go at any second, so usually I can throw a mic on the guitar (87 or 414c) and cut a vocal (SM7 or 87) in 30 minutes – then I’ll dive into production to keep the moment going.

Gabe Simon KRK 3I find co-writing is all about scene changes. The idea that sparked the excitement might come from a guitar and vocal, but the concept for verse two starts with an 808 or Mellotron line, so I want to be ready to run.  I understand this isn’t feasible for everybody, but the more you can streamline your set up, the better.  It helps you get out of the way and allows the music to happen.

I started producing for this very reason.  I was sick of walking into rooms and running faster than the producer.  I thought the pace killed the vibe because they always seemed caught off guard when we needed to hit record, so I started producing and creating in a way that focused on the moment. Thankfully, artists and writers love the efficiency and excitement of this creative process.  It’s not original, but I do it my way.

Gabe Simon KRK 12But it all comes back to the moment when the universe aligns, all existence is at peace, and the greatest song idea ever is born.  That moment usually happens when you’re dropping the kids off at school, or cowering in a coffee shop, or out of breath on a treadmill, but the co-writing session begins before the co-writing session.  It doesn’t matter what the style is: trap, hip hop, rock, alt, pop, bedroom, electronic, or just plain old piano vocal – but come into the room prepared with something.

By nature, I’m a melody guy.  I hear things and then I sing them in an unintelligible language.  I do that over and over again until the chants of some lost tribal language turn into lines like “you can bury every hatchet, but you can’t bury the past.”  It’s my process—it’s bizarre, but I like it.  My wife hates it and my kids don’t get it, but it’s my thing.  Do your thing!

Gabe Simon KRK 7Some of my best ideas come from this process.  I have over 10,000 voice memos on my phone and only around 20 are worth a replay.  Or at least that’s what I think… Sometimes I send one of those other 9,980 ideas to my manager or publisher who say, “You know, this song ‘New Recording 5938’ is kinda dope”.  That’s the best and worst part about managers and publishers; they make you question everything.  Sometimes you send what you think is the best idea ever – I mean “Let It Be” on MDMA – and get a… “Meh”.

But I love that questioning.  It Keeps me on my toes—makes me work harder.  Also, I only trust a few people, and I really trust them.  And my own instincts.  And if my wife hates it, it’s a hit.

If a song gets an A+ in all those categories, we are doing great.  I want my team to love it, because if they love it they can pitch it and help it find a home.

Sometimes my team doesn’t like a song.  If they don’t think it’s a hit and I do, I’ll go pitch it.  There was a song that I pitched in an A&R’s office and I told them the story, and why it was great, and then I left.  The next day I got a call saying, “So-and-so wants to cut it.”  Your career in music only works as hard as you work.  This same rule applies to your team.

Gabe Simon KRK 9My publishers (Pulse) are badasses.  Not only do they make sure songs are registered properly with ASCAP (or whichever Performing Rights Organization you like), they do all the yucky split stuff.  It’s usually easy: 3 people in the room, let’s split three ways.  But sometimes, you got a dude who has a dude, and they brought in their mom, and her sister adds a snare on the last verse, and the artist wants 25%.  Suddenly, you’re only getting 5%… so you need a publisher and a manager who fight for every piece.

You gotta knock on doors if you believe in something.  I call people all the time.  “What’s exciting? Who’s looking? When can I get them in the studio?”  I don’t think it should be intimidating.  It’s music, not life and death.  And the people in this business all want the same thing you do: the moment. Where they get to be a part of building something – to hear that hit before anyone else – to dream things that 3 minutes ago didn’t even cross their minds.

Gabe Simon KRK 4

“Go.  Be reckless.  Be smart!  Create in bizarre ways.  Be prepared for the unknown.  Make dope shit and they will come.”

~ Gabe Simon

 

Gabe Simon uses KRK Monitors, Epiphone and Gibson guitars.

More Info:

KRK ROKIT MONITORS
EPIPHONE GUITARS
GIBSON GUITARS
Gabe Simon Twitter @callmemrgabriel
Gabe Simon Facebook @MRGABRIELMUSIC
Gabe Simon Instagram @callmemrgabriel

Advice from American Idol Top-10 Finalist and KRK User Dennis Lorenzo on Being a Modern Music Creator

KRK ROKIT G4 user Dennis Lorenzo is an inspiring and accomplished modern singer/songwriter/musician whose story is unlike most.  Growing up in PA, he turned some adverse situations into positive outcomes through optimism and music, eventually landing himself on American Idol as a Season 16 Top-10 contender.  We are fortunate to have Dennis as a “KRK Blog-takeover Artist” who has shared his American Idol story with us through his eyes:

Dennis Lorenzo
#LiveLoveLorenzo

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 5a

Being a modern music creator these days is dynamic!  Not only am I constantly songwriting, producing and mixing at home, I also have to keep up digitally with my fans—which at times can be the perfect outlet for any artist.  In my case, it’s dope to be able to engage with people online since most of my fans aren’t able to make it to my shows.  It also gives me the opportunity to learn about people all around the world!  What’s even cooler is the story about how I gained my fans.  I’m one of the lucky ones who got through to the American Idol platform, and I figured it would be interesting to share my story on how I got there.

It all started with a phone call from a friend when my business partner and I were about a week into working on another artist’s project.  This day had been “personally challenging” for me as I was craving to start work on my own music after grinding day in and day out on someone else’s.  To get a break, I stepped outside the studio lobby to about 77 degrees of that good ol’ LA weather, which was the opposite of the humidity I’d faced in Philly.  The studio owner was outside and before he headed back in he gave me a nod and a “What up D?  – Y’all in there workin!” I’ll never forget laying down on a bench between two lion statues outside this studio, looking to the sky for 15 minutes and wondering, “man, what’s next?”  I had been grinding, working hard and doing everything right, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to the next chapter—the next level.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 9Getting back into the studio, I sat down to listen to what they’d recorded and as soon as my bro Aaron pressed play, my phone began to vibrate.  I excused myself once more to take the call and it was my friend Ranae, her tone was excited but serious.  She got straight to the point, “Hey Dennis, so this is urgent! I have a friend who is a producer at American Idol and he’s looking for talent. He asked me if I knew anyone and I immediately thought of you! This is no joke—super serious!” Before I could spit out my response, she said, “If you’re down, please send me a video of you singing and playing guitar, ASAP!” Of course, I said, “Well hell yeah I’m down—I’ll send it right over!” To that she responded, “I’m so excited for you! I’ll forward it to him when I get it, and he’ll call you today or tomorrow, so glue your phone to your hand or something!” He called me that same day and well, the rest is history…

American Idol backstage KRKLater that week I found myself standing in line with thousands of other musicians, each of us about to take on the opportunity of a lifetime.  I stood in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.  I grew up listening to a lot of rock and artists like Lionel, and not many people knew how big of a KP fan I was.  Sometime after I had first moved to LA, I went to Runyon Canyon.  Me and my bro Will overheard a tour guide from the bus yelling “And THIS is Katy Perry’s house!”  That was a big deal because again, I loved Katy Perry.  I said to myself “One day, I’m gonna meet her out here.”  What were the odds that the American Idol show would be revived, I’d get a call to audition, and that KP would be one of the judges? – good enough apparently!

DLSo there I stood, in front of three juggernauts of their respective genres. Teamed up with my broken guitar with a hole in it, I sang “Unaware” by Allen Stone, another big influence of mine. That performance got me a golden ticket and etched a new chapter in my music career. The experience was like being inserted into the thick of the music industry overnight. There were very late nights, really early mornings, euphoria, stress, and butterflies in your stomach all at once.  It was awesome!  I made it to Top 10 on the show, which was incredible to say the least.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 1A lot of people ask what my overall take away from the experience was or what did I learn, and here is what I normally say.  Firstly, if you think your career is set for life after becoming Top-10 on a show like American Idol, think again!  That’s when the real work begins:

  • Be sure to maintain/cater to the fan-base you’ve acquired and stay on top of your Social Media.
  • Create something EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if you write one song, sing and create every day.
  • Play as many shows as you can (If you have management, they’ll get you to where you need to be).
  • Some may challenge this, but don’t veer to far away from your style on the show; be who you are. Don’t be afraid to try new things, or take chances, but remember, you don’t want to experiment too much during your “opportunity of a lifetime.”  So take your chances, but don’t make every performance something different,—trust me, I know from experience.
  • This last one is very important, and it actually applies to every facet of life, remember to live in the moment.  Don’t let thoughts of winning or losing consume you.  I say this because I’ve seen it happen.  And remember this, do anything you do in moderation. So, it’s totally fine to acknowledge the fact that you will technically either win or lose, however, the moment you allow your psyche to become riddled with those thoughts, you’ve lost yourself.  There is no way to maintain your truth or yourself while those things are ruling you.  Because the truth is, the moment you get that golden ticket, you can take that win ANYWHERE.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 2There’s also one final thing I want to share with you! If you’re an artist and you’re reading this because you’re a fan of mine, or because you just want to read what some guy who almost won American Idol has to say, get a home studio setup! To those who already have one, and I know there are many, you’d be surprised how many artists don’t take that leap. So, here’s what you’ll actually need:

  • A computer (laptop or desktop/Mac or PC—it does not really matter anymore).
  • DAW (Digital Audio Workstation—there are some great free ones available now).
  • A microphone – you would be surprised how great some mics under $100 sound these days.
  • A pair of decent studio speakers – I use the KRK ROKIT G4 as they adapt to my home sound-environment with the KRK Audio Tools app.
  • A keyboard/midi controller – (not a necessity, but I highly recommend one for creating music.)
  • Mic stand.
  • Interface – this is the unit (box) that plugs into your computer and goes between your mic, guitar, keyboard, bass, etc. Again, there are some decent low-cost choices out there these days.
  • A comfortable studio chair (these are in NO way overrated 😉 ).

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 8Here’s a list of what I use: MacBook Pro, Logic and Ableton Live, Apogee Hype Mic, a pair of KRK Rokit 7 G4s  (these are really great speakers for a home studio!), Yamaha Portable Grand, Stage Stands mic stand, Audeze LCD-1 headphones, KRK KNS800 Headphones (for mix reference), Apogee Duet, and some random studio chair I found a few blocks from my house.

Dennis Lorenzo KRK ROKIT G4 6One final, final thing to note: I know how this business can be, so getting help as you navigate through is a must. With that, I hope this article was of some help to you, until next time, rock on!

First Annual Gibson Brands KRK Guitar Solo Contest at Namm 2020

Share your sound with Gibson, Epiphone and KRK at the 2020 NAMM Convention to win KRK Monitors, Headphones and an Epiphone Uptown Kat ES guitar

Gibson Epiphone KRK Guitar Solo Namm 2

KRK Systems, the leading manufacturer of home and professional studio monitors for recording and mixing, together with Epiphone and parent company, Gibson Brands, will be hosting its First Annual NAMM Guitar Solo Contest at the Gibson booth (300A) during NAMM 2020. Contestants can sign up daily at the KRK section of the Gibson booth from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

From the sign-up, ten contestants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis, and two contestants will be selected randomly, all to perform between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day. During the performances, each contestant will have 15 minutes to prepare and compete. This includes selecting their guitar and digital amp tone, taking two practice runs over the simple 30-second music composition, and finally performing live in front of NAMM-goers through a pair of KRK ROKIT G4 10-3 three-way monitors on the third and final take. All final takes will be recorded live on-site.

ETUESBMNH1_frontEach day, after the final 12 daily performances, the recordings will be judged on specific criteria (Creativity, Originality, Accuracy, and Technique) by a panel of Gibson employees and endorsed artists. One winner per day will receive a pair of KRK ROKIT G4 studio monitors, KRK KNS Headphones and other Gibson and Epiphone swag. Winners will be announced daily at 4:30 p.m. at the KRK booth and on social media. They will also be contacted by a Gibson representative who will coordinate the shipping of the daily prize. The winners do not have to be present to collect the prizes.

Following the completion of the 2020 NAMM Show, each daily winner will be entered into a final, grand prize round of the competition where one grand prize winner will be awarded a new Epiphone Uptown Kat ES guitar, along with bragging rights for the year.

How Dan Konopka of the Band OK Go is Using KRK ROKIT G4 on a New Music Platform

KRK_Dan KonopkaWith KRK, you’re not going to find a group of people more supportive or fired-up about DIY music creation.  On a daily basis, we thankfully hear from and talk to incredibly talented musicians, producers, mixing engineers and songwriters about their experiences with our gear.  Recently, we caught up with a KRK user who we truly respect in that DIY spirit; someone who will forever be ingrained in Rock & Roll history with one of the most engaging music videos ever.

If you’re a fan of great music and music videos, you certainly remember the band OK Go’s “Treadmill Video.”—it was epic.  It captured your attention immediately and it was incredibly original considering we are now at a point in time where kids eat Tide PODS® to get acceptance.  No, this was not a gimmick, this was simply a group of Rock & Roll soldiers doing something they needed to do – make a video for a great song without the support of their major label, who at the time wasn’t giving them the attention they needed. In that procedure, the guys of OK Go stumbled upon something so authentic in which we now know of today as “gone viral” and “must see.”

OK GO KRK

It was “that thing” you can’t put your finger on that makes you watch certain content repeatedly.  “We made that video completely on our own,” Dan told us while producing a new band out in Denver, CO.  “We weren’t getting what we needed from the label at the time, so we had to figure something out with what we had in front of us—we had to do something.  We didn’t ask for permission and the label basically wasn’t involved until after we uploaded it to YouTube on our own.”

KRK is very excited to have taken permanent residency in Dan’s home studio who is a principal member, drummer, producerDan Konopka KRK Rokit g4 3 and re-mixer for the GRAMMY Award-winning group.  He relies on KRK monitors, subs and headphones to produce music with his band, but most recently, he has also implemented the gear into his workflow for projects with SoundBetter, the world’s leading music production marketplace, which helps musicians around the world connect with and hire top music pros to mix release-ready songs. With KRK’s new ROKIT G4 studio monitors, 12S powered Subwoofer and KNS 8400 Headphones, Dan feels more confident than ever in the quality of his mixes.

Though the ROKITs are his current go-to monitor solution, his initial introduction to our brand was through the eight-inch model of the renowned two-way V Series (V8) Powered Reference Monitors. “I first began my search for studio monitors because I needed something that was going to sound better than my home speakers,” he says. “I’ve been using the V Series 4 V8s for many years and I have never been disappointed. When the new ROKIT G4 range was released, I knew I had to get my hands on them.”

Dan Konopka KRK ROKIT G4 2

Working on both sides of the music industry—live stages and in-studio—Dan especially knows the value of a high-quality mix; that’s why KRK’s ROKIT G4s have become a staple solution in his home studio. “These studio monitors do their job perfectly and they’re involved in everything that I do musically,” he adds. “I receive such great feedback with the ROKIT G4s.  SoundBetter clients seek professional-quality mixes that they cannot produce on their own and KRK monitors allow me to provide the most pristine mix to my clients, so I know I can meet their expectations.  The reliability and quality of the G4s is something that I’ve never seen before at this price point—it’s really amazing.”

Please visit here for more information on working with Dan Konopka on the Soundbetter.com platform.

Please visit here for information on the most innovative studio monitor line on the market.

Thanks for reading!

What Critics are Saying about ROKIT G4 Monitors

ROKIT G4At KRK, we worked hard on making sure the new ROKIT G4 studio monitors were the absolute best they could be.  We took a lot of knowledge from what we learned making the higher-end V Series 4 monitors, to reinvent a new product that delivers incredibly accurate sound reproduction for all music genres and applications.

What does this mean exactly?  It means the more accurate the music playback is in terms of frequencies, levels, depth, effects and panning, the more accurate your decisions will be in your production.  Ultimately, your final productions will sound better when played back on other systems outside of your studio.  We spent immeasurable amounts of time and energy comparing them to everything else out there on the market, and we went back to the drawing board many times to get it right.

Below are some excerpts from new ROKIT G4 reviews:


RECORDING MAGAZINE

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“The ROKIT 5″ G4 is a fantastic improvement on the well-respected ROKIT theme in every way, and proof that great-sounding small monitors do not have to break the bank.”

“The new ROKIT 5″ G4 has an improved high end that is more open and detailed that that of previous models.”

“The sound and the feel of the low end on the G4 is deep, open, and dimensional.  It is best described as less blunt than previous models, and offers more low-end detail and nuance than before, most likely due to the use of Kevlar®.”

“Overall, the new ROKIT 5″ G4 reminds me more of KRK’s V series 4 than the older ROKIT series.”

MIX MAGAZINE

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“Accurate and consistent sound quality; good value for the money; DSP-based EQ offers plenty of room-tuning options; tight-sounding bass; ROKIT 5″ G4 offers good bass response for it’s size.”

“On the 8-inch monitors, the bass sounded full but not flabby. Mids were vibrant, and the highs were plenty bright.”

“I was definitely impressed with the 5-inch and 8-inch ROKIT G4 Monitors and would have no problem using either in my studio on a regular basis.”

“KRK has raised the prices a little on each model in the series, but the speakers are still quite reasonable and are one of the better monitor values on the market.”

MUSIC CONNECTION

music-connection

“The KRK RP8 monitors (after minimal tweaks) are as close to perfect as any monitor I’ve had in the same left/right positions.  I found them to have enough low frequencies and clarity so as to be easy to mix on.  Inherent problems and flaws in recordings and mixes show up at low volume levels.  Love these!”


 

Between the matching drivers made with Kevlar®, the solid craftsmanship of the new enclosure, and the on-board DSP-driven EQ that works with the KRK Audio Tools App, we think you will hear the quality of sound immediately.  Please visit your nearest KRK dealer for a demonstration so you can hear for yourself how ROKIT G4 monitors will elevate your music productions.

DuPont™ and Kevlar® are trademarks or registered trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

 

 

 

Now Available for Android and iOS – What’s So Special About the KRK Audio Tools App?

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DOWNLOAD HERE FOR ANDROID

DOWNLOAD HERE FOR iOS

The new KRK Audio Tools app will help anyone setup their studio for better mixing decisions!  We are excited to announce that the free KRK Audio Tools App is now available for download from the Apple and Android stores.  It’s a free suite of professional studio tools and includes five useful analysis-based components that help setup any brand of monitors, and one powerful tool (EQ Recommendation) that helps acclimate the new KRK ROKIT G4 monitors to their individual acoustic environment.

Rokit-5 Back PlateWe wanted to build something game-changing for the new ROKIT G4 line that enables you to achieve better final mixes overall.  In terms of critical listening, the G4 monitors are completely different, and a major upgrade from the previous G3 line, so our intentions with the EQ Recommendation tool were to suggest a flatter condition and help get you to a better starting point.  Ultimately, it still comes down to preference and using your musical ear, but it’s certainly great to have this feature available along with the others in the app.

KRK0383Five of the app tools work with any monitor setup. This includes the Level Meter, which assists with monitor level calibration to ensure all monitors are at the same dB level, as well as the Delay Analysis feature that helps calculate the time from each monitor to the user’s ears. Additionally, the app’s Polarity function is used to verify the correct wiring of monitors, minimizing bass loss and incorrect stereo imaging reproduction—the results of monitors being out of phase, while the Spectrum RTA and Sound Generator are great for finding nuances in any environment.  Also included is an unprecedented Monitor Alignment feature, which is used to determine the best placement of multiple monitors within proximity. Finally, the EQ Recommendation tool, specific to ROKIT G4 helps acclimate monitors to an environment by analyzing the app-generated pink noise and subsequently suggesting the best EQ preset, which is set manually on the back of the G4 monitors.

Here is an overview of each tool:

EQ Recommendation Tool

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The EQ Recommendation Tool is specific to ROKIT G4 owners, while all the other tools below will work with any studio monitor setup.  Use the EQ Recommendation tool to determine which DSP EQ presets to engage on the back of your ROKIT G4 monitors.  It is advised to use this tool after you align and calibrate the level of the monitors (see below).

To use the EQ Recommendation tool, use a Y-cable splitter from your headphone jack to the monitor’s inputs.  Place your phone microphone at ear level in the ideal listening position and tap the play button.  A pink noise signal will be played for analysis purposes.  Check the signal strength level meter and make sure that the signal is not too low or too high. The analysis will take around 20 seconds to finish.  During the analysis, move the phone slowly in a figure 8 pattern around the listening sweet spot while the measurement is being made. This will create a better average the data being analyzed resulting in more consistent recommendations.

Once the analysis is finished the screen will show you a recommendation EQ preset number to use with your monitors.  Go to the back of your ROKIT G4 monitor and use the dial to select the recommended settings.  Again, our intentions with the EQ Recommendation tool are to suggest a flatter condition to help get you to a better starting point with your monitors.  Ultimately, it still comes down to your preference, style of music, and your musical ear.  So, use this tool to experiment with what works best for you.

Spectrum RTA Tool  

spectrumThe Spectrum RTA Tool is used to measure and display the frequency spectrum of the input audio signal in real time.  It uses the Fast Fourier Transform algorithm to generate its frequency analysis view of amplitude vs frequency.  This analysis can be used to detect various factors that affect the listening experience in your environment.  It includes a signal generator that can generate sine waves, white noise, and pink noise.  There is also a peak hold function.  If you tap onto the screen, a cursor display will appear showing you the actual frequency and amplitude values. To disable the cursor just drag it outside the screen.

Level Meter Tool

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The Level Meter Tool is used for monitor level calibration (making sure your monitors are at the same volume).  We advise to calibrate your monitors one at a time to make sure that all monitors are at the same level.

To calibrate the monitors, you will first need to generate pink noise with the Sound Generator Tool using a Y-cable splitter from your headphone jack to the monitor’s input.  The ideal location for the phone microphone is at ear level in your general listening position.  The Level Meter shows two bar graphs to show the actual level of the monitor, one green for the RMS value and one yellow for the peak value.  You can tap the max peak label on the bottom of the level meter to reset its value. There is a red clip indicator on top of the level meter which can be tapped to reset.

Monitor Align Tool

monitor align

Monitor Align Tool is used to perfectly align the angle of your studio monitors.

The left and right studio monitors should be approximately 1 to 1.5 meters (3 to 5 feet) apart and directed at a 30-degree angle towards your listening location. This will form an equilateral triangle between the two monitors and your ears. The tweeters should be at the same height as your ears when your seated in your listening position.

To use the Monitor Align Tool, start by turning your monitors so they face straight out with no inward angle, and place your device on top of either the left or right monitor. Tap the left, or right monitor icon depending on which you started with, and then turn the monitor until the desired angle 30-degree angle is reached. The speaker display graphic will turn green when the recommended 30-degree angle is reached. Repeat the process for the other monitor. Tap the listener icon to reset the process.

Delay Tool

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The Delay Tool is used to time-align your monitors in a multi monitor system. The sound from each individual monitor takes different increments of time to reach your ear.  This can have a negative effect on your listening experience if the time-delays are not even. This tool will allow you to calculate the time-delay of each monitor to reach your listening spot.

To measure the delay time from one monitor to your ears, first place the microphone as close as possible to the woofer and tap the play button.  This will create a reference measurement of zero milliseconds. Now, place the microphone at the listening position and tap the play button again.  This will measure the actual delay time between the monitor and your listening position.  The time delay from each monitor to the listening position should match as closely as possible.  You can use these delay values together with the monitor align tool to help find the optimal placement for your monitors in context with your listening area (where your ears are generally located when you listen).

This tool is helpful to approximate the distance between the monitors, and then from the monitors to your ears–creating the perfect listening triangle.  You can use these distance values together with the monitor align tool to help find the optimal placement for your monitors.

Polarity Tool

polarity

Polarity Tool is used for verifying that monitors are wired correctly.  Individual monitor polarity in a monitoring system is an important parameter to check.  If polarity is wrong (out of phase), then the sound will result in bass loss and incorrect stereo imaging reproduction.

To use Polarity Tool, use a Y-cable splitter from your headphone jack to the monitor input and send the built-in test signal to your specific monitor by holding the phone microphone up to that specific monitor.  In the polarity tool screen, you can see an audio input oscilloscope configured in automatic mode.  Increase the volume of the monitor until the test signal waveform is shown correctly and the oscilloscope triggers, freezing the waveform.  Keep a minimum distance of 1-inch and maximum distance of 12-inches from the phone microphone to the monitor driver cone to get accurate measurements.  The polarity is read indicating whether the driver is in positive or negative polarity.  Green (+) for positive and red (-) for negative.  You can repeat this process for the other monitors in your system setup.

Please take note that in some models (for example: ROKIT 5 [RP5G4]), the tweeter is opposite polarity of the woofer by design.

Outside 1We hope these audio tools are helpful for achieving better results with your audio productions and look forward to hearing what you create!