Hey Gear Mortals, Alex Nasla here, today we are checking out Vicoustic acoustic treatment! If you have been watching our videos for a while, you may have noticed that at some point we traded our homemade acoustic treatment panels for something more professional. I have been asked a lot about these panels since then and now I’m here to finally tell you about it!
Vicoustic is a pretty well known acoustic treatment company that is based out of Portugal. There are a lot of companies out there that make and sell acoustic treatment, so what makes these guys so special? Let’s start at the beginning. What do you do when you need acoustic treatment? Most people go to their favorite store, pick out what they feel they need, order it and place it where they feel is most logical. The problem with this is that you’re not a professional acoustician, and you’re probably going to do it wrong. This is why Vicoustic is here to help. They take you step by step to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for with your project. In my case, I emailed them with my main use cases for the room. Mostly recording, mixing and mastering, but also we film all our Gear Gods videos in here. Then they have you draw every part of your room on a provided paper blueprint, down to even the smallest details. Exact measurements of all the walls, doors, size of the A/C vent, everything. What is the wall made of? The floor? Is there any insulation inside the walls? The placement of your desk, speakers, monitor, etc. This all gets modeled in their software to give as accurate as possible an acoustic picture of your room, and all the possible problems. Once their internal analysis is done, they send you a very detailed acoustical analysis of your room, and what your options are.
At this stage, you are introduced to a couple of new people on the team. An acoustic consultant and an interior designer that are both part of the team at Vicoustic. You work with the interior designer on what kind of look you want to go for in your room, and then with the acoustic consultant to take that vision and recommend you the proper treatment for the room. As you can see in the document they made for us, they show you all the areas that are problematic in my room, a detailed explanation of what each piece of treatment recommended does, and a 3D rendering of what my room will look like using the 2 different price point options presented to me. Also, a detailed report of what the reverb time in the room is now without any treatment, and what it will be after treatment is applied. It’s really cool and insightful stuff!
Before we get into the performance of these panels, the first thing that most people notice about these panels is that they are visually stunning. Of course, function is most important when it comes to acoustic treatment, but if you are truly trying to build your career in production I cannot stress enough how important it is for clients to be instantly impressed with what you offer, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the design of these panels. The fact is that most musicians out there aren’t going to know much about U47’s and Neve 1073’s. But you don’t need any technical background to see that something is well designed, high quality and professional looking.
You might be wondering, does the design of the panels negatively impact the performance of these panels in anyway? On the contrary, Vicoustic have very carefully walked the line of function and design. Take, for instance, the Super Bass Extreme, a perfect marriage of design and engineering in a bass trap. The panel is shaped for corner mounting, so that it fits perfectly snug in the corners of a room wasting no space. There is a micro-perforated panel at the back of the panel that acts like a tuned Helmholtz resonator. It’s this Helmholtz resonator that is the real game changer compared to 90% of the bass traps out there. It’s the only way to truly control really low end frequencies. Probably most striking is the wood front panel. It’s designed so that it can control corner reflections, but also act as a diffuser and not unnecessarily deaden the room. The openings in the front allow the sound to fully enter the panel, while the wood partially reflects the mid to high frequencies around the room. The different sizes of the openings means much better diffusion. This is just an example of one of the panels they offer. Most of the products they make have similar levels of engineering and design behind them. The Super Bass Extreme made a HUGE difference in the treatment of our room.
Perhaps the only panel from which I wasn’t sure what to expect was the Multifuser Wood 36 diffusers. Before getting Vicoustic treatment, I had never made, bought or really used a dedicated diffuser before. The reason why was simple – I did most of my research on treatment on the internet and asking around. The conclusion I came to was that diffusion will only positively impact the sound in your room by 5 or, maybe 10%, so it wasn’t really worth the money to buy (they are not cheap!) or the time to make. I thought that I would be much better off just making a bunch more bass traps. Well, Gear Mortals, learn from my mistake – I couldn’t have been more wrong! After we put up the Multifuser Wood 36 panels and did a listening test, for the first time EVER, I finally heard what some producers and engineers are talking about when they say something sounds very “3D.” I honestly can’t think of a better word to describe what I heard other than that, and for the first time I was hearing real depth in a mix in my room. From my mixing sweet spot I could point exactly to where each sound and instrument is coming from and how far or close they felt to my position. I could truly hear the vocals up front, the drums a little behind, the guitars on the sides, etc. Now I’m sure if it wasn’t for the rest of the treatment all working together, it wouldn’t have been quite the same effect, but the Multifuser Wood 36 panels were the last piece of the puzzle that we placed, and the difference it made was the most stark to my ears.
Next up we have the Multifuser DC2 diffuser panels. While the other diffusers I was just talking about are made from solid wood, these are made from styrofoam. They are much lighter, much more affordable, and most importantly give a similar performance to the wood version. They work especially well when diffusion is needed on the ceiling where having heavy solid blocks of wood over your head is not ideal.
From there we have the Cinema Round Premium panels which cover most of the room. These panels are I believe Vicoustic performing panels for controlling mid to high frequencies in a room. They are designed in an elegant rounded shape, with a high quality fabric covering – much nicer to look at than just endless panels of pyramid foam.
Last, but not least, is one of my favorite looking panels, the Flexi Wave panels. They are essentially a hybrid diffuser/absorber. They are usually put in a series, like you see here. The spacing between them in combination with their wood tops makes it a great diffuser, and the absorption material on the inside helps control low to low mid frequencies in the room.
I have gone through everything there is to know about these panels in the process of getting them. So now we have to look at the ultimate question – was it worth it? Did it appreciably improve any aspects of my production output? I have been recording, mixing and mastering in my newly treated room for some months now and I feel like I have gotten enough feedback from people to give a solid answer to this question. The answer seems to overwhelmingly be yes. Before I got what I like to call the ‘Vicoustic System” in my room, people always complained about the same issues in my mixes and I never really understood why. I would have to listen to my mixes multiple times in different formats to make sure it was translating the way I wanted it to. After I got the treatment, it all changed. I haven’t had a single person complain to me about any of the issues I had before. To top it all off, all of the people who are familiar with the “sound” of my mixes have given me praise for getting my mixing to the next level. I never told any of these people I changed my treatment in my room. What it comes down to is that I can make much better and more accurate decisions while mixing now, which in turn has allowed me to grow and take my skills a step further. Not only that, I don’t feel the need to check my mixes on 10 different systems to make sure it’s translating properly anymore. My room isn’t deceiving me like it used to, and doing production work in my room is more fun than ever before.
Guys, if you are serious about running a studio or working in production, if there is anything I learned from all of this, it’s that getting proper acoustic treatment is WAY underrated. If your number one purchase to start a studio is a good computer, your number two should be investing in great acoustic treatment. You can have the best studio monitors in the world, but if your room is deceiving you, those $10,000 monitors aren’t gonna be much better than a pair of $1000 monitors in an untreated room.
I hope you guys enjoyed this review as much as I did. I learned a lot from this experience and I hope I was able to pass on what I learned to anyone out there that just isn’t sure what to do when it comes to having proper acoustic treatment.