Acoustics - LEDE Control Room

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This control room was projected in 1980 by Don Davis, and its scope was to attenuate as much as possible the first reflections coming from the front part of the room. This way the sound coming from the monitors wouldn't be coloured by reflections, and therefore would keep the sound faithful to the original. LEDE stands for Live End / Dead End and indicates the division between two distinct areas of the control room: one where reflections are reduced to a minimum (dead end) and the other where the reflections are diffused as equally as possible (live end).

The following is a scheme of a LEDE control room:

Environmental acoustics - LEDE control room

LEDE control room

Let's begin by looking at the dead end. All the walls (rigorously non-parallel) in this area are covered in absorbing material. The far-field monitors [Monitors ] are fitted into the wall, next to the window. A carpet covers the whole of this area, and at the border between the two zones we have the sound engineer's station who has the mixer and the near-field monitors in front of him. The live end is spacious enough to delay the reflections bouncing off the back walls towards the engineer's station. The floor is made of reflecting material (like a parquet wooden floor) whereas the walls are covered with diffusion panels. In the back wall we'll also find two bass traps, one on each far side of the wall, compensating for the low frequency resonances given by the room's size. This kind of control room has very precise characteristics and allows us to listen to sounds that are very faithful to what effectively comes out of the loudspeakers. To adopt this kind of solution means making the most of certain characteristics but at the same time however, giving up on other ones.

Now, what would you really want to hear in a control room? Which would you choose between the pure sound coming out of the monitors and the same sound being diffused in a real environment? The author's opinion is that a LEDE design is ideal during the recording, because in this phase it is important to get as faithful an experience of the sounds picked up by the mikes as possible. However, during the mixing phase it is probably better to do the listening in a room whose acoustic characteristics resemble those of real environments, seeing that the mix will eventually be listened to in all kinds of environments and situations.


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