New Studio Build

New Studio Build
0

#1

I am currently in the planning stages of a new studio build to start this spring, and would like some informed opinions about what I should do. This space will serve as a practice space for my band (loud rock band) 75% of the time, and be used for recording about 25% of the time. Bathrooms, Kitchen, etc., aren’t required as it will be 10 feet from my house. I am quite amateur, but have learned a few things from my current recording space (converted garage). Any advice from more experienced people is greatly appreciated!

These are the for-sures:
-The building can be about 700 square feet with 10 foot high walls and a 16 foot high roof peak (max).
-It has to be on the more square side of rectangle (i.e. 24’ ish x 28’ ish, 4 corners)
-I want a large practice space (main use of the space) with a separate control room and a small storage closet.
-Control Room needs to be big enough for a full sized couch and large chair, mini fridge, small desk, and one rack of gear, with enough space to move around comfortably.

These are the big variables in my mind:
-Optimum sizes for the rooms for sound quality, while keeping in mind the predominant use is practice space
-Shape of each room, building layout, and building dimensions to optimize sound prior to treatment
-Vaulted ceiling, flat ceiling, suspended ceiling tiles, height???
-Type of lighting (budget friendly)
-Flooring (floor will be painted cement, but can be covered) (I was thinking a few area rugs for budget reasons)
-opinions on a vocal booth (worth the real estate and money?)
-any other input

Thanks for the help!

-Ky


#2

Hi there Ky! What an exciting time, to be designing a bespoke practice/recording space. I wish you best of luck as you go along.

My experience is only in treating for sound absorption in the room I use to play and record. If you are a DIY kinda person, these are easy to construct, but for a guy like me the best approach was to purchase professional grade absorbers. I ended up going with GIK Acoustics and came away absolutely happy with how things came out. The quality of my stuff saw an instant and really noticeable improvement. So however you go, do pay a lot of attention and invest resources into good sound treatment.

You probably already know that sound absorption of this type is not the same thing as sound proofing, which is more aimed at minimizing how much sound leaks out of the space to disturb others. That’s not at all what I’m talking about, I’m focusing on the sound absorption inside the space, and screw the neighbors! :smiling_imp:

Looking forward to seeing your build journey! :confetti_ball:


#3

Ok there is a LOT to discuss here. Since this seems like a new build from the ground up you have a few options to get started. The first is are you going to hire an Acoustical Architect to design the building and space or are you going to do it yourself? I’m assuming yourself since you posted here, and I would recommend you start with finding some books that have been written about this subject. There is far too much to consider to be fully answered here but I will give you some things to think about.

First go read these books:


These 2 books will give you enough information to likely build and treat your space.

These are the for-sures:-The building can be about 700 square feet with 10 foot high walls and a 16 foot high roof peak (max).-It has to be on the more square side of rectangle (i.e. 24’ ish x 28’ ish, 4 corners)-I want a large practice space (main use of the space) with a separate control room and a small storage closet.-Control Room needs to be big enough for a full sized couch and large chair, mini fridge, small desk, and one rack of gear, with enough space to move around comfortably.

700 sq’ or 20 x 35 is a workable size for what you want, but you will likely have many compromises in design to get the best use out of the space. I’d advise not having a mini fridge in the control room as it will add a lot of unwanted background noise.

These are the big variables in my mind:-Optimum sizes for the rooms for sound quality, while keeping in mind the predominant use is practice space-Shape of each room, building layout, and building dimensions to optimize sound prior to treatment

Some of this depends on construction materials, how isolated you need each space, Realize that “optimum room ratios” refer to 0% of the sound leaving the room, if you are not using 8" of concrete for walls, some sound will be lost through the walls (mostly low frequencies) so the optimum room ratios are not a definitive to getting a great sounding space. They are however a great place to start when planning like what you are doing now. In general your every attempt should be made to not have parallel walls in the “live” or “practice” room and try to diffuse the sound as much as possible. The larger the practice space the better. Since the use of the control room you say will be 25% it should be on the smaller side, or even incorporated into the Live room, you can use acoustic panels as dividers to balance out the room response and get the RT60 low enough for quality mixing. Now that I think about your situation a bit more I would definitely use one room for everything, it will save you a lot of money on construction, and you can build your own absorption panels to convert from live to mix space.

Vaulted ceiling, flat ceiling, suspended ceiling tiles, height???-Type of lighting (budget friendly)-Flooring (floor will be painted cement, but can be covered) (I was thinking a few area rugs for budget reasons)-opinions on a vocal booth (worth the real estate and money?)-any other input

No vaulted ceiling, that does nothing but focus the reflections instead of diffuse them. The ceiling height should be as high as you can afford to build it, cubic volume is what you are after. Depending on the design of the space you choose that will determine if you want to use ceiling tiles which will absorb and deaden the room. If you plan to record drums then (depending on height) you will want the room live but diffuse, longer RT60 times would be desirable.

You can build your own portable and movable vocal booth easy enough, removing reflections from vocals for recording is a pretty easy process, the main benfit to a vocal booth is isolation during live tracking, but even this can be done with some panels and proper use of a the rejection plan of a cardoid mic.

Hopefully this gives you something to think about

Bob


#4

Thanks for the recommendation for acoustic panels. I plan to do both sound proofing and sound absorption. My current space has decent sound absorption set up (all DIY), but no sound proofing. Unfortunately, where I live, there is a sound bylaw after 11pm, which is quite limiting. I think I may do some professional sound treatments on the walls/ceiling, and have some move-able isolation type things that I can get my contractor to build.


#5

I’ve been reading as much as I can, but it gets overwhelming! This is a DIY type project. I have a contractor making the building for me, but all of the finishing/design is all me.

Besides cost savings, what are the advantages to not having a separate control room? I have one in my current space that is terrible dimensions. It has been useful though for tracking drums, simply because of the volume. We also like to do all of our recording as a full band. It’s a hobby for us, so it may be hard to do if we are all in the room with the mics (?).

I’m very glad to get the feedback on the vaulted ceiling. I wanted to do that because it would look great and make the room feel big, but if it is bad for acoustics, I will definitely scrap that idea.

Thanks for the feedback


#6

Acoustics has been a hobby/passion for me since I was in my 20’s… Spent a lot of time reading the wrong information before fumbling into good books and people to discuss. It is totally overwhelming when trying to go it alone. One thing to remember is the minute details matter.

Besides cost savings, what are the advantages to not having a separate control room? I have one in my current space that is terrible dimensions. It has been useful though for tracking drums, simply because of the volume. We also like to do all of our recording as a full band. It’s a hobby for us, so it may be hard to do if we are all in the room with the mics (?).

Well ultimately cubic volume and maximizing dimensions are what’s going to give you the best result. Cutting into your overall space to make a control room will negatively affect live room. It’s just a matter of priorities. Although a separate control room will let you be isolated, a professional pair of isolation headphones will help you track without too much fuss, for checking drum sound you will likely need to record then playback. Since this is just for your band and not a revolving working studio (I assume) once you spend the time to find the optimal spot for drums, then you don’t have to ever move them and fiddling with drum sounds becomes minimal. Many top engineers set up in the live room and use headphones to track Although there are benefits, I don’t believe sacrificing your dimensions to add another small mixing room is worth it when there are workarounds. IMO if you’re control/mixing room is smaller than 15 x 20, you are going to have real issue controlling anything under 300hz and your mixes will suffer. Small controll/mixing rooms are not useless, they are used all the time and you can work with it. But it does have limitations. The amount of space you are taking away form the live room will impact your recorded sounds negatively more than the isolated control room will improve them. My recommendation is to strongly consider a one room approach, divided by movable acoustic panels, using headphones.

I’m very glad to get the feedback on the vaulted ceiling. I wanted to do that because it would look great and make the room feel big, but if it is bad for acoustics, I will definitely scrap that idea.

If you’re talking about a v shaped vaulted ceiling then definitely scrap that. You will have to cover up the vault with absorption material to elimitae the focused reflections. If you can slope the ceiling front to back (low side at monitors, high side at back of room) that is beneficial in keeping the 1st and second reflections from bouncing to the mix position, I can’t remember minimum angle on the slope. Ultimately that is going to increase construction costs. If I was building my own place today I would build a large rectangular box with the highest ceilings I could afford, then treat them with copious amounts of absorption and diffusion. That will get you much better results than fancy construction techniques and not put you in the poor house.

One thing not mentioned is amount of soundproofing. If significant soundproofing is needed and I think you said it is in an above post, then spend your money there, not on a controll room. Make sure you’re contractor knows how to build decoupled walls and ceilings properly, this is where a small mistake can cost you 10db of noise reduction and that can’t be fixed cheaply or easily.

Thanks for the feedback

No problem, good luck on your project. Take your time. :slight_smile:


#7

+1 for both of the books @bobbybovine recommended


#8

I believe that you’ll find that soundPROOFING is no easy task. Nor is it inexpensive. I’m glad to see that you at least recognize that there is a difference. Many I’ve talked to seem to think that if they get enough sound absorption in place, then their room will be soundproof. It’s simply not the case.

I think @Jonathan reached out to invite Ethan Winer here to the group, and if you can get a chance to talk to him, he’s a VERY valuable resource for everything you’re asking. He’s awesome at debunking a lot of the misinformation. @bobbybovine clearly knows his stuff too, so you’re in good hands :wink:

We’d LOVE to see pictures on here as things are coming together. Documenting the process is valuable to all of us and it’s cool to revisit that stuff once you get going too.


#9

I was going towards the V-shaped vaulted ceiling, but I will scrap that idea. I may see if I can get a construction variance and build my walls a bit higher for 12’ ceilings. My current space has a suspended ceiling, which I have found to be great for killing reverb, so I will probably go that route again as well. I also plan to offset a couple of the interior walls a little bit and use portable 6’x6’ sound absorber panels on wheels to help isolate things.

as far as sound proofing, our plan includes Roxul Safe and Sound insulation in all of the walls and ceiling as well as resilient channel between the studs and drywall. All of the doors are insulated exterior doors and windows (very limited) are triple pane glass. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but enough to keep the outside noise out, and the neighbors from hearing us inside their houses.


#10

[quote=“DeuceWiser, post:9, topic:672, full:true”]
I was going towards the V-shaped vaulted ceiling, but I will scrap that idea. I may see if I can get a construction variance and build my walls a bit higher for 12’ ceilings. My current space has a suspended ceiling, which I have found to be great for killing reverb, so I will probably go that route again as well. I also plan to offset a couple of the interior walls a little bit and use portable 6’x6’ sound absorber panels on wheels to help isolate things. [/quote]

I think that is a smart plan. depending on whether you choose one large room or 2 separate room will change what you do here. Remember reverb in a room is generally noticeable at higher frequencies, however those lower frequencies are bouncing around too. A suspended ceiling definitely helps, but to help absorb those lower frequencies put 12" of insulation above the drop ceiling. This will achieve a few things such as taking the ceiling to wall corners out of the equation, it will have a large improvement in balancing out the room, and will make addressing the wall reflections even easier to treat.

as far as sound proofing, our plan includes Roxul Safe and Sound insulation in all of the walls and ceiling as well as resilient channel between the studs and drywall. All of the doors are insulated exterior doors and windows (very limited) are triple pane glass. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but enough to keep the outside noise out, and the neighbors from hearing us inside their houses.

Here is some STC values of various walls, remember though that STC is based heavily on the vocal range and doesn’t take into account anything below 125 hz, so the STC of frequencies below 125 for these scenarios is much lower. There are only 3 things that attenuate the transmission of low frequency sound and they are 1. Mass 2. Decoupling 3. Dampening. Using a mixture of the 3 will get you the best results.


#11

Thank you. That is extremely helpful information. I’ve started reading one of those books as well.

The double leaf design looks like what we have planned to do, as well as insulate above the drop ceiling. Should the insulation be directly above the drop ceiling, or insulated against the bottom of the roof? I don’t know what would be considered normal from a construction standpoint for insulating a roof. I live in Manitoba, so the weather can fluctuate from -40C to +40C over the year. It needs to be well insulated for weather as well as sound. I would guess that being directly above the drop ceiling would be better for sound?


#12

No Problem

The double leaf design looks like what we have planned to do, as well as insulate above the drop ceiling. Should the insulation be directly above the drop ceiling, or insulated against the bottom of the roof? I don’t know what would be considered normal from a construction standpoint for insulating a roof. I live in Manitoba, so the weather can fluctuate from -40C to +40C over the year. It needs to be well insulated for weather as well as sound. I would guess that being directly above the drop ceiling would be better for sound?

Well one thing to notice in the diagram above is the STC of the resilient channel wall and the double leaf wall are very close, however for low frequency attenuation the Double Leaf is going to outperform. the resilient channel. There is a product called green glue that you put in between the 2 layers of drywall that increases the sound dampening and is quite effective in the 80hz to 125 hz area (bass drum range). It isn’t cheap but you should check it out.

Put the the insulation directly on the drop ceiling, Leave an air gap above the insulation of at least 6" if possible. If you are using safe and sound 12" is plenty (although it isn’t as good thermally) You could just use regular Roxul and use 12" to 16". So with 12’ ceilings using 12" plus a 6" air gap will bring your ceiling height to about 10.5’, But you have essentially eliminated ANY reflections and reduced the effect of one of your room modes. I am in Nova Scotia, not quite as erratic temperatures, but your homes are built the same as here for the most part.

One last bit of info, don’t forget about ventilation. You are essentially creating an air tight room, air to breathe is always a good thing.


#13

When I did my build I called Ethan Winer. A well respected acoustics engineer. I paid him to consult and was upfront that I would do it DIY. As well as my few hours of talking to him I bought his Audio expert book and another he recommended. It called build it like the pros. It is a comprehensive studio building guide.

This was the best money I have ever spent in my studio.


#14

Hey @DeuceWiser! I just moved this thread over to the Progress Logs category. This is a great fit for that category and it’d be awesome if you could keep us up to date on the progress. Pictures as you begin the build would be great too!
Looking forward to seeing this come together :beerbang:


#15

I do plan to post progress pics on here, but construction won’t be underway for a few more months once the snow is gone.


#16

i researched, researched, researched.
the whole acoustics and absorption thing gets WAY complicated, its really as deep as you want to go, once you start calculating room modes, axial modes etc it gets complicated and the formulas start racking up involving speed of sound over distance times by some frequency (i cant remember exactly off the top of my head)

once i strayed onto the path of tangential modes my head nearly fucking exploded!
seriously!! (i`m a cad engineer and machine programmer by trade and the maths involved in acoustics melted my brain )

once you start calculating reflections and modes on a tangentail basis in a 3d environment , the formulas get rediculas!

i remember sitting with eithan weiners book one night trying to work out the density a ceiling absorber needed to be if i had my studio door open or if i had it closed lol. i had a mass of scribbles and math i was struggling to understand lol
it was well over my head lol.

so in the end i covered i`d say a basics to intermediate go at it and self built bass traps with material of the density i worked out for the room and placed them in the best place i could work out. it works for me.

to get the perfect or best space really is a minefield and VERY involved.
acoustic engineers aren`t cheap, and it may seem silly to spend a bit getting them to work your room out…but trust me, if you want to do it PROPERLY unless you are a masters in math or above pay someone.
or just build bass traps, lots of them.


#17

I broke ground on my new studio! I have decided to downsize/change a little bit from my original plan due to cost. The building will be 22’x30’ with a 10’ ceiling. The floor is 16" joists on beams that rest on screw piles and insulated with Roxul safe n sound. All of the walls and ceiling will be 5/8" drywall on resilient channel and insulated with Roxul. I will probably put suspended ceiling in as well, and I am installing quite a bit of diffusion and absorption in the room. Does anybody have any suggestions for acoustical underlay for the floor? I need a dirt-cheap solution to somewhat de-couple the floor without putting another floor on top. Can strips of acoustical underlay mat be put between the floor and the joists? Currently, the plan is to just have Roxul safe n sound between the joists, but based on previous info that you guys have given me, I don’t think that will be enough.


#18

I have no advice to give, but just wanted to say congrats on breaking ground and good luck! Sounds like an exciting project. :slight_smile:


#19

I’m stoked to see the progress! Keep those pictures coming!!


#20

Same here :slight_smile:
Good luck with that project mate ! Hope to see more pictures as well! Cant advice you much though.