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Thread: Setting up a two-room home studio, Where to start?

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    Question Setting up a two-room home studio, Where to start?

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    Hey everyone!

    This is my first post on this forum, so please forgive me if I misplace this thread...

    Me and my band want to build our own rehearsal space / recording studio at home since we currently are paying way to much to rent out a (way too small) rehearsal space with a really bad PA for four hours twice a week. I have quite a large basement, so my house was, and still is, by far the best option. However, I'm no handyman and I really don't know how to get started on properly isolating and sound treating a room for a loud (like 120-130 Db at the peaks, averaging around 105-110 Db) band. The main goal is to build the entire studio over time, but have a rehearsal space ready quite soon.

    The plan for the studio is a two room setup, with a control room and a recording/rehearsing room. I have quite a large room available, setup in a T-Shape as you can see on the image, the walls accented with red are open and will have to be build, the rest are Concrete-Brick walls with soil behind them. The plan is to use to larger section on top as a rehearsal space and then build a seperator between the upper and lower portion to have control room in the lower portion. My best guess is to Build the walls using wood and fiberglass insulation and then use the usual acoustic treatment methons on all the walls like foam pads and bass traps. (Honestly I don't know what my options are, I can't find a lot online without exclusively North American delivery...) I could really use some help as to what exactly would be necessary to properly isolate the walls that will be built and then treat the entire room to have a nice balanced sound for recording.

    My main problem however is that we want a window between the control room and the rehearsal space, I'm thinking of 2 layers of plexi-glass, but if there are better options, then I really want to look into those! My budget shouldn't be a problem, I'm willing to spend around 2-3 grand on the construction and sound treatment, we can do most of the assembling and stuff on our own so no labor cost. I really hope I can get some feedback from you guys, I've read a couple of posts on the forum but the combination of a window and then multiple wall types really throws me off!

    Thanks a lot!
    - Gijs Fiten

    EDIT: Also, I've thought about ventilation and power, what would be the best and safest way to tackle that problem? I imagine a completely air-tight room gets hot and moist after a rehearsal...

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    Yeah, the natural SPL compression at those levels, in that closed, smaller space...will kill your ears in no time, so whatever acoustic improvements you do will be hard to notice.

    What is the reason that you guys need to play that loud at rehearsal...I mean, I get the whole "energy" thing...but You can certainly bring the levels down, or at the least, I hope you guys are using some really good ear protection while rehearsing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Yeah, the natural SPL compression at those levels, in that closed, smaller space...will kill your ears in no time, so whatever acoustic improvements you do will be hard to notice.

    What is the reason that you guys need to play that loud at rehearsal...I mean, I get the whole "energy" thing...but You can certainly bring the levels down, or at the least, I hope you guys are using some really good ear protection while rehearsing.
    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    I hope you use really good ear protectors at those levels. Else it wont matter where you play as soon you wont be able to hear anything but the tinnitus.
    We all use custom made -30dB eurbuds so we'll be fine thanks a lot for the concert, a lot of other bands don't consider tose SPL levels to be damaging...

    It was originally to get all the guitars/singers to be above the dummers level, who has really really thick cymbals... So let's just call our drummer loud as heck... We just kept rolling with that

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    That's smart.

    So explain with a bit more detail about your long-term intentions...the need for the 2-room setup...and what your acoustic and/or soundproofing goals are.

    Whenever I see a smaller home studio plan, the first thing I ask is if you really need to break it up into two even smaller rooms.
    I've got a 26' x 34' new studio build in the works, and it's going to be one open space. I will have the benefit of a pretty high cathedral ceiling too...but if I was in a basement, even more reason to go with one room and have the benefit of the total volume.

    That said...if you do really need 2 rooms...that "T" layout is pretty good for it...though push those yet to be built walls as far back as you can...go for max size in both...because by the time you treat the walls/ceiling...put in doors...load in equipment and some furniture...etc...etc....what looks pretty good empty, suddenly feels a lot smaller.

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    You've actually had your sound measured at 120-130 dB? I feel sorry for any audience people. Recording at that volume level is going to sound like sh#t.
    Noise-Induced Hearing Loss | NIDCD

    Yes, drummers can cause a 'turn up to be heard' syndrome. But that level would be way over that need. Have you considered a drum shield (plexiglass around the drummer)? You're gong to need it if you are going to record in that space. Better would be to put the drummer in an isolation room. Consider making that bottom part of the T the drum room. Why do you want a separate control room anyway - do you have someone who is going to man the recording equipment in the other room while you play?

    You cannot soundproof that space, certainly not for your budget. The sound will carry (even through the concrete) up into the house, if that's acceptable, you just have to worry about making the room sound decent - full frequency traps (bass traps), not foam.
    Mike B My new album on CD Baby: Fact and Fiction
    My Bandcamp site: http://mikebirchmusic.bandcamp.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjbphotos View Post
    You've actually had your sound measured at 120-130 dB? I feel sorry for any audience people. Recording at that volume level is going to sound like sh#t.

    Yes, drummers can cause a 'turn up to be heard' syndrome. But that level would be way over that need. Have you considered a drum shield (plexiglass around the drummer)? You're gong to need it if you are going to record in that space. Better would be to put the drummer in an isolation room. Consider making that bottom part of the T the drum room. Why do you want a separate control room anyway - do you have someone who is going to man the recording equipment in the other room while you play?

    You cannot soundproof that space, certainly not for your budget. The sound will carry (even through the concrete) up into the house, if that's acceptable, you just have to worry about making the room sound decent - full frequency traps (bass traps), not foam.
    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Only 30dB earbuds ??????

    Lets see now 130 - 30 = 100 peak

    The link says that over 85dB is dangerous and damaging.


    EFF what the govt claims is acceptable noise levels.
    My ears say that nidcd.nih.gov is dead on. My ears hurt over 85dB.
    I will not risk ringing and more damage by every listening over that level.

    You are clearly still very young. Get smart before you get tinnitus or go deaf or both or worse.

    LOUDER IS ***NOT*** BETTER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks a lot for the concern, I'll elaborate a bit on the SPL measurements...

    They were not done professionally, it was done with a microphone (not an SPL meter) in a very very very small space relatively close to the drum. So I imagine there is a large inaccuracy in the measurement... That being said, it was extremely loud, we had another rehearsal today and we managed to get the levels down to a more manageable level of around (and this is an estimate) 100 dB, I borrowed a plexy shield from another drummer and it made a huge difference, we also had a different rehearsal space today so it was a bit larger as well. I was also quite amazed at a peak in the 120-130 dB range but I think we will be able to manage our levels a lot better in the new rehearsal room with the plexi shield (my amp only had to be turned to 4/12 instead of 9/12 so that says quite a lot.

    As for the sound proofing, I imagined it wasn't going to be possible, a 100% sound proof room really isn't necessary as I'm living alone in this house... I just don't want the neighbours complaining about noise issues Using the bottom part of the T as a drum room sounds like a great idea, however I'm not a great fan of "removing" the drummer from our direct line of sight as we don't use a click and really rely on the cues he gives... I'll probable give him a permanent plexi shield So we can at least see him! I have a few friends studying for their bachelors in audio engineering at PXL music, all of them already offered to man the board during rehearsal and recording, so yeah we will have someone on the board at all times The main reason for the control room is so we can properly record in and have a somewhat reliable space to mix our audio on.

    Also "You are clearly still very young." I am in fact 22 so yeah, I'm no veteran haha

    Thanks a lot for the concern and the advice! Really appreciate it!
    -Gijs

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    That's smart.

    So explain with a bit more detail about your long-term intentions...the need for the 2-room setup...and what your acoustic and/or soundproofing goals are.

    Whenever I see a smaller home studio plan, the first thing I ask is if you really need to break it up into two even smaller rooms.
    I've got a 26' x 34' new studio build in the works, and it's going to be one open space. I will have the benefit of a pretty high cathedral ceiling too...but if I was in a basement, even more reason to go with one room and have the benefit of the total volume.

    That said...if you do really need 2 rooms...that "T" layout is pretty good for it...though push those yet to be built walls as far back as you can...go for max size in both...because by the time you treat the walls/ceiling...put in some doors...load in equipment and some furniture...etc...etc....what looks pretty good empty, suddenly feels a lot smaller.
    I drew out the room and yeah, it won't be as large as I thought (especially with the gear in it) however, with internal soundproofing (taking 30cm off of each wall) it still is more than large enough to house all 4 of us and have space left over for either a keyboard or a couch... as for the control room, I just did the measurements it is plenty large, the only minor fluke is that it will be a bit narrow (only around 3.5m) but it will do the job for the coming years until I move to my next accommodation. The ceiling is at around 4m high though, so that's a plus... It's not cathedral high but it's a lot better than just a 2.5m high concrete block

    The main need for the second room is so we can do all the recording and mixing in house, I have a few friends studying audio engineering who already wanted to man the board during rehearsals and recording (mainly recordings) so it will be put to good use! My main goal for the room that we will be building is to have a place to rehearse and record some at least more than decent music until I have the money to actually build a house...

    Thanks for the tips!
    -Gijs

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAverage View Post
    The main need for the second room is so we can do all the recording and mixing in house...
    I do all my recording and mixing in house...and one room works just fine. The only considerations are that while tracking, the engineer has to use headphones, since he is in the same room and can't use the studio monitors, but that's never been an issue because normally you do some initial test passes to get you levels and everything set, so the worst case is sitting to hear the playback on the monitors and finding you need to make some adjustments, etc...
    ...and then other consideration would be if you needed to have isolation booths/rooms, but you don't appear to be planning a 2-room for that purpose.

    Point being...mixing in a smaller space is just as bad as tracking in a smaller space...so one bigger open space will yield better acoustics and better results.
    I get the feeling that you will be tracking the "band" and maybe only doing vocal overdubs...so they're all going to be in one room, and since you are dividing the space up, it will be a smaller room.
    I know the whole "control room" thing looks cool and all the big studios have them...but often the bigger studios have massive live rooms, and the control room is just for monitoring...and the actual mixing ends up getting done in another studio where they have a suitable mix room.

    Not saying you can't make it work with 2 smaller rooms and all that...just that you should consider how much you really need to have it like that VS one large room. I mean...you are not going to be mixing while you track...so no need for the isolation between the rooms.
    That said...your "T" shape doesn't necessarily equate to a normal looking single, larger room...so it's kinda easy to break them up.
    You may even consider using the short end of the "T" as an iso-room with a large window...and stick your drummer in there. Then put the mixing setup at one end of the other, bigger space, along with the rest of the band etc.
    I assume you're building this place just for you guys to record in...?....and your not' planning to have a studio for general public recording...are you?
    If you are...then that adds a bit more weight to the "control room" thing...but again, there's a lot of pro studios that utilize the one open room approach...so it's not something odd or difficult to work with.

    Think about it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    I do all my recording and mixing in house...and one room works just fine. The only considerations are that while tracking, the engineer has to use headphones, since he is in the same room and can't use the studio monitors, but that's never been an issue because normally you do some initial test passes to get you levels and everything set, so the worst case is sitting to hear the playback on the monitors and finding you need to make some adjustments, etc...
    ...and then other consideration would be if you needed to have isolation booths/rooms, but you don't appear to be planning a 2-room for that purpose.

    Point being...mixing in a smaller space is just as bad as tracking in a smaller space...so one bigger open space will yield better acoustics and better results.
    I get the feeling that you will be tracking the "band" and maybe only doing vocal overdubs...so they're all going to be in one room, and since you are dividing the space up, it will be a smaller room.
    I know the whole "control room" thing looks cool and all the big studios have them...but often the bigger studios have massive live rooms, and the control room is just for monitoring...and the actual mixing ends up getting done in another studio where they have a suitable mix room.

    Not saying you can't make it work with 2 smaller rooms and all that...just that you should consider how much you really need to have it like that VS one large room. I mean...you are not going to be mixing while you track...so no need for the isolation between the rooms.
    That said...your "T" shape doesn't necessarily equate to a normal looking single, larger room...so it's kinda easy to break them up.
    You may even consider using the short end of the "T" as an iso-room with a large window...and stick your drummer in there. Then put the mixing setup at one end of the other, bigger space, along with the rest of the band etc.
    I assume you're building this place just for you guys to record in...?....and your not' planning to have a studio for general public recording...are you?
    If you are...then that adds a bit more weight to the "control room" thing...but again, there's a lot of pro studios that utilize the one open room approach...so it's not something odd or difficult to work with.

    Think about it...
    Thanks a lot for the extra info, I redid my plans and having the entire T shape as the recording room would really give us the better results, Maybe make an iso room for the drums in de smaller part of the T like you mentioned, but just having one Room would make everything a lot easier so I'll go with that! I also convinced our drummer to start using less loud cymbals so we should get the noise down to a way better level that way...

    My main issue now is to get a sound-treated space, sound leaking to the outside isn't a big issue, just the internal acoustics should be optimised. How should I go about doing that? I ws thinking of making my own sound panels instead of just using foam, I'd make some bass traps and some general panels to have 60-ish percent of the surface area covered. What would my optimal strategy be?

    Thanks a lot for the ideas!
    -Gijs

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    You may not need to isolate the drummer completely G?
    I have read that kits sound better if they are raised on a "dias" or platform about 200mm high? Made out of 19mm ply and battons it can be covered with HD carpet tiles. Then a a panel, maybe two of ply, better MDF (even better HDF!) erected in front and maybe at a side of the hitter. Double glazed glass becuse you want MASS and glass is denser than plastic. I doubt he is pretty so even wired glass would do...

    Make a few Gobos, ply or MDF panels 2x1.5mtr'ish. One side hard and painted, tother faced with absorbent material. These can be stacked against/along a wall when not in use. If you dont want the absorbing, hard face out. Some can hav DGzd panels in them.

    Bass trapping I shall leave to the experts.

    Dave.

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