Help with new studio room

BeniRose

New member
Hey friends! I just bought a house and I move in a week, so I was hoping to get some advice for setting up the "studio room". It's fairly small, but should be usable. It's on the second floor of a Philadelphia row home. I really like the aesthetics (an exposed brick wall and hardwood floors) so I'm hoping to keep most of that. The thing I'm most concerned about is noise level as well as the sound going in to the microphones. I know this will aggravate everyone here, but tuning the room for mixing is the last thing I'm worried about. I'm looking for as minimal a solution as possibly, considering I'm short on cash from buying the house and fixing some of it up. I will mostly be using it for recording my own music, but I'd like it to be prepared if a friend's band stopped by.

Here's the floor plan:
studio_floor.jpg

You enter the room from the door on the right. The door on the left goes out to the deck. The picture isn't drawn the scale but the measurements should be pretty accurate.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2001%2030%20PM.jpg

Here's the view upon entering. You can see the wall to the right and part of the back wall is exposed brick. While I love this, I understand it will probably have a big effect on the sound of the room. If I can find a way to not cover it and shape the sound great. If I have to cover it up, I suppose I will, but the room is already pretty small, so even a few inches of drywall will probably make a difference.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2002%2008%20PM.jpg

This is the wall to the right upon entering. It has the exposed brick and has two windows in it.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2003%2003%20PM.jpg

This is from standing on the bed, turned around to face the door I just came in. The exposed brick wall is now on my left, and you can see that there is a bit of a protruded wall next to the door. This is where I was thinking of putting my desk, since I heard it's best to have the sound going long ways. Although if I can't fit the drums where I'm standing, I might have to put my desk where I'm standing and just heavily treat the wall behind me.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2003%2054%20PM.jpg

This is the wall to the left when you walk in the door. It's the largest wall in the room. We want to put a couch against this wall, but I'm not sure it's going to fit.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2004%2034%20PM.jpg

Another view from where I want to put my desk. Showing the large wall and the door to the deck.

Photo%20Jun%2028,%204%2005%2023%20PM.jpg

Another view of the wall that protrudes out to the right of the entrance door (top right corner of floor plan).

Anyways, so that's it. I have a few ideas, but I'm interested to see what you guys have in mind in the way of sound-proofing, bass traps, etc. My wife and I bought this house with another couple, of which the husband is also a musician, and we all know the key to a man's happiness is his wife's happiness, so we don't want to drive our wives crazy with our noise.

I plan on running some other wires (follow up post to come for that) so that if I were to record a full band, I could put the amps in other rooms throughout the house and just record the drums in this room. I've had bad experiences in the past with just getting the room to sound decent enough to record, so that takes priority for me over getting the room tuned for mixing. Let me know what you guys think I should do with this room! Thanks!
 

Capriccio

A#13b5b9
A. I'm looking for as minimal a solution as possibly
B. drums
C. we don't want to drive our wives crazy with our noise.

The first step will be to work out how much isolation you need so that playing the drums and other amplified imstruments does not leak through to where your wives might hear it.
 

gullfo

New member
you might just build window plugs and seal up the doors really well plus perhaps add some mass to them (MDF panels). then again, it may require more so perhaps 2x3 frames set in 1" from the walls with 2X 5/8" drywall. drums on a damped membrane riser, same for amps. maybe a second set of doors on the isolation walls? perhaps some shaping of the "mix" area so it's mainly open but still some structural symmetry...

benirose studio.jpg
 

RICK FITZPATRICK

New member
Nice solution Glenn.:) One question. How would you suggest one builds a "damped riser", with little mass, as this is on a second floor?

fitZ
 

BeniRose

New member
Thanks so much Glenn for your post! I'm so thankful I have a community here that will waste their valuable time entertaining my studio questions.

Unfortunately, due to space constraints and living with women, the studio space kind of became the "music/hang out room". In addition to the drums only fitting in one location in the room, we had to put a couch in there that my wife didn't want to get rid of. I'm actually pretty happy with the way the room turned out, but I know means the space is not going to be optimal for recording or mixing.

Here is pretty much the layout we had to go with:
studio_floor_layout.jpg


I have three requests for the aid in making this room sound better.

1) How can I treat the wall opposite the desk (behind the couch) to reduce the negative effects of shooting sound across such a short distance?
2) How else can I treat the room (with "bass traps" and the like) so that I can't "hear the room" in my recordings? I appreciated Glenn's input, but I'm not sure I can afford to loose that much space off the walls, it's already a tight squeeze in there.
3) I did really like his idea of building drum and amp risers. I think this might be enough to mitigate the sound so it's not carrying downstairs quite as much. The walls aren't really an issue, I'm more concerned about the sound traveling downstairs. Can I just build these risers as hollow wood frames (like a shipping pallet) or would filling them with some 703 help dampen the noise even more.

Appreciate the feedback so far. Thanks so much!
 

RICK FITZPATRICK

New member
I'm more concerned about the sound traveling downstairs. Can I just build these risers as hollow wood frames (like a shipping pallet) or would filling them with some 703 help dampen the noise even


I'm going to jump in on that one. This is PRECISELY why I asked for Glenns opinion on what/how to build these. The problem with building a "hollow wood frame" is simple. Why put another drumhead on top of an existing drumhead. Risers only work well if they have MASS, and are decoupled from the floor, which is a membrane, as it's a wood framed floor. The problem is a structural one. A riser with dimensions large enough for a set of drums, with enough mass could easily weigh 4 or 5 HUNDRED POUNDS. Even a hollow wood frame filled with sand can put a dangerous load on this floor. So, this is why I asked Glenn. I've never seen any riser design that didn't have a MASSIVE load. And decoupling it requires the use of calculated decoupling devices as well. So, what ya got Glenn? I'm all ears.:laughings:
 

j0h3ll

New member
I'm going to jump in on that one. This is PRECISELY why I asked for Glenns opinion on what/how to build these. The problem with building a "hollow wood frame" is simple. Why put another drumhead on top of an existing drumhead. Risers only work well if they have MASS, and are decoupled from the floor, which is a membrane, as it's a wood framed floor. The problem is a structural one. A riser with dimensions large enough for a set of drums, with enough mass could easily weigh 4 or 5 HUNDRED POUNDS. Even a hollow wood frame filled with sand can put a dangerous load on this floor. So, this is why I asked Glenn. I've never seen any riser design that didn't have a MASSIVE load. And decoupling it requires the use of calculated decoupling devices as well. So, what ya got Glenn? I'm all ears.:laughings:

Maybe you could fill the hollow frame with some kind of insulation foam? That way you kill the drum-over-drum problem without putting too much stress on the house's structure?
 

DukeCC

New member
What are your problem frequencies? If you know that you can tailor your treatment to address them. You cannot afford to take a shotgun approach--you do not have room for treatments that aren't helping anything.

I would think you would want to put in some corner baffles, at the least.

Based on the wavelengths of your problem frequencies, you could make up properly sized baffles that double as artwork to fasten to the wall. You know--something with some depth like a shadowbox, relatively massive, with something decorative/artsy on the face--some of the baffle material actually looks cool in itself. Material choice would also depend on your problem frequencies, though. You may need a hard surface there.

I wonder if thick (3/4"?) sheets of plywood on a full-sized rubber sheet would provide some damping/isolation under the drums? Seems like it should help--as long as you kept it from flexing by placing it on the full-size rubber sheet. Smaller ones for the amps, then?

It is tough to find a sweet spot for this type of project--one that is not too overkill-pro-studio, nor one that looks too amateurish-with-egg-crates. But it is doable. Keep at it. It will be a compromise, for sure. Remember that if you move things the sound will change!
 

DukeCC

New member
Haven't tried this, nor heard of any feedback on it, but Sweetwater/Auralex offers a free room analysis. Be prepared for a sales pitch, but you need to buy some stuff anyway.

Sweetwater is a good company to deal with, I do know.

I am evidently unable to post links, so go to Sweetwater's web site and search for
Studio & Recording > Acoustic Treatment > Room Analysis

FWIW
 

DukeCC

New member
I suspect that doesn't gain you much. Decoupling/isolation is good, but only mass can truly dampen.

If you make a sandwich like this--don't leave it 'too hollow'. Use a lot of 2x4 braces--hell, stack'em in side-by-side lol.

But I wouldn't.

My $0.02.
 

BeniRose

New member
Great feedback guys! I don't need to soundproof, just dampen the drums so they don't sound obnoxiously loud from downstairs. I also figured filling in the hollow frame with some sort of insulation (rock wool?) would help stuff from traveling downstairs as much.

DukeCC, I really appreciate your good perception on reality here, and the fact that this is a "home recording" forum :) I do want to address issues I can, without treating this like a pro studio and treating the room so it sounds like studio A at sunset sound. And you're absolutely correct I don't have space, nor money, to add any treatment that isn't needed.

How would I go about finding problem frequencies? I imagine i can set up a mic in the center of the room and spin it around while playing white noise to see what frequencies are spiking? As I've said, I'm most interested in treating the room for recording, not mixing, so I'm not sure how that would apply here. But I also want to see what frequencies are escaping downstairs the most so I can tone those down.

Thanks again everyone for the feedback. I'll check out what sweetwater says for this kind of stuff too. Thanks!!
 

Capriccio

A#13b5b9
BeniRose, you are trying to tackle two issues and I fear you may be getting them muddled up.

"I don't need to soundproof" "just dampen the drums so they don't sound obnoxiously loud from downstairs," "help stuff from traveling downstairs," and, "see what frequencies are escaping downstairs," are all part of keeping sounds from escaping. You say you don't want and also that you do want to stop the sounds escaping from your room (to downstairs). This is all part of isolation.

"filling in the hollow frame with some sort of insulation (rock wool?)," "treating the room so it sounds like studio A at sunset sound," "finding problem frequencies," and "most interested in treating the room for recording," are about the correctness of the sound within the room - some of which you say you want to do and some you say you don't want to do. The technical term is acoustic treatment.

I think it will help you to understand the difference. Isolation is about containing sounds. Soundproof is 100% isolation. Stuffing insulation is part of isolation but you mention using it to try and achieve isolation.

Let me explain by a mistake I made. I moved into an apartment and so bought some Roland electronic drums. Even though they are supposedly silent, the sound of the drumsticks on the drums could be heard by my neighbours beneath me, because the sticks hit the drums which are attached to the drum stand which sits on 4 big rubber pads sit on the floor (and accoring to Roland should have isolated the drums). My floor is my neighbour's ceiling. Remember as kids we could string two tumblers together to make a simple telephone. That's the same principle, called flanking, where touching objects allow sounds to travel from one to another - and in your case, your room upstairs is connected to downstairs. Glenn's suggestion of a damped membrane riser is intended to isolate your drums from the floor and therefore reduce how much sound travels downstairs. You mentioned in your reply (post #5) that the walls don't concern you. Some sound will travel downstairs because the drums through flanking. I don't know whether that will be loud enough for you to want to look at installing decoupled walls (as Duke CC mentions).

Once you have sorted out isolation then the acoustic treatment - taming the sound within the room - will be a separate issue.

Sorry that that is a bit lengthy but I would hate for you to not understand the difference and to spend money trying to tackle one issue by doing something that is tackling the other issue.
 

RICK FITZPATRICK

New member
Soundproof is 100% isolation.
Alright, lets talk reality. I hate to tell you the bad news, but there is no such thing as SOUNDPROOF..or 100% isolation. Only degrees of transmission loss in a range of frequencies. And trying to isolate drums on a second floor of a residential building with a wood membrane floor is...well, how deep are your pockets? Not only is it difficult, but under some circumstances, it may be damn impossible.

Lets get real. What you are dealing with here is DIRECT structural transmission of IMPACT and Low frequency sounds..at least with the bass drum. And since this is a membrane floor, it will resonate at it's natural frequency and it's harmonics, which can play havoc with the mics, which ALSO are on stands that are directly coupled to the drums by the floor. Not only that, but the walls can transmit air propagated sounds via flanking by virtue of the fact they are built ON THE FLOOR. At least in typical multi story residential construction. So, given the fact that even if you could build a riser with enough mass to decouple the drums from the floor, very high SPL drum sounds will excite the walls, which in turn will excite the floor membrane, leaving the riser a moot point.

Benirose, you've been coming here a long time, and I'm sure I've explained this stuff to you before. However, if I haven't, then you need to do some research. The fact is, Isolation construction is not only expensive, but requires certain prerequisites to be in place or it may be a waste of time, energy and money. It really takes an experienced acoustician/structural engineer to determine if the existing building is capable of supporting the loads that are required to successfully meet a target TL, and even if it were, they then have to determine exactly what various isolation techniques and materials are needed in the particular set of circumstances. This is NOT something that people on this board can tell you. Iso construction is a highly NON intuitive, and expensive. PERIOD

That's not to say there is nothing you can do to improve the situation. But no one here can definitively tell you exactly what and how to do it. This is on a second floor, and the sound source is drums. Not a good combination. But I can tell you this. For a Pro studio, built on a second floor, in order to isolate sounds down to the frequency range and to decouple the impact transmission of drums, the USUAL prerequisite is an existing building with enough structural integrity to support a ROOM WITHIN A ROOM, with a decoupled CONCRETE floor, which can easily weigh 30 to 40 TONS!!!:eek::eek::eek:

Frankly, in my opinion, you are fighting a loosing battle here. My best advice is to use one of many existing products similar to this.

Auralex HD64GIG Hoverdeck Drum Isolation Platform at zZounds

Or build a deck out of 2 layers of 3/4" MDF, with a layer of 5/8" drywall between them, using Green Glue between each layer, screwed together and supported by a pad made of 1" OC 703 with Sorbothane pucks ...like this.

is.php


(Also, use some 703 pads under the mic stands too.)

Not an easy task, but that's the best advice I can give you. However, this will do nothing for sounds propagating in air to the walls/ceiling/floor. And how well it will perform I can't tell you. That's the problem with giving advice on the net.

For a complete solution, you are looking at THOUSANDS of $$$$$$$$$$$$$!

So I'll leave it at that. Sorry if I rained on your parade, but it's better to know the truth from the getgo.


Ok, that's my NON EXPERT opinion. Take it or leave it. Good luck.


PS. Treatment is an entirely different animal. Once you determine your Isolation thresholds, then you can think about treatment. Different subject. Different day.
 

BeniRose

New member
Alright, lets talk reality. I hate to tell you the bad news, but there is no such thing as SOUNDPROOF..or 100% isolation. Only degrees of transmission loss in a range of frequencies. And trying to isolate drums on a second floor of a residential building with a wood membrane floor is...well, how deep are your pockets? Not only is it difficult, but under some circumstances, it may be damn impossible.

Lets get real. What you are dealing with here is DIRECT structural transmission of IMPACT and Low frequency sounds..at least with the bass drum. And since this is a membrane floor, it will resonate at it's natural frequency and it's harmonics, which can play havoc with the mics, which ALSO are on stands that are directly coupled to the drums by the floor. Not only that, but the walls can transmit air propagated sounds via flanking by virtue of the fact they are built ON THE FLOOR. At least in typical multi story residential construction. So, given the fact that even if you could build a riser with enough mass to decouple the drums from the floor, very high SPL drum sounds will excite the walls, which in turn will excite the floor membrane, leaving the riser a moot point.

Benirose, you've been coming here a long time, and I'm sure I've explained this stuff to you before. However, if I haven't, then you need to do some research. The fact is, Isolation construction is not only expensive, but requires certain prerequisites to be in place or it may be a waste of time, energy and money. It really takes an experienced acoustician/structural engineer to determine if the existing building is capable of supporting the loads that are required to successfully meet a target TL, and even if it were, they then have to determine exactly what various isolation techniques and materials are needed in the particular set of circumstances. This is NOT something that people on this board can tell you. Iso construction is a highly NON intuitive, and expensive. PERIOD

That's not to say there is nothing you can do to improve the situation. But no one here can definitively tell you exactly what and how to do it. This is on a second floor, and the sound source is drums. Not a good combination. But I can tell you this. For a Pro studio, built on a second floor, in order to isolate sounds down to the frequency range and to decouple the impact transmission of drums, the USUAL prerequisite is an existing building with enough structural integrity to support a ROOM WITHIN A ROOM, with a decoupled CONCRETE floor, which can easily weigh 30 to 40 TONS!!!:eek::eek::eek:

Frankly, in my opinion, you are fighting a loosing battle here. My best advice is to use one of many existing products similar to this.

Auralex HD64GIG Hoverdeck Drum Isolation Platform at zZounds

Or build a deck out of 2 layers of 3/4" MDF, with a layer of 5/8" drywall between them, using Green Glue between each layer, screwed together and supported by a pad made of 1" OC 703 with Sorbothane pucks ...like this.

is.php


(Also, use some 703 pads under the mic stands too.)

Not an easy task, but that's the best advice I can give you. However, this will do nothing for sounds propagating in air to the walls/ceiling/floor. And how well it will perform I can't tell you. That's the problem with giving advice on the net.

For a complete solution, you are looking at THOUSANDS of $$$$$$$$$$$$$!

So I'll leave it at that. Sorry if I rained on your parade, but it's better to know the truth from the getgo.


Ok, that's my NON EXPERT opinion. Take it or leave it. Good luck.


PS. Treatment is an entirely different animal. Once you determine your Isolation thresholds, then you can think about treatment. Different subject. Different day.

So I know this is about three months later, but I've actually learned a bit since I moved into the space! For one, the isolation isn't a problem at all. It's a little loud down stairs but not nearly as much of an issue as I thought it was going to be. So that's good news. I might still look into getting some sort of drum platform, but really I'm not super worried about it any more.

The real issue is the treatment. Usually my main problem is that when I record, I can hear the room in my recordings (drums sound muffled, guitars sound weak) and this is usually more of a problem than the acoustics of when mixing. However, with this new room, my monitors sound like absolute shit. I'm hoping to install some bass traps in the corners (the bass is really what's messed up in this room), but I'm not sure what to do with the windows and wall across from my desk. It's been really frustrating being in this room because it's so small, and so much has to fit in there, it doesn't really leave any room for treatment. I'm still trying to figure this out, but I wanted to give you an update and thank you for posting what you posted.
 
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