Machine Room Closet Schematic+Possibly Utilizing Unused Fireplace


New member
Hello Everyone,

Myself and a buddy of mine (who’s experienced in such work) are about to begin soundproofing a 300 square foot building that is in my backyard to use as a home recording studio. The building is just one rectangular room and we’re going to soundproof all four of its walls.

On the east wall, which is one of the shorter walls, there is an unused fireplace and chimney and the bottom of its back is currently exposed to the outside air. To see what I mean, if you look at the FireplaceCloseUp.jpg attached photo, what is circled in red are just stacked bricks separating the inside of the fireplace from the outside air.

I’d like to build a machine room as a closet inside the room and in front of the fireplace to keep noisy equipment. To see what I’m planning, take a look at the EastEndPlan.jpg attached photo. When I’ve googled or searched about machine room closets, I haven’t found any schematics and have only learned that cool air should come in, the hot air should go out, and that hot air rises. I literally don’t know anything else about them.

So my first set of questions are general ones about a machine room closet:

1) Does anyone have a schematic for building or designing one?

2) What materials should the closet be made out of?

3) Should it have both a cooling fan to bring air in and an exhaust fan to bring hot air out?

4) What are some recommended quietest and/or bang-for-your-buck fans to get?

5) Do people run the fans of their machine box or closet in such a setup while they record, i.e. is it possible to have super quiet fans?

6) What should the length, width, and height of the closet be?
The ceiling of the building is 8 feet, 3 inches high, and the dimension from the wall to the closet door could be somewhat long, as it’s kind of dead space within the triangle that is formed between the monitors and the end of the desk.

The second part of my question is, should I utilize the fireplace and chimney somehow for the machine closet? Anyone have any ideas on how to utilize them for ventilation or anything? The chimney is maybe ~15 feet high and has a sealed cap on it.

If anyone has any questions or if I left anything out, please ask! I’m not the greatest handyman in the world, but I’m sure any ideas from you all will at the very least help my construction buddy come up with a design plan! Thanks so much in advance for anyone who can offer advice!!!


  • FireplaceCloseUp.jpg
    2.9 MB · Views: 9
  • EastEndPlan.jpg
    1.9 MB · Views: 8
How about giving us some ideas what you are trying to do and what you have. Floor plan (dimensioned). What do you mean by 'machine room' - what 'machines' are you talking about? Are you truly trying to make this place 'soundproof', or are you trying to make it good for recording?
You seem to have a good assortment of cracks in your wall, and what looks like dampness running down the wall.
Probably a good idea to make sure it is all weatherproof, before putting expensive kit in there.
I'm assuming the machine room is somewhere to put equipment with noisy fans, like a PC. That would be a long way from your desk, and may not be practical.
I have a mixer with a separate rack mounted power supply, but fortunately it is not too noisy to be in the room.
Every machine room would be different, so there won't be a schematic available.
Something heavy, I'd say. A wooden frame with cement board on both sides, and maybe plasterboard as well, to keep any noise out.
My esmono booth has two panels with ventelation conduits running along the outside of the panels. One on a ceiling panel, with an integral sucking fan at the far end of the conduit, and the input conduit on the outside of a wall panel, with no fan. So it only sucks out, no blowing in.
I think they have to be fairly meaty. Perhaps you could get hold of a domestic fan heater, and remove the heating element, so you end up with a cheapish cold air blower.
If it is in a soundproofed machine room the fan noise wouldn't really matter.
Myself, I don't even turn my ventelation fans on, as I record for short periods, then open the doors to ventilate.
But for intensive use, I would turn them off while actually recording. Air passing through grills well away from a fan causes noise.
Depends what you plan to fit in there.

That chimney could be useful. You could install an exhaust fan at the top of the chimney, keeping its noise well out of your room.
I'd have a look at chimney fans, which suck hot gasses from gas fires out of the top of gas flues.

There are two jobs at play here:
1: ventelating the machine room equipment.
2: ventelating the musicians space.
My current studio has all computers in a separate small room - 8ft x 3 ft, in racks. The amount of hot air from 2 computers is surprising - so, you need to suck it out at the top and allow fresh in the bottom. I actually fitted a rack 'gap' facing into the studio, where the rear of the rack kit is in the 'machine room'. Mistake - I had to separate this inside the room from the computers, too much noise leaks through the gaps in the rack! Fan wise - duct fans are useful but noisy if run on full. The toilet style fans can kick out a surprising amount of noise - so the secret is to put the fan as far away as you can and suck foul air out, and that also helps noise from it getting back into the room. no fan on the fresh air in, just out. The room doesn't need to be special, just enclosed - ordinary plasterboard (sheetrock) on studding is fine - you are only dealing with a few fans, not something hugely noise.
Thank you guys so much for your responses.

It's good to now understand that an exhaust fan is needed to get the hot air out of the closet, and that the fan should be as far away as possible.

@Slouching Raymond, thanks for the idea of an exhaust fan at the top of the chimney and/or a chimney fan. Also, I'm curious when you say, "That would be a long way from your desk, and may not be practical." Let's say the distance was 10 feet--what problems are you thinking of if the computer is in the closet and its monitor, keyboard, and mouse are on the desk?

@ both Slouching Raymond and rob aylestone, thanks for clarifying that air does not need to be "fanned" into the closet. I guess my main questions that remain are, what's the best way to allow fresh air into the closet, and what's the best way to run cables into the closet? Not only the method for doing so, but also where are the best locations on the closet to have these openings?

@Slouching Raymond, when you say you have an input conduit for your isolation booth, does that mean an actual pipe is connected to the booth for air to travel in? Where does the end of the pipe that is outside of the booth end? Is it connected to your heat and air system or just open somewhere on the floor or ceiling? I hope that makes sense. I tried to keep my post short and only include the essential, but as for ventilating the room/musician's space, I plan to install a mini-split ductless system (in case that's relevant to the design of the closet).

@rob aylestone, thanks for the comment, "The room doesn't need to be special, just enclosed - ordinary plasterboard (sheetrock) on studding is fine - you are only dealing with a few fans, not something hugely noisy." Again, I tried to keep my post short and only include the essential, but my buddy who has soundproofed actual recording studios in the area, described how we will alternate four and six inch studs to soundproof the walls. So we could soundproof the closet the same way, plus put in a soundproof door, etc. This would help keep in the noise of the computer, rack gear, and exhaust fan, while also having openings into the closet for fresh air and cables. On the other hand, referring to your statement, like you said, it shouldn't be that noisy and could just be a "ordinary plasterboard on studding" type of closet. So perhaps soundproofing the closet would be overkill, but maybe it's better safe than sorry. I also don't know yet where the exhaust fan will be, it might be on the back upper wall of the closet and feed into the chimney, for example (which would make it louder than if it were at the top of the chimney...I looked at chimney fans and they're pretty expensive).

Thank you guys again!
I had to just separate off the rack to reduce the noise to virtually nothing - My studio has the usual sound insulation, air gap and layers, but it's just a cupboard - it's only got to keep a few fans out - which are not that noisy anyway. I'd not remotely think of treating it as a room within a room - it's just a sealed box in the studio for all intents and purposes. Cabling for me was easy. The studio when I built it has a raised floor - sitting on 1.5" timber at 30cm spacing (not our usual 60cm spacing). It's not floating on neopren, but screwed into the concrete going down one gap, and back up the next, is a nylon draw rope in a loop, and under the studio desk and in the machine space are holes cut in both cavities. I then pulled in the cabling very easily. HDMI for the monitors and one VGA was easy, but I had to use USB3 extenders for that connection - two computers, with two of the long USB cables with the electronics in the cables - I found the distance too great for trouble free use. Then, under the studio desk are two 4 way USBs so I can get the mice and keyboards back, plus plug in a memory stick if I need to.
I said the distance from the desk was long because of the length of the VGA monitor cable. Length = degredation.

Here is the air intake on my drum room. Air enters at the top of the external conduit, travels down, and then into the room at 1' off the floor.
Then the air exits the room through the ceiling grille into the conduit on top of the room, travels its length, and is then blown out of the far end of that conduit.
I don't know exactly what is inside the conduits, but I guess it may be an arrangement of twists and turns of rockwool sheet, for sound isolation.
PS: That's my Tama Superstar drum kit in there.

Passive Air Intake.jpgAir Extraction Grille.jpgFanned Exhaust.jpg