So, I have this cave...

Rickious

Caveman
This is quite likely a unique question. But I like in a cave house, and have a spare cave room or two, and want to make one of them into a mixing and mastering studio. And possibly excavate a small VO booth too.

The problem is the room is small, its around 10ft x 15ft, and only around 6ft tall.

Another unknown for me is the surfaces, this is an unfinished or "raw" cave, so the walls are chisel marks and lumps and bumps. I don't know if this will make for an acoustic nightmare, or be a blessing in disguise?

The substrate the cave is dug into is actually a hard clay or soft sandstone depending on the layers. So not an echoey shiny rock, but matte, porous soft rock. Again, this might be a good thing for sound absorption?

Its not east to take a photo of the room as its in total darkness and a flash just picks up dust and orbs like a ghost hunting show hahahaha. So instead, i have a photo of the wall and roof of a brighter room so you can see the finish at least. And a photo of a finished cave room, which is my current little man cave for drawing, painting and gaming.

the cave studio, I want to leave raw, so untreated bobbley stone walls. Mostly to keep costs down, and also because it will look awesome.

The layout is basically a doorway to one side of the long wall on a rectangle.

So, I want to know...

- Your thoughts generally.
- Acoustic treatments
- Flooring (currently like a pharaohs tomb, dust and sand)
- Soundproof door ideas?
- Placement of a VO booth (will literally be dug into the wall) can be in a separate room if need be.
- Distance monitors would need to be from the wall

Budget is small, if I do this next year, maybe 500-1000 euros in total. and am willing to leave the floor as dirt if need be :LOL:
 

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rob aylestone

Well-known member
Well, once you have added all the treatment to the hard surfaces, it won't really be a cave anymore - is that important. Assuming you are genuine and really do live in a cave, then what does it sound like when you play music in it? it's perhaps just a huge diffuser and could sound great. My band played a gig in a cavern underground and it was great sounding for the music, but speech was terrible. It's rather small?
 

Rickious

Caveman
Hi Rob, thanks for the reply. Yes, totally true, emigrated from the UK to southern Spain to live in a cave house. Well partial cave house, basically a house build on the front of a cave. But my cave next door is just cave rooms. This room is the best for it as its not directly linked to outside, so with a decent door it should be pretty acoustically isolated barring someone digging or something nearby in the same hillside. But we don't have many neighbors.

What I need to do is totally clean out that room, its not been touched for decades, used to have chickens and rabbits in it I think a few owners back. So if I clear it all out, and take a sound system out there for a basic test.

I like the idea of some nice diffusers, I would love to keep the cave look, these things look awesome with the right lighting and that would be a big bonus.

My other questions would be...

- What's a good minimum size for a vocal booth?
- With the ceiling being low, am i wise to think about absorption left, right, behind the monitors, and also above?
- What about flooring? its basically dirt, which is probably dead and absorbent, but its bone dry and dusty so need to do something.
- The walls are very irregular anyway, so unless the material used for diffusers makes all the difference, the sound may be diffused anyway?
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
I often think that we forget a few things. If you are going to make choices so that your music sounds good and as close to what you intend in ordinary people's houses, then they won't be listening in a studio, so your perfectly wonderful acoustics might be wasted money? I have changed my view to make my studio sound neutral - so my previous efforts with non-parallel walls, treatment everywhere and perfect symmetry got changed when I had a rebuild. The room is now actually nicer to be in, and I like working in it better. Your cave should be awful, but you need music in it to hear what happens. The vocal booth needs to be as big as you can manage. My smallest one ever was 2m x 1m and it was horrible - being claustrophobic and often really hot. I installed fresh air in, foul air out ducts with a fan, which helped but frankly, not much. I'd not consider one now unless it was able to have two people in it comfortably, then one is much nicer.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
I once went to a pub like that a long time ago and can't remember where it was. Could have been in Wales UK?

A great place but a perfect moisture place. Fiberglass/rockwool may not last in a place like that and neither will electrical equipment unless serious ventilation or dehumidifiers.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
I often think that we forget a few things. If you are going to make choices so that your music sounds good and as close to what you intend in ordinary people's houses, then they won't be listening in a studio, so your perfectly wonderful acoustics might be wasted money? I have changed my view to make my studio sound neutral - so my previous efforts with non-parallel walls, treatment everywhere and perfect symmetry got changed when I had a rebuild. The room is now actually nicer to be in, and I like working in it better. Your cave should be awful, but you need music in it to hear what happens. The vocal booth needs to be as big as you can manage. My smallest one ever was 2m x 1m and it was horrible - being claustrophobic and often really hot. I installed fresh air in, foul air out ducts with a fan, which helped but frankly, not much. I'd not consider one now unless it was able to have two people in it comfortably, then one is much nicer.
The one thing we have noticed with our studio is towards the end of the day we get tired. We put this down to no ventilation due to being sealed for sound. So a quick change of air with the door wide open and we feel a lot better. Not great when it's bloody freezing outside though.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Ed- not sure about a pub, but this venue was in Cornwall, Carnglaze Caverns. Stage had stalagmites starting on stage, stalactites from the roof and you has to avoid the drips. Everything was damp. However, chalk caves are pretty dry I think.
 

Rickious

Caveman
These are old cave houses, excavated for people and animals back in the 16th century. They are in places with good drainage, and the type of substrate is breathable, so a good cave (which fortunately mine is) shouldn't be damp or overly humid. They also stay a consistent 19/20c (66-69f) which is quite pleasant. Obviously equipment and people and a sealed door may change that a bit. Certainly what you don't do with a cave house is seal anything or a slightly higher humidity would become dampness. It's a case of having air movement in there when using it (fans in equipment add to this as I have found in my office and man cave. But also leaving the room open whenever not in use, possibly with ventilation on a timer throughout the night.

Acoustically, like you say, need to try it.

As for a vocal booth, I don't mind small, I'm a big bloke, so if it's not too small for me it won't be bad for others. But I know I'd need room for scrips, knees, a decent silent chair, and room to move and breath a bit. I could in theory build a wooden booth in an adjacent room. I was thinking in the corner of the sound studio so it could have a window in the door for the more claustrophobic people and for prompting without the need for talking.

The vocal booth would be the second stage anyway. But want to have a good plan in mind. And it will be for vo for game development and audio books more than song vocals, so needs to be pretty dead. That doesn't have to look cave like when done.

I do have some concern about what to use to stick sound treatment in the booth without making it too sealed for the rock to beat and end up smelly or damp. So maybe a wooden booth in a ventilated dug out alcove or separate room would work.

I'll try and get a lamp out there and take photos of the best room I have for a studio. but it's a small room so not easy.

There is another room, a little higher, maybe 7 or 8ft, a little longer possibly more narrow though. I'd guess 8ft wide x 12ft long. But, there is a couple of small holes in the wall and through them you can see the neighbours modern metal chimney pipe. So the area through the hole is the old chimney. This kind of thing happened when cave houses were being built. Accidentally digging into a neighbours house hahaha. So this would need fixing, and insulating. And that would be like a lil sound box in there potentially from the neighbours house. They are rarely there. But if they decided to live there permanently and this was a problem, it might wreck 5he whole plan. Not to say I couldn't them move into the first room.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
Ed- not sure about a pub, but this venue was in Cornwall, Carnglaze Caverns. Stage had stalagmites starting on stage, stalactites from the roof and you has to avoid the drips. Everything was damp. However, chalk caves are pretty dry I think.
Theres a huge salt mine in UK. Like an underground city where they store important documents and the like. Salt caves are dry.

I should imagine sandstone could be dryish and very absorbent of moisture. It is a pretty useless rock and easily carved out but not very hard wearing.
 

Slouching Raymond

Active member
How very convenient that you can't take photos.
This all sounds like BS to me.
Roof only 6ft tall, as Rob says, dig it out some.
You want difusers? Just chissel them into the rock.
A large bloke happy with a small vocal booth, so others should be happy?
Is this to be a commercial studio?
The way you talk about cave homes suggests you just read about them.
 

Rickious

Caveman
Ed Phones -
Its hard to describe the stuff our rock is made of, you can dig it with hand tools if its just shelves and neatening or rounding off edges. But you would use a jackhammer or at least an SDS rotary hammer drill. But its somewhere between clay and sandstone. But you get sandstone slabs depending on the sedimentary layers, so a lot of the caves are dug from the softer stuff under the harder stuff. But thats why rooms are generally smaller or

Rob Aylestone-
For a vocal booth, excavating is an option, but id be digging it out myself, and would obviously need to dig at least a few feet before opening up into a little room, so its a LOT of rubble to shift and digging to do, hence wondering what a realistic minimum size is. I see the expensive flatpack VO booths and they are teeney. But wanted the opinion of more people from varied background.

Slouching Raymond -
Even more convenient, its hailstoning at the moment or id go do a short video hahahaha. But I do live in a cave house, honest HAHAHAHA

So, calving diffusers out of the rock would not only be quite easy, but could look absolutely awesome. And ridiculously unique. But how does clay/rock compare to wood diffusers for absorbsion and reflection properties I wonder?

As for the VO booth, I wouldnt expect other people to put up with something im happy with if its well below recommended minimum specs. Thats why im fishing around for real life experience and joined this forum. See what small booths people have used and what that have thought. I used a small one once, but it was a chamfered square, so 5 sided, and only about 5ft x 5ft and there were two of us in there getting some foley recordings for a game development. It was tight ish, for one person it would have been fine. But still huge compared to those flat pack ones that are far from inexpensive and are about the size of a spacious iron maiden :D

Im looking through for some photos or a video. not bright enough out to get photos in there, and like i say, it just doesnt work with a flash on my crud mobile, just takes a photo of floating dust like a paranormal investigation. ITs far from convenient hahahaha

EDIT - Forgot to say, no it wont be a proper commercial studio or booth. BUT there are a couple of local musicians that I know would use it, and when we start renting our our apartment upstairs, it will be listed as a facility that can be used to potentially draw some people who might not have come otherwise. Gotta stand out from all the other rentals these days.

but that said, i aint got money to throw at it to have the equipment people would expect, it will be low level basic, or being your own equipment. Not to say some time down the line there will be upgrades, not not 1000s of euros of equipment. It is primarily a mixing and mastering studio for me and 2 others. And a VO booth for game development voice overs, but also some some vocals. Primarily for me, likely others will use it occasionally.
 
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Rickious

Caveman
Slouching Raymond -
Right, so the exterior shot is the door to my raw caves. That's the term the locals use as they are dug out, useable for storage etc, but unfinished, no flooring or wall treatment or utilities.

The photo with the trough is the room I mentioned with the hole into next doors chimney. so without some repairing and maybe insulation it might be a waste of time, wouldn't know until the neighbors are there, but only come a few times a year. And the thin wall in in the doorway, so it might mean either a narrow door or digging out a new door, so quite awkward.

The even worse photo with straw all over the floor we call the chicken room, as the family who had this place in the 90s kept chickens and rabbits in here for meat. This is possibly the best room, the floor can in fact be dug down. But it is a heck of a lot of work so depends how detrimental a low ceiling is. I haven't been in the room for a while, but from memory, I can stand up in there, so at least 6ft 4.

The decent interior shot is my cave office. (Its big and clear as I use it for VR), leading to my cave cinema on the left, and man cave on the right. I claimed these 3 rooms when we viewed the house, they are bedrooms, but theres only two of use and theres a full apartment upstairs, so whats the point in a load of bedrooms. Want rooms we use, especially being a cave house, no air movement can easily lead to damp or stagnant air at least. So not a problem here as we use all the rooms regularly.

I will still try and get a better photo of the room in question, but it really is hard, dont have a frog eye on my dslr, and my mobile phone is poo (cheap HTC). will dig out my old samsung as the camera was better and try with that. and take a tape measure while im there.
 

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Rickious

Caveman
Yea I dont think its anything specific, locals call it rock, or clay, Id say its on its way to becoming sandstone, give it another 500,000 years maybe hahahahaha. So its kind of soft. or certainly on the softest end of the rocky spectrum.

I need to get in there with some good speakers and test it, but enty it first, all that straw would soften the reverb, but it aint staying. Dont want authentic antique chicken bedding as a floor finish :D
 

Rickious

Caveman
the cave cinema I would say doesnt have much reverb at all. Its about 10ft x 25ft, with the screen on the long wall. But I have a row of 8 old cinema seats, upholstered ones, so think that deadens a lot of the sound as it fills 2/3rds of the wall opposite the speakers.

When we were cave hunting (housing hunting to above ground folk), there were totally empty cave houses that had a lor of reverb, but think its the tiles floors more than the walls.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
Have you ever thought that the caves were not suitable to live in and thats why they put animals there?

People renovate old barns, but the barn was built to be a barn or shed originally. A house in old days was built differently than a barn for many reasons. Thickness of walls etc.

Your cave may be similar, so now you want whatever it is to be a music recording studio, which again is totally different.

It's about the equivalent of buying a Morris Minor 1100 in 1960 and today wanting it to travel at 250mph and be a fuel tanker. You could be talking mega bucks or finding something else.

Sorry.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
When you buy a house, you normally have a survey and lots of form. These usually include a detailed description and I find it very difficult to imagine buying a cave home, where you live in them but have no idea what the rock actually? A cave home is so unusual that any purchaser spending this kind of money would want to know the structural properties before they stick their kids in, or before they breath in outgassing from some rock. I just cannot imagine not knowing that my house is made out of mainly brick, but with some block and tile. Something is wrong here. PS, my phone from the 90s could take photos and had a light, they have been able to take pics ever since.
 

Slouching Raymond

Active member
Ok, caveman/artist, I concede that you are genuine.
I've seen cave homes on TV. The last one in UK was abandoned many years ago.
Will you be recording hard rock or soft rock?
You can check out my art at romeobravo.net
 
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