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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:02 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:07 am
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Location: Williamsport, PA - USA
Hello Friends! :D

First time poster, long time lurker.

My wife and I recently purchased a house here in Central PA, USA. The beautiful city of Williamsport, birthplace of Little League Baseball and home of the Little League World Series. We moved here 2 years ago shortly after we got married with this studio in mind. Williamsport is a great town with many musicians and artists, but not many outlets for those musicians. There are no local professional studios, nor are there any dedicated small music venues. The venue is another project we plan on working towards, but the studio is first and foremost as we are both also musicians.

The house we bought was purchased with the studio in mind. It's a large ranch, with a ~1,800 square foot basement made up of three large rooms. We purchased it as a short sale (it almost went to foreclosure), so that helped up our studio budget. We also already own most of the gear we need for the studio, so the bulk of the cost will be building the studio itself. The idea is to make the entrance room a lounge, with the control and tracking rooms branched off of that main lounge room. The house also boasts a back door which leads straight to the stairs down to the basement, making it ideal for a business entrance. I won't have to bring clients in through my living space!

I've done a large amount of research and reading on the construction itself, and am quite handy with some construction experience, so that's not really why I am here. My concerns are more with general design. Where to place walls, in what configuration, pre-build treatment, acoustic treatment, layout, etc is what I would like to get an opinion on.

Loudness isn't a large concern. This is a deep basement with very little space between ground level outside and the ceiling. The closest house is on the live room's side of the house, but still about 40-50 feet away. I plan on doing a lot of "sound proofing" in that room, but I'm sure I won't need to go too far. I also plan on setting up some loud gear in that space and going outside with an SPL meter to be sure before I start. I've never been one to mix at high volume, but the mix room is less of a concern as it's in the center of the house, and faces the front of the property. I have over 50 feet from the front of the house to the road, and no neighbor directly across the street. I fully expect the sound outside with little treatment to be at or less than ambient sound.

The house itself was built in 1955, and built to last. There is a real stone facade around the ENTIRE house from ground level to the roof. The house is held up by TWO large steel I-Beams. All the interior walls are made with very dense 1 inch thick sheet rock. In the basement itself, this was put up over a poured concrete foundation. The existing floor looks like 9-inch asbestos tile, and was placed over that foundation. The basement was musty, but a dehumidifier has completely mitigated that issue. There is some mildew damage on the existing walls, which I have pictures of. I am not sure if I should clean these walls, or simply replace the mildewed sheet rock. Thoughts on that?

There is drop ceiling in the future control room. I removed it from the lounge (for aesthetics) and tracking room (for soundproofing and future construction). The ceiling height is 94 inches (7 feet, 10 inches) in all three rooms. I haven't decided yet if I should replace the drop ceiling in the control room, but likely will. Above the drop ceiling and the 1 inch by 2 inch wood strips used to hold it up is the original floor joists for the main floor. They all look to be in excellent condition. Again, whoever built this house spared no expense. It was built to last.

Here is the layout of the three rooms. I am NOT proficient in SketchUp, but here is what I was able to make.

Attachment:
Studio Mockup.skp


The Rooms:

The Control Room is 15 feet, 3 inches wide, and 29 feet, 4 inches long by 7 feet, 10 inches tall. There is a wide open doorway into the lounge, with a soffit above it that houses the HVAC ducts. I do plan on replacing the old ducts with flexible insulated ducts. There is a small inset wall towards the back of the room (space for the boiler on the opposite side) and a working stone fireplace on the back wall.

This is the view towards the Live room. Mix position would be facing this way. Please excuse all the stuff laying around the room. The shelves were there when I moved in, and are not permanent. I plan on using them around the studio as necessary.
Attachment:
DSC_0001.JPG


This is the opposite view. You can see how the room is slightly less wide back there, and the fire place. There is also an inset in the left corner. I plan on possibly building a vocal booth using some of that space, but haven't fully decided on that as of yet. Sweet Eurodesk, right?
Attachment:
DSC_0002.JPG


The Live Room is 13 feet, 9 inches wide by 26 feet, 3 inches long by 7 feet, 10 inches tall. There are built in cabinets on one end, and on the other on opposite walls. You can see them in these pictures. I plan on leaving them, and using them as storage. I hope this will help with some soundproofing. There is also an auxiliary hot water heater in this room. I will likely wall this in with a door access in case of issues. It's electric, and completely silent, so no issues there.

Please excuse the stuff everywhere.
You can see the entrance on the left (good sized opening for a double door), and water heater on the right. Also the built-ins in the back.
Attachment:
DSC_0006.JPG

You can see the smaller built-ins to either side.
Attachment:
DSC_0007.JPG


Here is a picture of the mildew on the walls. They were like this when we moved in, and have not been added to since we've been here. The previous owners were elderly and didn't take care of the house at all.
Attachment:
DSC_0003.JPG


Ok, now for the questions. My main concerns are design. I want to build walls inside the existing walls with a small space between for added sound proofing for the outside. I want to do this in both rooms. I would also like to make the mixing room asymmetrical, but am unsure of the best way considering the size and shape.
So what I am here to ask is:

1) where and in what configuration should I add walls in the Live room? Should I just remove the built-ins?

2) where and in what configuration should I add walls in the Control room? Is the fireplace going to be an issue acoustically? Is the open doorway going to be an issue acoustically in the room?

3) floors: I plan on getting rolls of vinyl flooring, and then covering with area rugs. Cheap an effective I would think. Thoughts? Better ideas?

4) the mildew walls...clean and leave, or replace?

5) any other random thoughts or ideas? It's my first time doing anything like this in a space. I've always just worked with what I had and made the best of it and have gotten good results.

My budget is large. I would like to do it as inexpensively as possible, but I am not against spending over 10k to make this right. I plan on living here a long time, and I plan on trying to make this a workhorse of a studio. I want a professional product that is both aesthetically pleasing and very usable for both myself and any other engineer/artist that wants to use the space. I appreciate any help you wonderful, intelligent people can give me and want to thank you for both reading and giving me your opinions.
Thanks gang!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:51 am 
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Location: Santiago, Chile
Hi there "sacredheartattack", and Welcome! :)

Great first post, by the way. :thu: It includes all the major information, laid out clearly and logically. Excellent!

Congratulations on the purchase of the new place, and the spacious rooms!

Quote:
Loudness isn't a large concern.
Perhaps, but you only mentioned one direction: your noise getting out. What about outside noise getting in? What sounds are there outside that could trash your recording or mixing sessions? Thunder, rain, hail, or wind. Aircraft or helicopters flying over. Sirens from ambulances / police / fire engines. Nearby trains. Cars arriving / leaving / driving past. Dogs barking outside. Lawnmowers. Loud radios/TVs. Also things inside the building itself, such as water running in pipes, fans, pumps and other motors, people walking on floors, doors closing, people talking, vacuum cleaners, washing machine, phones ringing, furnace, TV, radio, cell phones.... There's hundreds of possible sounds that could destroy a good recording, or just annoy you as you try to concentrate. Isolation is a two-way street: You need to be thinking about sounds going in both directions, and set your goal to deal with the loudest one. The "loudest one" might well be your music going out, but it also might be something out there that you don't want to let in...

Quote:
The existing floor looks like 9-inch asbestos tile,
Uh-oh! That's not good news. Asbestos is dangerous stuff, and if you need to do anything at all that affects that flooring (which you certainly WILL need to do, based on the plans you outlined), you are going to need to hire a professional company to take that out safely, and dispose of it legally. You should probably get that checked, to find out if it really is asbestos, and if so get a quote for having it removed.

Quote:
There is some mildew damage on the existing walls, which I have pictures of. I am not sure if I should clean these walls, or simply replace the mildewed sheet rock. Thoughts on that?
Personally, if that were my place, I would have it all removed professionally. Mildew can also be nasty stuff, and you don't want to be spreading the spores into the air around you, and the rest of the house! Taking it off will reveal the foundation walls behind it, so you can find out where the humidity problem is coming from and hopefully fix it. I would suggest not building any interior walls without first identifying that: you don't want humidity (and mildew) building up inside a wall cavity, where you can't even see it until it is too late! If that were my place, I would want to see what's behind the drywall, and treat the problem.

Quote:
The ceiling height is 94 inches (7 feet, 10 inches) in all three rooms.
Where are you measuring that height to? The bottom of the floor joists above you, or all the way up to the under surface of the sub-floor above you? Visually, the room is only as high as the joists, but acoustically it goes all the way up to the subfloor, and that extra height could be very useful. What size are your joists, and what is the total height up to the sub floor? 7' 10" is pretty low for a studio, so any extra height you can gain is going to be worthwhile.

Quote:
I haven't decided yet if I should replace the drop ceiling in the control room,
Drop ceilings and so-called "acoustic tiles" are not very useful for studios. The "acoustics" of those tiles is very much inadequate for studio sounds: it's fine for offices, shops, schools, and suchlike, but not for studios. I would remove the drop ceiling and put in typical studio ceiling treatment in both rooms (assuming you really don't need any additional isolation...)

Quote:
Above the drop ceiling and the 1 inch by 2 inch wood strips used to hold it up is the original floor joists for the main floor.
It sounds like your 7' 10" measurement was only to the original drop ceiling, which means that you DO have more space up there! That's good news!

Quote:
Here is the layout of the three rooms. I am NOT proficient in SketchUp, but here is what I was able to make.
I did download it, but it is in SketchUp V2019 format, so I can't open it. I have the "pro" version of SketchUp, which is expensive, but I need it for the services I provide to my clients. I do not plan to upgrade to any new version of SketchUp until they put some actual effort into the new releases. The last several releases have been worse than feeble, with nothing at all in them except vague window dressing, and I don't plan to fork out wads of cash on useless fluff! I'm waiting for a worthwhile upgrade, then I'll pay for it. It's damn expensive to be paying for worthless eye-candy every year, with the pro version! Excuse the rant..... My point is, please save your SketchUp in 2017 format, and I'll be happy to look at it.

Quote:
The Control Room is 15 feet, 3 inches wide, and 29 feet, 4 inches long by 7 feet, 10 inches tall.
That's big! Probably too big. Or at least, to long for the height and width. There are several documents that lay out the specifications for control rooms, and they all suggest a floor area of between about 215 ft2 and 650 ft2. At 450 ft2 approx, you are in the middle of that range.... however, there are also specs for the relationship between the dimensions (length vs. width vs. height). These are called "room ratios", and are somewhat important, because the ratio of your room defines the acoustic response. More accurately, the ratio sets the modal response, since modes (standing wave resonances) are directly related to the dimensions of the room. And in turn, the modal response sets the overall frequency response of the room. So, over the years some smart people have done some fancy math and testing, and figured out which ratios are really bad, which ones are acceptable, and which ones are really good. You'll often see acousticians talking about things like "Louden's third ratio" or "Sepmeyer's first ratio", or the "Bolt area", or "Bonello charts"... these are all related to the issue of room modes and room dimensions. It turns out that long thin rooms with low ceilings fall into the category "bad ratios", unfortunately. So even though have a good floor area, the ratio is not good.

There's a set of criteria for evaluating room dimensions, and one of those is that the length and width should never be more than 3 times the height. In your case, the length is nearly FOUR times the height... so the room is too long. Another of the criteria states that no two dimensions should be the same, nor be multiples of each other, nor within 5% of being multiples of each other. The width of your room is nearly twice the height... And your length is nearly twice the width... If your room were about three and a half feet higher and 7 feet shorter, then you'd have an excellent ratio (in fact, it would be very close to Louden's second best ratio). This is one of the reasons I'm hoping that you only measured that 7' 10" to the bottom of the joists above you, and that you do, in fact, have many more inches of joist up there, since that would greatly improve your situation. The room would still be too long, though: I suspect it will need to be shortened.

Quote:
with a soffit above it that houses the HVAC ducts. I do plan on replacing the old ducts with flexible insulated ducts
I'm just wondering why you would want to do that? Is there a problem with the existing ducts? Are they leaking, or corroded maybe? From the photos, it looks like you have rectangular ducts up there, and if you replaced those with flex duct (which is round) you would end up losing a lot of additional space in that area, since the round duct would need to be considerably larger to get the same internal cross sectional area (which is what really matters here). You don't want to reduce the cross-sectional area, as that would increase the static pressure and place a heavy additional load on your HVAC fans, while reducing efficiency and increasing your energy costs.... (it costs more money to run an inefficient HVAC system).

Quote:
I plan on possibly building a vocal booth using some of that space, but haven't fully decided on that as of yet.
Since that's going to be the rear wall of your control room, and the rear wall is by far the most complicated acoustically, requiring major deep treatment, there's not problem losing space back there... but if you did want to make that into a booth of some type, that would complicate things, as you'd need a door into the booth and that door would need to go through the middle of all your acoustic treatment. The door could not be glass, ias it would need treatment all over it, and there would be no point making it glass in any case, as it would be behind your head, so you wouldn't even be looking into it very much. Doing it back there is possible, yes, and I've done that in a couple of places I have designed, but it's an extra headache. Best to avoid, if possible. On the other hand, if you put the booth at the FRONT of the room, then you can have a glass door between your speakers into that booth, with good sight lines and much less impact on the room acoustics. You could have a really nice isolation booth up there (maybe even large enough to be a drum booth?), since it could be around 7 feet deep (or more), and the full 15 foot width. That's what I would suggest.

Quote:
The Live Room is 13 feet, 9 inches wide by 26 feet, 3 inches long by 7 feet, 10 inches tall.
Also a nice size, but with a very low ceiling. Most instruments need "air" around them to sound good, and that includes plenty of height above them. Once again, I'm really hoping that you have some "hidden" headroom up there, in terms of very deep joists holding up the floor above you!

Quote:
There are built in cabinets on one end, and on the other on opposite walls. You can see them in these pictures. I plan on leaving them, and using them as storage. I hope this will help with some soundproofing.
Probably not a good idea! Those would be resonant cavities, with unknown resonant characteristics.... they would happily sing along with some notes played in the room.... :)

Quote:
I want to build walls inside the existing walls with a small space between for added sound proofing for the outside.
That only makes sense if you also isolate the ceiling. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot isolate just one or two sides of a room: you have to isolate all six sides (where the ceiling and floor are counted as "sides"). Think of your room as a fish tank: you can't have a fish tank that has glass only on some sides! It won't hold water. And you can't have acosutic isolation on only some sides: it won't "hold sound". The floor is not an issue here, as it seems to be concrete slab-on-grade, so no problem there.... but once again, we get back to the ceiling... You can isolate the walls all you want, but if you don't also isolate the ceiling then it is all in vein. Isolation is only as good as the weakest link: the sound will simply ignore your wonderful new walls completely, and just escape out though the ceiling, into the rest of the world. And ditto for sound traveling the other way: it will happily come in through your ceiling, trashing your recording sessions when it gets into the mics (ie, somebody walking on the floor above, or a door slamming, etc.)

Thus, if you do need isolation for your studio, then you need to isolate the ceiling. The problem is that you don't have enough height to be able to isolate your ceiling! Isolation requires a lot of space, and you can't afford to lose any space up there... so this is a probably your biggest issue: first, determining if you need mode isolation for your studio, and secondly figuring out how to do that while minimizing the impact on the studio acoustics.

Quote:
I would also like to make the mixing room asymmetrical,
I guess that was a typo, and you meant to write "symmetric"? A control room absolutely MUST be symmetrical! Symmetry is critical. If the room is not symmetrical, then your left ear hears something different from what your right ear hears, and you end up with an unbalanced mix that does not translate well. At the very least, the front half of the room must be symmetrical: from your head towards the speakers. The back half (behind you) isn't quite so critical, and can be a bit asymmetric if there's not other choice, but even then its better to have that symmetrical too. The left half of the room should be a mirror image of the right half. That's a basic design criteria for any control room. It is part of all the design concepts that are currently used in studio control rooms.

OK, for your actual questions:

Quote:
1) where and in what configuration should I add walls in the Live room? Should I just remove the built-ins?
Rather than adding walls, first determine if you need more isolation or not. I'm REALLY hoping that the answer is "not"! Because if you do need good isolation, your ceiling is going to come down by several inches, minimum, and it's not going to be good in there, either visually or acoustically.

Quote:
2) where and in what configuration should I add walls in the Control room? Is the fireplace going to be an issue acoustically? Is the open doorway going to be an issue acoustically in the room?
I would block off the fire place completely, with plenty of mass, the make that end the rear of your control room. I would shorten the length considerably (depends on the height issue too), and use that space to create a nice size isolation booth in the front of the room, with access through sliding glass doors between your speaker soffits. The rest of the room will need the usual treatment, with great care for the ceiling.

Quote:
3) floors: I plan on getting rolls of vinyl flooring, and then covering with area rugs. Cheap an effective I would think. Thoughts? Better ideas?
IS there anything wrong with the floor you have there right now, apart from it being asbestos? If it is in good condition, and the health and safety inspectors are happy that it does not pose a health risk, then I would just leave it as it is: it looks like a good, hard, solid, rigid surface, so that would be great. You can't afford to lose any more room height, not even fractions of an inch. On the other hand, if the health and safety inspection says that it is dangerous and needs to come out, then that's actually a good thing, as you would gain some extra room height, and you'd end up with a bare concrete slab. There's nothing better than that for a studio floor!

Quote:
4) the mildew walls...clean and leave, or replace?
I already mentioned that, but basically I would get it removed professionally so you can see what's going on behind it, then take whatever action is needed.

Quote:
5) any other random thoughts or ideas? It's my first time doing anything like this in a space.
There's a LOT more stuff that you'll have to take into account for sure! The above barely scratches the surface. Studio design is a BIG deal, with a large number of aspects that most people never even realize exist, let alone understand the importance.... but the above should give you some basics to think about, as you start the design process.

Quote:
My budget is large. I would like to do it as inexpensively as possible, but I am not against spending over 10k to make this right.
I think there must be another typo there! 10k won't take you very far at all! You have over 800 square feet of floor area, so with just 10k you would only have about US$ 12 per square foot to spend! If you wanted to lay good quality linoleum flooring, as you mentioned, the installed cost for that runs to about US$ 5 or 6 per square foot, so just the flooring alone would eat up half your entire budget! You mentioned wanting to put up walls around your rooms to improve isolation, but just the control room alone has 80 linear feet of wall area, with a height of nearly 8 feet, that works out to 640 square feet, so you would need 1200 square feet there, and something similar for the live room. Call it 2500 ft2, to make the math simple. Drywall costs around US$ 2 per square foot installed, so there's 5k, just in drywall, without even considering the framing or insulation.

There's also the HVAC to consider, as well as the electrical installation, and then all of the acosutic treatment in the rooms. Plus doors and perhaps windows. (A good acoustic rated sliding glass door could set you back 2k, and you'll need at least two of those).

My clients around the world tell me that their costs for doing a typical studio similar to what you are doing, is around US$ 50 per square foot, very roughly (+/- 20%) (or around US$ 500 per square meter) inside an existing space, or about three times that for a ground-up build. So I would suggest that you re-think your budget along those lines. I would plan on at least 50k for your place, assuming that you do not need to remove the asbestos and that your mildew issues are minor. That would be for an typical home studio build, but if you need more professional studio, that you can rent out commercially to musicians and producers, then you should probably go higher on that.

Quote:
I want a professional product that is both aesthetically pleasing and very usable for both myself and any other engineer/artist that wants to use the space.
Then DEFINITELY reconsider your budget! 10k is falling way short of what it will actually cost, realistically.


- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:18 pm 
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sacredheartattack, here's your file as a 2017 version so most can view it.

Attachment:
Studio Mockup.skp


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:48 am 
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Location: Williamsport, PA - USA
John Sayers wrote:
sacredheartattack, here's your file as a 2017 version so most can view it.

Attachment:
Studio Mockup.skp


John, the man himself. Thank you for this. Saved me 20 some off minutes of scratching my head, wondering when I started losing my skills with software. You're the real MVP.

Stuart - Thank you as well. The time you obviously put into reading and responding to my post is wonderful. I can't thank you enough.
Soundman2020 wrote:
Perhaps, but you only mentioned one direction: your noise getting out. What about outside noise getting in?

Great point, and one I haven't mentioned or specifically thought about. However, I've never noticed much outside noise when down there. I will be checking into that soon. It is a quiet neighborhood, and although I live in a city, it's far from an urban area. There is a boiler that does make some noise. It's located in what will be the lounge area, but is somewhat out of the way. I did plan on building a wall around it. It's also old and inefficient, so it my be replaced prior to this construction.

Soundman2020 wrote:
Visually, the room is only as high as the joists, but acoustically it goes all the way up to the subfloor, and that extra height could be very useful.

You mentioned this space many times. 7' 10" is to the bottom of the joists. I just went and measured. 12" joists, 16" on center. This adds a whole foot to my height. I assumed I would be hanging drywall below them in the live space. Are you suggesting leaving these open?

Soundman2020 wrote:
My point is, please save your SketchUp in 2017 format, and I'll be happy to look at it.

John saved me here!

Soundman2020 wrote:
That's big! Probably too big. Or at least, to long for the height and width.

I thought this might be an issue, and making the room smaller is something that's quite easy to do. I was only somewhat aware of the ratios you mentioned. I will dig into the boards for info on them, but any specific articles you can point me to that will shorten my search would be awesome. The asymmetry I mentioned is more my lack of vocabulary. I mean I don't want a cube room. I know the idea is not to have walls facing each other, so what I was looking for is something along the lines of "this is a room shape you should go for". Now, I understand that it's of course not that easy. I am hoping looking into these ratios and room designs will help point me in the correct direction on what shape this space should be. Also be aware, I hope to have enough space in this room for "not live" instruments. I would like to fit a few keyboard type instruments in this space, as well as an area for an artist to listen and be able to play a guitar for example (with the signal going to a mic'ed up cabinet in the live room).

Soundman2020 wrote:
I'm just wondering why you would want to do that?

I am basing this on one post I saw about how to handle HVAC. It's a very preliminary thought. I will be of course discussing all of this with an HVAC specialist when I have my boiler looked into. I've only really scratched the surface here, and this isn't a "must" for the build.

Soundman2020 wrote:
On the other hand, if you put the booth at the FRONT of the room

This is super interesting to me, especially with the issues of the size of the space...I could build a booth towards the front, which would help cut the size of the room down. This would bring the fireplace closer to mix position, however I could just wall it off when I build the room. I absolutely don't plan on ever using it as a fireplace once the studio is built, unless the mix isn't warm enough. 8)

Soundman2020 wrote:
and you'd end up with a bare concrete slab. There's nothing better than that for a studio floor!

This actually surprised me! I would think bare concrete would be too reflective. I will dig into this for sure, as I would love to save $2-$8 a square foot for flooring (prices based on pretty floors I looked at in my local Lowes).

Soundman2020 wrote:
I think there must be another typo there! 10k won't take you very far at all!

You're correct here. After I read your responses I did a little more pricing. I did plan on building the walls myself (with a little help from some experience friends). So I will save on building the walls. Cutting out flooring will help as well. Like I said though, I can go much higher on my budget if I need to. Im going to spend the next couple days measuring and pricing.

Thanks again for all you put into this! I would be more than happy to continue talking with you on this!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:20 am 
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Quote:
sacredheartattack, here's your file as a 2017 version so most can view it.
Thanks John! Much appreciated...

Quote:
Stuart - Thank you as well. The time you obviously put into reading and responding to my post is wonderful. I can't thank you enough.
That's what the forum is for! Helping others out with advice. :thu:

Quote:
I've never noticed much outside noise when down there. I will be checking into that soon.
Get yourself a sound level meter, or even an app on a smart phoned for very rough estimates, and measure the real levels in and around the house at various times of day. If you haven't moved in yet, or only recently, you might not yet be aware of some periodic noises, such as aircraft flying overhead at certain times or under certain weather conditions, if there's an airport fairly close by... or trains that only run on certain days or at certain times... or the neighbor that only mows his lawns on Saturdays... etc. Try to build up a "profile" of noises that might be a problem, each time you are there at the site.

But the biggest issues will likely be things within the house fittest, such as footsteps on the floor above, things dropped on the floor, doors opening and closing, fans, pumps, water lines, etc. Since those are all "structure borne" noise (vibrations present in the building structure itself), they are hard to isolate. Anything that is in direct contact with the building structure is a potential source of trouble, and here too you might not have experienced the full range of those if you only just moved in, or even more so if you haven't moved in yet. Something as simple as a vacuum cleaner sitting on the floor humming away, and the business end of that scraping across the floor...

Quote:
You mentioned this space many times.
Yup! Because its important if you have it! :)


Quote:
7' 10" is to the bottom of the joists. I just went and measured. 12" joists, 16" on center. This adds a whole foot to my height.
Excellent! That's good news! Assuming that you don't need much extra isolation, of course... That extra height is very useful, acoustically.

Quote:
I assumed I would be hanging drywall below them in the live space. Are you suggesting leaving these open?
If at all possible, yes! Those joists are also useful, all by themselves, as they do produces some diffusion up there, but that extra foot of space is the best. As I mentioned previously, most musical instruments need space to sound good, and especially space above. Drums, for example, sound lousy under a low ceiling, but can sound great in the same size room with a much higher ceiling. Also, if you have a low ceiling then your drum overhead mics are suspended just a few inches below that, so you get major comb filtering happening at the mic, and things sound dull and even phasey. But with a higher ceiling, there can be several feet above the overheads, so no reflections, no comb filtering at the mic, and nice clean, airy, bright sound. So anything that you can do to increase the room height is A Very Good Thing!

Of course, if it turns out that you need to isolate your room, then that's a great pity, because you would lose that space, and a bit more. The only good news in that case is that you could get really good isolation, because you have a 12" air gap up there... Small consolation, though.... it would be better to have that air as part of your room, not part of your isolation system...

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I was only somewhat aware of the ratios you mentioned. I will dig into the boards for info on them, but any specific articles you can point me to that will shorten my search would be awesome.
Here's a couple of tools that can help entertain you for a few hours! :) Use one of these Room Ratio calculators to figure out the best dimensions for your room:

http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm
https://amcoustics.com/tools/amroc

Both of those are very good, and will help you to decide how best to build your room. They give you tons of information that is really useful to help figure out the best dimensions, as well as other aspects of your room.

Here's something I wrote a while back on room, modes, that might be helpful for you. It's sort of long and convoluted, but I think it explains the issues reasonably well, if you can stick with it to the end!

------------

Room ratios is a whole major subject in studio design. It works like this: The walls of your studio create natural resonances in the air space between them, inside the room. (This is totally different from the MSM resonance of the walls themselves: this is all about what happens INSIDE the ROOM, not what happens inside the walls. Two totally different things.)

So you have resonant waves inside the room. We call those "standing waves" or "room modes". Those "modes" (resonances) occur at very specific frequencies that are directly related to the distances between the room boundaries (walls, floor, ceiling). They are called "standing waves" because they appear to be stationary inside the room: they are not REALLY stationary, since the energy is still moving through the room. But the pressure peaks and nulls always fall at the exact same points in the room each time the wave energy passes, so the "wave" seems to be fixed, static, and unmoving inside the room. If you play a pure tone that happens to be at the exact frequency of one of the "modes", then you can physically walk around inside the room and experience the "standing" nature of the wave: you will hear that tone grossly exaggerated at some points in the room, greatly amplified, while at other points it will sound normal, and at yet other points it will practically disappear: you won't be able to hear it at all, or you hear it but greatly attenuated, very soft.

The peaks and nulls fall at different places in the room for different frequencies. So the spot in the room where one mode was deafening might turn out to be the null for a different node.

Conversely, if you have a mode (standing wave) that forms at a specific frequency, then playing at a slightly different frequency might show no mode at all: for example, if a tone of exactly 73 Hz creates a standing wave that is clearly identifiable as you walk around the room, with major nulls and peaks, then a tone of 76 Hz might show no modes at all: it sounds the same at all points in the room. Because there are no natural resonances, no "room modes" associated with that frequency.

That's the problem. A BIG problem.

Of course, you don't want that to happen in a control room, because it implies that you would hear different things at different places in the room, for any give song! At some places in the room, some bass notes would be overwhelming, while at other places the same notes would be muted. As you can imagine, if you happen to have your mix position (your ears) located at such a point in the room, you'd never be able to mix anything well, as you would not be hearing what the music REALLY sounds like: you would be hearing the way the room "colors" that sound instead. As you subconsciously compensate for the room modes while you are mixing, you could end up with a song that sounds great in that room at the mix position: the best ever! But it would sound terrible when you played it at any other location, such as in your car, on your iPhone, in your house, on the radio, at a club, in a church, etc. Your mix would not "translate".

And you also don't want major modal issues in a tracking room, for similar reasons: As an instrument plays up and down the scale, some notes will sound louder than others, and will "ring" longer. The instrument won't sound even and balanced.

OK, so now I have painted the scary-ugly "modes are terrible monsters that eat your mixes" picture. Now lets look at that a bit more in depth, to get the real picture, and understand why they look bad, but aren't so bad in reality.

So let's go back to thinking about those room modes (also called "eigenmodes" sometimes): remember I said that they occur at very specific frequencies, and they are very narrow? This implies that if you played an E on your bass guitar, it might trigger a massive modal resonance, but then you play either a D or an F and there is no mode, so they sound normal. Clearly, that's a bad situation. But what if there was a room mode at every single frequency? What if there was one mode for E, a different mode for D and yet another one for F? In that case, there would be no problem, since all notes would still sound the same! Each note would trigger its own mode, and things would be happy again. If there were modes for every single frequency on the spectrum, and they all sounded the same, then you could mix in there with no problems!

And that's exactly what happens at higher frequencies. Just not at low frequencies. Because of "wavelength"...

It works like this: remember I said that modes are related to the distance between walls? It's a very simple relationship. Remember I said the waves are "standing" because the peaks and nulls occur at the same spot in the room? In simple terms, for every frequency where a wave fits in exactly between two walls, then there will be a standing wave. And also for exactly twice that frequency, since two wavelengths of that note will now fit. And the same for three times that frequency, since three full waves will now fit in between the same walls. Etc. All the way up the scale.

So if you have a room mode at 98 Hz in your room, then you will also have modes at 196 Hz (double), 294 (triple), 392 (x4), 490(x5), 588(x6), 686(x7) etc., all the way up. If the very next mode in your room happened to be at 131 Hz, then there would also be modes at 262 Hz(x2), 393(x3), 524(x4), 655(x5), etc.

That's terrible, right? There must be thousands of modes at higher frequencies!!! That must be awful!

Actually, no. That's a GOOD thing. You WANT lots of modes, for the reasons I gave above: If you have many modes for each note on the scale, then the room sounds the same for ALL notes, which is what you want. It's good, not bad.

But now let's use a bit of math and common sense here, to see what the real problem is.

If your room has a mode at 98Hz, and the next mode is at 131 Hz, that's a difference of 32%! 98 Hz is a "G2". So you have a mode for "G2". but your very next mode is a "C3" at 131Hz. That's five notes higher on the scale: your modes completely skip over G2#, A2, A2#, and B2. No modes for them! So those four notes in the middle sound perfectly normal in your room, but the G2 and C3 are loud and long.

However, move up a couple of octaves: ...

There's a harmonic of your 98Hz mode at 588 Hz, and there's a harmonic of your 131 Hz mode at 524 Hz. 524 Hz is C5 on the musical scale, and 588 Hz is a D5. They are only two notes apart! Not five, as before.

Go up a bit more, and we have one mode at 655 and another at 686. 655 is an E5, and 686 is an F5. they are adjacent notes. Nothing in between! We have what we want: a mode for every note.

The further up you go, the closer the spacing is. In fact, as you move up the scale even higher, you find several modes for each note. Wonderful!

So at high frequencies, there is no problem: plenty of modes to go around and keep the music sounding good.

The problem is at low frequencies, where the modes are few and far between.

The reason there are few modes at low frequencies is very simple: wavelengths are very long compared to the size of the room. At 20 Hz (the lower limit of the audible spectrum, and also E0 on the organ keyboard), the wavelength is over 56 feet (17m)! So your room would have to be 56 feet long (17 meters long) in order to have a mode for 20 Hz.

Actually, I've been simplifying a bit: it turns out that what matters is not the full wave, but the half wave: the full wave has to exactly fit into the "there and back" distance between the walls, so the distance between the walls needs to be half of that: the half-wavelength. So to get a mode for 20 Hz, your room needs to be 56 / 2 = 28 feet long (8.5M) . Obviously, most home studios do not have modes at 20 Hz, because there's no way you can fit a 28 foot (eight meter) control room into most houses!

So clearly, the longest available distance defines your lowest mode. If we take a hypothetical dimensions as an example (typical of a very small home studio), and say the length of the control room is 13 feet (4m), the width is 10 feet (3m), and the height is 8 feet. (2.5M) So the lowest mode you could possibly have in that room, would be at about 43 Hz (fits into 13 feet or 4M perfectly). That's an "F1" on your bass guitar.

The next highest mode that you room could support is the one related to the next dimension of the room: In this case, that would be width, at 10 feet / 3M. That works out to 56.5 Hz. That's an "A1#" on your bass guitar. Five entire notes up the scale.

And your third major mode would be the one related to the height of the room, which is 8 feet /2.5M, and that works out to 71 Hz, or C2# on the bass guitar. Another four entire notes up the scale.

There are NO other fundamental modes in that room. So as you play every note going up the scale on your bass guitar (or keyboard), you get huge massive ringing at F, A# and C#, while all the other notes sound normal. As you play up the scale, it goes "tink.tink.tink.BOOOOM.tink.tink.tink.tink.BOOOOOM.tink.tink.tink.BOOOOOM.tink.tink...."

Not a happy picture.

There are harmonic modes of all those notes higher up the scale, sure. But in the low end, your modes are very few, and very far between.

So, what some people say is "If modes are bad, then we have to get rid of them". Wrong! What you need is MORE modes, not less. Ideally, you need a couple of modes at every single possible note on the scale, such that all notes sound the same in your room. In other words, the reverberant field would be smooth and even. Modes would be very close together, and evenly spread.

So trying to "get rid of modes" is a bad idea. And even if it were a good idea, it would still be impossible! Because modes are related to walls, the only way to get rid of modes is with a bulldozer! Knock down the walls... :shock:

That's a drastic solution, but obviously the only way to get a control room that has no modes at all, is to have no walls! Go mix in the middle of a big empty field, sitting on top of a 56 foot (17 M) ladder, and you'll have no modes to worry about.... 8) :roll:

:shot:

Since that isn't feasible, we have to learn to live with modes.

Or rather, we have to learn to live with the LACK of modes in the low end. As I said, the problem is not that we have too many modes, but rather that we don't have enough of them in the low frequencies.

Obviously, for any give room there is a point on the spectrum where there are "enough" modes. Above that point, there are several modes per note, but below it there are not.

There's a mathematical method for determining where that point is: a scientist called Schroeder figured it out, years ago, so it is now known as the Schroeder frequency for the room. Above the Schroeder frequency for a room, modes are not a problem, because there are are lots of them spaced very close together. Below the Schroeder frequency, there's a problem: the modes are spaced far apart, and unevenly. (The Schroeder frequency is a bit more complex than just that, since it also considers treatment, but this gives you an idea...)

So what can we do about that?

All we can do is to choose a "room ratio" that has the modes spaced out sort of evenly, and NOT choose a ratio where the modes are bunched up together. For example, if your room is 10 feet long and 10 feet wide and 10 feet high (3m x 3m x 3m), then all of the modes will occur at the exact same frequency: 56.5 Hz. So the resonance when you play an A1 on the bass, or cello, or hit an A1 on the keyboard, will by tripled! It will be three times louder. The nulls will be three times deeper. That's a bad situation, so don't ever choose room dimensions that are the same as each other.

You get the same problem for dimensions that are multiples of each other: a room 10 feet high (3m) by 20 feet wide (6m) by 30 feet long (9m) is also terrible. All of the second harmonics of 10 feet will line up with the 20 foot modes, and all of the third harmonics will line up with the 30 foot modes, so you get the same "multiplied" effect. Bad.

In other words, you want a room where the dimensions are mathematically different from each other, with no simple relationship to each other.

That brings up the obvious question: What ratio is best?

Answer: there isn't one! :)

Over the years, many scientists have tested many ratios, both mathematically and also in the real world, and come up with some that are really good. The ratios they found are named after them: Sepmeyer, Louden, Boner, Volkmann, etc. Then along came a guy called Bolt, who drew a graph showing all possible ratios, and he highlighted the good ones found by all the other guys, and predicted by mathematical equations, plus a few of his own: If you plot your own room ratio on that graph, and it falls inside the "Bolt area", then likely it is a good one, and if it falls outside the "Bolt area", then likely it is a bad one. Sort of.

So, there are no perfect ratios, only good ratios and bad ratios.

It is impossible to have a "perfect" ratio in a small room, simply because that would require enough modes to have one mode for every note on the musical scale, but that's the entire problem with small rooms! There just are not enough modes in the low end. So you can choose a ratio that spreads them a bit more this way or a bit more that way, but all you are doing is re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, in pleasant-looking patterns. The problem is not the location of the deck chairs; the problem is that your boat is sunk!: Likewise for your studio: the problem is not the locations of the modes: the problem is that your room is sunk. No matter what you do with the dimensions, you cannot put a mode at every note, unless you make the room bigger. It is physically impossible.

But that does not mean that your room will be bad. That's the common perception, and it is dead wrong.

All of this leads to the question you didn't ask yet, but are probably heading for: What can I do about it?

Here's the thing: Modes are only a problem if they "ring". The wave is only a problem if the energy builds up and up and up, with each passing cycle, until it is screaming, and then the "built up" energy carries on singing away, even after the original note stops. That's the problem. If you stop playing the A1 on your guitar, and the room keeps on playing an A1 for a couple of seconds, because it "stored" the resonant energy and is now releasing it, then that's a BIG problem! The room is playing tunes that never were in the original music! :shock:

If a mode doesn't ring like that, then it is no longer a major issue. (It is still an issue for other reasons, just not a major one....)

So how do you stop a mode? You can't stop it from being there. But you CAN stop it from "ringing". You can "damp" the resonance sufficiently that the mode dies away fast, and does not ring. You remove the resonant energy and convert it into heat: no more problem! In other words, it's not good if you own a large angry dog that barks all the time and bights your visitors, but it's fine to own a large angry dog with a muzzle on his mouth, so he cannot bark and cannot bight!

You do that with "bass trapping". A bass trap is like the dog muzzle. It doesn't get rid of the problem, but it does keep it under control. You use strategically placed acoustic treatment devices inside the room that absorb the ringing of the mode, then it cannot ring. There are several ways to do that, with different strategies, but the good news is that in most rooms it is possible to get significant damping on the modes, so that they don't ring badly, and don't cause problems. Note that bass trapping does not absorb the mode: it just absorbs the ringing. Some people don't understand this, and think that the bass trapping makes the modes go away: it doesn't. All it does is to damp them. The modes are still there, and still affect the room acoustics in other ways, but with good damping, at least they don't "ring" any more.

And that is the secret to making a control room good in the low end! Choose a good ratio to keep the modes spread around evenly, then damp the hell out of the low end, so modes cannot ring. It's that simple.

The smaller the room, the more treatment you need. And since those waves are huge (many feet long), you need huge bass trapping (many feet long/wide/high/deep). It takes up lots of space, and the best place for it is in the corners of the room, because that's where all modes terminate. If you want to find a mode in your room, go look for it in the corner: it will be there. All modes have a pressure node in two or more corners, so by treating the corners, you are guaranteed of hitting all the modes.

As I said, there is no single "best" ratio, but there are good ones. You can use a "Room Mode Calculator" to help you figure out which "good ones" are within reach of the possible area you have available, then choose the closest good one, and go with that. And stay away from the bad ones.

Arguably, Sepmeyer's first ratio is the "best", since it can have the smoothest distribution of modes... but only if the room is already within a certain size range. Other ratios might be more suitable if your room has a different set of possible dimensions. So there is no "best".

But that's not the entire story: So far, all the modes I have mentioned are only related to two walls across the room, opposite from each other. I mentioned modes that form along the length axis of the room (between the front and back wall), others that form along the width axis (between left and right walls), and others that form on the height axis (between floor and ceiling): Those are the easiest ones to understand, because they "make sense" in your head when you think about them. Those are called "axial modes", because they form along the major axes of the room: length axis, width axis, height axis.

However, there are also other modes that can form between four surfaces, instead of just two. For example, there are modes that can bounce around between all four walls, or between the front and back walls as well as the ceiling and floor: those are called "tangential modes". And there are other modes that can form between all six surfaces at once: they involve all four walls plus the ceiling and the floor. Those are called "oblique modes".

The complete set of modes in your room consists of the axial modes, plus the tangential modes, plus the oblique modes.

That's what a good room mode calculator (a.k.a. "room ratio calculator") will show you. There are bad calculators that only show you the axial modes, which is pretty pointless, and the good ones show you all three types. The ones I listed above are both "good" ones.

However, modes aren't that important, despite all the hype they get: Modes are just one aspect of room design, but there are many more. It's wise to choose a ratio that is close to one of the good ones, or inside the Bolt area, but you do NOT need to go nuts about it! There's no need to nudge things around by millimeters or smalls fractions of an inch, hoping to get a "better" ratio. Just stay away from the bad ones, get close to a good one, and you are done. End of story.

----------

So there you have it! "Everything you ever wanted to know about modes, but were afraid to ask"! :)

Now, back to your room, and your questions...:

Quote:
The asymmetry I mentioned is more my lack of vocabulary. I mean I don't want a cube room. I know the idea is not to have walls facing each other,
That's actually a bit of a myth... sort of.. with some truth behind it... but not really... :)

If you have parallel walls, then you run the risk of getting a different type of "resonance", completely unrelated to modes. This type is called "flutter echo", and it's basically just a bunch of higher frequency sound waves bouncing back and forth between two parallel surfaces. If you clap your hands sharply when you are between two acoustically reflective surfaces, then you an hear it as a sort of "zingy" sound. One way of dealing with that is, indeed, to angle the walls. And that will, indeed, totally kill the flutter.... however, you have to angle them a total of about 12° or more to achieve that. It could be 6° on each side, or 9° on one wall and 3° on the other: as long as the total is above 12°, you should be OK. But angling walls is complex, and wastes space. And contrary to popular belief, angling walls does NOT get rid of modes! It just changes the mode from one frequency to another, or one type to another... but it is still there. Angling kills flutter, but does nothing for modes. In fact, it does nothing for anything else either! Even worse, angling walls eats into the room space. Losing space is not a good idea, in general...

It turns out that the best shape for a control room, is a simple rectangle. Period. Depending on the design concept that you choose (eg. RFZ, NER, FTB, CID, MY, etc.), you might need to angle OTHER large surfaces inside the room, such as the front faces of your flush-mount speaker modules (sometimes called "soffits"), but the room itself can still be rectangular.

There's another issue here too: those room mode calculators only work for rectangular rooms. If you add more walls, or angle walls, or change the shape much in any way, then you can no longer use those simple calculators to figure out the modal response. You then need to resort to much more complex methods for figuring them out, such as FEM/FEA or BEM...

So, I would suggest that you keep your final inner room rectangular. The decide on the design concept you want to use (I recommend RFZ!), and angle inner surfaces as needed to achieve that.

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so what I was looking for is something along the lines of "this is a room shape you should go for".
Ok: "Rectangular". There, that was easy! :)

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Also be aware, I hope to have enough space in this room for "not live" instruments. I would like to fit a few keyboard type instruments in this space, as well as an area for an artist to listen and be able to play a guitar for example (with the signal going to a mic'ed up cabinet in the live room).
No problem. Your space is plenty big enough for that. You have the luxury of a really nice sized control room: it has the potential to be great.

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I am basing this on one post I saw about how to handle HVAC. It's a very preliminary thought.
HVAC is a big part of studios. And HVAC is big, all by itself! Most people don't realize just how big it is... And especially for studios. Isolating a room properly for recording or mixing implies making it completely air-tight... but of course, people need to breathe! So you need HVAC. But chopping holes in your isolation walls to run the ducts through, also destroys the isolation! So you need to build "silencer boxes" that stop the sound getting through, but allow the air to get through. You also have to figure out how MUCH air you need to get through, then design the whole system so that the right amount of air moves slowly... because if it moves too fast, it makes noises that get picked up by your mics and get into your mix. So you have to design the system to move the right volume of air flow at the right velocity of air flow while passing through ducts that stop the sound from getting through and all while keeping the static pressure low enough that your fans and AHU are not overworked.... and at the same time providing enough capacity to deal with the sensible heat load and the latent heat load, and also ensuring that the air moves smoothly through the entire room, .... That's all! :) Simple! :shock:

There's lots to figure out with HVAC. It's a large part of the overall studio design. I often spend as much time designing the HVAC system as I do designing all the rest of the studio...

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I will be of course discussing all of this with an HVAC specialist
Hopefully you can find one who has some knowledge of HVAC for studios... it' a bit different from HVAC for houses, offices, shops, schools, etc.

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This is super interesting to me, especially with the issues of the size of the space...I could build a booth towards the front, which would help cut the size of the room down.
Right. It makes sense all around. Also, since your live room is on the other side, you might be able to put a window or door through to the live room as well, so it has access both ways, or at least sight lines both ways. Musicians do like to be in visual contact when they are playing together: it helps to keep things "tight".

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This actually surprised me! I would think bare concrete would be too reflective.
The general "rule" in studios is simple: hard floor, soft ceiling. There's a number of reasons why a hard floor makes sense, both practical reasons and also acosutic reasons, as well as psycho-acoustic reasons. One of those is that your brain uses the floor as a reference to understand the acoustics of the room, and it uses the floor, rather than the walls or ceiling, for a very simple reason: wherever you go in life, always, everywhere, your ears are the exact same height above the floor. Thus, your brain is very accustomed to "hearing" the floor, as it's always there, a the same distance: it knows what "floor" should sound like. And if the floor is NOT there, it has to work harder to figure things out. Even worse, if there is no floor but there is another hard surface in the room (such as the ceiling, or a wall), then your brain tries to use that as though it were the floor... Psycho-acoustics is the science that deals with how we humans perceive sound, rather than with how the sound actually is. Mics and ears work very differently. It's important that your studio should provide a great psycho-acoustic experience, so your sessions are pleasant, non-fatiguing, natural, easy on the ears, etc. A hard floor is part of the key to that. Look around at pictures of pro studios from around the world (especially John's studios, right here on the forum). How many do you see with thick pile carpeting on the floor? :) Pretty much all of them have hard, sold, rigid, reflective floors. Rugs are used when there is a need to change the acoustic response for some reason, or even for simple practical reasons: the spikes under a drum kit don't dig into slid concrete very well! They do much better with a rug....

So, plain old concrete is a great studio floor surface. If your concrete is in reasonably good shape, then you could consider polishing it, or staining it, for a nice visual effect. But if it is cracked, flaky, or just plain ugly, then you could consider laying laminate flooring, ceramic tiles, linoleum, or something else that will still give it a hard, solid, rigid surface... and without taking up too much height! Keep it thin...

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You're correct here. After I read your responses I did a little more pricing. I did plan on building the walls myself (with a little help from some experience friends). So I will save on building the walls. Cutting out flooring will help as well. Like I said though, I can go much higher on my budget if I need to. Im going to spend the next couple days measuring and pricing.
Right. They key to estimating the true cost of building a studio, is to take the figure you first though of, multiply it by a random number between 2 and 10, divide by a small fraction, add in yesterday's date, them sum all that with the total GDP of a small country... that should get you in the ball park! :) It always turns out to be more expensive than you imagined. There's so much that you probably haven't considered yet, and it all adds up...

One thing that might help: if you don't have the budget to do it all at once, then just do one room for now and use that to make money, so you can then do the other room a year or so down the line. Eg, build just the control room for now, and make money mixing stuff tracked elsewhere. Or just build the live room, and rent it out as a rehearsal space, as well as tracking stuff to be mixed elsewhere.

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Thanks again for all you put into this! I would be more than happy to continue talking with you on this!
:thu:

- Stuart -

_________________
I want this studio to amaze people. "That'll do" doesn't amaze people.


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