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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:25 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Cairns, Australia
Hi guys,

I’ve been lurking on this site for a while, reading and learning. My wife and I are about to build a house on some land in the countryside and a new studio is also on the cards. I thought I’d start a post about it to get some feedback from the pros.

Here’s what I’ve got:

We have a 20 acre lot in the countryside in North QLD, Australia. It’s probably only got about 5 acres cleared and is quite hilly in places. The nearest neighbours are about 300m away, a road with low traffic is 100m away. This is where I'm planning on building the studio, between the arrows. It'll be about 30m - 40m away from the house, separated visually by some trees. Gotta seperate work and play.

Attachment:
TL Block 2.jpeg

Elevation is 706m. Rainfall is significant, with precipitation even during the driest month. The average yearly rainfall is 2116 mm. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Cfa (which means Temperate, Rainforest and Hot Summers). Average annual temperature is 20.9 °C, min 11°C and max 30°C.
Also worth mentioning, we get some category 5 cyclones/Hurricanes from time to time. :D

Currently it’s just a block of land but we plan to build a house, a shed, a studio and later, some accomodation for studio users. We also have to run power, water tanks (no town water so we’ll be on rain water and luckily there’s also a natural spring) septic tank, driveway, etc. So there’s a few costs!

The studio will be used mainly by me to record bands and solo artists, as well as my own stuff. Usually I do Folky/Indie stuff but also a bit of rock, so drums can get loud. FWIW, I currently have a studio built in my sisters house, link below.

http://bigsisterstudio.com

I’ve been thinking casually about this for a while and getting ideas together. We plan to move over the new year (2018/19) but no set date. I bought Rod Gervais’ “Home Recording Studio” book in 2011 to build my last studio and have been reading a lot of posts on this site. I’ve got some ideas on what I liked about my last place and what I don’t. So here’s the current plan:

I plan to get a concrete slab (11.4m x 7.5m), build the outer shell with Besser blocks https://www.cornellengineers.com.au/what-is-a-besser-block/ (190mm wide variety) then build some rooms inside. Core fill the necessary blocks and then sand fill the rest. Render the outside or maybe just paint it. I’ve also considered earth berming part of it as it’ll be on a hillside. I’m a little wary of moisture seeping in and I’m not sure if there’s any massive benefits. Thermal insulation, it’ll look cool?

I’m planning a skillion roof (shed roof, pent roof, lean-to roof) with the low end over the control room and the high end over the live room. Not sure what to put on the top, corrugated iron is common here but noisy when it rains. Still figuring that out.
I’d like to have high (3m or higher) ceilings in the live room. I was also thinking of sloping it on the inside to maximise space and to avoid opposing planes, at least in the live room. Thoughts?

I plan to get that outside part (Slab, brick walls, roof) built and certified by someone else (a professional) and then I’d do the inside myself. I did the inside of my current studio, so I know what I’m in for, at least a bit.

I looked into pouring seperate slabs but after reading a few posts I wonder if it’d be overkill. Plus I can’t figure out if I pour 2 seperate slabs and then just build the outer brick wall straight over the gap. Wouldn’t that create a flanking path? Or do I pour a seperate perimeter slab for the outside wall?

Another idea was to sink the control room about a foot. In my current studio I’ve found myself trying to look over my computer screen a bit to be able to see the performer. I feel if the control room was lower, I could look straight ahead at my screen or up to the performer. I wonder if anyone has had this problem or has done a sunken control room. Conversely, the Live room could be raised. It’d be not so hard as I’m already on a hill. Then again, multiple levels seems complicated. Thoughts?

With the rooms inside I’m planning to do wood frames and drywall, MAM construction. Maybe I’d do Johns inside out walls but space isn’t really an issue so maybe ease of construction will prevail. I’d do a double layer of 13mm drywall but also the brick would be my 2nd leaf on the outside. I constructed one of Rod’s Super doors for my current studio, works fine although I think the door might be the weak point. I like the idea of just one massive door as I don’t like having to open doors all the time, particularly when I’m recording myself. Plus it’d be cheaper. 8)
Drums will be the loudest sound source so I’ll be working to contain that. I was thinking of aiming for an STC rating of 60.

HVAC is another area I’m undecided on. My current studio never needs heating as I’m in a tropical area. It’s all about humidity and cooling so I’ve got a split system. I’ve rigged up a vent to get fresh air in. But the new place gets cold (not really cold) so I suppose I’ll get a ducted system that can do heat and then add all the mufflers to it, slowing the air down so it’s silent. I’ve dedicated a small room as an exchange chamber in case I decide to use a reverse cycle wall unit or to put the air handling unit and air intake if I do a ducted system. Still figuring that part out, suggestions welcome.

Soffit mounting my speakers seemed like I’d be wasting my money as my speakers are not very good speakers (Alesis M1 MKII) but definitely open to suggestions. Maybe I should buy new speakers?

The other spanner in the works is that I have to pull my current studio down (Waaaah!) and put my sisters house and garage back to normal. I work out of the studio so whilst I don’t want to rush the new build, I’ll be trying to get it done ASAP so I can get back to work. Luckily my wife also has a job :). I should also be able to salvage a few things from my current studio, the glass from the windows, the floor if I cut it up into sections perhaps, all the panels, the lights, the audio wiring. Of course my equipment too. I actually built the studio around the piano so I kinda have to pull it apart to get it anyway!

I have quite a bit of equipment, a couple of drum kits, an upright piano, about 8 guitars, a hammond and leslie speaker, vibraphone, several amps, a stack of other bits and pieces, you know how it is. I’ve added lots of storage space because I find myself tripping over stuff at the moment.

So I know I have a while to go with the planning but I thought I’d throw it out there to get some feedback. So far I’ve just got some 2D floor plans for walls, nothing in detail. Just trying to picture it.

As always, a lot of what I want to do comes down to $$$ My budget is AUD$50K but that could change, I haven’t really looked into costs of everything in detail. My current studio cost me $13K but the house that I built it into was already built.

Attachment:
TL Studio 1 small.jpeg

The outer wall is 190mm Besser brick, the next size down has 2 layers of drywall and the smallest size is just one layer of drywall.
The thin walls on Store 1 and 2 could be acoustic panels or even thin curtains. I want storage space in the live room but looking neat.
I originally had an airlock and vocal booth in Store 3 but I think it was driving the expenses and build time up too much.

So that’s it. I’m sure Ive forgotten some vital info but feel free to shoot me down or share your thoughts/experience.

EDIT:
Here's the room dimensions. Live room is a bit irregular so I've put in maximum sizes.

Live room
W = 6.6m
H = 3m
L = 5.2m
Surface area = 31.8m2

Control room
W = 4.23m
H = 2.8m
L = 4.98m
Surface area = 20m2

Mark


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:03 pm
Posts: 384
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Exciting!

Quote:
I’m planning a skillion roof (shed roof, pent roof, lean-to roof) with the low end over the control room and the high end over the live room.

This would result in the rear portion of your control room being lower. This is not a good idea.

Quote:
I was also thinking of sloping it on the inside to maximise space and to avoid opposing planes, at least in the live room. Thoughts?

Not necessary, acoustically. But if you have to do this in order to get higher ceilings and more space, then yes, do it.

Quote:
Or do I pour a seperate perimeter slab for the outside wall?

If you decide to pour separate slabs, yes. A lot of the veterans on here seem to frown upon people building from scratch and not isolating their slabs, but if it raises costs and makes things more difficult, you probably don't need to do it with your required isolation levels.

Quote:
Then again, multiple levels seems complicated. Thoughts?

Studio builds are already complicated. What's a bit more haha
I don't think this is the easiest solution to your problem. It's probably easier and acoustically better for you to just build a custom desk where your screens are sunk into the desk.

Quote:
I like the idea of just one massive door as I don’t like having to open doors all the time, particularly when I’m recording myself. Plus it’d be cheaper. 8)

We all like the idea of having only 1 door to pass through. But as you've already stated, your current super door is already a problem, and after looking at your current studio pics, it appears that you also have a second door. There is your proof that 1 door won't work. 2 is your only way to maintain the isolation that your walls will be providing.

Quote:
I’ve dedicated a small room as an exchange chamber in case I decide to use a reverse cycle wall unit or to put the air handling unit and air intake if I do a ducted system.

Good idea. It's cheaper and all around better in my opinion to go with a ducted system. Just remember how much space duct work and silencer boxes take up.

Quote:
Live room
W = 6.6m
H = 3m
L = 5.2m
Surface area = 31.8m2

Control room
W = 4.23m
H = 2.8m
L = 4.98m
Surface area = 20m2

It seems 3m is the max you can have for your building height there, yeah?
Since you're building from scratch, you really should consider digging down and building so that you can maximize height. Your duct work will take up at least 0.6m of height leaving you with undesirable ceiling heights.

Quote:
I originally had an airlock and vocal booth in Store 3 but I think it was driving the expenses and build time up too much.

I'd highly suggest having at least 1 other room for recording. Even if it's a small vocal booth. Store 3 seems pretty large to be lugging things in and out through your control room. Maybe at least add a door going from Store 3 to your live room as that is probably where you're going to be needing most of your things.

Quote:
feel free to shoot me down or share your thoughts/experience.

If you're going this far, you really should consider building a true RFZ control room. This will change your layout drastically as you'll need room for soffit mounting your speakers. I'd like to see your 2D layout with some furniture in your control room and even rough treatment placement (like 0.5+m worth of absorption/hangers on the rear wall). Where is the door to your HVAC exchange room? You have glass sliding door for your storage rooms. Personally, I don't want my pile of gear and crap to be visible. Those storage rooms (1&2) are ALMOST isolated enough to be ISO rooms. Just add a wall in front of them and at least use one of them for an ISO room. You could build super doors with glass in them for that one room. If you want to use it for storage, cool. But at least it's ready to go as an ISO room in the future. There doesn't seem to be a good spot for a fridge or microwave or sink. Since you're not connected to a home, you should consider having somewhere to warm up or even cook some food and wash dishes other than a half bath washroom. Your door handing is maybe weird for your washroom. You currently have to door opening into the room which is eating up half of the room. Also, you'll need an outer leaf control room door which will also probably conflict with the door on the washroom. The same can be said about your live room door and the main entrance door.... as well as the HVAC exchange room door and the control room door. I'm not convinced the angled walls everywhere are doing you any good. You're eating up into the acoustic space of your control room to add weird angled walls in your 3rd storage room and foyer. Again, if you do flush mount your speakers, you're going to need that space anyway, so if I were you, I'd just make the control room square. Also, storage rooms 1&2 seem so weirdly shaped, I can't see you having efficient storage in those either. I'd also probably just make those square, or at least one of them. I don't see the benefit of having a weird corner in the bottom right hand side of storage room 3. Really, what can you fit there? It will be a nightmare to build too. Plus, the biggest reason I'm against it is because it's eating into a huge chunk of your live room. If you want weird shaped live room, build an angled wall there. Build a big useful bass trap in that corner, but DON'T waste space for a useless closet corner! Your current design is leaving very little possibilities for bass trapping corners. If you flush mount your speakers (you really should), your control room window will have to get drastically more narrow. If you want good horizontal line of sight, you can make the live room window wider though. If you square up the corners more on the control room side of your live room, you will have room for bass trapping.

Anyway, I hope some of that at least makes you ponder some more. Sorry I didn't see this thread earlier!

Greg

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:25 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Cairns, Australia
Hi Greg,

Thanks so much for the reply. I’ve been pondering on and off since I posted and you’re post is very helpful.

Quote:
Quote:
I’m planning a skillion roof (shed roof, pent roof, lean-to roof) with the low end over the control room and the high end over the live room.

This would result in the rear portion of your control room being lower. This is not a good idea.

I probably didn't explain that very well. With the control room ceiling, I wasn’t going to angle it, I just meant the live room was going to be higher than the control room. The control room will be the same height throughout. I've attached a shot of the side to explain.

Quote:
Quote:
Or do I pour a seperate perimeter slab for the outside wall?

If you decide to pour separate slabs, yes. A lot of the veterans on here seem to frown upon people building from scratch and not isolating their slabs, but if it raises costs and makes things more difficult, you probably don't need to do it with your required isolation levels.

I still don't understand this. So there'll be a perimeter slab and then the rooms on seperate slabs? I've attached a sketch up file to help visualise.
Attachment:
Seperate slabs 2D.jpg


Quote:
Quote:
Then again, multiple levels seems complicated. Thoughts?

Studio builds are already complicated. What's a bit more haha
I don't think this is the easiest solution to your problem. It's probably easier and acoustically better for you to just build a custom desk where your screens are sunk into the desk.

I’ve found that I get a sore neck looking down at the screen. Then again, maybe I’d get a sore neck looking up at the window. I think I'll just keep the design all one level for now....

Quote:
Quote:
I like the idea of just one massive door as I don’t like having to open doors all the time, particularly when I’m recording myself. Plus it’d be cheaper. 8)

We all like the idea of having only 1 door to pass through. But as you've already stated, your current super door is already a problem, and after looking at your current studio pics, it appears that you also have a second door. There is your proof that 1 door won't work. 2 is your only way to maintain the isolation that your walls will be providing.

So with 2 doors, do I keep the door jambs seperate with a rubber or silicone seal? In Rod Gervais' book (Home recording studio, build it like the pros) he talks about the door jamb being one place he doesn't worry about maintaining separation between the frames. He talks about the flanking path being negligible compared to the weight of the doors and the concern of the stud moving over the years.

Quote:
Quote:
I’ve dedicated a small room as an exchange chamber in case I decide to use a reverse cycle wall unit or to put the air handling unit and air intake if I do a ducted system.

Good idea. It's cheaper and all around better in my opinion to go with a ducted system. Just remember how much space duct work and silencer boxes take up.

Do I need an mechanical room for a professional ducted system, or could it all be in the ceiling? Or is it something I need to get to regularly?

Quote:
Quote:
Live room
W = 6.6m
H = 3m
L = 5.2m
Surface area = 31.8m2

Control room
W = 4.23m
H = 2.8m
L = 4.98m
Surface area = 20m2

It seems 3m is the max you can have for your building height there, yeah?
Since you're building from scratch, you really should consider digging down and building so that you can maximize height. Your duct work will take up at least 0.6m of height leaving you with undesirable ceiling heights.

3m isn’t the maximum height, I’ve just been punching dimensions into the amroc room mode calculator and 3m was a nice height. I’ve since increased it to 3.2m. Going down sounds like fun though. I'm digging into a hill.

Quote:
Quote:
I originally had an airlock and vocal booth in Store 3 but I think it was driving the expenses and build time up too much.

I'd highly suggest having at least 1 other room for recording. Even if it's a small vocal booth. Store 3 seems pretty large to be lugging things in and out through your control room. Maybe at least add a door going from Store 3 to your live room as that is probably where you're going to be needing most of your things.

You're right, an extra room would be good. What about making the live room a little bigger and then splitting it in 2 with some glass sliding doors? I often get bands that want to record live with an acoustic and drums.

Quote:
Quote:
feel free to shoot me down or share your thoughts/experience.

If you're going this far, you really should consider building a true RFZ control room. This will change your layout drastically as you'll need room for soffit mounting your speakers. I'd like to see your 2D layout with some furniture in your control room and even rough treatment placement (like 0.5+m worth of absorption/hangers on the rear wall). Where is the door to your HVAC exchange room? You have glass sliding door for your storage rooms. Personally, I don't want my pile of gear and crap to be visible. Those storage rooms (1&2) are ALMOST isolated enough to be ISO rooms. Just add a wall in front of them and at least use one of them for an ISO room. You could build super doors with glass in them for that one room. If you want to use it for storage, cool. But at least it's ready to go as an ISO room in the future.

Hmmmm, lots to think about.

Quote:
Quote:
There doesn't seem to be a good spot for a fridge or microwave or sink. Since you're not connected to a home, you should consider having somewhere to warm up or even cook some food and wash dishes other than a half bath washroom.

I’ll have accomodation right next door so I was going to leave all the extra stuff like cooking and washing for that. My house will be a 1 minute walk away. But the more I think about it, a kettle, microwave and sink might be in order. Especially as it rains a lot here.

Quote:
Quote:
Your door handing is maybe weird for your washroom. You currently have to door opening into the room which is eating up half of the room. Also, you'll need an outer leaf control room door which will also probably conflict with the door on the washroom. The same can be said about your live room door and the main entrance door.... as well as the HVAC exchange room door and the control room door.

Yeah I find door placement like chasing my tail.

Quote:
Quote:
I'm not convinced the angled walls everywhere are doing you any good. You're eating up into the acoustic space of your control room to add weird angled walls in your 3rd storage room and foyer. Again, if you do flush mount your speakers, you're going to need that space anyway, so if I were you, I'd just make the control room square. Also, storage rooms 1&2 seem so weirdly shaped, I can't see you having efficient storage in those either. I'd also probably just make those square, or at least one of them. I don't see the benefit of having a weird corner in the bottom right hand side of storage room 3. Really, what can you fit there? It will be a nightmare to build too. Plus, the biggest reason I'm against it is because it's eating into a huge chunk of your live room. If you want weird shaped live room, build an angled wall there. Build a big useful bass trap in that corner, but DON'T waste space for a useless closet corner! Your current design is leaving very little possibilities for bass trapping corners. If you flush mount your speakers (you really should), your control room window will have to get drastically more narrow. If you want good horizontal line of sight, you can make the live room window wider though. If you square up the corners more on the control room side of your live room, you will have room for bass trapping.

Anyway, I hope some of that at least makes you ponder some more. Sorry I didn't see this thread earlier!

Greg

I'll get some more 2D plans up soon. I've added a window to the outside because it'll be a nice view. Sounds like square rooms might make it all a lot easier. Here's a modified very rough/unfinished plan, will change it again to add an extra room but at least the ceiling and roof idea is there, although I'll probably need a bit more space for ducting.

Any ideas on how to match the density of the roof with sand filled masonry block walls? Seems like I'd go to a lot of trouble to add mass to my walls but what would the roof made with? Seems like a weak point compared to the outer walls.

Mark

Attachment:
Studio TL2 side view.jpg


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:15 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:03 pm
Posts: 384
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Quote:
With the control room ceiling, I wasn’t going to angle it, I just meant the live room was going to be higher than the control room. The control room will be the same height throughout. I've attached a shot of the side to explain.

Perfect.

Quote:
So there'll be a perimeter slab and then the rooms on seperate slabs?

Perfect.

Quote:
I’ve found that I get a sore neck looking down at the screen. Then again, maybe I’d get a sore neck looking up at the window. I think I'll just keep the design all one level for now....

Exactly. It's like sitting in the front row of a movie theatre. Never cool.

Quote:
So with 2 doors, do I keep the door jambs seperate with a rubber or silicone seal?

There are a handful of posts on the forum here showing pictures of it done correctly. Ideally, you want the jambs to not touch one another. Keep the doors completely separate, just like the walls are kept separate. You can fill the gap with some insulation wrapped with fabric. Rubber or silicone could cause too much flanking. Plus, both of those solutions would create a seal, ultimately creating a resonant chamber that would probably be tuned to a high frequency and therefore trash your isolation. Also, ideally, it is a good idea to have at least one of the doors covered with insulation and fabric to dampen the area between the doors just like we do between our inner and outer leafs. You can make it look nice with some wood trim and whatnot.

Quote:
Do I need an mechanical room for a professional ducted system, or could it all be in the ceiling? Or is it something I need to get to regularly?

No, and yes. So no, you do not need a dedicated room. A lot of air handling units are mounted in ceilings. Yes, you do need to get to it regularly to change air filters. Also, these have life spans and therefore will need to be replaced at some point. So take that into consideration.

Quote:
3m isn’t the maximum height, I’ve just been punching dimensions into the amroc room mode calculator and 3m was a nice height. I’ve since increased it to 3.2m. Going down sounds like fun though. I'm digging into a hill.

When it comes to angling your control room ceiling and having nice thick insulation or deep hangers in your ceiling, height is everything. More = better. IMO 3 is way way too low for a live room. 2.8 is way too low for a control room IF you have control over how high it is. I'd aim more for 4+ meters in a control room and as high as you can get it in the live room (remember, for a nice diffuse live room, you need diffusion and diffusion doesn't work properly within 3m. So you need 3m between your diffusion and your microphone.

Quote:
You're right, an extra room would be good. What about making the live room a little bigger and then splitting it in 2 with some glass sliding doors? I often get bands that want to record live with an acoustic and drums.

If it's in your budget, 100%. But, glass sliding doors that acoustically isolate well are INSANELY expensive. Sure, they look nice, but personally, I'd suggest saving the money and/or spending the money on more important things like building bigger rooms. You can still have glass, just incorporate windows into your design and/or have glass in your normal entry style doors.

Quote:
Here's a modified very rough/unfinished plan, will change it again to add an extra room but at least the ceiling and roof idea is there, although I'll probably need a bit more space for ducting.

Great work with Sketchup! Just add some color to your components to make it look nicer maybe ;-) You will need more space between your ceiling and roof for sure! And again, more height in your rooms. Think about this: In order to have strong enough studs to run across the length of your rooms, you'll probably end up using something like 9 1/4" LVL studs. There goes 1/4 of a meter worth of height (visually) right there! Now, in an RFZ style control room, you have to angle your ceiling in order to deflect sounds from the front of the room towards your back wall. So, lower your ceiling way more. Your ceiling will end up being almost as high at the doors only.

Quote:
Any ideas on how to match the density of the roof with sand filled masonry block walls? Seems like I'd go to a lot of trouble to add mass to my walls but what would the roof made with? Seems like a weak point compared to the outer walls.

It all depends on how you go about building your ceiling. A lot of people have an attic type space in their roof designs where air must be able to flow through it. That means it cannot be sealed up. That means the bottom of those rafters will end up being their outer leaf. It can be beefed up no differently than your exterior walls. Talk to a roof/truss designer type person and figure out what options you have for roof design then we can sort out how to properly maintain the density in your outer leaf ceiling/roof.

Again, great work so far!

Greg

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:25 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Cairns, Australia
Hmmm, thanks for the help and encouraging words Greg. I'm not sure if I can build that high, from a budget point of view.

So a 4+ meter room height is a best case scenario but surely plenty of people are building in basements and other pre-existing buildings? I understand what you're saying with diffusion needing 3m between the wall/ceiling and although I'd love to build such a studio, the facts are that I can't afford it! :(

But the higher the better right? Just because I can't afford 4m control room ceilings, doesn't mean I should settle for 2.8 if I can get 3.6?

Back to the drawing board.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:36 am 
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
I understand. But yes, the higher the better.

Greg

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