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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:27 pm 
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Greetings everyone,

About 8 years ago I came here ready to soundproof my basement and ended up with a recording studio that exceeded my every expectation. In that time I have visited a number of home studio's and have seen (or heard) just how valuable the advice here on this forum is. Thanks to everyone here that helped me on my journey with the Rotten Basement Conversion I was able to safely build two great sounding, very well isolated rooms.

Following the studio's completion I got married and we had our first son. I was still able to get down in the studio at least once a week with my band-mates, and helped a few local artists create a couple of great cd's that I'm very happy with. So why on earth would I go through this all over again? Well, when I bought the house for the studio I was a bachelor and didn't really factor in shoe storage, school districts, or space for two kids. Two you say? I thought you had one son? Well yes I did, but we have just moved to a bigger house, quite a bit further out from DC; in preparation for son #2 who will be here any day soon.

So we just moved in a few weeks ago now, and I've been measuring, considering my requirements and possible layouts. Once I have permits I'm looking to get contractors lined up (I will likely use the same one's as last time - only change will be finding a new heating and a/c guy) and hope to get the work completed and ready to move in and start working by the end of January (may be a stretch, but I'm gonna shoot for it). I plan to take a similar approach as last time. I will write a detailed plan for the contractors and supervise as well as assist them with anything that is unique to this type of build (i.e. acoustical caulk, green glue etc.) My budget is gonna be about $20k, but with that money I also need to finish one other room on the basement (make the window a full egress window, add a closet and rock to make it officially a 5th bedroom), and add a walk out (to prevent my band-mates walking through the kitchen and waking the family in the wee hours). Just how quiet do I want to get? Well at the last house I could play in the wee hours (and my drummer can get very loud) without neighbors ever knowing. Inside the house my wife said that from the 2nd floor it just sounded like someone left the TV on downstairs. That was quiet enough for my son to sleep through Jam nights. This time around my neighbors on the south side of the property (the wall with the Fireplace Access (2) in the floor plan) are considerably closer (about 12 ft away). This house being of more modern construction than my last (built around 2001) it uses quite different construction approaches and so given that it has these engineered ceiling joists I will not be hanging three layers of 5/8' rock from them like last time. Instead I hope to frame the ceiling to sit on the walls - something that I hope will also increase isolation to the upstairs.

Another major consideration is what was perhaps the weakest point of my last studio build - climate control. You may recall from my old thread that I didn't quite receive what I asked for from the last A/C guy. Hence this time I will not be expecting to get independent heating and cooling without needing to invest in a separate system from the rest of the house.

Here's the basement layout:
Attachment:
810 Ellerslie Studio - Copy 1 - Basement_750px.jpg


I'll describe as best I can the configuration in the basement along with what I had in mind. The areas called Bedroom and Furnace Room are currently unfinished (although as previously mentioned I plan to finish former into a 5th bedroom. All other rooms are currently finished and so I am expecting I will need to demo (at the least) the room currently named "Music Room" in the plan, and hope to include a control room, drum room, and one other performance room for instrument and vocal isolation. The room that is tagged "Entrance / Lounge" is where I hope to add the walk out (by replacing the window that is currently showing on the plan). The rest of this room I would likely keep as-is for people to lounge in (sofa and tv on the wall type thing) and I would keep the rather large closets for my guitar collection and other gear storage needs.
Here's the floorplan for the Entrance / Lounge:
Attachment:
EntranceLoungStorage_Floorplan.jpg


In the "Music Room" there are two things of note I should mention. One is that there is a fireplace cleaning access door on the south wall - labeled (2). The size of this door is only 14.5" square, but I would need to have access to this as well as consider the flanking path that it may be creating. The other item of note is a support pillar about halfway down the left side of the room. It is located 33" from the left wall and 18'8" from the south wall. Again I suspect this may be a potential flanking path.

Here is the floor plan for the Music Room (to be Control and Isolation Rooms):
Attachment:
Studio_floorplan_750px.jpg


The ceiling height is 93" throughout, although there is a soffit along the right side wall of the Music Room which starts at 37" wide and narrows to 21" wide after 19.5". It is 12' deep. From looking in the mechanical room it looks like this soffit is for ductwork and plumbing going to the upstairs.

I'm thinking that the area that currently has a hardwood floor (ends where the floor notches out on the left side) would make a good control room, and I would likely add one of the four solid core doors that I salvaged from the last studio as and entrance from the stair hallway.

So I guess my main questions currently are:

1) Should I create an extra storage area along the south wall to reduce noise going through those windows and up through the fireplace access into the Family room above?

2) Should I be sandwiching the support pillar between two walls to reduce the possible flanking effects?

3) What are your thoughts on layout? I was thinking perhaps two triangular shaped rooms in the bottom half of the music rooms - one for drum isolation and the other for instrument and vocal isolation.

4) Would I be better off considering a mini split or separate a/c & heating zone? If I go with the latter does that require it's own air handler inside too? I'm assuming so since I may need to cool the drum room while the upstairs of the house is requiring heat in the winter for example.

I think that's about all for now, but it's late so I may well have forgotten something. I will also be posting some photo's from my Ipad soon (don't have them locally here on my laptop).

Many thanks in advance for your insight, and it's great to be back! I wasn't expecting to ever do this again but I'm very excited to be!

Best wishes to you all,

Andy

Edit 9/22/13 - adding an additional question.

Has anyone every tried splitting one large room using one of these exterior folding patio doors?

Attachment:
image.jpg


I was wondering if it might provide enough isolation between a drummer and singer / other musicians whilst adding a) great site lines, and b) the ability to open up to create one larger room when isolation is not needed.

Thoughts?


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Last edited by andy_eade on Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:59 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:53 am 
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Hi Andy, and good to see you back for more torture! :)

Your original build thread was like reading a horror story: Every time I thought you had finally beaten one bad deal, another one popped up to take its place. It was actually one of the threads that made me realize just how important it is to double-check everything, and pay big attention to small details.

Your new place looks pretty nice, by the way. I am most certainly hoping that you don't find this build anywhere near as "entertaining" as the last one was!.

Congratulations on getting married and having two kids, too! Having a family can certainly change your outlook...

I'll go over your posts in more detail later, then comment if I see some place I can say something intelligent.

Welcome back!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:12 am 
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Please excuse the bump. Just wanted to make sure I have provided all the required info. I know everyone is very busy and know that it's tough to find time for these things. In the meantime I am off learning how to do 3d drawings in Sketchup so that I can hopefully provide some useful 3d drawings.

Thanks and be well!

Andy.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:23 pm 
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Here's a quick (and quite poor) sketch of what I was thinking:
Attachment:
810 Ellerslie Studio_IDEA_092713.jpg

Lot's to learn still with Sketchup!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:29 am 
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Hi Andy!

Best of luck in your project!

How negotiable is the lounge? Can the 5th bedroom serve as an effective lounge? (i.e. is it a guest bedroom or likely to be in full time service?) Could that space be brought into the (ahem) mix?

Right now the control room seems like it's going to put your speakers in some awkward places... you'll have a lot of reflections off the wall to the right of the listening position and a lack of symmetry over on the left. It seems to me there's a couple of ways to deal with it...

One option would be to orient the mixing board towards the wall that is currently to the right of the person seated at the mixing table.... turn the control room into a side facing room rather than a front facing room. Even so though, it's a pretty tight fit for the mix room... how set are you on putting it there?

I've never been all that fond of high traffic control rooms... What would you think about putting the control room down taking up a portion of the current music room, and moving the music rooms further up?

Also... heads up about double walling the wall over to the furnace room... I'd expect some noise from there with the current plan.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:20 pm 
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Adding to what Johnnie said: your control room is not laid out symmetrically, and that is critical. The console, the speakers and your head must all be centered symmetrically around the center line of the room, and the left half of the room must be a mirror-image of the right half, at least for the front section of the room.

Also, the Control Room looks to be practically square right now, and that's pretty close to the worst shape for a control room. Have you looked into possible room ratios that are close to the space you have available, to see if you can adjust your room dimensions to match one of those?

So my suggestion would be to re-think the CR size, shape and layout, then see how that affects the rest of the studio.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:55 am 
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Thanks guys. I'm going back to the drawing board. Sight lines are important but of no use if the rooms sound awful! The bedroom, bathroom, and Furnace Room are pretty much untouchable. My wife is giving me the left-hand side of the basement and hope's to keep it separate from the studio - hence the desire to add a walk-out entrance to the studio side (currently planned for the room labeled Entrance/ Lounge).

Thanks a lot for your feedback. I'll see what else I can come up with and post again soon.

Many thanks,

Andy

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:08 pm 
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Getting back to your original questions....:

Quote:
So I guess my main questions currently are:

1) Should I create an extra storage area along the south wall to reduce noise going through those windows and up through the fireplace access into the Family room above?
That's probably not necessary, although you could do that if you need the storage. Your isolation plan can be tweaked to deal with those windows.

One thought on basements and windows: sometimes local regulations require additional emergency egress paths, and architects specify the windows for those (even if they are impossibly shaped!), so you might want to check what your local code requires there, and if those windows are your extra escape route. If so, then you probably won't be able to cover them up with more windows in the inner-leaf, and in that case putting them in a sotrage room would be the best solution.

Food for thought.

Quote:
2) Should I be sandwiching the support pillar between two walls to reduce the possible flanking effects?
Definitely! Figure your room layouts so that pillar is in the air gap between rooms. If it runs through a room, then you'd have to box it in without touching it, if you need high levels of isolation. (Hmmmm... let me think about this..... new baby sleeping upstairs, .... drums at 3 AM... yup, you need high levels of isolation! :) )

Quote:
3) What are your thoughts on layout? I was thinking perhaps two triangular shaped rooms in the bottom half of the music rooms - one for drum isolation and the other for instrument and vocal isolation.
What are your priorities here? Is this more of a rehearsal room with a control room tagged on for occasional us, or is it more of a mixing-centered thing, where the control room is the center of your life, and the live room is just there for the occasional jamming session? I would concentrate my efforts on whichever room is more important to you, then fit the other rooms around it.

Quote:
4) Would I be better off considering a mini split or separate a/c & heating zone? If I go with the latter does that require it's own air handler inside too? I'm assuming so since I may need to cool the drum room while the upstairs of the house is requiring heat in the winter for example.
There are several paths open to you at this early stage: 1) Tie into the existing house system, if it has the extra capacity to handle that. But given your previous experience, you probably aren't too keen on this one! :) 2) Install a fully ducted system, zoned, with air-handler, dampers, control system, etc., where the one system will deal with all the rooms. 3) Do ducts only for fresh air in / stale air out, and put a mini-split in each room for the actual cooling / de-humidifying. Some things to think about in deciding which way to go: Cost (obviously!) There might be a big difference in cost between the two systems, or they might turn out very close in the end, after you take everything into account. So you'll have to do your homework there, to see if this is a big factor: if one of these options would blow your budget while the other is do-able, then your decision is already made!. Complexity, (the air handler system is more complex, since you need the controller, dampers, thermostats, etc.) Noise: even though they are very quiet, mini-splits do still make some noise, and that or might not be an issue. With an air-handler, ducts and silencers, there can be practically no noise at all. Reliability. If your one single air handler dies, your whole studio is dead until you can get it fixed. If one of your mini-splits dies, then only that room is out of action, while the others can carry on going. That might or might not be important to you. There's probably more issues too, but I'm half asleep typing this, and those are all that my addled brains could come up with right now!!! :)

Quote:
5) Has anyone every tried splitting one large room using one of these exterior folding patio doors?
I haven't done it, and I wouldn't recommend it. It would be a major pain to try to get enough mass and reliable seals on a system like that. I think you'd be disappointed by the results.

Now it's my turn for questions! :)

1) Is this going to be a commercial facility, or a hobby studio? I mean, will you be renting out the space to all comers and selling mixing/master services, or just using it to jam with your buddies a few times per month?

2) Have you decided on how much isolation you need? In terms of decibels, I mean. If not, then it's time to drag out that Sound Level Meter and do some measuring...

3) You seem to have a lot of HVAC return registers in your walls: Have you figured out what to do about those? Moving them / closing them off will likely change the balance of your entire house system, so you should probably get professional advice on how to deal with those, form a local HVAC guy (just not the one you used last time!).

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:11 am 
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Thanks so much for your replies Stuart and Johnnie, and my apologies for the delayed response. With our second child due at any moment (Due Date Oct 28) my honey-do list seems to be quite full these days :)

So you've both really had me rethink the layout - for which I'm very grateful. I'm now thinking I would put the Control Room where the drum room was (bottom wall by the fireplace access - which solves that problem for starters) and having it be a triangular shape going in the other direction. I'll try to update my sketchup and post later so you can see what I have in mind as well as check the room ratios. Talking of which I have a question about ratios. Since the ratios are for room width, height and depth - how does it work for non-square rooms? I mean most rooms will have more than one length or width right? Often the height too. Or am I checking all dimensional possibilities?

Ok so now let me answer the questions you asked Stuart.

Quote:
1) Is this going to be a commercial facility, or a hobby studio? I mean, will you be renting out the space to all comers and selling mixing/master services, or just using it to jam with your buddies a few times per month?


I'd like to think that one day it will become more commercial, but to start with it would be space for me to work with a few select artists each year to help them record their work. Additionally it will be a space for me and my band to record, jam, and perform weekly live video webcasts.

Quote:
2) Have you decided on how much isolation you need? In terms of decibels, I mean. If not, then it's time to drag out that Sound Level Meter and do some measuring...


I have my sound level meter ready but have yet to try jamming down there prior to any isolation work having been done. Tests like that are pretty tough at the moment with a heavily pregnant wife who is pretty much couch-ridden at the moment. When an opportunity arises (the only one I can imagine will be when she's at the hospital after #2 is born) I will try to do some testing.

Quote:
3) You seem to have a lot of HVAC return registers in your walls: Have you figured out what to do about those? Moving them / closing them off will likely change the balance of your entire house system, so you should probably get professional advice on how to deal with those, form a local HVAC guy (just not the one you used last time!).


Yeah I'm not sure why there are all those - they're just open to the mechanical room currently - no return's there at all. I will be looking to find a new HVAC guy to work with on both that and the overall needs, design, and installation for the new HVAC.

On to Johhnie's questions:

Quote:
How negotiable is the lounge? Can the 5th bedroom serve as an effective lounge? (i.e. is it a guest bedroom or likely to be in full time service?) Could that space be brought into the (ahem) mix?


The lounge is negotiable, but anything to the right of that is not - i.e. the 5th bedroom will not be usable except for sleepovers of drunk musician friends :)

Quote:
I've never been all that fond of high traffic control rooms... What would you think about putting the control room down taking up a portion of the current music room, and moving the music rooms further up?


Yes - I think this is the best bet, and as I mentioned above - it also solves the concern I had with the Fireplace access thing being a flanking path to the Family Room above.

Quote:
Also... heads up about double walling the wall over to the furnace room... I'd expect some noise from there with the current plan.


I'm not 100% sure I understand, although the sketch was just that - a sketch. ultimately I would have all walls (including that between the mechanical room and studio) be a MAM construction. In this spot by adding 2 layers of 5/8 to the existing mechanical room wall, and then framing a second wall inside with three layers of 5/8" and green glue on the last layer with insulation in between the studs. That seems to work like a champ in the old studio. Perhaps I missed your point though so please do let me know.

Thanks again to both of you for taking the time and wishing everyone a great rest of weekend.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:54 pm 
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Hi Guys,

The new baby boy arrived into this world safely last Monday I'm pleased to announce. It has of course been a bit busy since then, but I did get a couple of hours tonight to work on a sketch for what I was describing above. I'm also hoping someone might be able to help advise me on the above question about room ratios.

Many thanks,

Andy


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:08 am 
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Quote:
The new baby boy arrived into this world safely last Monday I'm pleased to announce.
Wooohooo! Congratulations, Andy! :yahoo:

Quote:
Talking of which I have a question about ratios. Since the ratios are for room width, height and depth - how does it work for non-square rooms? I mean most rooms will have more than one length or width right? Often the height too. Or am I checking all dimensional possibilities?
As soon as your room is not perfectly rectangular, then the usual on-line room-ratio calculators are no longer accurate. However, as long as the angles are small, the inaccuracy is also small, so you can still use the calculators to get a rough idea of the acoustics. Just use the average dimension in each plane. So if the room is 10 feet wide at the front and 12 feet wide at the back, then use 11 feet as the width dimension in the calculator. If you are paranoid, then you can also plug in the 10 foot and 12 foot dimensions, to see how they work out. You'll end up with a set of 9 calculations that should give you a pretty good idea of how the room will behave.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:19 am 
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Thanks so much Stuart - that's a great help.

Any feedback in general on Triangular rooms? I was doing some poking around elsewhere and it seemed that they aren't the most favorable shape for acoustics, control rooms in particular - especially if you set up the mix position along the hypotenuse wall. In my elementary understanding I was hoping that the non-parallel walls would result in in less reflections and less wasted space, but it looks as though the corners can cause troubles?

Many thanks again,

Andy

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:35 am 
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Hi Andy

Sorry to be AFK a bit. Life gets busy around holidays. Don't mean to be a downer, but I'm not a fan of that shape. One of the issues I'm looking at, is what happens to the sound coming out of your speakers? It looks to me like with these angles, you're going to have a number of immediate reflections of sound off the walls behind you, that are going to directly pass through the seating area of the mix position. That's definitely not desirable.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:45 am 
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Yeah, I agree with Johnnie: Triangular shaped rooms are strange beasts, acoustically. The only advantage is that there are no parallel walls, but the angles between the three walls make it really hard to get workable geometry in there. I don't think I've ever seen a triangular shaped room for a pro studio...


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