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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:00 pm 
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Hi All,

My name is Andy. It's my first post, forgive me for any novice questions! I'm at a very preliminary stage so right now I just have a couple basic questions to get me thinking on the right track. I just bought a house in Buffalo, NY USA. I don't move in for a couple months, but I'm trying to get the design started. My first order of business is figuring out where to place the control room in the basement. Here's the floor plan of the basement

Attachment:
Basment-Floor-Plan wArrows.png


The basics:
- It's 8'0" feet from floor to bottom of the joists.
- I'm much more interested in acoustics than isolation. Had the reverse for the past 10 years, really looking for good acoustics.

Here's a photo of the basement from position #1.

Attachment:
Overall.jpg


Here's a photo from position #2:

Attachment:
Iso-Area.jpg


Here's a photo from position #3:

Attachment:
CtrlRmArea.jpg


This last one is the largest area, and is where I'd like to put the control room. I grabbed one of the control room designs on this site and dropped it into the floor plan in a couple different ways.

Control Room Position #1:
Attachment:
CtrlRm1.png


Control Room Position #2:
Attachment:
CtrlRm2.png


Not sure if that layout is what I will/should use, but thought it would help show what I'm imagining. If you look at the #3 photo, you'll see my biggest concern: the air ducts. They eat up about 1/3 of the area, and I'm not sure how to deal with them.

So here's question #1:
How concerned should I be about control room symmetry, when it comes to the ceiling height?

If it is terribly important, then I guess I have to orient the control room like position #2. I was hoping to orient it like position #1 because I'd have a chance to get a little longer, more spacious room. But then again, I know that's subject to acoustics (ctrl room dimensions/ratios) so I realize I don't want to necessarily just make it longer arbitrarily. Needs to have proper lenth to width ratio to get good sound.

Question #2:
How should I provide access to the window and breaker panel?

For the breaker panel, should it be some kind of door on hinges that opens inward? Sliding door? Really have no clue. Maybe any solution make it too difficult to work on the panel, like add a new circuit or something? What about the window - is there any way to get some of that natural sunlight without it being too difficult? Should I bother?

If there's too many issues in that area (ducts, elec panel and window), I'd have to think about putting the control room in the #2 pic area. But that's way too small - less than 9 feet for it's shortest dimension after walls are put up. So it's not ideal.

Question #3:
For the control room itself, is there a recommended complete basic design that I can use as a starting point and work off of it? Ideally it would have all the elements of the room - wall treatments, soffit design, diffusors, etc. Then I could tweak it as I see fit (and can afford!). Maybe the one that I brought in here is a good one, I don't know. It just seems like that would be a lot more efficient to start with something where a whole lot of decisions have been made by someone who knows a lot more about this stuff than me. I'm just a little nervous about piecing all these different elements together in a coherent way.

Well, thanks in advance for any suggestions you can give me. This is a fantastic forum, I'm really impressed and feel fortunate that it exists, so much time spent by the moderators/experts giving advice. I really appreciate it.

Thanks,
buzz


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:16 pm 
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Welcome Buzz!

So, yes, symmetry is very important in a good listening room. The biggest issue I'm seeing here is that your one dimension is 15' 10" and your height is 8'. That's basically 16' x 8' which fails one of the 3 critical tests for room dimensions. Feel free to check it out here:

https://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

Having said that, before we continue, you need to let us know the height from your concrete slab to the bottom side of the subfloor -- not the bottom of the joists. Because ideally you're going to want to fill the joist bays with insulation and acoustically, the underside of the subfloor is going to be the height of your room. After you determine that height, you can punch it along with your 15' 10" into the calculator to help you determine the optimal 3rd dimension of your room.

As you've pointed out, due to symmetry, you will probably have to fire your speakers down the 15' 10" length of your room. Having said that, your REAR wall is the one where you need a butt load of insulation. So, it would make the most sense to have the front of your control room face the stairs. This will keep the duct work at the front of your room. The downside to this is that your electrical panel is right where you want a huge bass trap. If you want to do a true RFZ style control room, your window is where your soffit or soffit wing are going to be located so it will have to be covered up.

Are those laundry machines in the opposite nook? You can use that area hey? The only other option I would suggest would be to use area 2 and extend it out into the main big area. So, using North, East, South West on your drawing, the back of your control room would be North. You'd still have a width of 13' so it's not much different than your other location. This width might work better with your "acoustic" ceiling height as well!

Greg

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:07 am 
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Thanks for the quick reply Greg.

Gregwor wrote:
https://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

- Is there a description of how to use that page to calculate my 3rd dimension? I read the link off of that page and maybe I'm slow but still not sure how to use it for my purpose. Or even what I'm actually looking for. Should I just punch in different numbers for the 3rd dimension and look for all green? Think I need a "for Dummies" manual for this. :)

- Should I subtract out the estimated width of the walls when i use the calculator? (stud width etc)

Gregwor wrote:
...the underside of the subfloor is going to be the height of your room

Does that imply that you don't think I should put any ceiling ceiling material (drywall or whatever) up on the bottom of the joists? I don't listen at very high levels, but at the same time I'll be right under the kitchen so I want to be a bit mindful of isolation. Maybe the insulation between the joists will be enough?

Gregwor wrote:
Are those laundry machines in the opposite nook?

No that whole wall there is furnace and water heater, not usuable.

Gregwor wrote:
The only other option I would suggest would be to use area 2...

So that's a safety exit, not just a window, in the #2 spot, at what would be the back of the control room. Think there's any way to devise something that would keep that window accessible? I will check but I'm guessing that's code in my area. I'll need bass traps or diffusors or something back there, no? If I just went cheesy and left the window/door uncovered, how bad would that be for acoustics? Guessing it would be pretty bad. Would be nice to have the natural light though.

Also, and maybe even more important, if I extend the #2 area out, I'm having trouble picturing where I'd put a door. The middle of that extended wall would be between the main monitors and right where i'd like to put a large video monitor (I do soundtracks). And putting it on the side would mean extending the wall to get a door past the soffit area, which seems like it would have to come out awfully far? And again maybe the room modes become an issue?

Thanks again for all your help. :)

Andy

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 5:01 am 
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Quote:
Should I just punch in different numbers for the 3rd dimension and look for all green?

Not all green, but you need to pass all three of these tests.
Attachment:
3 tests.png

And yes, just punch in different numbers.

Quote:
- Should I subtract out the estimated width of the walls when i use the calculator? (stud width etc)

You need to use the final dimensions of the inside of your room. So yes, take any sheathing into consideration.

Quote:
Does that imply that you don't think I should put any ceiling ceiling material (drywall or whatever) up on the bottom of the joists?

Correct. Those joist bays would be filled with insulation and then covered with fabric. So, visually it's going to look pretty much the same height as if you put up sheathing but acoustically it's way taller.

Quote:
I don't listen at very high levels, but at the same time I'll be right under the kitchen so I want to be a bit mindful of isolation.

Unless you deal with the duct work and such, your isolation isn't going to be much better than it is right now. You can experiment using the room mode calculator to see what the two different height dimensions restrict your width and length dimensions to. Just remember that if you put drywall up on your ceiling, you're now going to have to hang a bunch of panels off the ceiling for acoustic treatment which will now make the visual height of your ceiling even lower. It's also going to add a lot more work to the build.

Quote:
Maybe the insulation between the joists will be enough?

In a cavity such as a wall, insulation helps a lot. When it's just sitting in some framing (such as your joists) it does next to tonight for isolation.

Quote:
Think there's any way to devise something that would keep that window accessible?

Maybe you could flip the orientation of your room and have that window between your speakers. Maybe you could have an articulating arm to hold your screen. That would allow access to the window.

Quote:
if I extend the #2 area out, I'm having trouble picturing where I'd put a door.

The door could be in the middle of the back wall. As long as when the door opens, the door swings out, you could easily put either absorption or diffusion devices on the door and still have it function well as a door.

I'd suggest getting a few different room length options (based on both ceiling heights as mentioned above) and then draw up those rectangular rooms in SketchUp so we can see how they look.

Greg


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:50 pm 
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Ok, slowly getting through the house closing, finally have time to think about this some more. A couple more basic questions:

1.) What should I do with the insulation on the walls? Should I leave it there and stand my walls up inside of them? Or is it ok to remove it and attach my studs to the concrete? Depending on where I decide to put the control room, it may be only one wall.

2.) I visited the house again and noticed a floor drain in area #2. Does this kill any idea of using this area for the control room?

Attachment:
FloorDrain.jpg


I'd hate to have to put some kind of floor down and lose any of that valuable room height.

3.) Is the ctrl room diagram that I'm using in my layout a good one to use as a starting point for my design? I mean, there are no dimensions on it, but if I'm careful to keep it proportional I could size it exactly into my floor plan and calculate the dimensions from there. Would that be a sensible way to get a running start on things? Ideally I'd like a sketchup file of this room, and use as a starting point, but don't know of any - are there any that are publicly available (that have a solid design) to use as a starting point?

Thanks!

Andy


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 6:46 am 
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Quote:
1.) What should I do with the insulation on the walls? Should I leave it there and stand my walls up inside of them? Or is it ok to remove it and attach my studs to the concrete? Depending on where I decide to put the control room, it may be only one wall.

I know this isn't the answer you want, but it really depends on your design.

Quote:
2.) I visited the house again and noticed a floor drain in area #2. Does this kill any idea of using this area for the control room?

Not at all. It is just there in case there is a flood. It shouldn't bother anything.

Quote:
3.) Is the ctrl room diagram that I'm using in my layout a good one to use as a starting point for my design?

It looks pretty much square, and if it is, then no. The concept is there though for RFZ and bass trapping, etc.

Quote:
I mean, there are no dimensions on it, but if I'm careful to keep it proportional I could size it exactly into my floor plan and calculate the dimensions from there. Would that be a sensible way to get a running start on things?

No. Use the room mode calculator site I mentioned and tackle it that way.

Quote:
Ideally I'd like a sketchup file of this room, and use as a starting point, but don't know of any - are there any that are publicly available (that have a solid design) to use as a starting point?

Every room is different. Having a rough starting point won't really help you. In my experience, modifying existing designs would take longer than starting one from scratch.

Greg

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 9:51 am 
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Thanks Greg.

1.) Insulation on walls
Quote:
I know this isn't the answer you want, but it really depends on your design.

Ok, so how do I begin to determine what my design will be? Are you talking about will I have a room within a room? I am not too worried about isolation, much more concerned with acoustics. So I was thinking of taking your advice and simply putting insulation/cloth on the ceiling to get better room height. And if I do that, I have no isolation in the ceiling, so I'm thinking it's pointless to do free standing walls (for isolation) along the concrete. Also putting studs on the concrete wall maximizes my room size. Is this sensible? The problem is I have no idea what i'm talking about. :)

3.) Design plans
Quote:
The concept is there though for RFZ and bass trapping, etc.

I understand I need to first figure out my room dimensions, using the calculator. Once I get that figured out, can I use the basic ideas from this layout - e.g. the 30 deg angles for soffits, the 6 deg side walls, the (unknown) angles on the back wall. Is that what I can take away from that diagram?

Thanks again Greg!!

Andy

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:20 am 
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Quote:
Ok, so how do I begin to determine what my design will be? Are you talking about will I have a room within a room?

Yes, I meant whether it's a room in a room or not. I'm not familiar with the insulation that is there. The design example you posted is of an RFZ room. So if you want to soffit mount your speakers and have a room like that, then you will be aiming for an RFZ control room.

Quote:
So I was thinking of taking your advice and simply putting insulation/cloth on the ceiling to get better room height. And if I do that, I have no isolation in the ceiling, so I'm thinking it's pointless to do free standing walls (for isolation) along the concrete. Also putting studs on the concrete wall maximizes my room size. Is this sensible?

:thu:

I'm just not sure how to control your moisture there. Hopefully someone here can advise where to put your vapor barrier. If not, you could contact your local building inspector and ask them.

Quote:
I understand I need to first figure out my room dimensions, using the calculator. Once I get that figured out, can I use the basic ideas from this layout - e.g. the 30 deg angles for soffits, the 6 deg side walls, the (unknown) angles on the back wall. Is that what I can take away from that diagram?

Kind of, yes. Starting with 30 degree soffits is good. You may have to tweak that, but start there. The side walls can probably be shorter and instead of being actual walls like in the picture, you would build soffit wings. The back wall doesn't need to have angles at all. It just needs to be thick (think ~2ft) of hangers or insulation. If your room is long enough, you can have some diffusion back there as well.

Gre

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 2:25 pm 
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Ok, talked to the town building inspector and he nixed the idea of using area #2 - I can't block the window, even if it's on a hinge. So here's my first try at positioning the room:

Attachment:
CtrlRoomPlacementPossibility.png


It passes the room modes test:

R. Walker BBC 1996:
- 1.1w / h < l / h < ((4.5w / h) - 4): Pass
- l < 3h & w < 3h: Pass
- no integer multiple within 5%: Pass

It's offset from the far wall to leave room to access the electrical panel, and I'll have to put a 2nd door on the far wall. I really hate having to do that, but depending on the direction of the room, it's either going to be behind a soffit or a bass trap, niether of which I can make put on a hinge or something to make the panel accessible - unless someone has some ideas, I'm all ears. Then I could slide the room over to that far wall and get back a ton of floor space.

What do you think of this position?

If you think this is ok, then my next decision is which way to orient the room. You can see in my previous photos that there are low hanging ducts running perpendicular to the elec panel wall, so I have to set the room so that I either have the elec panel wall to my right or left. The ducts cut off about 8 or 9" of ceiling height. Should I make the ducts end the front or the back? I'm not sure which is better to have for acoustics, low front or low rear. I hope low rear, cause I'd hate to have the speakers be so low.

Thanks again!

Andy


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 2:48 pm 
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Quote:
It's offset from the far wall to leave room to access the electrical panel, and I'll have to put a 2nd door on the far wall. I really hate having to do that, but depending on the direction of the room, it's either going to be behind a soffit or a bass trap, niether of which I can make put on a hinge or something to make the panel accessible - unless someone has some ideas, I'm all ears. Then I could slide the room over to that far wall and get back a ton of floor space.

I think the way you have it drawn is fine. The "hallway" with the electrical panel would work for storage and such as well. Plus, the door can be in an appropriate spot to not interfere with your acoustic treatment. I suppose you just have to make sure you have enough room in front of the panel to meet code. Don't quote me, but I think it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 feet where I live.

Quote:
Should I make the ducts end the front or the back?

For acoustic reasons, you need to have your speakers at the low part of the room. So, your electrical panel would be on your right.

Quote:
I hope low rear, cause I'd hate to have the speakers be so low.

Your speakers acoustic axis (this typically ends up being between the tweeter and the woofer) has to be at ear height so no matter what your room orientation is, you will be fine.

Greg

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:07 am 
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Hi,

Starting to put some more detail to my sketchup model. I'm a little concerned about how i'm going to deal with these ducts:

Attachment:
CtrlRmSideViewDucts.png


- How do I deal with the 2 foot cavity up behind the ducts? Is this bad acoustically?
- I was just going to put cloth up on the ceiling, no drywall. What should i do at the ducts - just cover with cloth?
- My console will be right under this - where do I put lights?
- Aren't the ducts themselves going to cause weird acoustics? Can't imaging its not going to resonate and cause significant issues?

All that said - how bad would it be if I flipped it around and put the room the other direction? Would solve a lot of problems and open up the working side of the room. But I don't want to compromise sound too much either.

Stay safe.

Thanks,
Andy


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:16 am 
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Quote:
- How do I deal with the 2 foot cavity up behind the ducts? Is this bad acoustically?

Are you able to stuff insulation up there?

Quote:
- I was just going to put cloth up on the ceiling, no drywall. What should i do at the ducts - just cover with cloth?

You'll need a cloud above you anyway. So the cloud could cover them.

Quote:
- My console will be right under this - where do I put lights?

In your cloud.

Quote:
- Aren't the ducts themselves going to cause weird acoustics? Can't imaging its not going to resonate and cause significant issues?

For sure. You could put some MLV (mass loaded vinyl) on the ducts to dampen them.

Quote:
All that said - how bad would it be if I flipped it around and put the room the other direction? Would solve a lot of problems and open up the working side of the room. But I don't want to compromise sound too much either.

Having a cloud hanging below the ducts isn't going to hurt you acoustically. You should have it, period. Flipping the room and having the ducts at the back of the room isn't going to stop the ducts from ringing.

You're well on your way with the 3D modeling. Try drawing up some clouds and show us how that looks. :thu:

Greg

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:27 am 
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Thanks Greg.

Quote:
flipping the room and having the ducts at the back of the room isn't going to stop the ducts from ringing.


Yes but I only have 7 1/2 ft of height under the ducts. How much height does a cloud take? I'm guessing i won't even be able to stand up - and the ducts come out to about 1/3 of the room length, so it's not just the very end of the room. This is why i'm tempted to flip the room around the other way.

Btw, i don't know anything about building a cloud. Where should I start to look for ideas for a design? Just search 'cloud' on this site? If so that's fine, not trying to avoid research, just looking for a pointer to get started in the right direction.

Also, I have an old design book called "Building A Recording Studio" by Jeff Cooper. Are you familiar with it? Is it worth using, or is it outdated (it's from 1996)?

Thanks!

Andy

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:21 pm 
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Yes but I only have 7 1/2 ft of height under the ducts. How much height does a cloud take?

You could frame it using a 2x4 or 2x6. A 2x6 would be 5 1/2" deep leaving you just over 7' of height. How tall are you?

Quote:
Btw, i don't know anything about building a cloud. Where should I start to look for ideas for a design? Just search 'cloud' on this site? If so that's fine, not trying to avoid research, just looking for a pointer to get started in the right direction.

Yep. There are tons of resources on this forum.

Quote:
Also, I have an old design book called "Building A Recording Studio" by Jeff Cooper. Are you familiar with it? Is it worth using, or is it outdated (it's from 1996)?

I'm not familiar with that one. That is old though. I would just read as much as possible on this forum.

Greg

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:27 am 
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Hi,

So I've been working on exploring different placement of components, to see how I can make this work. So I'm starting with facing the stairs:
Attachment:
Overall.jpg


Got the basic stuff in place and speakers swiveled 30 deg inward and tilted to aim at the mix position, which is 38% of room length:

Attachment:
BackR.jpg

Attachment:
Top.jpg


And even took a stab at a cloud. No idea if it's even close, just stole the shape of one I saw on here that I thought looked cool and has an opening for lights. Here it is with the ducts and some of the joists:
Attachment:
WithCloudAndDucts.jpg


But here's the problem:
Attachment:
Side'.jpg


The speakers end up under the ducts. What kind of jigsaw framing sculpture am I going to have to build to flush mount those speakers behind soffits?! :)

With it looking like this, I have to ask again: how bad would it be if I flipped the room around? I know it's not ideal to have lower ceiling height at back, but it seems like there will also be serious problems trying to jam everything under the ducts? And will those ducts really constitute a lower ceiling height? They're not solid, and there will be 9" of (insulation filled) joist space above them. And whatever resonating the ducts do, at least they would be 10 feet away, not right over my head.

And I'm 6'2", worried that tight space will seem like a cockpit after 8 or 10 hours. But not sure.

What do you think?

I defer to the expert, I just want good sound! I spent 15 yrs with a room that I ignored acoustics, don't want to do that again! But I'm also just a hobbyist, I have a day job, i don't need to go too crazy. Just don't want that ugly boominess!

Thanks,
Andy


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