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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:38 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 2
Location: Concord, NH
I'm working together a plan for a new build in New Hampshire. Here are the details I've roughed out:

Lot Size - .13 Acres
House Dimensions - 28' W, 60' L

I'm looking at doing a basement that will support a studio with a nice live room that doubles as a band practice room, a dead vocal room, and a control room. I'm looking at using up to 1200sqft for the space and am wondering what I should appropriate for space. The basement is being done in drystack concrete and I want to plan ahead of time for a good sound, knowing it'll be six months before I actually start on the studio construction. My original plan was for the floor-to-ceiling height of 10', but can go up to 12' if it is worth it. What kind of dimensions should I be looking at to plan ahead for? I looked and everything that came up for me in the search was regarding existing dimensions and making good with what was available. Outside of the actual house perimeter, I'm free to do whatever I want. I'd rather just make this a planning consideration ahead of time if it makes things easier in the long run.

Not sure if this helps, but I saw it mentioned as good information on localization of advice:

Noise Requirements for My Zone:
Frequency Decibel Limit
63 66
125 61
250 56
500 56
1000 46
2000 46
4000 41

Thanks ahead of time for the help! :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:17 am
Posts: 7447
Location: Santiago, Chile
Hi there "TheClifford", and welcome to the forum! :)

It sounds like you are one lucky guy! 1200 ft^2 is a really nice amount of space for what you want to do, and you are also able to get some nice height in all your rooms. Please excuse me while I turn a bit green with envy! :)

In relation to height, acoustically "more is better", so go for as much as you can, within reason. Of course, there's no need to go overboard and try to get 30 foot ceilings! Your options of 10' and 12' are very good. Most people here are happy if they have 8' to work with, and many have to live with ceilings much lower than that, so you are in a great position.

Having said that, there are some guidelines that you might find useful in designing your studio and deciding on height. The ITU and EBU both recommend a minimum room volume of about 40 m3 (about 1,400 cubic feet) for critical listening rooms, and a maximum room volume of 300 m3 (about 11,000 cubic feet), so those are the absolute limits for your control room. With your space, you can cover that entire range! So you have great flexibility in that department.

The same organizations also recommend a minimum floor area of around 30 m2 (about 320 ft^2) for high-quality control rooms, and 40 m2 (430 ft^2) for a "reference listening room".

They then also recommend a bunch of other restrictions on dimensions (always rectangular, never square, no two dimensions within 5% of each other, length less than 3 x height, width less than 3 x height, length/height not less than 1.1 x width/height, and not greater than 4.5 x width/height, etc.) for many complex acoustical reasons that I don't have time to go into right now, but suffice it to say that if you shoot for a control room with around 350 to 400 square feet of floor space and 10 foot ceilings, you'll be doing more than fine. Of course, all these dimensions refer to the actual size of the INTERIOR of the finished room, with the complete isolation system in place, but not considering the acoustic treatment that will be added to the room. So it's all about the size of the interior shell: the walls, floor and ceiling that you would see after the room is fully built, and just before you start installing treatment and equipment.

Now, depending on the design approach that you choose, you might want to adjust those dimensions, recommendations and "restrictions", as needed. For example, if you want to aim for an RFZ design (Reflection Free Zone), then you will have to splay the side walls at a certain angle to achieve that, thus making the room non-rectangular but also greatly improving the acoustics around the listening position.

OK, so all that is for the control room: The live room can be a lot more flexible, with fewer restrictions on shape and size, but in general the live room should be significantly larger than the control room, in terms of total volume and overall dimensions, for many reasons. For example, if you record something in the live room, you obviously want to be able to hear all of the reverb tails when you listen to that recording in the control room. If the live room were smaller than the control room, then the reverb times would be shorter, not longer, so you'd never be able to hear the tails.

Also, most instruments just sound better in large rooms: they need "air", to "breathe". Drums, for example, are really hard to make sound good if recorded in a small space, but can sound fantastic in a larger space. So for your live room, go with as much volume as you can spare, at least 50% more volume than the control room, if possible. And go for a higher ceiling, as well, especially if you plan to record drums in there: the overheads will probably be at least 6 to 8 feet above the floor, so if your ceiling is low then they will be close to the ceiling, and therefore will pic up ceiling reflections, comb filtering, and other not-so-nice artifacts. So make the ceiling in your live room as high as you can, within reason. There are a few other rules of thumb for live rooms, such as non-parallel walls, non-square dimensions, and things like that, but nothing earth-shattering. You can even consider variable acoustics for the live room, if you want to get fancy. In other words, build in some folding or sliding panels that either cover up or reveal large areas of absorption, at suitable locations in the room, so you can change the "character" of the room.

The vocal booth can be any size you want, if it is going to be dead, but not too small of course. Keep it to a decent, comfortable size for getting people and equipment in and out, and provide good sight lines to the other rooms.

Regarding your noise limits, you are also a lucky fellow there! Those are reasonable, and nothing to worry about, probably, depending on what you plan to record in there, and how you build.

Anyway, all of the above is meant as general guidelines, not regulations written in stone. John has built very successful studios inside shipping containers (! :shock: ), so you certainly don't need to be intimidated by those large volume specs and dimensions! Even very small spaces can be used, if designed and built correctly.

Hope that helps a bit, to point you in the right direction!

- Stuart -

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

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:12 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 2
Location: Concord, NH
Awesome! Thanks so much for your reply! That was extremely helpful and informative. I'll prolly end up back here when the rest of the house is done to do a build diary for the studio itself and ask a bunch of noobie questions. :)

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