John Sayers' Recording Studio Design Forum

Indiana Home Studio Build
Page 1 of 27

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Indiana Home Studio Build

Greetings folks!

What a great place this is! I have been snooping around here for a while,and decided to jump in and submit myself to the ridicule that is sure to come from my amateurish attempts at building a small basement studio.

I see a few familiar faces from long ago (Hey Steve!), so hopefully you all will be easy on me!

I have Rod's book, and have been using it as a guide, but when I look at some of the builds going on around here, I just want to hang my head in shame! Slot resonators, and soffit-mounted speakers, wow, it just boggles the mind how much is involved to do this "right".

So...speaking of doing this right:

What are my goals?

I have been recording for quite some time in my basement in a single live room/control room setup, and have finally decided to bite the bullet and get my butt into a real control room. At the same time, I have decided to add an iso room for guitar amps, bass amps, Leslies, etc. This will *not* be a vocal booth. I will most likely continue to record my vocals in the live room using the gobo technique that I have been using for many years.

The CR needs to have a good level of sound level attenuation from the live room, but I am trying to be realistic in that this is a home studio that is really more of a hobby than for any real income. I know that I will never be able to build an ideal-sounding room in the space I have since it is very small, and I will also never be able to achieve the types of isolation figures that some of you folks strive for. Anything is better than being stuck in the same room with the drums however!!!

I record full bands almost exclusively, mostly rock/pop/blues with a few harder rock/punk type bands, but I try to stay away from that stuff since I really can't stand a lot of it. Since this is my passion and not my livelihood, I can afford to be VERY choosy.

I am also working a lot with my 18 YO son recording his band, and trying to teach him "the business". The hope is there that he will be able to start doing some projects on his own soon as well.

My studio plans are very similar to Snapper's Studio which is posted here:

However, I will only have a single window in the CR.

As mentioned, the new CR is *very* small. After framing, the inside dimensions will be:

12' 11.5" X 10' 4" x 7' 6"

Not very good, but "it is what it is".

Another *big* issue is that I need to fire the speakers down the short end of the room rather than the long way. This is due to some existing HVAC ductwork that has to be accommodated.

I have soooo many questions, it is crazy!

Let's start with a few pictures, and you can see my progress so far.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here is VERY rough sketch of the layout.

The drawing shows VERY exaggerated splayed walls for the CR. This has gone away, and the side walls are now parallel, and the machine room has also gone away since I need every square foot of space I can muster here.

Once again, the inside dimensions of the CR AFTER FRAMING is:

12' 11.5" X 10' 4" x 7' 6"

Please excuse the crudeness of the drawing. It is also hard to read the dimensions after resizing the sketch, but most of those numbers are outdated anyway.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

As I mentioned earlier, I am going to have to fire the speakers in the short direction due to some ugly existing HVAC ductwork that is in the room.

The ductwork extends down about 6" or so below the floor joists, and makes the construction of a ceiling a bit challenging. I do not want to lose that 6" all the way across the room, so I decided pretty early on that I needed to frame in the ductwork so that the ceiling would be lower in the front part of the room.

The first picture shows what I am up against. I am not sure why this picture looks so skewed. In real life, everything is square and straight.

The second picture is another one of my famous "quick sketches" that shows what I am planning for the ceiling. This picture is a side view of the room with the floor at the bottom, and the ceiling at the top. The red line at the top is the proposed plan for the new ceiling.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

The first thing I did was to frame in the studio-to-live room window in the existing wall:

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:03 pm ]
Post subject: 

Next came the floor.

After doing a lot of reading and researching (thanks to Rod and his book!), I decided *NOT* to float the floor. From what I understand from Rod's book, if you incorrectly float the floor, it is worse than not floating it at all. I decided therefore that I would create a solid floor, and fill the area in-between the floor joists with sand to make the *VERY* solid.

This was not an easy task in a basement since it involved hauling a couple of thousand pounds of sand down to the basement in bags, 50 lbs at at time!!! Ouch, my aching back!

The first step was to line the cement floor with a vapor barrier. I used 6 mil plastic sheeting as the barrier, and sealed the seams between sheets with silicone. I then shot nails through the floor joists into the cement floor. All the floor boards are treated wood.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

The next step was to install the sub floor. I chose 2 layers of 3/4" plywood as I really wanted this sucker to be sturdy. I sealed each seam with silicone.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

At this point, I started work on the HVAC ductwork. I plan on having 2 exhausts and a single large cold air return.

Once I had tapped into the existing ductwork, the framing began.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Next up was to start the electrical wiring.

I am having an electrician install 3 new 20 amp circuits all with isolated ground (I hope it is worth it!).

1) CR equipment plugs
2) CR/airlock/iso room lights and convenience plugs
3) Iso room plugs

I already have a dedicated 20a circuit in the live room.

This is one of the parts that has given me some trouble.

First off, I hate to install wall boxes that are going to force me to cut huge gapping holes in my dry wall (2 layers of 5/8"). I really don't like the look of surface mounted wall plugs however, so I am moving forward with the stud-mounted boxes, and I am going to have to find a way to seal them. Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated!!!

I bought the extra-deep boxes so that they would extend away from the wall studs by 1 1/4" so that they will meet flush with the second layer of drywall.

Author:  doublehelix [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

This brings us pretty close to current.

I have almost completed the HVAC ductwork now as well, and will try to get some pictures taken of that this evening.

I am also planning on finishing the electrical wiring today, and then start on the audio wiring, which means I will be soldering for the next 25 years!!!

The audio wiring is also going to have to penetrate the dry wall, so I would love to hear some suggestions as to how you guys are handling this.

My current issues/questions:

1) Electrical and audio wiring penetrating the dry wall. (I am buying surface-mounted lights, so these should only involve a wire protruding though a small hole in the drywall, sealed with TONS of acoustical caulk.)

2) HVAC sound travel. This is a BIGGIE, and I have no idea how to address this. The live room, the CR and the rest of the house are all on the same HVAC "circuit" if you will, and I have always had problems with sound traveling throughout the house through the ductwork. I understand that there are some "muffler-like" designs that I can build or buy that will help attenuate that through the use of 90 degree bends and the like. If anyone has any links to either DIY or commercial versions for this, I'd appreciate it. (or possibly another solution altogether???)

3) I want to put a "tube" in the walls between the live room and the iso room so that I can run the occasional "odd" cable from one room to the next. For example, a Leslie cabinet has this odd 11- or 9-pin cable that I am not going to be able to install as part of my tie lines. I was thinking along the lines of a PVC tube with some form of caps on each end where I can stick in a piece or two of foam when not in use. This sounds scary like it is going to just be a TUNNEL OF SOUND traveling between the rooms. Is this a stupid idea? Are there other methods of dealing with this issue?

That is it for now... I promise that there will be lots more questions coming!

Thanks in advance, and please be gentle!

Author:  John Sayers [ Tue May 01, 2007 12:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

DH - I've attached a pic of how to do your power switches.

Yes the duct work is a typical US problem as you don't insulate your metal ducts like we do. Box them off with insulation in the cavity and connect to them using insulated ducting as far away from the main duct as you can afford to get. i.e make extensions from the ducts using insulated ducts as per the attached pic.

Unfortunately foam isn't much of a sound sealer, good for heat, not sound. If you could line your PVC pipe with insulation it would help.


Author:  adam [ Tue May 01, 2007 2:23 pm ]
Post subject: 


I'm guessing that there's a layer or two of gyprock calked in behind the outlet in the above pic. That's quite a neat solution, can you confirm first-hand that it will pass an electrical inspection in Aus?

Author:  John Sayers [ Tue May 01, 2007 3:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

I don't see why not - it's actually Warren's studio in Kansas, he's an electrician. ;)

Our power points are different but the isolation system should remain the same.


Author:  doublehelix [ Thu May 03, 2007 11:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

My usual supplier of OC703 rigid fiberglass has stopped stocking OC products altogether, and have become an exclusive Johns Manville dealer.

They are recommending a JM product called "Spin-Glas" as a replacement. Has anyone used any of these products? What is the word?


A quick search gave this, which makes it look pretty equivalent. Any personal experience comments would be appreciated however. Thanks!

Author:  doublehelix [ Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:29 am ]
Post subject: 

Well, believe it or not, I am making progress, although it times it sure feels like things are crawling along.

I have completed all of the AC wiring, and most of the audio wiring. I should be done with the audio cables this week.

The HVAC ducting was finally completed today, and as an unexpected bonus (??) my Heating & AC guy thought I needed a new higher-capacity cold air return in the live room (which is not getting remodeled at this time BTW).

My next steps (after finishing the audio cabling) is to insulate, and then off to "DRYWALL HELL"!!! :) Gee, I can't wait!

I really don't have many new pics since a lot of the work that I have been doing doesn't really show much in the way of progress (for example, the 500 feet of 12/2 AC wiring that I have strung between the 3 rooms, etc.), but here are a couple to keep the thread alive:

Author:  camistan [ Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:31 am ]
Post subject: 

Greetings DH!

Congrats on your studio construction. Your handiwork looks pretty good so far!

I wanted to know where you picked up those receptical boxes. I was looking into getting extensions for regular boxes but I'd rather have the whole box if I can get it.


Page 1 of 27 All times are UTC + 10 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group