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Old 08-28-2018, 05:48 PM
strumming strumming is offline
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Default Building new home - Need Help with Studio!

I'm building a new house and will use one of the larger bedrooms as a dedicated music studio. The house is framed and electrical and insulation will go in soon. Does it make sense to insulate the inside walls with something to help reduce house noise? Any other advice for someone building a studio from scratch? One thing I plan do do is isolate the electric to the room so it's on its own circuit. Is this worth doing?
Thanks!
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:21 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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I am not an expert on this, though I've been around a number of broadcast studios being built. In terms of sound isolation ("sound proofing") double walls, floor and ceiling isolated from each other is what I saw.

Insulation (fiberglass mats, blown in foam, etc) might be a good thing for other reasons (HVAC efficency) but it's not really sound proofing as such.

Inside the room there is a separate issue of sound treatment to stop unwanted reelections as well.


Now that I've given my non-expert, perhaps semi-useful observation, I'll stand back and see if anyone here can supply informed opinions as to if normal Residental construction methods can be easily modified for studio isolation.
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Old 08-28-2018, 09:27 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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I am an expert at this (34 years as an acoustical engineer) with many studio designs among my ~2900 projects to date.

1) Batt insulation inside the wall helps, and it really doesn't matter what kind it is (except no Styrofoam, blue board, etc). But insulation does not really help until you are not attaching sheet rock to both sides of the same piece of wood. Use staggered or double stud walls for best sound isolation (STC). You need the structural disconnection to prevent vibration transfer across the framing. Then everything needs to be sealed airtight - penetrations, perimeter, door gaskets.

2) Reverberation and control of reflections inside the room is totally different than sound isolation - stopping sound from coming through walls, doors, windows, etc. Inside a room, you can really do only three things to sound. You can reflect it somewhere else (hopefully where it doesn't create problems), you can absorb it with fuzzy stuff, or you can diffuse it with convoluted surfaces. To be effective, absorbers need to be thick. Fiberglass batts hidden underneath sheet rock do not contribute absorption to the room.

3) Try to avoid perfect squares or rectangles when laying out the room. A 1:1:1 ratio of height, width and length is pretty much a guarantee of standing waves and other issues. 2:1:1 is almost as bad. Try for something unusual like 1.3:1.0:0.9 ratios if you can. A little slope on a wall or ceiling will offset a lot of need for expensive absorptive or diffusive panels.

4) Most of what you read on the interweb is wrong, put there by someone trying to sell you something, not necessarily addressing the problem you need to solve. Be suspicious. The surest sign that someone does NOT know what they are talking about is using the word "sound proofing". (No offense intended to Frank - this is what I say to clients literally every single week of the year. It's just the easiest way to spot BS).

I have to travel for work in another town all day tomorrow and Thursday, so this is all I can explain for free at this late hour. Hope it helps.

My email address is part of my profile. But remember, this is how I make my living. I cannot spend a lot of non-billable time working on someone's project. Paying clients get first dibs. I'm giving you some initial advice to help avoid the misinformation and most common mistakes.
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Old 08-29-2018, 06:47 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Good starting advice from Earl.

Since you are 'building' - can you not make a studio in the basement? It will really help in starting the isolation of the sound.
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Old 08-29-2018, 06:51 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Earl is exactly right. I work in ground-up designed and built studios all day long. The difference between them and a typical home installation is like night and day. I realize most homeowners don't have the budget for a fully professional installation, but there are lessons to be learned from Frank's suggestions.

My particular room was designed and installed in 1996 and was state of the art for that date. It features an unlicensed Live-End-Dead-End control room. Frankly, not a lot has changed in the state of the art in the intervening years because budgets have typically dropped rather than increased. You can go HERE for a photo-essay and description if you'd like. Here is the floor plan:




You'll notice non-parallel walls, double walls with separate studs, and even triple walls in some places. The description covers part of the goals and methods.

The take-away for home construction as far as isolation is concerned is rigidity and physical isolation. Any flexible wall space becomes tympanic and transfers sound energy like a speaker. Any direct mechanical path from one room to another mechanically transfers sound energy. Any any duct work that bridges two rooms is a conduit for sound.

As Frank said, the key for sound control within the room is non-parallel walls, absorption, reflection, and diffusion. You can see the diffusion panels designed by Dr. Peter D'Antonio at RPG Diffusors in the picture below, behind me.



Read through the page and see if there isn't something you can use. Since the pics were shot we eliminated all CRT displays and I added a lava lamp and party lights.



Bob
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:04 PM
strumming strumming is offline
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Thanks Frank for getting the conversation started and thanks Earl and Bob for the very useful professional advice! Bob makes a good point that homeowners typically have a much smaller budget to put toward the proper sound conditioning than professional studios and that is certainly true for me - unfortunately. The room I'll be using for my music studio is 6'4" long x 12" long x 10"-12" high (the ceiling is cathedral). Better than the 1:1:1 ratio Earl mentions but not ideal I'm sure.

Since I won't be able to do a room within a room or staggered studs, my initial concern is blocking out noise from outside of the room. Two of the walls are outside walls and two are inside walls. The outside walls of course will have insulation but currently no plans for insulation on the inside walls. According to Earl, it sounds like that would at least be better than no insulation. I will likely hang sound panels in the room as well. I made some for my last studio using rockwool insulation and they did help quite a bit. Since then I've read about health issues with rockwool so would like to find pre-made panels that do a good job at a reasonable price point. I considered framing a separate control room to isolate the mic area from the equipment but since I have to consider resale potentially some day I ruled that out. Not sure what else I can do other than this. I'm open to any additional advice and thanks again for the very useful information!
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Good starting advice from Earl.

Since you are 'building' - can you not make a studio in the basement? It will really help in starting the isolation of the sound.
Unfortunately no. The house is a single story ranch. My house in Minnesota had a basement but that was years ago before I got into recording.
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:50 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strumming View Post
One thing I plan do do is isolate the electric to the room so it's on its own circuit. Is this worth doing?
Thanks!
If you think you might ever release something commercially, then absolutely yes. If you are sensitive to noise creeping into your equipment, then probably yes.

A dedicated circuit is pretty inexpensive in the grand scheme. And it can help to isolate you from all kinds of weird appliance-generated electrical noise.

I did this when we finished our basement. I think the cost was a few hundred at most for labor.
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Old 08-29-2018, 06:20 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strumming View Post
Since I won't be able to do a room within a room or staggered studs, my initial concern is blocking out noise from outside of the room. Two of the walls are outside walls and two are inside walls. The outside walls of course will have insulation but currently no plans for insulation on the inside walls. According to Earl, it sounds like that would at least be better than no insulation. I will likely hang sound panels in the room as well. I made some for my last studio using rockwool insulation and they did help quite a bit. Since then I've read about health issues with rockwool so would like to find pre-made panels that do a good job at a reasonable price point. I considered framing a separate control room to isolate the mic area from the equipment but since I have to consider resale potentially some day I ruled that out. Not sure what else I can do other than this. I'm open to any additional advice and thanks again for the very useful information!
Sound panels are not meant to isolate you from exterior sound, but to control the modes and resonances WITHIN the room. They can really be effective (I like GIK a lot) for reducing bad room sound in recording and for evening out the response so you can playback and mix with some degree of confidence. 99% of your effort will go to controlling the bass.

When we finished our basement (90% below grade) we did some basic double wall construction. Even with that, I was surprised at how much exterior sound manages to intrude on both the project studio and the home theater. Things like double wall construction have to be designed and implemented by audio-savvy people, or it probably won't have the impact you expect.

With the size of your room being relatively small, you should adjust your expectations. You won't be able to affect external noise much, you can affect the room response a bit, and it is relatively inexpensive to reduce the possibility of ground loops and electrical hum.
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Old 08-30-2018, 07:00 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Originally Posted by strumming View Post
Thanks Frank for getting the conversation started and thanks Earl and Bob for the very useful professional advice! Bob makes a good point that homeowners typically have a much smaller budget to put toward the proper sound conditioning than professional studios and that is certainly true for me - unfortunately. The room I'll be using for my music studio is 6'4" long x 12" long x 10"-12" high (the ceiling is cathedral). Better than the 1:1:1 ratio Earl mentions but not ideal I'm sure.

Since I won't be able to do a room within a room or staggered studs, my initial concern is blocking out noise from outside of the room. Two of the walls are outside walls and two are inside walls. The outside walls of course will have insulation but currently no plans for insulation on the inside walls. According to Earl, it sounds like that would at least be better than no insulation. I will likely hang sound panels in the room as well. I made some for my last studio using rockwool insulation and they did help quite a bit. Since then I've read about health issues with rockwool so would like to find pre-made panels that do a good job at a reasonable price point. I considered framing a separate control room to isolate the mic area from the equipment but since I have to consider resale potentially some day I ruled that out. Not sure what else I can do other than this. I'm open to any additional advice and thanks again for the very useful information!


Is that right - only 6ft 4" wide? Adding any kind of acoustic treatment (4" rockwool panels) is going to make the room that much smaller. with 12' length, those dimensions are almost 1:2, not a good one for resonance issues.
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Old 08-30-2018, 03:25 PM
7thbassbA 7thbassbA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl49 View Post
I am an expert at this (34 years as an acoustical engineer) with many studio designs among my ~2900 projects to date.

1) Batt insulation inside the wall helps, and it really doesn't matter what kind it is (except no Styrofoam, blue board, etc). But insulation does not really help until you are not attaching sheet rock to both sides of the same piece of wood. Use staggered or double stud walls for best sound isolation (STC). You need the structural disconnection to prevent vibration transfer across the framing. Then everything needs to be sealed airtight - penetrations, perimeter, door gaskets..
So what we did in small room (11x13)
1. Built out of part of garage. shared one common wall with interior of house, one wall facing garage, and two walls outside.
2. Batt insulation in walls, and while may not make difference, doubled up on wall common to interior of house.
3. hang 2 layers of thick sheet rock using resilient channel. So Studs/resilient channel/sheet rock/sheet rock.
4. Gasket thingy under door.

Pretty good isolation from rest of house. Loud bass and high-gain guitar can be heard in house but really have to work at it to make difference to folks inside. Also, have to worry about air conditioning and vents.

My 2 cents.
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Old 08-30-2018, 03:54 PM
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Want to retype those room dimension?
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Old 08-31-2018, 09:44 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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A few more comments:

Nice integer (1:1 or 2:1) room ratios are bad news - virtually guaranteed to create resonances that WILL be audible in the recordings. As Bob demonstrated with his plan, non-parallel surfaces and selected treatments of key surfaces are the better way to go. He also touched on the stiffness of the surfaces. You don't want a single layer of sheet rock, because it is actually rather flexible at lower frequencies and flexes under the impact of sound waves. That creates odd absorptive characteristics. [By the way Bob, Chips Davis of LEDE fame is a good friend of mine].

Acoustic treatments - bass traps, absorptive panels, diffusers - are basically band-aids addressing a more fundamental problem that can be better fixed with good room geometry.

Resilient channels are fine theoretically, but I've seen them done correctly only 3-4 times in my whole career! I have a three-page specification on how to do them, and most builders are completely surprised by what they read. They are not a magic "slap up this RC channel and solve all problems" thing. For example, putting RC on top of an existing layer to hang new layers accomplishes nothing for sound isolation in 99% of cases. If your primary concern is sound isolation, put R-11 batts in the wall (as good as anything else) and use two layers of Quiet Rock sound-enhanced sheet rock. Better still, isolate those from the framing using Pacific International RSIC clips - far better than RC channels, and harder to mess up during installation. And make sure everything is sealed airtight - perimeter, penetrations, everything. A submarine with one hatch open never re-surfaces. A wall with holes cannot get its best STC value, and that is what you want.

There is no harm done by insulating any wall, but it also does not do much good unless there is a also break in the structural path between sides. A wood stud conducts a LOT of vibration, which gets into the attached sheet rock on the other side vibrating as a sound board. That is how acoustic guitars and pianos work.... the structural connection between strings and tops, to better convert the vibration into sound.

Yeah, those room dimensions seem - weird.
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Old 08-31-2018, 07:15 PM
strumming strumming is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Is that right - only 6ft 4" wide? Adding any kind of acoustic treatment (4" rockwool panels) is going to make the room that much smaller. with 12' length, those dimensions are almost 1:2, not a good one for resonance issues.
Sorry! That was a typo! The room is 12'-10" wide x 16'-4" long x 10' to 14' high (cathedral ceiling). Guess it was late and I was tired when I wrote the post.
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Old 09-01-2018, 07:32 AM
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Those dimensions hold great potential You could even do a double wall construction and do slightly angled walls (something like Bobs diagram) within the room using 2 X 2 if not 2X4.

Besides the great advice so far here is a link to a website specifically about building studio's well worth your time to look over


http://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/
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