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Old 10-29-2018, 01:53 PM
Clydetower Clydetower is offline
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Default Basement studio: How to treat a low ceiling?

Hi all,

I'm planning on converting a space in my basement as a music room for playing, recording and mixing. The space is 19'x13'6''x6'2''. Yes, the ceiling is quite low. The 2x10” joist are exposed and about 12” apart. I would like to treat the ceiling as best I can for sound absorption and soundproofing. I understand that having a low ceiling does limit my options and my expectations are realistic… especially in terms of soundproofing. My objectives in order of importance are:

1. Absorb reflections off the ceiling
2. Maximize the impression of ceiling height
3. Reduce sound levels escaping to the upper level above the basement.

I won't be closing the ceiling with drywall as that would lower it even further and create a lot of unwanted reflections, not to mention making it feel even more claustrophobic. My plan is to fill the void in between the joists about 2/3 of the way to help create the illusion of height all while having the function of an integrated ceiling cloud for absorption and increase sound proofing.

Here is what I plan to do:



1. First, I would put resilient channels directly onto the subfloor.
2. Then, I would add a layer of 3/4” Sonopan (in between the joists), leaving a 1/8” gap on each side so that the Sonopan does not touch the joists. I would then fill the 1/8” gaps with acoustic caulk.
3. Add a layer of 5/8" drywall on top of the Sonopan leaving a gap of 1/8” on either side. Fill the 1/8” void with acoustic caulk.
4. Add a layer of Rockwool Safe & Sound (3”) on top of the drywall.
5. Cap it off with a layer of fabric on top of the Rockwool (framed with 1”x2”)

I foresee that this would fill about 2/3 of the cavity in between the joists, so it leaves me with a bit of room to give the impression of added height, which is what I want. I’m pretty sure it would be a good solution for sound absorption and reduce reflections from the ceiling as much as possible. How good will it be at reducing the sound levels heard on the upper level remains to be heard.

I would like to know what any of you think about this ceiling treatment solution given my constraints and objectives and if anyone has attempted anything similar to this and how it worked out for you.


Your comments and recommendations are welcome!
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2018, 02:30 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clydetower View Post
My objectives in order of importance are:

1. Absorb reflections off the ceiling
2. Maximize the impression of ceiling height
3. Reduce sound levels escaping to the upper level above the basement.
1. This will likely have some diffusion, but less absorption - which is what is critical to a small room like this.
2. Yes, this will achieve that within obvious limits.
3. Probably not a lot. You need to absorb and/or seal, and with open joist bays, you are doing neither.

I have a room that is 12 ft X 15 ft X 6 ft 5 in. I filled the joist bays with Roxul and closed the ceiling. All corners have corner bass traps and there are absorbers at all reflection points other than the ceiling. It works well for mixing. For recording, I find I have no choice but to do close-miking as with this small of a room, I cannot afford to attempt to make the 'room sound' good enough to include into my recordings.
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Old 10-29-2018, 02:58 PM
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ChuckS ChuckS is offline
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You might want to look at the difference in absorption characteristics comparing Safe N Sound, as you propose, versus Roxul Rockboard 60, Roxul Rockboard 80, or Owens Corning 703.
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Old 10-29-2018, 04:57 PM
Clydetower Clydetower is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Currie View Post
I have a room that is 12 ft X 15 ft X 6 ft 5 in. I filled the joist bays with Roxul and closed the ceiling. All corners have corner bass traps and there are absorbers at all reflection points other than the ceiling. It works well for mixing. For recording, I find I have no choice but to do close-miking as with this small of a room, I cannot afford to attempt to make the 'room sound' good enough to include into my recordings.
Hey Gordon!

So your ceiling is sealed drywall and there are no ceiling clouds or acoustic panels up there? I would think that would be a highly reflective surface wouldn't it? If you had tacked up acoustic fabric to the joists instead of the drywall, would that act as a huge cloud essentially taking the ceiling out of the equation?

I read a post by Rod Gervais that recommended doing this with a low ceiling...

Thanks for your input btw!
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Old 10-29-2018, 05:00 PM
Clydetower Clydetower is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
You might want to look at the difference in absorption characteristics comparing Safe N Sound, as you propose, versus Roxul Rockboard 60, Roxul Rockboard 80, or Owens Corning 703.
Hey Chuck, thanks for the feedback!

I will definitely look into that... But I think Owens 703 isn't sold in Canada... I will check out the specs none the less and see if there comparable products in Canada.
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Old 10-30-2018, 08:54 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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You're not going to get any great soundproofing with exposed joists - these will transit the sound directly up into the floor above.
With such a low height, I would stuff the between-joists area with roxul, and use a breathable cloth to cover it - adding a reflective surface (sheetrock) at such a low height will be horrible for recording.
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Old 10-30-2018, 01:12 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clydetower View Post
So your ceiling is sealed drywall and there are no ceiling clouds or acoustic panels up there? I would think that would be a highly reflective surface wouldn't it? If you had tacked up acoustic fabric to the joists instead of the drywall, would that act as a huge cloud essentially taking the ceiling out of the equation?
Correct, Roxul in the joist bays and drywall as the ceiling.

While it is reflective to the same degree as all other surfaces (but no more so), it is absorbent. The sound transmission to and from the room directly above was reduced dramatically.

I was always taught that in a typical small residential room, job #1 was to reduce the effect of room nodes - and this can only be done with ABSORPTION. Only when you reach a practical limit here should you move on to DIFFUSION.

Many purpose-built studios have absorption taken care of in their designs. So the remainder of effort is put into diffusion, and so we hear a lot about diffusion in music production media, maybe leading some to think that is the most important.

I do have space taped out on the ceiling to add some panels for diffusion (and absorption too).

My #1 goal for this room was MIXING. It has turned out to be a good mixing room once I got rid of my (too big for the room) larger speakers.

As far as recording, I need to close-mike to get anything releasable, although I consider it more a great demo room than anything else.
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Old 10-31-2018, 08:54 AM
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A low ceiling basement is a a conundrum and will ba a compromise no matter what you do

So you must decide as to whether the recording mixing room sound is most important or is reducing sound to the floor above the most important

If the room sound is the predominant consideration then your design has some merit and the 5/8 sheet rock spaced from the sonopan will help but as others have mentioned you will get sound transmitting thru the floor joists. The floor joists protruding below the treatment will definitely add some diffusion but only for the ceiling

If the sound reduction to above is the more important, then you should put the resilient channel on the bottom of each joist and hang a ceiling from them with the other treatment between the joists.

Your did not mention what you plan for the walls and basement floor and maybe you already plan this , but you might also consider bass traps in corners and along where the ceiling meets the wall as well as multiband absorbers at the first reflection point in relation to speakers
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:19 PM
Clydetower Clydetower is offline
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Hey Kev,

I've since revised my plan and have determined that sound isolation is not worth the time and money in this specific case... too many variables and since it would only be as good as as the weakest link, its not worth the effort for such little potential gain.

I will focus my resources on treatment and making the room sound as good as possible under the circumstances.

My plan is to maximize absorption on the ceiling and eliminate reflections completely to try to take it out of the equation.

For the floor, I will be putting in hardwood flooring and have on optional area rug. This is to counterbalance the dead ceiling and make the room sound a little more natural.

For the walls, they are built of drywall. I will be putting in floor-to-ceiling bass traps in the corners on the front wall and DIY 3" acoustic panels on the side walls for broadband absorption to reduce primary reflections and flutter echo.

On the back wall, I have a large couch with a diffusion panel above it.

To cap it off, I might add some Auralex studiofoam or more panels here and there if I find I need more absorption.

Right now, I'm evaluating which materials to use for absorption. I'm in Canada, so I don't have access to certain products namely OC 703. I'm trying to find alternatives such as 4" Roxul Rockboard 40 which has similar specs. If I can't find that, I would use 3" Roxul Safe n Sound in the ceiling.

One thing I am wondering: If I use the SnS in the ceiling, should I put in 6" thick (2x3"pieces) or just one 3" with 3" of air in the back. From what I understand, if I put in 6", it would trap more low frequencies.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:16 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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I would definitely recommend 6" of insulation in the ceiling - or more if it fits. If cost is an issue, you could even stuff in pink (or yellow) fiberglass insulation first, then the roxul.
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:43 AM
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I am not familiar with the SnS But I am guessing the more the better

I am in the process of moving and thus have no studio. but the place we are moving out of I had an attic studio with 2 X12 rafters and 12 inches of fiberglass batting with no sheeting on the rafters (other that heavy white visqueen) and I thought the diffusion of the rafters worked fairly well.
the peak was about 7' 6" but of course the walls (ie roof) was angled which helped also .
Somewhat like what you are doing.

Here is the google sketchup I sent to the speaker manufacture when I ordered my monitors




This is what it actually looked like





I hope to be building a home studio from the ground up at our new property.

here is a great resource for anyone doing a home studio.

http://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/
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Last edited by KevWind; 11-01-2018 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:43 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Angled/wall-ceiling is a whole 'nother thing, the 'corner where the two slopes meet needs to be acoustically treated as does the one where slope an dfloor meet.
And on a different note, there should be a gap between the fiberglass insulation and the roof sheathing to allow for ventilation between soffit and ridge vents. Older construction seldom had these, but when a roof is reshingled, it can be done. There are plastic foam inserts that can be put in place between the joists.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Angled/wall-ceiling is a whole 'nother thing, the 'corner where the two slopes meet needs to be acoustically treated as does the one where slope an dfloor meet.
And on a different note, there should be a gap between the fiberglass insulation and the roof sheathing to allow for ventilation between soffit and ridge vents. Older construction seldom had these, but when a roof is reshingled, it can be done. There are plastic foam inserts that can be put in place between the joists.
Thanks for the suggestions but: First and foremost as stated I am moving out of that space.
Also note the sketch was for the dimensions and general shape only, so the speaker mfg could recommend the appropriate size model in his lineup. and does not show the actual construction with for example the two + inch ventilation gap between the top of the batts and the roof sheathing

Having been in custom home construction for 37 years I have a reasonable handle on the general construction aspects involved .

And as you said the Angled ceiling/walls is a whole "nother thing" and with the open to the rafters and batting situation as well as the steeply angled roof the same logic for treatment of normal straight walled and ceiling type room is not necessarily directly applicable. Also what you do not see in the sketch or photo is the 4 inch 703 absorpt sion panel "cloud" above the mixing position which I would highly recommend something similar for the OP as well, regardless of how that may feel like "lowering the ceiling" at the mix position ( I found that once seated, you do not look up and it is not really an issue of (feeling crowded )

I was simply pointing out that open to rafters and the diffusion that creates was somewhat similar to his proposed sketch of open to the joists . And that it worked quite well
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Last edited by KevWind; 11-02-2018 at 08:49 AM.
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  #14  
Old 11-08-2018, 09:23 AM
heavy_picker heavy_picker is offline
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Default Low ceiling studio

If the ceiling is to low duck!
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