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Studio Build

Sinclair

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I just started seeing this post. Great job!

I built a small “studio” in my basement. I put the details on Quora. Perhaps there are some lessons you can learn from my mistakes….

Wow, CC you did a fantastic job, and to think it cost about $5 grand is pretty amazing. Floated floor, walls and ceiling. So this room is completely below ground level? I was wondering about ground water leakage. BTW your tracks sound great! Are you playing guitar?
 

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Wow, CC you did a fantastic job, and to think it cost about $5 grand is pretty amazing. Floated floor, walls and ceiling. So this room is completely below ground level? I was wondering about ground water leakage. BTW your tracks sound great! Are you playing guitar?
Thanks! Yeah, it’s completely underground. My home is on a somewhat steep hill and that’s why the walls in the basement are 12 feet tall - the property slopes significantly from front to back. So the studio is under the garage up front. And by the back of the house the basement walks out. So most water runs from the front out to the back - or really just down the hill next to us.

When we bought the house we noticed that room was “moist”, with some water leakage. We got the sellers to paint the room with waterproof paint, and I did it again before starting the studio. I also extended a downspout at the front of the house to pull rain from the gutters further away, and put some driveway caulk between the driveway and the garage. I’m pretty sure that’s where the water came in from. The previous owners were clueless.

Worst case, if water is still getting in, there’s a French drain at the end of the wall. It’s also why I put down plastic and used pressure treated lumber on the bottom. So far no problems. If anything, it gets a little dry in the winter in there when I run a space heater and I have to use a humidifier.

Yeah, that’s me playing everything - guitar, bass, keys, and of course drums (although some are programmed). Thanks for the compliment! That was all recorded in that space.
 

Sinclair

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More sound containment. Electrical boxes wrapped with putty.
 

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Sinclair

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More sound containment. 2lb very dense and heavy rubber MLV on studs under 5/8 drywall in walls and ceiling.
 

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owr

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Whats the source on the rubber you're using Sinc? How does it compare to mass loaded vinyl (if you know)? I know that amount of Auralex MLV at least would be like $10k worth in the photo, so am guessing that was a big part of it.
 

Sinclair

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I went through Sonic Shield in Florida. They call it Sonic Barrier HD. It's mass loaded vinyl (MLV). They don't make it but they deal with the manufacturer, order it and ship it. My contractor has used them for other builds.
What's pictured are 22 rolls. Each roll is 1/4" thick 2lb/sq ft. 4.5' wide by 15' long.
I could have gone with the 1lb but the 2lb wasn't that much more.
Yeah, it was the single most expensive item for this project, but will make the most difference. It was approaching 9K which included shipping. Almost 3000 lbs.
 

owr

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Awesome Sinc - Ive been wondering what you meant by "rubber" this whole time. You will do well with the MLV, I can't imagine what the 2lb stuff will do. I used the 1 lb Auralex version, one layer on inside walls, one on outside, and its performed quite well. It is expensive and heavy as heck, but it does the job. The guy I hired to do my build charged me for 10 rolls but told me he got a great discount since he had a dealers license, but when they showed up there was only 7... I had to confront him on alot of issues, but when I did the math on this it turned out to be about the same I would have spent if I had ordered the 7 myself, so I saved myself some drama.
 

Sinclair

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so I saved myself some drama.
Glad to hear that! You never really know how a contractor will work out, especially on a big job like I consider this build. I mean if you hire a drummer for your project that comes highly recommended and he turns out to not be a fit for your music, you can pay him for his work and get someone else to start the next day. Not as easy with a contractor.

As it's turning out I have two guys that are an absolute joy to work with. I make sure there's no funny business with the money and they entertain pretty much every idea we come up with however screwy.
A week in we decided to raise the ceiling. My son built a 3d model of the plan and showed it to them. He looked at it, got on a ladder to look at the rafters and joists and said let me sleep on this. The next morning he explained how he could do it, and he did. It's exactly like the model. Both or these guys are artists. They've built studios together before but no two are ever alike. They're really excited to be doing this one and it shows.
 
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drumgadget

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I went through Sonic Shield in Florida. They call it Sonic Barrier HD. It's mass loaded vinyl (MLV). They don't make it but they deal with the manufacturer, order it and ship it. My contractor has used them for other builds.
What's pictured are 22 rolls. Each roll is 1/4" thick 2lb/sq ft. 4.5' wide by 15' long.
I could have gone with the 1lb but the 2lb wasn't that much more.
Yeah, it was the single most expensive item for this project, but will make the most difference. It was approaching 9K which included shipping. Almost 3000 lbs.

I also have wondered about the term "rubber" when used in this context. I watched studios being built in the '70s; there was a lot of "creativity" about the ingredients of the wall "sandwich". It seemed to be mostly neoprene foam, often in small area squares between sheets of plywood or masonite. And of course the ubiquitous fiberglass "cotton candy" insulation. These treatments were intended to break up conduction paths, not to absorb sound energy especially at lower frequencies. That takes ...... mass ......

I looked up MLV - seems that they impregnate the vinyl foam with barium sulphate, a naturally occurring mineral (Barite). Barium has a very high specific gravity .... 4.5 .... but way less than metallic lead (11).
It is commonly used in "drilling mud" at oil exploration sites; the high density helps float the rock chips to the top of the well, while also lubricating the cutting head.

Fast forward to the '80s, when I worked in the film biz. We built specialized cameras for visual efx work; these were noisy, to say the least. To be able to use them on "sound stages", we built sound "blimps" - enclosures intended to absorb and isolate the racket caused by the film movement. We used neoprene foam, urethane foam, and sheets of metallic lead; lead is the metal with the highest specific gravity, more than twice that of barite. Of course, we were trying to keep the overall dimensions (wall thickness) of the camera enclosure to a minimum. You've got more leeway when building a studio sound wall.

Sinc, I hope the MLV succeeds in isolating those pesky high-energy low frequencies. And that the stuff is safe to be around .......

That said, we never worried much about the lead ....... back in the "devil may care" '70s and '80s .... LOL!

Mike
 

Sinclair

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Sinc, I hope the MLV succeeds in isolating those pesky high-energy low frequencies. And that the stuff is safe to be around .......

That said, we never worried much about the lead ....... back in the "devil may care" '70s and '80s .... LOL!

Mike
You've had some great experience in the business Mike. Thanks for your insight. As you know the MLV is only one of the barriers. That by itself won't contain the low end but with the inside walls isolated from the outside walls and the 5/8 drywall being mounted on a track system that is also isolated from the MLV, I'm hoping to be able to contain most of the low end. I do expect to be able to hear a very faint rumbling of a loud bass drum or electric bass from outside. 100% containment is beyond my budget. We'll see.
 

drumgadget

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You've had some great experience in the business Mike. Thanks for your insight. As you know the MLV is only one of the barriers. That by itself won't contain the low end but with the inside walls isolated from the outside walls and the 5/8 drywall being mounted on a track system that is also isolated from the MLV, I'm hoping to be able to contain most of the low end. I do expect to be able to hear a very faint rumbling of a loud bass drum or electric bass from outside. 100% containment is beyond my budget. We'll see.


Sinc, another quick tidbit from my Record Plant days ......

After the Sausalito RP was "finished" ...... only Studio A at that point ......, the town made us demonstrate the attenuation of the building wall construction. We put both "pink noise" and program material up on the Hidley monitors in the control room, cranked up the playback volume to inhuman levels, and set up a sound pressure meter. Then we had to go outside the building and take similar measurements against the exterior wall. We passed ...... barely. But the only evidence to the human ear from outside was just what you describe: "a very faint rumbling ...... " And we didn't have MLV ..... at least, I don't think so.

Very best with your cool project! You should be fine .........

M.
 

Sinclair

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Sinc, another quick tidbit from my Record Plant days ......

, the town made us demonstrate the attenuation of the building wall construction.

M.
I can see the city inspector trying to read his little meter outside the building. Haha.
Glad you passed.
 

drumgadget

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I can see the city inspector trying to read his little meter outside the building. Haha.
Glad you passed.

That wasn't the ONLY inspection we had to "pass" in those crazy years ........

But that (those!) was stuff for another story ........... ! You will not have those problems .... I hope!

M.
 

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If the neighbors complain about a faint rumble, I suggest you have your kid set up his band in the driveway tomorrow at midnight.
I can see the city inspector trying to read his little meter outside the building. Haha.
Glad you passed.
I’m from the government and I’m here to help.
 

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Consider placing the rubber on top of the floor. Maybe less than chic in décor, the rubber matting is an excellent sound damper. My "studio" in the basement is really a home theater/drum room jam center. I hung three layers of moving packing blankets separated by about 3/4" of airspace over the exposed poured concrete foundation. The floor is completely covered with those interlocking rubber mats and my house is built with manufactured I-beams yielding a deeply channeled ceiling. These factors yielded an amazing sounding room to play in. All who have entered and played have remarked as such. No recording activity here so I'm a fringe commenter, but I've been toying with the idea of investing in some good mics and reasonable digital/analog mixing/recording gear with the goal being track swapping/mixing with the old bandmates etc.
Anyway... the rubber floor is incredibly easy on the feet! No ill effect at all with a drum rug over the matting.
I'll let you real studio builders get back to talking shop...
 

Sinclair

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Consider placing the rubber on top of the floor.
A 1lb rubber mat will be on the slab under the vinyl flooring. Seeing as how I need to wheel things around, like a grand piano, I need harder durable flooring. The tuning of the room acoustics will be done with large floor rugs and baffles on the walls etc.
One of my ideas to tune the room quickly is to have a theatre weight curtain that you could draw across the entire 15ft wall floor to ceiling if you wanted to deaden things or leave it in the corners if you wanted to liven it up.
 


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