Build out a Mixing / Recording room – Part I

Studio Buildout:

From time to time I am hired or asked to provide technical services in the design and construction of recording studio spaces and systems. As a partner with my good friend Kevin Sucher, in a studio, we find ourselves in a situation where we need to do a buildout in a residence on a pretty tight budget. In the following months I will blog about the experience to document and hopefully provide insights and thoughts to help other persons in such an endeavor.
-Jacques Sewrey

The Space:

An unfinished room in a residential basement. Dimensions are roughly 17′ x 29′ x 7’9”. This what we have to work with for better or worse. The better part is that the room is a fairly large space and is rectangular in nature. The worse part is the ratio dimensions are not the preferred kind and the height is a bit on the short side. Preferred height would be a minimum of 10′.

In looking at a space for the monitoring of high quality audio, many considerations need to be taken into account. The size of the room, the type of audio production that will be done in the space, the type of building construction of the bare space, any other adjoining rooms of the space and their use, the neighborhood in which the space is, proximity to any low-frequency generating business’s or sounds, access to electrical and HVAC systems.

The use is going to be production, mixing, vocal over-dub and small acoustic instrument recording. Possible drum recording will be done in the garage.

Our space uses construction block as the type of material that the walls of the space are constructed from. This is a very good thing. Construction block or poured concrete is very good at stopping the transmission of sound from and to the outside. And being below “grade” is also helpful. However, being below grade can be an issue if the space is located near low-frequency generating sources as the low-frequency can pass through the ground and into the studio space then get trapped and reverberate. This is unacceptable!! One of the numbers you may run across is the STC. Sound Transmission Coefficient. Which is the amount of sound that is stopped by the material/construction. A wall, floor, ceiling, sofa etc.. The higher the number the more sound is stopped. The average hollow wall in a normal home is 30-35. Filled block and poured wall construction is 50-55. A double wall separated by airspace with 2 layers of drywall on each side and fiberglass insulation is 55-60.

The biggest issue we face is noise coming from the living room and laundry room above the space. I will talk about this in the next installment of the blog.

The first thing I did was to measure the room dimensions and plot them (to scale) on paper. Do all the nooks and crannies. In doing this you can start to layout your room. Make decisions of equipment locations, speaker placement. Added walls and possible sound treatment. Always try to set up your monitoring position in the first 1/3rd of the longways of the space.

Come up with a budget, something you can do with-in your business plan. The budget for this project is a healthy $8000. This only includes the buildout, no recording equipment. In planning a studio think of everything. The equipment you have or will add. How it will be wired. What cue system you will use. Storage space. Internet. Lighting. How you will incorporate HVAC.

Stay tuned for more to come on this exciting project!

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .

9.9.2013 – Please note – this project has been put on hold. If you have any questions on your Studio Build Out do not hesitate to contact me directly.

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