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New Studio Design. To go with option A or option B?

Discussion in 'Room Acoustics / Isolation / Treatment' started by ChrisH, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I'm building a new studio in my basement and have the option between having one big room for tracking and mixing or a separate smallish room for mixing and decent size room for tracking. What option would you guys do?
    It would be nice to have a separate control room but for the space I have to work with, the control room width would only allow about one foot on
    each sides of the monitors, even though there would be absorption at the reflective points, I would think it would be much better for mixing to have
    the width be 18ft wide instead of 12ft wide, and the depth be 33ft instead of 18ft. Or will the uneven back of the room be a problem?

    My budget? I work at a local hardware store one night a week to get discounts, so I can get a drywall for cheap and whatever else I need.
    Right now I have about $3000 to start with but thats just for drywall, outlet box's, lighting, and whatever framing I'll need.
    Labor wise, I've done drywall, framing, electricity many times, so It will be all DIY.

    The current construction is a framed (but tangible) unfinished basement, cement floors, 10 ft ceilings in a large part of the space (measured from cement to bottom of trusses).
    There are other erea where the heating ducts hang down to about 8ft. The wall that is in photo "B" is a main support wall for the house, so if I decided to not have that there I would
    replace it with a wood ceiling beam that would hang down about 1 ft.

    Option A "One Big Room"
    View attachment 4355

    Option B "Separate Rooms"
    View attachment 4356
    I realize the control room window is not placed correctly, I'd change that.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    which monitors did you decide on? the smaller room will work better for you if you chose monitors that aren't too big ... if you choose some honkin' big assed mons then you will need more space.

    i also think you should study the principals of rooms with golden ratios before you decide what your room boundaries should be ... look it up.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT3lGR3vUcM0x9MsJjpeNIYJ7Vojbe7JBZ1W1Fu5r9ljbZHk6qR.jpg images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSNfrYp0LISpTxtX0W8sOWyGUUawlovH0NeVEaEnBMtpuBz0_RV.png images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS-WgCKirFPb9BVB1hfp46wIUuHy9bVDgpRPY5UMZVfo66KoneXQQ.jpg
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    who's bedroom is that? studio walls eating up 6" on the foundation walls, and a foot in the field, you may want to figure that in. and really it depends what you are recording.

    you have great ceiling height for a basement. i'd let the control room dimensions be detirmend by that number and start working from there. if you figure your untreated new ceiling shell would be anywhere from a couple inches, to maybe a foot, depending on existing things, and design, and ceiling construction, that should give you a reasonable start point for your dimensions.

    since you have some pro level sqf it really depends on your preference of a mixer vs performer. you probablly do both. in your split drawing that 'live' side would make a nice sized control room. and a nice sized booth for the other side. it wouldn't all be straight lines by the time you were done most likely, or maybe they would.

    either that or make the coolest live room you can in that space and stick a monitoring area in there somewhere.

    right... you wann know which one to do. i think it comes down to whats more important to you. tracking or monitoring/mixing. and your budget. i've never calculated the builds i've done on a sqf basis, but i'd say $50 per sqf isn't a horrible estimate, w/ 75 being more end resultish. by the time the screws, and paint and finish stuff is up, 100, is probably pretty realistic. and that really doesn't count much labor. friends will work for beer :)

    if it were me, and i had money for either thing, i'd probably build a 'full' sized control room, and have whatever is left for tracking. my thought process being, that an at least 70/30 split of my time would be spent in the mix room. w/ technology as it is even huge budget records are useing sound replacement, and a decent booth like a 10x13x9 would be fine for pro level vocals, singer songwriters. if you need a large room just contract w/ a bigger spot. if you get to know thw place it could be a wedding hall or whatever.

    someone's gonna say read the sticky.

    my (humble) personal experience is that accurate control rooms are not common in basement builds. w/ so many options for tracking based on technique, and technology, i think an accurate mix room is something you'd have that most people won't. while i love nice tracking rooms, your cutting yourself out of a big part of the equation if your monitoring is hap-hazard.

    i'm not dead set on either thing, really i see it all ways, and benefits for both extremes, and a middle ground approach. i guess it's really dependent on your cash/credit, expetations, and existing conditions that need to be changed/or need to stay.

    take your time. plan. better minds than i will see flaws in the plan, then fix that, then find the next flaw. it's much better in the thinking realm than , take this room down again. i've been 'that guy' to red-do shoddy studio work done by someone else, i knw it's expensive, and time consuming, and heady. at least thinking is free.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    If it were me, and my money, I'd put in a dandy home theater and bank the rest of it.... then when you think you're ready for studio work... you'd have plenty to got to a full studio and hire a real producer.
  5. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.618.
    The golden ratio has fascinated Western intellectuals of diverse interests for at least 2,400 years. According to Mario Livio:
    Some of the greatest mathematical minds of all ages, from Pythagoras and Euclid in ancient Greece, through the medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa and the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, to present-day scientific figures such as Oxford physicist Roger Penrose, have spent endless hours over this simple ratio and its properties. But the fascination with the Golden Ratio is not confined just to mathematicians. Biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, psychologists, and even mystics have pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the Golden Ratio has inspired thinkers of all disciplines like no other number in the history of mathematics
    Reference: Golden ratio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Room dimensions typically start from the ceiling hard boundary. If we use the golden ratio then this will produce a room with dimensions based on the ceiling height, then to the width of the room and next the depth of the room.

    With an eight foot tall ceiling, based on the Golden ratio we would use 1: 1.62: 2.62, this would be a room with a ceiling height of 8 foot with a width of 13 feet and a depth of 21 feet! WOW! That is a lot of room which is certainly good for the music to expand but you may not have this kind of floor space or money to build something so large.

    Imagine if you were lucky enough to have a ten foot ceiling, the room would be so large as to become too expensive to build.

    Optimized Room Ratios:

    Room ratios have been around for decades and rooms in general have been designed to be pleasing visually and sonically by many builders/ architects. You only have to look around the building you are in right now to recognize this is not something new, it has been around you all your life you just were not aware of this.

    The inclusion of room ratios for an acoustical environment is different in that the ratios used have been tested so that the builder has a better starting place than a typical room ratio that a typical builder might use.

    Alton Everest ( Master handbook of Acoustics - 4th Edition) presents 3 of the most widely used ratios developed by L.W. Sepmeyer (1965) and M.M. Louden (1971)

    Height Width Length
    _______________________________ _________
    Sepmeyer A. 1.00 1.14 1.39
    B. 1.00 1.28 1.54
    C. 1.00 1.60 2.33

    Louden A 1.00 1.4 1.9
    B 1.00 1.3 1.9
    C 1.00 1.5 2.5

    It must be noted that when these ratios were being tested a ten foot tall ceiling height was assumed. In some detail, we will find out why this was an important aspect to this particular testing procedure.

    Based on Loudens first ratio “A”, 1.00, 1.4, 1.9 with a ten foot tall ceiling this would produce a room with the interior finished ceiling height of 10 feet with a interior finished width of 14 feet and a depth of 19 feet. This room will have a volume of 2,660 cubic feet. Plenty of height for the sound to expand and develop and exceeds the 1500 cubic feet room volume limit determined to be the least amount of volume a quality audio environment should have.

    (C.L.S. Gilford, Affiliation: British Broadcasting Corporation,“The Acoustic Design of Talks Studios and Listening Rooms” circa 1979, maintained that a “small” room based on the research done would be a room with a volume of 1500 cubic feet. Further he states “It is shown that a distinctive characteristic is that, because their dimensions are comparable with the wavelength of low-frequency sound, the sound field is characterized by strong simple standing-wave patterns which cannot be eliminated without eliminating the reverberation itself. It is shown also that for the audible effects are confined to those associated with simple axial modes and that, by careful adjustment of dimensions, provision of diffusion and the proper distribution of absorbing material, the worst faults can be avoided. “)

    An interesting thing happens when we look deeper into these ratios, when we look at the single components of the room and not the end result.

    The speed of sound at sea-level is considered to be 1,130 feet per second and in order to get the fundamental frequency of the height or width or length we have to use the equation F=1,130/2xD.

    The height of ten feet using the above equation will produce: 1,130/20=56.5Hz. This is important to know since 56.5 Hz relates to the note A1. It actually falls 1.5Hz past the frequency of 55Hz.

    The width of 14 feet using the equation F=1,130/2xD (1,130/2x14(28)) = 40.36Hz which closely correlates to 41.20Hz or E1 on a midi keyboard.

    The remaining length measurement 19 feet X 2 = 38 produces 1,130/38=29.74Hz, relates closely to 29.14 (A#0/Bb0)

    Using the 8 foot ceiling height and Loudens first ratio produces a room 8 feet tall, 11 feet and a few inches wide and 15 feet and a few inches deep. That is about the size of a typical bedroom or the living room in some homes.

    The consideration for having a balanced proportional room is valid and worth the effort to use in any sound related type room. A few things to consider along the way. The measurements that are obtained from the ratios define the interior side of the wall.

    To that end, ratios are not scalable...they cannot be modified and expect the same results: Room Sizing Tutorial | Acoustics, Audio and Video | University of Salford
  6. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    Haven't decided on which ones yet.

    I'm familiar with optimal dimensions, I have an app for calculating golden ratios.
  7. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I record and mix live rock bands mostly, also jazz ensembles, so a good sized live room is paramount.
  8. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    If I did that, the only thing left to do would be replace all my instruments with flower pots in their place.
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    If you're really serious about pissin' money away, you're really going to need to address a coupla' issues.

    Do you have a budget?
    What is the current construction of the existing structure?
    Do you have a budget?
    Are you willing to remove and block the existing windows?
    Do you have a budget?
    Can you afford to deal with the fact that this may take 12-18 months to complete, once you have a final design?
    Do you have a budget?
    Will you do all the contracting yourself, or will you hire it out?
    Do you have a budget?
    Are you going to put in outside access, or will you have musicians romping through the house at all hours?
    Do you have a budget?
    Are you prepared for this construction to cost 3 times your budget?

    And lastly... do you have a budget?
  10. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I added the details into the original post.

    Here they are though:
    "My budget? I work at a local hardware store one night a week to get discounts, so I can get a drywall for cheap and whatever else I need.
    Right now I have about $3000 to start with but thats just for drywall, outlet box's, lighting, and whatever framing I'll need.
    Labor wise, I've done drywall, framing, electricity many times, so It will be all DIY.

    The current construction is a framed (but tangible) unfinished basement, cement floors, 10 ft ceilings in a large part of the space (measured from cement to bottom of trusses).
    There are other erea where the heating ducts hang down to about 8ft. The wall that is in photo "B" is a main support wall for the house, so if I decided to not have that there I would
    replace it with a wood ceiling beam that would hang down about 1 ft. "

    Theres a double door/outside access in the room next to it, so I'll probably just utilize that. The rest of the basement is unfinished so
    it's not a big deal to have people track 20 ft across cement.

    I'm willing to get rid of the windows, what would be the reason for that?

    By the way, I really like your studio, its way nice. Did you read Rods book? Or did he actually help you one on one?

    My studio is going to be more for bands on my label, my own band, and personal use.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Ooof... Realistically, you've got 972 sq ft... at a SERIOUSLY conservative cost of $125/sq ft, that gets you a budget of just under $100k. (My cost/sq ft was just a tad over 3x that when it was all said and done.) And I milled my own finish lumber from trees on my property!

    An OVERLY conservative estimate of half that $100k as labor, it still puts you at ~$50,000 just for materials. (putting in a 2 room studio, or a 2 room with an iso booth.)

    There's an UGLY reality that hardware, caulk and fasteners are close to half the cost of a proper studio build.

    Even figuring a very conservative estimate of doing ~80% of the labor BY YOURSELF (as I did), you'd save $40k... but still leaves you at a budget of about $60,000. So, your $3000 is less than 5% of the real budget.

    By now you're saying; "It won't cost that much." That's what I said... but even as cheaply as I built this place for, I've spoken to studio builders who had budgets less than 10% of mine, and up to 10 times mine... EVERY SINGLE FINAL COST WAS AT A MINIMUM - THREE TIMES THE BUDGETED AMOUNT. It just plain happens. So, BE PREPARED!!

    Going with a 1 room studio is how I'd go... that would save you probably close to half your costs and get you to a budget in the $30k-$50k range.

    Again, I know you're STILL thinking, "No way it'll cost that much." My answer is; This is not like ANY construction you've ever done.

    Did you take into account design fees? NEW HVAC costs? Existing HVAC rework? Electrical wiring and lighting? (Wire is now almost 6 times the cost of when I built 4 years ago), Possible plumbing rework? Insulation costs? acoustic treatment costs? Lumber costs? Door costs? (I'd conservatively estimate EACH door at $300-$500 each.) Low voltage wiring?? Fees and Inspections? (Failing to get permits and inspections could actually cost you your home and every dime you have.)

    Unless you're single and live alone on some major acreage, you're also going to need to address the fact that sound is going to not be appreciated by everyone else in the home... and your neighbors won't appreciate driving bass and drums at 3am coming into their home from the sound leakage from those windows in the basement.

    You really need to look over Rod's book... (Proudly, my studio is included in the 2nd edition) and I would also recommend Philip Newell's book "Recording Studio Design" and of course, the venerable classic; Alton Everest's "Master Handbook of Acoustics", as well as search out some of the other Acoustic Forums... John L Sayers, Studio Tips and obviously here.

    You can look over my build here at RO to get an idea of what you're in for... (It's a sticky at the top of the forum.) You'll find that Rod actually was the primary designer of my studio, using my initial prints as a guide.

    As far as me being mad??? Insane is more like it... Yes, it's your money, time and energy... I just hope you realize that there is no way on God's green earth that you should expect to ever pay the money back, much less gain a profit off a studio. It's something personal for me that I hate to see guys get all enthusiastic about building a studio, only to either fail to plan and execute a solid plan, or they get about a quater of the way through and just give up.
  12. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    As far as creating a label goes... good luck... I'm 18 months and 5 grand in, so far... and prolly another 6 months and $10k to go.
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i see a real problem with you doing the electrical by your self. if / when you go to sell, the real estate agents - brokers / buyers / banks who will finance the sale are all going to want to see the permits for the "improvements". the electrical will be of particular interest as it pertains to fire safety. you may be asked to show permits for the structural improvements as well.
  14. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I have my electricians license, so no worries.
  15. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I understand the "Do it right, or don't do it at all" approach for a PROFESSIONAL studio..
    However, I am by no means trying build a state of the art professional recording facility, and if I was I sure as hell wouldn't build it in a basement with 9ft ceilings and less than 2000 sqft.

    I'm simply just trying to make the good "home studio" with the space I have available, and it's going to be mainly for my 5 piece band rehearsing.
    I already have knowledge behind absorption and diffusion to make the room decent. I also have about 40+ 4' thick rockwool absorption panels from my last studio leftover, ready to go.

    Again, I'm not trying to build a state of the art professional studio.

    Nice, simple home studio, at about $5 a sqft.
  16. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Not to be anal... but... if you already have all this knowledge... Why come here?

    You should already know the answers to your questions, if that's the case.
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    that was my impression as well ... it seems you already have it all figured out ... or at least you have all the answers to any points brought up. so what do you expect from us?
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This all reminds me of "me" a few months back. Then I got some reality fed to me lol. No easy way to do it even close to that ChrisH but maybe you are thinking very very basic. ??

    Max, did you use a WoodMizer? I've been thinking about that for my Lake studio dream that ain't going to happen anytime soon but I keep buying the lottery tickets. Its full of timber and my friend has a plainer. Damn you guys, you got me thinking again. Its a sickness I tell ya.
  19. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    I apologize for waisting everyones time.
    This was a reality check for me, and I thank you.
    I have a home studio right now that's only 350 sqft total, so when I got permission to use up a bigger chunk of the basement for
    a bigger one, I instantly though "Bigger = Better" without remembering that if I once again don't put the time and money into this studios design and build it's probably not going to be any better acoustically than the last one (a glorified bedroom with rigid fiberglass all over).
    After MadMax gave me a reality check on the time, money, effort, and knowledge it takes to build a truly pro studio, I'm sort of discouraged, and almost temped to sale all my gear and just save money to record at pre existing studios, but I love recording and mixing, it's been a passion for eleven years, so that might kill me but it also will probably kill me chasing "big studio" sounds in a basement.
    I'm at a crossroads right now cause my studio's acoustics are holding me back from that next step up in sound quality.
    I do know allot about absorption and diffusion but what I don't know about is building a room from the ground up so that there's hardly any need for "treatment". I'm assuming Rods book would be the best place to start, or?

    What to do, what to do...?

    Just for kicks here is my current "studio" i've been dealing with for 6 years.
    Also, no I didn't buy a bunch of auralex, but this layout was made 7 years ago and I did see what they suggested.
    View attachment 4354
  20. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    I found a local woodworker who did/does the BIG Woodmizer work for beer money. The shortest timber his would hold was 8'-4" and the longest was 12'-6".

    As he cut the boards, I stickered it in what was to become the studio... where it sat for 18 months, air drying. Then a "friend" needed to get a 53' trailer off his property, and I let him put it on my property. I transferred the stickered lumber to the trailer where it sat air drying for another 10 months.

    In addition to a planer, you'll need a decent table saw.


    It's not that you're wasting everyone's time... it's more that while you think you can do this on the cheap... and you can... it's more the unreal expectation that you can do this as cheap as you think you can.

    Get yourself a copy of Sketchup... it's free... and create the floorplan, and then lay out all the details of just the studs. 10' 2x4's are about $4.50/each. You'll easily blow through 100 even making a 1 room studio = $450... not taking into account bottom plates, top plates and bad cuts/waste. Then there's rafters/joists... You'll be screaming when you look at 30' 2x12's or a 35' microlam beam to tie 18' 2x10's to it. I used a microlam beam that's far more than what you'll use, but not all that much... 4 years ago, I think it was about $1200 in total... 4 years ago... So, I'd expect yours to be in that price range at a minimum, given that the value of the dollar has plummeted so badly.

    Now add R13, R19 and/or R30 to fill all those bays... probably somewhere around another $500...

    Even if you just used plywood/OSB for the ceiling (to add enough mass to knock down sound transmission to floors above you), you're looking at over 30 sheets @ $35/sheet = a tad over $1000...

    So far, just for studs, a load bearing beam, insulation and minimal plywood, your total is $450+$1200+$500+$1000=$3150... and there's no top/bottom plates, doubled studs, joists, caulk, nails, hangers, ties, wire, conduit, wall boxes, low voltage wire boxes, interconnect, doors, hardware, lighting, HVAC, gypsum, screws, mud/tape, or much of anything in the way of finishes or paint... and this is just for a one room studio to be done on the cheap... add a control room and/or iso booth, and you could easily drive costs skyward with glass and additional doors... much less increased lumber costs for walls and joists.

    Again, I'm an experienced carpenter with framing and cabinetry experience and a degree in electronics engineering... so it's not like I walked into this completely blind...but it damn sure was a wake up call to just how different this type of construction is... and the complexity of doing it right.

    What I figured out, is that doing it right is the only way to do it. But that does NOT mean doing it as expensively as I could. Just the opposite. With Rod's guiding hand of knowledge and experience and his insistence to use KNOWN assemblies and construction methods, I was able to build a "world class" studio about as cheap as could be done.

    The real issue I see, is your expectations are just undershooting what it's really going to cost.

    Sure, you can probably spend under $5000 and get it done... but you'll likely be hatin' yourself for not spending the extra to do the project justice... especially when the spouse is raising hell with you for years to come that sleep is impossible when you're working at midnight... That, or you can't work with anyone before 10am or past 9pm because of noise ordinances and/or flying pots and pans.

    Look, it's your money... do what you want... but wouldn't it actually be nice to spend a bit extra that actually translates into investment in your home... that won't loose value because it could be sold with the studio actually being able to be converted into a home theater?

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