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turning a warehouse into a studio

Discussion in 'Room Acoustics / Isolation / Treatment' started by Noah Shain, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Noah Shain

    Noah Shain Active Member

    Hi all!
    So...I Need to turn a warehouse in to a studio. The warehouse has existing office space built. I need to turn these offices/rooms in to the studio. It's my only option. I take possession of the property Jan 1 and I will begin a photo diary then. I'm taking advantage of the the next few days to form a plan in my mind and hopefully get some good insight and tips here. I live in LA and I'm tired of payin $12sf for built out studio space and have decided to rent some commercial property and build my own studio. I make my living recording and mixing. This will be a space for me to work in. I won't be hiring out the studio. Thanks in advance for all your help!!!!
    I'll start with a basic outline of what I'm facing. It's a 2600sf concrete block warehouse. The typical kind you see with multiple spaces built in to 1 big concrete shell so..I have neighbors who are separated from me by a flimsy 2 leaf, single layer, steel stud drywall partition. 1 neighbor on my side and 1 at my back. My main concern here is keeping sound IN so I don't have neighbor problems. The good news is that I'm in an end space so 2 of my 4 perimeter walls are concrete with no neighbors.
    The space already has rooms built. Im going to utilize the existing rooms. None of these rooms share common walls with my neighbors so I'm starting out with that slight advantage.
    1 wall is concrete. It already has drywall applied. This wall runs the length of what will be the studio. It is common to the live and control rooms, meaning they share it. I'll decouple them. The live room is 17'x21' with an arched heavy beam ceiling. The walls are built to the ceiling. They are basic steel stud, single layer drywall construction.
    Like I said, when I get the keys I'll put up some photos and get in to more detail but until then I'll start with a couple basic, broad stroke questions.
    My main concern is the noise from the live room. This room is 17x21. 1 wall is the concrete perimeter wall. 1 wall cuts the warehouse in half leaving me about 12 feet of open space between my wall and the partition that separates me from 1 neighbor. The other two walls are about the same distance from the perimeter but there are multiple rooms between them and the perimeter. So all in all not a bad starting point. My plan so far is to add layers of 5/8 drywall to the existing walls, all the way to the ceiling. I'm hoping not to do any green glue or floating at all. Just to add mass with proper air tight seals and such. Cost is a concern as well as time so I'm hoping mass mass mass will do the trick.
    My main question is...
    Will standard steel beam construction support 4 layers of 5/8 drywall? Should I stagger widths? Am I dreaming?

    There are other concerns with other parts of the studio but it's too much for one post. I'll update as I go. This will be my home for the next 5-10 years and a lot of music will be recorded here so I figure documenting it will be cool. I'm hoping you guys pick up on this post and help me along the way.
    The studio as my partners and I are planning will be truly great.

    Please don't hold back y'all. Let me have it.

    Here's the main question 1 more time:
    Will standard steel beam construction support 4 layers of 5/8 drywall? Should I stagger widths? Am I dreaming?


    Moderation Edit (REMOVED Incompatible COPY/PASTE code)
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    You have my vote!


    Now comes the hard part, money and treatment. What ever you do, have a good time. You have my blessings.

    And now to Space!
  3. Noah Shain

    Noah Shain Active Member

    Thanks audiokid!
    Anyone know how many layers of drywall I can hang on standard 2x4 steel stud framing?
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hey man, I spent some time looking around about your drywall question, and I couldn't get a solid answer, and the information I got I don't really know how to interpret. I would think important factors are how much load the walls are alredy carrying, and the guage and width of the studs, as well as wall height.

    As far as staggering the widths I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but yes any seams should be staggered when possible, and the orientation of the sheets can be as well. For instance, vertical for the first layer (long way up and down), horizontal the next, vertical next. It probably wouldn't make or break an otherwise well built studio, but it's an expensive game of inches, so every little thing counts.

    Yes you are dreaming sir. It's good, dreams can be the spark of greatness. What your thinking about is not impossible, or even necessarily impractical.

    It depends on a lot of things, first of all money. Your budget. your ability/willingness of you/friends to do the labor is a huge contributing factor. Your expectations for isolation and sound quality. What are you going to be recording in the main room? What is your expected monitoring system, and what are your expectations for accuracy in the control room.

    One huge consideration in your isolation is the existing floor, what floor are u on, and what is it made of? This is important because you share it with your neighbors, and an elevated deck is different animal than one on the ground floor (concrete base), from a studio point of view.

    People always forget about bathrooms, and storage in their plans. Remember them. Clean power, creature comfort, are also important and can be expensive.

    I urge you from multiple experiences of this nature, that these things are expensive and take long, if you do not create a complete budget and plan, down to the fastener type, you will exponentially increase the time frame ($$), of something that already takes way too long ($$). Unless you have acces to both spaces yo will be out of the office while this is being built and that wil put a damper on an already extremely expensive type of construction. I've seen it happen, I've told people, watched it pan out, and seen them do it again. This is not a craft project for the fair, simple simple things can set you back days or weeks. So before you sign a dotted line, or empty your bank and credit, or lift a hammer, plan your project.

    There's onvciously a lot to talk about in your case man, so it'll be fun to see how things turn out after the basics are covered. Good luck!
  5. Noah Shain

    Noah Shain Active Member

    Thank you for the awesome reply!!!
    Lots to think about, yes.
    It's not my first build though I hope it'll be my best!
    We are on concrete slab here and I don't think floor transmission will be an issue. I'm considering floating a portion of floor once I know where the drums sound good.
    The staggering widths was meant to ask if I should alternate drywall widths like, 5/8 then 1/2 then 5/8 but my instinct tells me mass is my best bet here.
    The space has multiple bathrooms and some "lounge" area (if that's what I use it for). It's already got a rabbit warren of offices and spaces built with typical steel stud, single layer 5/8 in a 2 lead style...a single layer of 5/8 on both sides. Most of the key walls are built floor to ceiling and are isolated, or built away from the neighbors. I don't think I'll have transmission issues. I'm going to frame 1 wall to separate live from control rooms. It's just a big 16" x 21" straight wall built along one of the massive ceiling beams.
    Part of the reason for choosing this space is the layout of the existing structure. Most of it is already (by chance I'm sure) isolated structurally from the other spaces and the neighbors.
    It's not the best space I've seen but it does have the best existing skeleton of the spaces I've seen.
    Commercial real estate in LA is kind of a tricky game. I had no idea.
    A lot of my more tech hurdles will be framing doors (we're gonna move some) and the control room windows.
    I'm gonna drop a ceiling on the control room . I'm thinking to build a big square out of 2x12 (with joists) and cap the top of the square leaving the joists exposed in the control room so I can have 12" of space INSIDE the control room to fill and cover with fabric or luan or old school perforated tiles.
    I've ordered Rod's book so I'll have that with me. I've built 4 studios in the past and have learned quite a bit but most of my knowledge is treatment based and not structural/soundproofing.
    I should be in by first week of january so pictures will go up then.
    Thanks again for the in depth reply.
    The dream is dead...LONG LIVE THE DREAM!!!
    kmetal likes this.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Yeah mass is mass as far as drywall thickness stick w 5/8 fire code. Windows, are different. You want the glass panes to be two different thicknesses. This is because each pane of glass is acting independently, and you don't want them to have the same resonant frequency, hence thickness. In the case of layers of drywall sandwiched on the wall, the multiple layers are acting as one thing (technical term) so it's the collective sum of their mass that is relevant to how the wall will perform. So while you may want the independent walls to have different resonant frequencies ( like diff # layers of 5/8), it's not an advantage from and isolation point of view to have different thicknesses in the drywall sandwich you macking for each wall. Some people use OSB on the first layer, but that relates more to structural rigidity, not to isolation.

    There's probanly need to be thinking about floating anything when your in a slab, until the walls and ceiling start getting so massive the contreras floor becomes the weak link. Unless I'm missing something you shouldn't need to float anything if ur in a slab.

    You might wanna incorperating some ISO clips and stuff in your wall structure. You really might want to consider a double wall partition between you and the drum room. A single wall probably isn't gonna block a kit satisfactorily, unless it's a jazz brush kit.

    Take your time with the book, theres a lot of good detailed stuff in there. Any time I've built assemblies, and used other techniques exactly the way it says, it worked exactly the way it said it was gonna. the structural stuff is all pretty defined by physics so it's more a study of following directions, than creating new solutions, once the plan is all laid out.
  7. Noah Shain

    Noah Shain Active Member

    Thank you for the great reply!
    I figured as much about the drywall.
    The one wall in going to frame is exactly what you recommended. It will separate the control/live rooms. They'll share no common structural elements beyond the slab.
    My main concern here is containing noise so as not to bug neighbors. I'm not planning any ceiling treatment because I'm in an industrial area. I hope I get away with that...don't have the budget to treat it. At least not immediately.
    I've had studios in some noisy areas so I'm not worried about sound getting in. I can deal with it. I have a room set aside for a booth anyway.
    I am curious if anybody has experience with big ass industrial laminated wood beams. They do unite the spaces in the building. I wonder if they'll transmit sound from my space to the others. They are MASSIVE beams made from layers of lumber. Again, my instinct says it won't be a problem but it wouldn't be the first time my instinct was dead wrong.
  8. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "Some people use OSB on the first layer, but that relates more to structural rigidity, not to isolation."

    It relates to both. OSB has a close approximation to the mass that sheetrock has AND you are able to develop a more decoupled environment. SO it is almost, in my book, a prerequisite that you install OSB as the first layer of sheathing.

    As to glass, the rule of thumb is to have the glass match in mass as closely as possible to the existing mass on the wall assembly. Using different thicknesses of wall sheathing OR glass gains nothing. The premise is that different thicknesses of anything will alter the path of sound and thereby slow it down. Alton Everest explains this in the Master Handbook of Acoustics, which you should also purchase.

    But in reality it doesn't modify the resonant frequency per se and only makes your job that more difficult.

    But, in any event, if you go thru all the trouble to establish highly isolated wall assemblies including the glass and use a drop ceiling, then you are throwing money at an issue you are not going to correct with this type of half-baked building.

    A mass/air/mass assembly is a system. In order to retain the highest amount of transmission loss the wall assemblies and the ceiling assemblies must match in decoupled construction as well as mass. Think of the ceiling like a wall assembly :)

    "I am curious if anybody has experience with big ass industrial laminated wood beams. They do unite the spaces in the building. I wonder if they'll transmit sound from my space to the others."

    If you attache to it in any way, the answer is yes you will introduce flanking into your build.

    Happy New Year Ya'll :)
    kmetal likes this.
  9. Noah Shain

    Noah Shain Active Member

    Thank you for the reply!
    I am going to rip out the drop ceiling. I'm not worried about sound getting in to my space. Only about transmission through walls in to neighboring space. It's an industrial area though not a loud one. A little bass getting out the roof isnt an issue. I am planning to build the walls to the cieling beams and make them air tight up there. There's about 35 feet of open beam before the neighboring space begins. No loud sound sources will TOUCH the beam. The beam will just be in the room with the source. 16 feet above it, though attached to the walls. It's only 1 beam.
    This is a studio for personal, private use only. Not commercial use.
    I am considering OSB 1st layer and 2 layers of 5/8 Sheetrock on top of that. Airtight. I could also fill in the ceiling between beams with a couple layers of Sheetrock airtight afterwards if I need additional isolation.
  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Sound takes the path of least resistance, so if you build huge massive walls to contain the sound in your room, if the ceiling does not off the same amout of transmission loss, then it's going to leak to your neighbor thru that. Similar to water flowing out of a container w a loose lid.

    The walls are going to vibrate, then pass that along to the beam, and the beam will vibrate and since it is a part of the ajoining rooms as well, will transmit a certain amount of vibrations into those rooms. A flanking path is a physical connection between two things, and isolatin depends on minimizing this. The beam, if it is exposed, and therefor part of your room, will be considered a flanking path. Other flanking paths can be pipes, electrical conduit, floorboards, ductwork, ect.

    There are things available to help minimize the physical contact between your walls and ceiling, but that still leaves the question of what, if anything needs to be done to the ceiling, for it to keep up w the mass of the walls, as well as minimize flanking.

    So you need to get some idea of how your ceiling is performing and either design your walls to that, or make sure your ceiling is designed/modified to match your walls.
    Space likes this.

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