Converting a Shed into a Recording Studio

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
Hi,
New here. I've been building a she shed for my wife and she realized it would be better if we swapped the music room in the house for her to set up her sewing and I move into her she shed and use it as the music room.

So, audio isolation is already set. Thankfully it's a quiet neighborhood that's used to hearing music faintly coming from the house. The shed has an inverter mini split (pretty quiet), 2x4 walls with pink fluffy, osb/vapor barrier/hardee siding on the outside. Haven't finished the inside walls so could change that up a little bit. Typical double pane windows, solid core door with little window wings. Roof is 2x4, pink fluffy, osb/1/2" foam/tin roof. Inside ceiling isn't finished so could change up a little bit. Floor is currently OSB subfloor that I was going to lay down 1/2" foam and laminate flooring.

I've built it as a shed to meet building code: Portable electric hookup (hubble lock) on the outside and portable shed foundation. I've set it on concrete blocks. Two circuits are run to the shed- one for the mini split, one for the lights/plugs (20 amp).

The space will be used as music practice with occasional fun recording. No serious commercial use.

Here's the big question: What kind of sound isolation is this going to give me the way it is and what could I do to make it slightly better? I've built it solid with everything caulked and foamed. Would it be worthwhile to put laminated glass over the windows? I don't want to replace the solid core door so that's my reference point for isolation. Worthwhile to hang double sheetrock? Add more mass to the floor?

ALSO:

Wife has given the go ahead to build a drum shed a couple of inches separated from the music shed. I can build this with more isolation but nothing crazy. I'm thinking put in a window that will match up to a window in the music shed so we can see each other on the extremely rare occasion I would have multiple musicians over. No other windows. A door to get in and out. Patch panel to snake to the music shed. Remote control over the DAW in the music shed. One electrical circuit and small mini split. Dimensions (exterior) 9'x12' and roof as high as 10'.

Knowing that this has to be built as a portable shed would it be crazy to pour a 1" thick concrete floor over and OSB subfloor and a simple room within a room? DIY the entrance door of course. Would that give me enough isolation that I could actually record quasi seriously using the music shed as the control room?
Webp.net-resizeimage.jpg
Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpg
Webp.net-resizeimage (5).jpg
Webp.net-resizeimage (4).jpg
Webp.net-resizeimage (3).jpg
 

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2002
Location
77 Sunset Lane.
cool space. the new windows should be double frame so they should work ok. keep as much ceiling height as you can, they are your saving grace. consider some slat walls with insulation and fabric liners and or acoustic perf board products on some of the walls. if you put up the right materials in the first place, you won't need a lot of trapping or absorption. try to set up so you are not firing you monitors into compression. i would not go to a lot of overkill here. you're starting from scratch. lucky you.
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
Thanks for the reply. I do have Rod Gervais' book that I read a couple of years ago. I'm gonna pull it out tonight and read through it again. As for slat walls what I've bought (when it was going to be her sewing shed) are 1x6 picket fence that I was going to use for the ceiling and the tall back wall. They're pressure treated so I'm sure there will be shrinkage but I'm not sure how much. The pink fluffy is unlined so that's good. I was going drywall on the other three walls.

In the music shed I'm looking for a pleasant sounding space that will be enjoyable to practice/hang out in. There will be a sleeping loft about 6' up on one end coming out about a third of the room. Underneath it will probably be the most symmetrical space to put the monitors/mix area. I guess my goal there would be to be able to mix where playback wouldn't be radically different in other spaces or sources.

In the drum shed I probably should aim for maximum absorption?

I'm not sure what you mean "firing your monitors into compression". Are you talking about playback level or ?
 

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2002
Location
77 Sunset Lane.
once you are bringing other elements into the room like a sleeping loft and limiting yourself to 1/3rd of the room for the monitoring area you loose me.

as it is you have just about enough space to set up a good control room. by firing into compression i mean don't aim your speakers into a room that is getting smaller. think of the room as big sound horn on a pa.

i would set up the monitors and desk area on the wall you are facing as you enter the room. absorb the hell out of the ceiling where it starts to slope back into the room. that might be a great place for bass trapping.

if you set the room up like this you will save a HUGE amount of cash right from the beginning. if you go the way you suggest you will dump WADS of cash treating the problems you built into the room so it could be multi purpose. do what you need to do that's pretty much what you have to choose from. i guess it also depends on how serious you want to be about having a listing area capable of translating.
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
Ah. Got it. Like the horn sub in my avatar. And yes that makes a lot of sense about where to set up monitors/desk and bass trapping.

What I meant about the 1/3 of the room is the area that a loft will (may) be. The whole room will be open, it's just that my wife was hoping for a loft. The original idea was for my college kids to have a space to sleep when they come home over a weekend. They're all musicians so they may be more excited about having a nice space to record in and crash on a couch instead of having a loft. Or maybe they could sleep on top of a cloud....

Hmm... maybe I could make the drum shed big enough that I could build a murphy bed that can double as absorption when it's not in use. That way my wife could be happy without having a loft in the music shed. Actually I could put a small loft high up in the drum shed! I was out measuring and it would be easy to build it 10' high. Yes! Put the drums underneath the loft with lots of absorption on the underside of the loft. Perfect! Then I could use the entire "music shed" as a fairly (slightly?) accurate control room!

I think she'll go for this....

Thanks Kurt! Time to dust off my book....
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Thanks for the reply. I do have Rod Gervais' book that I read a couple of years ago. I'm gonna pull it out tonight and read through it again. A
That's your best bet. It's a great book.
As per isolation construction methods, I'd let my colleagues take that over as they know more than I.
One rule of thumb for ISO is this: if you can see light anywhere in the structure, you're going to have sound leakage at those spots.
And, building for isolation - while very important- you need to figure out how to get decent ventilation of some kind. I've been in highly isolated studios and rehearsal spaces that have had little to no ventilation, and I've seen the lack of fresh air cause fatigue, anxiety, short tempers, lack of concentration ... it's no joke. Make sure you can breathe in there. ;)
Also, don't discount acoustic treatment after the space has been finished structurally. Many spaces have been built with great isolation but don't *sound* good acoustically on the interior.
Keep Rod's (@Rod Gervais ) book close by. Make it your bible. ;)

FWIW
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Location
Quebec, Canada
Wife has given the go
Isn't it all the story of our life !! ;)

Actually I could put a small loft high up in the drum shed! I was out measuring and it would be easy to build it 10' high
Drums like big open rooms. Overhead mics need to space...

But before we go and give you 1000 advices. What do you want to do ? Pro recording, record demos, practice, fun ?
I think we often go and tell people what will be the best for pro sounding recordings without asking first if it's really the goal and expectations...

not to answer for you but this is what you said : "pleasant sounding space that will be enjoyable to practice/hang out in."
If it's the goal of the project, it relieves of a lot of pressures about room calculations and dimention restrictions. . .
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
I'm not sure what you mean "firing your monitors into compression". Are you talking about playback level or ?
As Marco mentioned, This is about the physical layout of the room, (geometry) and not processing.
For example, if you had a canted ceiling that went from 7' to 10', you wouldn't want to aim your monitors towards the shorter ceiling height. By doing so, you would be "compressing" the sound by firing into that shorter space, where you'd likely get a mass of all kinds of frequencies squeezing together and fighting each other for that physical space... results could be standing waves building up, or even possibly nulls, where certain frequencies could disappear.
The same could be said if your vertical walls were splayed, with a shorter distance between those walls behind you. Fire your monitors into a bigger space rather than a smaller one that you are located in.

FWIW.
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
Wow- I love that y'all are responding instead of berating me for not putting in the appropriate details! Thank you for the pleasant responses.

Yes. "pleasant sounding space that will be enjoyable to practice/hang out in." Visual is a big part of it. Thankfully I have a pretty back yard so the views out the windows are nice. By pleasant sounding I mean fairly even response and RTA60 that's live enough to have "life" but not so dead that everybody feels like they're out in the middle of the forest with no one around. Sound isolation is already determined by the door and windows that's already in place. Very quiet neighborhood. The resonance of the floor and walls are undoubtedly pretty high but I'm not putting in a room in a room. Overkill for me. Everything is caulked and foamed enough that it's already an airtight building as much as OSB and house wrap can be. Really internal acoustics is what I'm looking for.

A decent RFZ would be nice. Not chasing the lowest or highest freqs. Like Kurt was saying I could put a nice bass trap in the ceiling. Could put in a double wall on the tall back wall to set up some helmholtz slat resonators.

I've used the "subwoofer crawl" and mirror technique setting up some home theater installations. I've built literally several hundred speakers as a Bill Fitzmaurice builder (and a few TH subs) so I'm not a complete newby but I'm not an expert engineer by any stretch of the imagination!! I've got REW and measurement equipment so I'm set there. I don't have a big ego and y'all have already helped shape my thinking!

I'm not looking for a pristine studio. Nobodies going to pay me for my services. I'll definitely do some recording for my pleasure but nothing critical. I do have some musician friends that I would love for them to enjoy the space enough that I don't have to drag them to my place. But honestly I have a feeling the control room will be used more for loud movies with me and the older kids than critical listening.

As a drummer I love big space. But I'm thinking since I haven't built the drum shed yet I can plan to make it at least a little more isolated than the control room shed and if I need big space relativity speaking move the set into the control room. Dimensions because of the shop next to it are pretty set. 9' W x 12' L x 10' H external are max. Practicing knowing that I'm absolutely not bothering anybody would be nice. Again, not looking for pristine isolation. Just enough that it's not bothering anybody. Don't know what ISO number I need....

Might sell my new mini split and buy a ducted mini split that can pull in some fresh air and heat/cool both sheds. I've got space behind the sheds that I can build a mechanical room if needed.
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
Wow. They're going to exchange my mini split. Now I'll be able to duct into both sheds and have fresh air exchange! Square footage is only ~275 sq. ft. so 9000 btu is overkill but is the smallest unit they make. Since it's a high seer with low fan speed (31 db) it should be easy to keep things quiet. Wired thermostat. If I build a separate mechanical room I'm thinking I can keep the temperature fairly even in both rooms.
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Could put in a double wall on the tall back wall to set up some helmholtz slat resonators.
Hmmm... I'd have to defer to Kurt or Brien on this, but my suspicion is that your space isn't really big enough to make a Hemholtz Res effective. (?)
Have you checked Rod's book on that?
Understand I'm not saying unequivocally that it won't work. I'm saying I'm not sure how actually effective it will be in a space that size ... ?
I defer to @Kurt Foster snd @Brien Holcombe (and of course to Rod) who know far more about it than I do.
I would also suggest that if you have an air space between the floor of the shed and the ground underneath, that this could cause resonance that might give you some trouble in the way the room itself reacts tonally ...

Just thinking out loud...

-d.
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
I've got the book in front of me but looking at HVAC right now. Yeah, it's a small room - right at 2000 cf. And yes there's air space beneath the floor. It's resting on piers spaced every 4 feet. No way around it. I only have about 1 1/2" of clearance between the subfloor and bottom of the door so not a lot of choices there either.
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
I've got the book in front of me but looking at HVAC right now. Yeah, it's a small room - right at 2000 cf. And yes there's air space beneath the floor. It's resting on piers spaced every 4 feet. No way around it. I only have about 1 1/2" of clearance between the subfloor and bottom of the door so not a lot of choices there either.
Please understand I wasn't saying you would have problems with it for sure. I was just pointing out a potential issue area.
As your main purpose for the space isn't going to be for critical listening, it seems as though you'd be okay with it for your intended use. I'm glad that you are considering the ventilation. I think you'd be surprised at the number of isolated rooms where this wasn't the case. I've actually been in a few pro studios where it was overlooked. It seemed that those particular rooms always resulted in less than stellar performances, along with people snapping at each other more frequently than what would be considered typical.
Lol, oxygen is not over-rated. ;)
 

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2002
Location
77 Sunset Lane.
I've got the book in front of me but looking at HVAC right now. Yeah, it's a small room - right at 2000 cf. And yes there's air space beneath the floor. It's resting on piers spaced every 4 feet. No way around it. I only have about 1 1/2" of clearance between the subfloor and bottom of the door so not a lot of choices there either.

1/2" soundboard. it's what roofers use to deaden ceilings. it works on walls and floors too.
 

DogsoverLava

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Here's a question about this: I've only ever had my home studio's and practice spaces inside the main dwelling of my houses. I'd be paranoid about the potential risk of theft etc for my gear to be in something that wasn't part of the main dwelling. A shed style outbuilding just seems so... insecure? HOw do you guys deal with this? What are the pluses and minuses here with outbuildings vs main dwelling?
 

RickL

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Location
Tullahoma, TN
In my case it's in a rural small city with low crime rate and I don't think anybodies gonna realize what it is. It's also in my back yard which is pretty hard to get to. And it's going to be in use one way or the other several hours a day.
 

DogsoverLava

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
personally, i welcome any thief to step onto my property. please, come and try to steal from me. let me introduce you to Mr. 12 gauge pump shot gun.
I've got more guns than guitars and I have 8 guitars -- all in the same room - but I still leave the house occasionally. Plus in Canada it is a crime to use a weapon to defend property and in most cases even limb. But hey - you should see the walnut grain of my Tikka - it's gorgeous.
 
Top