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Hey everyone, first post, searched the forum for "shed" and didn't find a totally similar situation so I'll post the question here. Sorry if I missed any previous duplicate posts! I'm a "need it right now" kind of person, but I really don't want to screw this up so I'm trying to slow down and do my research, and see if this is a horrible idea, or workable.

So I'm currently in a 10x10 (EDIT: 12x10) bedroom, which is well treated with 2x4'x4" traps (RFZ + cloud), but it's pretty dang small. I'm getting into composing/soundtrack work, and I'd like to be able to fit a drum kit, upright piano, hammered dulcimer, cello, mandolin, and guitar inside a studio space, and also have it be sound-isolated from the ladyfriend so I can make noise at all hours of the day/night without disturbing her.

I'm not going to be playing metal music or anything, but I will have a drum kit inside. I don't bang on the thing like rock drummers do - quieter stuff like jazz / lighter fusion. Mostly, I'll be doing orchestral composing and recording acoustic instruments like piano, cello, dulcimer, etc. Wish I could give dBC levels but I don't have my drum kit here - it's at my folks' place in Seattle, don't have room for it here until I build a studio! I also have 2x Rythmik E15 15" subs in addition to my bookshelf-sized near-field monitors. I like having the sub-sub-bass abilities, but don't want to pollute the neighborhood with bass, either.

I have neighbors all around, but there's a good 20+ feet to the closest neighbor house. Nobody around plays loud music or anything, but there is a LOUD train that comes through town (~1 mile away), so fairly good STC seems necessary.

I'm located in Bend, OR, and there's no permit required for < 200sf buildings, so I'm limited to a 12x16' building. I'm looking at 12x16' sheds, with 8' walls, which are around $4k. I'm at a rental house, so pouring a concrete slab is not an option, unfortunately, despite the better acoustics!

The idea of this post is to figure out whether I can make this sort of thing work in a 12x16' shed with this kind of money, or whether I should wait until we can buy a house (~1 year) and at that point do a dedicated build with isolated concrete slab, slightly larger footprint, etc.

This would be a combined control room / recording space - not enough room for separate rooms. I've prototyped the layout of a 12x16' shed in my living room, and successfully fit everything listed above, when compensating for ~7.5" wall thickness, so slightly less than 11x15' interior dimensions.


The floor is just wooden decking, stuck on the ground, leveled with concrete blocks or pavers, most likely. I think just plywood sheathing. I know it's not as good as a concrete slab, but as mentioned above I can't pour a slab here. So I thought I'd use Rod's recommended method in Home Recording Studio of 3pcf rigid fiberglass on top of the sheathing, then two layers of 1/2" plywood (seams overlapping), maybe with Green Glue between.

So something like this, top to bottom:

Bamboo flooring
1/2" plywood
(Green Glue, maybe)
1/2" plywood
3pcf OC703 fiberglass
Stone pavers? (not exactly sure what these things typically rest on)

The walls are sheathing outside (covered with siding) with exposed 2x4" studs, 24" OC. So I thought I'd put pink stuff between the studs, then Whisper Clips + hat channel, then two layers of 5/8" drywall (maybe with Green Glue between). I understand that having two layers of drywall on the OUTSIDE of the building would be much better for STC but don't see any way of doing that here.

So in summary, the walls would be:

2x4's w/pink stuff (24" OC)
Whisper Clips
Hat channel
5/8" drywall
(Green Glue, maybe)
5/8" drywall

Not sure about this... I was thinking the same construction as the walls, but the ceiling joists are 2x6's, so I'm not sure if they could bear the load of ~1000 lbs of drywall. Pretty hung up on this one. Not sure about ceiling code requirements either - do I need a vented area? I was a little unclear about reading that part in Home Recording Studio. I was hoping to have a vaulted ceiling inside the studio but now realizing I might need a flat ceiling with space above?

Here are a few photos of the ceiling construction for this type of shed (just for illustration - haven't bought one yet):

Also pretty hung up on this one. In the summer, it gets to the low 90's sometimes, and can be 30's at night. In the winter, it can be ~0-10ºF during the day and -10ºF at night at the coldest, but typically in the 30's during the day and 10's at night. I was initially considering just using a mica panel heater (silent) inside the studio and some kind of air exchange, but after reading the HVAC section in HRS, it seems like humidity control and AC might be required after building a (basically) hermetically sealed box!

My gear is this:

Mac Pro 2013
2x Thunderbolt Displays
Metric Halo ULN-8
Class D Audio stereo amp
2x Rythmik E15 subwoofers

I'm estimating max ~5-6000 BTU/hr for all this gear (including me and one other person).

None. Figured I'd keep it easy on myself.

I can probably work with the shed company to do custom construction details, like 2x6 studs instead of 2x4, that kind of thing.

Main unanswered questions are things like:

- Will this thing be movable with 3500+ lbs of additional drywall and plywood in it, like when I move to a new house in ~1 year? Or would I have to dissemble / de-drywall the whole thing when I move to a different house? (Maybe this is a question for local shed movers...)

- Is a wooden deck floor going to be a problem, structurally? (Or is this something I'd need to consult a structural engineer about? Uncle works at Boeing...)

- Is the above-mentioned floor treatment going to be acceptable sound-transmission-wise?

- What kind of HVAC system makes sense in here? PTAC's seem useful, but not hot on the idea of the noisiness, since I'll be in here for hours at a time monitoring (combined control room/recording).

- Will the ceiling, with 2x6's, support a double drywall covering? If not, what should I do about the ceiling? Do I need an air cavity up there? Is the ceiling going to leak sound like nobody's business, and be the weak link in the chain?

- Is this a horrible idea? Should I wait until I can buy a house, and then do a dedicated slightly larger studio, on a concrete slab, with double wall construction? Should I just stick with the room I've got for now? By budget is around $8-10k, as mentioned above.


pcrecord Wed, 11/26/2014 - 02:57

A 12x16 construction is movable but it's gonna cost you alot to make it happen. I would start by investigating this cost before I'd start the project. You see, unless you make it modular, it'll need to be lift and secured on a flat trailer. Since it's 12' large, it would need a road circulation team etc...
If it's gonna cost you 5k or more to move it, I'd wait.

Space is the best guy here that can answer questions about the constructions details.

kmetal Wed, 11/26/2014 - 04:46

Hey Devin welcome to RO, it's a great resource. I think you should wait, hers why.

by the time you properly design and build this, a year or so will have gone by and you'll already be moving. You won't ever get your "money's worth" or your return on investment, before it costs you money to move the studio, or leave it with the property.

We also haven't adressed two very critical things in an all hours studio, plumbing, and electrical. The need for a bathroom is surprisingly underestimated in a lot of people's plans, and with those kind of temperature swings it could make for some unpleasant trips back and forth. Then you must enter spy mode again while in the house.

You also need to plan on a specialized electrical system that will allow you provide give adequate power to your gear, and HVAC, without adding any noises and hums, ground loops ect.

Also, that is a lot, a lot of gear to fit in a room of that size. On paper it might look good, but in practice, it doesn't always feel right in reality, especially in smaller rooms. Even just a few inches of space between the back of the instruments and the wall, and plugs, adds up.

I'm not familiar w the e 15 subs but I'm guessing it's dual 15s? That's a lot of woofer for that much cubic footage. itd be something I'd employ more for fun or "club checks" it'd be a challenge to get something like that to respond accurately,in this scope. And while it's certainly possible to get descents sounds out of this size room, it's not an ideal, especially considering the instrument your talking about generally make good use of air and space to develop.

I'm not being discouraging, with this. I Think that you are smart by planning this. If you are intending on a similar type outbuilding in your new place, as opposed to the usual basement thing, then this is an opportunity to plan something much more efficient for a long term musical environment.

With studios there is the rule of three or five, it's 3-5 times more expensive, time consuming, sickening, and (dare I say) rewarding, than you think it will be. Even well planned projects have real world, unforeseen things that come up. Caulking is one thing that adds up. And acoustic doors are not cheap or necessarily easy to put in.

To me it seems like to follow thru on this would be a lot of money, a lot of time, and some more money, on something very compromised, especially considering your moving. take the upcoming time to educate yourself some more, and really come up w a plan for what you really want. Studios are not impulse purchases. You have a whole year to get down to the finest details for a more solid, permanent thing. Your off to a good start, you have some funds, time to plan, and a place to make music while you design the best most efficient studio you can make.

This probably isn't really what you wanted to hear, but I've seen studios that work and studios that don't. I've had to tear down and redo a booth for someone before. I've heard an extremely sucessful mixer tell me incorrect mythical things about acoustic designs and construction. I'm not genius or master builder or acoustician, but I have seen these things cost lots money and time, and it almost always comes down to lack of planning, and mis information. The other is workers simply ignoring requests and building however they know is "right". It almost always, always, always, comes down to lack of planning. There are happy accidents, sure, but even the best laid plans usually have hiccups. The idea is to try to minimize the 'doh' moments.

Just my 2 cents.

Devin Mooers Sat, 11/29/2014 - 20:55

Thanks, everyone! kmetal, I think that's actually exactly what I *needed* to hear. The last thing I need right now is another excuse to avoid making music, when I've got a perfectly workable bedroom studio right now.

When I'm in a new house, I'll plan everything out right, consult an acoustician, and take my time with it. For now, no reason not to just use what I've got (which admittedly sounds quite good). And there's a bathroom nearby! Good point about adding one of those in a studio...

Yep, E15 subs are 15" each. I don't make electronic music anymore, mostly orchestral/acoustic - the dual subs are to smooth out low-end frequency response in small rooms, per Earl Geddes, which they do VERY well. I'm +-3dB down to 20Hz in this room.

Thanks again, all!

Space Mon, 12/01/2014 - 18:05

I dunno, I would rather work in the outdoors in the rain than a square room. ;) With the multiple low frequency overlap there is nothing short of to deaden the entire room and get the subs out of there. The small rooms produces enough low frequency and a small square room will destroy your hearing, musically speaking.

Dr. Earl Geddes, "Why Multiple Subs" (2011)

"Modal Degeneracy: when there are two mode shapes with the same frequency, such as happens in a square room, this will cause increases in statistical variances.(That is not a good thing) In any space where the dimensions are well separated from one another the modal distribution quickly becomes uniform for any room shape.(excluding square and cubed).

Devin Mooers Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:13

Whoa schneikes, sorry! Just removed the home page link. Should have thought a little harder about putting that up there, I guess, my fault. Didn't make the obvious connection that I should only put a home page link up there if it's music-related. I don't do a lot of forum posting, as you can probably tell.

My original intent with the above post was to provide as much detail as possible about the potential shed construction, not to focus on my bedroom studio. When I said 10x10 room, I just meant generally referring to how small it was. (I just clarified the 12x10 size in the original post.) I didn't have the exact measurements off the top of my head - I set it up and acoustically treated/measured it around a year ago, so it's been a while. I'll try to make sure to double-check my facts next time before posting.

pcrecord Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:58

10x10 is kind of the worst size a recording/mixing room can have. If you'd say about or around 10x10 it's not the same.

Space is a strait foward guy. He has put me to my place a couple of times and I thanked him.
He knows his stuff and may not want to waste his time with erroneous informations.
I'm very glad he gets time to participate to this forum.

anonymous Thu, 12/04/2014 - 04:36

There is a reason why exact room dimensions are asked for - because different sized/shaped rooms, as well as rooms with different construction materials, will have different problems/benefits and will require different solutions.

Acoustic is a science, founded on physics and geometry... and "guessing", or approximating, has no place because those things can't be inserted into actual equations.

I'll make a suggestion, and then I'll shut the hell up (because I'm NOT an acoustics expert) and that is to by this book:…


KurtFoster Thu, 12/04/2014 - 11:45

i can understand the frustration ..... a 2 foot difference is a lot.

personally i feel any attempt to build a monitoring area in a small room is futile, despite what anyone who is in the business of selling room treatments and bass traps says.

i hope i'm not stepping on toes here ..... the first thing i like to do is to put up a mic and record a file or two and listen back to what the mic is "hearing" in different parts of the room .... you can glean a lot of info doing this first.

imo; it's a simple formula when confronted with small or difficult rooms ..... this is a basic start point i think everyone should consider, especially in small rooms that will never be really good no matter what you do to them.

absorption and targeted traps in the corners on the wall from which the monitors are fired and a some sort of "cloud" over the listening position.

absorption tiles on the sides using a mirror to sight the speakers. everywhere you can see the speakers, put up absorption.

absorption in all trihedral corners. bass trap the rear corners when possible and diffuse on the rear wall.

using this approach many rooms have been made workable. 10 x 10 may be "the worst" but i have learned that you never know until you build it. a lot of rooms that shouldn't have worked, did. Sound City is one example that comes to mind.

Devin Mooers Thu, 12/04/2014 - 11:49

Interesting approach to record music from the microphone's perspective and listen back - will have to try that sometime. I do have a full 4" thick RFZ including a cloud (total of 11 2x4'x4" traps) as well as corner traps from GIK, so this room is about the best it's going to get without encroaching too much on the already-small space.

Space Thu, 12/04/2014 - 17:00

I appreciate you playing the makes the loose of the Tim Burton's Christmas Saga that much less significant. Now you do not know what that means...but many here do.

So let us look at a few things that I have issue with:
" I do have a full 4" thick RFZ"

An RFZ panel should not be confused with an "RFZ" which is a reflection free zone. Marketing is what you bought, a refection free zone as is attempted in a control room is done by accepted practices, what Kurt mentioned, and at the most, an acoustic designer creates the space for.

JohnSayers develops a reflection free zone based on Thomas Hidleys designs, which John has modified and made world class studios, sometimes in small spaces like a freight container. It can be done, but marketing will be the difference in if it is correct or just simply buying smack.

And he doesn't use an "RFZ" type of broadband treatment. He uses, as most of us do, broadband treatment. What you have is broadband treatment, and I explained the RFZ.

I get it. It can be confusing. But if you either have more money than brains or no drive to get it right, then you subscribe to the easiest fix that you think you need. And marketing gets you there.

"- Is a wooden deck floor going to be a problem, structurally? (Or is this something I'd need to consult a structural engineer about? Uncle works at Boeing...)"

The engineer will cost you more than the shed.

Here is the thing. You cannot develop a mass/air/mass system in a wooden shed. So if you do it, or when you do it, you mass up the exterior....floor included.

You mass up the roof, after you either install venting that it does not have, or closed cell insulation...not open cell.

What you will battle is flanking. Now while a building all by itself seems to be less of a target for flanking, it is your enemy, it exists in a small shed and you have to combat it.

A fully decoupled, mass/air/mass assembly would be overcome by flanking in your situation.

Devin Mooers Thu, 12/04/2014 - 17:20

Sorry, what is this "RFZ" type of broadband treatment you're referring to, and how is it different from broadband treatment? I didn't buy the panels, but constructed them myself and hung them at first reflection mirror points all around the room.

By the way, I already decided not to do the shed - I'm going to wait until I'm in a new house and can get a permit for a larger building, pour a proper slab, do double wall construction, etc. - that seems to make a little more sense, right? Just thought I'd mention that so we don't beat a dead horse.

Space Thu, 12/04/2014 - 17:28

Devin Mooers, post: 421767, member: 48632 wrote: Interesting approach to record music from the microphone's perspective and listen back - will have to try that sometime. I do have a full 4" thick RFZ including a cloud (total of 11 2x4'x4" traps) as well as corner traps from GIK, so this room is about the best it's going to get without encroaching too much on the already-small space.

anonymous Fri, 12/05/2014 - 04:37

The strike is further presumption on your part that you know what you are talking about.

"I do have a full 4" thick RFZ including a cloud (total of 11 2x4'x4" traps) as well as corner traps from GIK, so this room is about the best it's going to get without encroaching too much on the already-small space."

When you say something like that, it goes out to the world and is available for anyone and everyone to see who may be looking for information, and it also comes across as if you're already convinced of something, so then why are you posting here if you are positive that you are right?

kmetal Sun, 12/07/2014 - 05:01

Well no matter where this thread goes at least the shed 'studio' isn't being built. That's a good thing. As far as your existing room being +- 3db@ 20hz, well, all I can say is if my room was that accurate in the low end in the mixing area, at a reasonable volume level, then I wouldn't be considering building anything else. It almost seems to defy the laws of physics, unless you have some sort of extremely large bass trapping the size of another adjacent room, or some sort of extremely detailed array of of broad and narrow band traps. And even then, if was practical, easy and common, we would probably know about it already. If not then well you happen to have come across quite the 'happy accident'. It is also possible that the information you posted is incorrect. This could be by accident or for fun, but usually people with rooms +-3 in don't have questions about fundamentals like the practicality of modifying a small shed, into a studio. So somethings not adding up to me.