Basement Studio Size and Flooding
What would you consider an ideal size for a one-room studio that would accommodate a band rehearsal setup, recording/mixing station, and extra amp stacks, guitar rack, etc.?
We're looking at building a house with a basement and creating a studio within the basement--just personal hobby, not pro, and mostly going for isolation. My band rehearsal spaces have never been adequate, so I want bigger than what I have, but not bigger than I need, to keep expenses down. I've measured gear and drawn floor plans, but don't feel that's accurate at all. The size of the entire basement I think will be 800 sq ft and the studio would be no more than 400 to 600 sq ft. I thought 20' x 20' might be large enough, but now I'm not sure.
Band would be drums, a couple of guitar amps, bass amp, keys, room for singer(s) and floor monitors. I recently left the band and so can't provide exact SPL, but loudest level would be to match an acoustic drummer hitting hard; I may buy e-drums to control volume.
Any thoughts appreciated.
What are some of your experiences with basement studios? Is flooding bound to happen at some point? Should I revise my house plans considerably?
I lived through a flood once. The owners sump pump failed and I got 3 inches of water.
I had modular carpet that was easy to remove and I ran 2 dehumidifier for a week and since the studio had parallele open walls I did avoid mold.
As far as gear, other than a few direct box and powerbars, and a few crackles in a floor tom, everything else was ok.
The pump was replaced and put on a Back UPS and no other problems accured for years...
The best tips is to place any critical gear at some heights. (computer and data drives, high end preamps and vintage gear).
Some stuff can be replaced some don't. Protect yourself and use a safe backup system that puts a copy of data offsite.
My current basement studio is surrounded by clay and is very dry. The studio is on a floating floor and most of the stuff is secured.
I hope I won't live through that again, but I once had an issue with the hot water tank which busted. We are blessed to have a water overflow just a side of it.. so no damage accured...
Here are two solid suggestions:
- Home Recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros by: Rod Gervais
- Master Handbook of Acoustics by Alton F. Everest
Since isolation is one of your main concerns, it will be helpful to the real smart people to know how close your neighbors are, and whether you're also trying to keep sound from the upstairs living quarters.
In the end, you may be the best judge of how much space you need, and how much you can afford to bite off financially. Because whatever preliminary budget/quotes you get (unless it's a contractor who specializes in this sort of construction), it's going to be under by a mile if you plan to do it right. (Like 3x)
Also, because it's the lowest point in your house, this is where water will go if you happen to have any problems above it on the main living level.
Years ago, I had a fresh water line pop-off the fitting of a built-in dishwasher; it happened late at night, so I wasn't even aware that it had happened until I got up in the morning, came downstairs, heard the sound of water running, went into the kitchen, and saw gallons of water pouring down through cold air returns, heating vents, and even down the basement steps. Even with the sump pump working hard, the basement still had about 2" of water on the floor, but because the water had come from above, it also trashed ceiling tiles, ( my basement was of the "finished" rec room type) along with many of items and boxes stored there. Had I still had my studio down there, everything would have been trashed or damaged to some degree. Homeowner's insurance covered it, of course, but I had personal items that could never be replaced.
I suppose the chances of actual flooding or moisture/condensation occurring may decrease if you are working with a more modern basement... and if there is inherent condensation then a dehumidifier will help, but there's still no guarantee that water can't come in from above the basement level.
Mark All, post: 431431, member: 49382 wrote: We're looking at building a house with a basement and creating a studio within the basement--just personal hobby, not pro, and mostly going for isolation.Hobby not pro ! : those are the key words for me. I'm sure you're not aiming for a 10k pro recording room.
You first have to figure how much space each musician can live with and try to have a bit more.
I'm with dvdhawk about square rooms the standing waves will create a ton of problems. Often odd shapes are better, but of course they cost more...
Is it an all open basement, what are the dimensions and what's your budget ?
Donny, thanks also--we just had a similar nightmare, upstairs toilet backed up and we had to replace that floor, the ceiling and walls below and all the flooring on the entire first floor.
We've heard other basement plumbing disaster stories. But the isolation aspect of 3 sides of the studio being underground just seems the only way to go. Plus there are no rooms on the main level of a standard floor plan large enough, nor upstairs, plus I'm too old to carry my gear up and downstairs. :-)
Let me apologize, I probably posted this in the wrong forum: before getting to acoustics I just need to know how big the room needs to be. Should I repost this to Studio Lounge or something?
I'm reading Rod's book now. Great point about avoiding a square room--the 20' x 20' example was what I originally thought might be adequate space, rather than to specify a shape, fortunately now I know that square's not good!
I was hoping folks with a similar band / recording setup might tell me the dimensions of their space. I'll basically have a setup similar to the one below except I have more stuff (referring to the band and desk setup, not room size, windows, etc.)
We're building the house from scratch and will have an 800 sq foot basement area--but if need be we could get a full basement maybe twice that size, but I'd prefer not to incur that expense. We'll need 2 or 3 other rooms and a bathroom. We can customize the floor plan, but not yet sure how much, since some walls will be load bearing, etc.
I'm also not sure how to set up: like on stage, or the "circular firing squad." I'll mostly be sitting at the desk recording myself, but hope to have band practices and then maybe record the band later.
Example of amount of space that's close to adequate:
A picture is nice but nowhere near exact mesurements ;)
Of course, if you're in a floodplain and the river's rising you are SOL. You're in hurricane country, so you probably have to be prepared for that kind of extreme rainfall.
If it keeps on rainin' the levee's gonna break…..
The site is about 3 miles from a river, hopefully that should be enough. We avoided properties nearer the river. We plan on researching any flooding in the area, just not sure specifically how yet.
So is your studio in an aboveground room?
Mark All, post: 431451, member: 49382 wrote: Thanks, pcrecord, I downloaded sketchup and will give it a try. I've measured all my gear, but the hard part may be determining each instrumentalist's living space. :)I guess 4x4 is the extreem minimum.. you can think of 6x6 or 8x8.. check how your musicians move around at your next practice ;)
Mark All, post: 431455, member: 49382 wrote: Thanks bouldersound, I'll ask the builder (and look for independent resources) about the water table. I read that sump pumps are put into houses where the water table "is above the foundation of a home."
So is your studio in an aboveground room?
Where I usually work is on a slab foundation. The other one is sort of a basement in a building built on a slope. The grade is above it on one side and below it on the other. My home, where I do a fair bit of work, is on a slab. All of these escaped significant damage in the big flood, but one band member had major damage in his basement. In some areas whole houses were washed away so no matter how much you prepare it's still possible to suffer damage.
Mark All, post: 431455, member: 49382 wrote: I read that sump pumps are put into houses where the water table "is above the foundation of a home."
This is common, but many homes have sump pumps regardless of that - some are also used to carry out ( up-pump) "gray water" from washing machines and utility sinks up to the sewer or septic line.
I think most modern homes have them as a safety against all kinds of potential mishaps, but that would depend on regional codes, individual needs, etc.
Of course, if you're in a storm and the power goes out, you're out of luck - unless you'd have a secondary backup power system to power the pump.
But, as Boulder mentioned, sometimes there's just nothing you can do. Mother Nature is a lot bigger than any man or machine, and if she's pissed off, then we're all at her mercy. ;)
In the end, all you can really do is to make sure you're sufficiently insured - and you might want to talk to your agent about specifics for your studio, and what type of policy or rider you'd need to cover your gear under any circumstances of damage or loss.
Some areas are classified by flooding once every 25 years, 50 years, 100 years. The tiny little village I lived in before we bought this place 23 years ago, had 2 of those "once every 50 years" floods in the span of about 6 years. I've seen some water main breaks on the news lately too that would be just about as bad, only more localized.
For my slow-moving basement studio project (which sits right next to a spring) we used double Form-a-drain to form the footers, and put a bunch of drainage below the basement slab all running well downhill to daylight. We also opted to not put in any floor drains, figuring it was more of a risk for ingress than it would be of benefit for egress. There will be very limited plumbing (sink, shower, toilet, tankless water heater) in the building and water sensing alarms in any area water could collect. But I'm also using radiant in-floor heat throughout, so that means lots of PEX tubing, and manifolds, and a boiler, any of which could ruin your day - when (not if) something inevitably leaks.
You probably want PT footers, and vapor barriers, of lack there of, should be in the plans. When your making an airtight room, it important to control the moisture in the room. Sweat and hot gear can destroy intonation and tuning.
Something to keep in mind is this is the interior shells dimensions. ISO walls are easily a foot thick, so a 20' wide ISO room need about 21.5-22.5' feet of width to fit properly in a very general example. The acoustic treatment can range from 4" to a couple feet thick, reducing the area band members have, inside the space.
So you loose 8" of wall space for treatment, and 8-12" per wall. That's 2-3' less floor space ect. Add on a couple cabs and drumkit and a spacious 22x30 area becomes, comfrotably cozy, when fully isolated and treated.
From my expertince bigger is a better way to err provided the time and money. For example http://triadrecording.com/ you can studio the two of studios I've built/rebuilt in the last years. 'Normandy's contro, room is roughly 10x22x25 inside, with the outer shell about 1-4 feet deeper. Main room is 22x32 roughly. 'The wave cave', is 900sqf shell (30'x30'), and the contro, room is 16x22.
I normally don't post links to my work, but because your room is similar in size I thought it would be useful to see how it gets divided up, ect.
Ps. The numbers I used are just in general, for conversation purposes.