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Building a Shed Studio 16'x16'

Hello Everyone,

My name is Pedro, and I've been doing home recordings of my music since I was 14 years old. I recently became a home owner, and ever since then I've been dying to set up my gear and get back to recording. I haven't done any recording since 2013 due to family issues, and since then space has been a serious consideration. But now that I own my own home, I'm finding myself thinking more and more about having my own recording/practice space again. My home is only a modest 1000 sq ft and as such there isn't really room for me to fit my equipment in my home. Not to mention I have a 100 year old Upright Grand Piano that whenever I play causes the whole house to have to listen much to the annoyance of my girlfriend. Knowing that every time I play it annoys everyone in my house has taken a toll on my ability to function creatively and as such I've been thinking more and more about building a shed in my back yard where I can play to my hearts content, and not have to worry about having cables, and gear spread out and occupying space.

Now I live in Michigan so temperature and humidity control, as well as sound proofing are top priorities. Unfortunately I'm not much of a professional when it comes to recording, and really only have an elementary understanding of professional recording. I've mostly just recorded and mixed to my own ear in whatever environment was available to me before. But seeing as building a shed and outfitting it is going to have a serious cost with it, I feel as though it's important that I make as many considerations to get the bang for my buck in terms of creating a good environment for my creative outputs and that will allow me to really step up my knowledge and practice of recording music. I've been trying to figure this out on my own up until now, but the truth is I'm well outside my knowledge level, and so when I found this forum I hoped I was excited at the idea of being able to get input from people who are experienced and knowledgable and could help point me in the right direction.

I know this project is likely to be expensive, I am working on a somewhat limited budget, but I do have wiggle room, and the way I see it, I'd rather spend a bit more to get something that will stand the test of time, in the sense that I won't feel like I cut myself short and have no way of growing. I'm sorry if I'm rambling, but this is something that I've been thinking of for months now, and I've had no one to really speak with about it, and it's all just pouring out of me all at once.

Onto the shed itself:

I've included a basic floor plan design that I think would be best, but I'd really love to hear peoples input. The basic shed would be 16'x16' with 12' ceiling (ideally). The foundation would be concrete slab (code requirement for a structure this large) and based off my readings I'm not too concerned with adding a wood floor on top. I want to use glass block windows to let in light but still maintain privacy as well as heat and sound insulation. I honestly have no idea how to set up a proper sound treated ventilation system, or how much I should expect one to cost. I was originally thinking about having a wall mounted AC/Heater combo above the entry door on the left side of the diagram, but I really don't know what would be the best and most affordable way to keep the room temperature and humidity controlled year round (cold dry winters, hot humid summers). The little closet space at the bottom would be a vocal Booth/storage room for when it's not in use. Somewhere I could keep all my instrument cases and things of that sort. I was thinking a patio sliding door could be a cool way to connect the control room and the rehearsal space. I know I'm going to have to take some liberties with some of the construction aspects in order to fit my budget, so I was hoping a regular patio sliding door wouldn't cause too much of a problem acoustics wise for the room.

The ceilings are something I've thought a lot about, but honestly don't know enough about recording and acoustics to know what would be better for this structure. I think ideally I'd like a more modern looking shed with a single slanted roof like this (http://www.modern-shed.com/Content/Images/large.jpg), but if it would be better acoustically to have a different style roof I'd definitely appreciate any insight into this matter you might be able to share.

Anyways I think I've rambled on long enough, if you have any insight you could give, or any other questions I'd really love to get as much insight as possible before I get started building.

Thanks,
~Pedro

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Profile picture for user pcrecord
Member for
8 years 4 months

pcrecord Mon, 05/22/2017 - 13:49

Having it square is the worst design possible, so I read...
I'm not very good with constructions and room calculations. I'll let my friends member have a shot at it and say why ;)

By then here is a nice link to have : amroc.andymel.eu/

Profile picture for user Kurt Foster
Member for
18 years 11 months

Kurt Foster Mon, 05/22/2017 - 14:29

square is bad mmm kay? (modes are trebled) ...... but with a 12 foot ceiling it's not square.

still the 16 X 16 thing would be a problem (modes are doubled) but you are breaking that up so it's not.

splaying the wall would be a good thing but probably not necessary. awfully small room though ............ :rolleyes:

Profile picture for user Pedro Meadows
Member for
4 years 1 month

Pedro Meadows Mon, 05/22/2017 - 14:39

Thanks for the input Kurt. Yeah unfortunately space means more money, and I'm worried about costs with the 16'x16' as is. but let me ask you, if I upped it to 20'x20' would that make a substantial difference?

Profile picture for user pcrecord
Member for
8 years 4 months

pcrecord Mon, 05/22/2017 - 16:09

Sorry I didn't see the plan the first time.. The angle you propose will do a difference but not much.
In your first plan, it gives you a room of 16 x 10 which is very small and I'm not talking about the 2 other rooms...
Anyone can record in any space but if you are gonna build from scratch, I'd rather think it over a bit..
Why not doing a big room 16 x 20 or something like that ? It will be easier to treat then 3 minuscule rooms. (easier to mix in a bigger room too...)

Profile picture for user Pedro Meadows
Member for
4 years 1 month

Pedro Meadows Mon, 05/22/2017 - 16:23

pcrecord, post: 450458, member: 46460 wrote: Sorry I didn't see the plan the first time.. The angle you propose will do a difference but not much.
In your first plan, it gives you a room of 16 x 10 which is very small and I'm not talking about the 2 other rooms...
Anyone can record in any space but if you are gonna build from scratch, I'd rather think it over a bit..
Why not doing a big room 16 x 20 or something like that ? It will be easier to treat then 3 minuscule rooms. (easier to mix in a bigger room too...)

So at first I was thinking of just doing a single big room, but after reading around I saw people saying it's better to have your playing room more removed. So I figured I could make a control room/entry way that would help isolate the music space better and help keep the listening and playback area a little less chaotic. I read about vocal booths and the thought really intrigues me. Plus I really want somewhere out of sight where I can keep all my instrument cases. The vocal booth would solve both of those. He thing is I'm not sure how big I need the booth to be for it to even be effective. I could just sing in the main room but if I can get some better properties from recording on a booth I'd definitely like to pursue it.

16'x10' is a bit small. But I can according to code only make my shed so big. I think 20'x20' is the biggest I can go realistically. So then the question is would that extra space be worth the added cost and if so should I continue to pursue the separate rooms or do the one large room.

I'm going to need some sort of ac/heater for the space since it's a separate structure and I thought having multiple rooms might help isolate the sound from that better. I honestly don't have he first clue how I'm going to ventilate this. So here are a lot of moving parts that I'm trying to take into consideration and the truth is I'm out of my depth. So I really appreciate your feedback because it helps give me better perspective.

Profile picture for user Kurt Foster
Member for
18 years 11 months

Kurt Foster Mon, 05/22/2017 - 17:16

Pedro Meadows, post: 450452, member: 50590 wrote: Thanks for the input Kurt. Yeah unfortunately space means more money, and I'm worried about costs with the 16'x16' as is. but let me ask you, if I upped it to 20'x20' would that make a substantial difference?

how long are your arms?

Profile picture for user Kurt Foster
Member for
18 years 11 months

Kurt Foster Mon, 05/22/2017 - 18:56

lol. well i'm with pc on this one. i'd do a one room set up and try to shorten up one side of the room a bit so it isn't square. a couple feet of bass traps on the front wall should do.

Profile picture for user DonnyThompson
Member for
8 years 6 months

DonnyThompson Thu, 05/25/2017 - 04:03

Pedro Meadows, post: 450459, member: 50590 wrote: could just sing in the main room but if I can get some better properties from recording on a booth I'd definitely like to pursue it.

Isolation aside for just a moment - and I'll let the other RO members who are more knowledgeable about those properties field those questions - don't underestimate the importance of your control room/mixing space.
Don't look at this area as if it's an afterthought.
It's probably the most important space in a studio, because you're going to be doing a whole lot of work there.
You need this area to be acoustically balanced - not only so that your mixes will translate well to outside playback systems - but also because it's very likely that you're going to end up recording in this space as well...
If you're by yourself, working on vocal tracks, or guitar solos, or acoustic guitar, etc., it's going to be much easier for you - logistically - to do those things in close proximity to your gear and your DAW. Things like adjusting Gain on pres, checking input levels into your DAW, and even doing punch-ins, are going to be a lot easier if your controls are within your reach, as opposed to "guessing" on your levels, putting your DAW into record, running out to the live performance area, getting situated correctly on the mic(s), putting your headphones on, and then playing or singing the track.
You'll need to build and treat the control space accordingly anyway, for honest mix reference, and in treating that space well for mixing, you're also making it a pretty decent space to record tracks in.
I'm not inferring that you shouldn't look into a vocal ISO booth too, but if you are recording by yourself, you'll find it much less of a hassle to make your control room recording-friendly as well.
(And I still strongly urge you to pick up Rod's book).

FWIW

Profile picture for user pcrecord
Member for
8 years 4 months

pcrecord Thu, 05/25/2017 - 05:14

Pedro Meadows, post: 450459, member: 50590 wrote: I could just sing in the main room but if I can get some better properties from recording on a booth I'd definitely like to pursue it.

That's the thing, most artists will more confortable in a large room compared to a small booth. Second, it's very hard to make a small booth sound accurate so most people make them dead with a lot of absorbsion. Thing is, even so, those small dead room will have a frequency response curve which will affect your recordings.

What I'm trying to say is that a big room with a couple of gobos (self-made or not) can go a long way...

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