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Ideas for new basement studio construction

I have just moved into a house and have a fairly large unfinished basement from which to build a project studio. There is no insulation to speak of and everything is just basically framed with no drywall. There is power but I do have an electrician who is able to run power to virtually any location in th basement should the need come up. There are two 5'6'' x 5' 3'' windows and a sliding glass door (5'10'' x 7'8''). The ceiling is unfinished and the space runs beneath the kitchen and the living room. Until the construction begins I have been producing drum and bass and hip hop in the basement and have not really heard much off a report from my family upstairs so the construction is sound I imagine but I know it will need work. The ceilings are 8' high. I read that ideal is 14'; unfortunately I can't increase the ceiling heights.

There is a loud heat pump in the basement as well. It will have to be walled off but what I'm here for is to ask how I should divide up this space or if I should at all. I have the golden book ('build it like the pros') which led me to this forum and have read through it more than once. I have been trolling the forum as well. I don't mind having a control room/ live room setup and likewise I wouldn't mind having a separate control room but either way is fine. I really just want to record artists. I would like to record rappers, vocalists, and bands (not full). I will be asking more questions once I get through this phase. Thank you so much for reading.

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ernesto Sun, 07/13/2014 - 07:40


Well, I would like to know if there is a 'best' way to divide up the space or should I go with the one room studio. Also, the height of the space, is 8 feet a death sentence (lol)? I'm thinking that if I do a one room studio that when it's resale time for the home that we can just change the room to a theatre. The multi-room thing can be changed into bedrooms of the dimensions are right. Both of these can bring extra value. So basically, looking at the amount of space that I have what does the forum suggest?

anonymous Sun, 07/13/2014 - 08:07

well, I think that anytime you divide up a big space, you now have to deal with the acoustics of each of those spaces, as opposed to just treating one space.
Also, dividing up the space means that you'll be working with smaller areas, and the smaller the room is, generally, the more issues you will likely have.

I don't believe that 8 ft ceilings are necessarily a "death sentence"... yeah, so it's not the preferred height, but it can be done to the point where you can get good sounding home recordings... and I think that this is the key...

Don't even expect - or try to make your space sound like - a professionally designed and constructed studio. It ain't gonna happen.
What you need to focus on is making your own space as optimum as it can be ... for what it is.

These days, so many home recordists are after things that they're just not gonna get. So many of them believe that they can build a control room, or a live performance area in a basement or bedroom that can match those truly professional rooms - where in some cases, millions of dollars have been spent on the design and construction.

Don't try to compare your room with The Record Plant. There's no comparison, and there never will be.
Your goal should be to make your space sound as good as it can possibly sound with what you have to work with.

Yes, you can certainly do things to improve it, and Rod's book should be your basis for doing that. But it will always be what it is...a basement.

The other thing you should keep in mind, especially since you are working with a small area (small in comparison to a professional studio) is to implement digital room simulation, as opposed to trying for natural, favorable built-in reflection. In fact, your room will never naturally get the acoustics of a large room with high ceillings - it's just not possible - so your best bet is to approach reflection and "liveness" using artificial methods to simulate different spaces.

There are some great reverbs out there - Bricasti, TC Electronics, as well as some pretty nice convolution reverbs, which use impulse responses that are measured from many different rooms, halls, plates, cathedrals, etc.
And you can really make your mix come alive with depth and space by using these various digital methods.

Lastly, when in doubt, ask an expert - and that's not me. ;) LOL.

Shoot Rod a PM or an email and ask him what he thinks. You'll get far more accurate advice from him than you will from me. :)


ernesto Sun, 07/13/2014 - 15:30

DonnyThompson, thank you very much for the wisdom; it will be applied. I understand what you are saying. Space, it is a good read. I have been through it several times. I tried to go through it and not ask a question that it answers. After DonnyThompson's insights I will adjust my expectations accordingly and take the best effort approach. I am no stranger to digital or in the box methods so I am familiar with what you mean about the digital room sims. Awesome idea!!!!! I appreciate your answers and the wisdom passed on is awesome indeed. I'm not going to break the room up. Thanks guys. So far I'm thinking I understand the construction methods covered in Rod's book. I will ask if I am unclear before I have my contractor go to town. If you have anything that you think a guy in my situation should know please tell me. I don't have soft skin. I have been a performing artist in DC for over 20 years.

anonymous Mon, 07/14/2014 - 04:06

whoa, there Ernesto...hold on a sec...

I didn't tell you to not break the room up. I told you what I thought could be a possible problem by doing so, and I was also very clear in stating that I'm not an expert in acoustics.

Always default to Rod's book, and always follow Space's direction here. There's a lot of data missing from your original post that needs to be clarified.

Space is a moderator of this forum, and there's a reason for the "read this first" section.

If you want help from real experts (of which I'm not), follow these directions.



RemyRAD Mon, 07/14/2014 - 17:06

But wait... I like being inaccurate. I know I can make recordings anywhere and in any place, in any space. Y? Because I have to.

As you indicated, you only have 8 foot ceilings. In that way you should take your cue. You've already said it. It's the kiss of death. Knowing that. There is no real reason to change much of anything. All that really needs to be done is to set up your equipment and your monitors, where you feel you think you know what you're hearing? It won't necessarily be any place in the room where you think you should be. You might in fact be smack dab in the middle-of-the- room? Or maybe all the way back against the wall at one end? Leaving the whole space open for low frequencies to propagate in the tiny space in which you are trying to utilize. So if you can't get it in height? Get it in length, width. Get it as big as you can get it. You're not a commercial facility licensed and zoned for commercial use. So forget about the separate control room with the separate studio. You're probably going to want to record some of your own stuff by yourself? So your control room will be your studio a goodly part of the time. Open the room up. Let the sound fly like it should.

If and when you can get yourself into a commercially zoned structure that have ceiling heights from 10 feet to 23 feet? In an enclosure of 40' x 50' or so? Then you really need Rod's book. And maybe even some help from Ethan Winer? Who sells a nice line of acoustic treatment stuff. Because unless you are recording something such as strings and woodwinds and brass sections with choirs? Then it's only rock 'n roll. And rock 'n roll can be done in small rooms perfectly adequately without doing a thing to them. That's why we also have compressors and limiters, equalizers and noise gates, reverbs and other digital effects. And we create the environment within no real environment at all. That's what audio engineering is all about. It's not about having perfect acoustics. It's about having perfect technique and knowledge to make a professional recording, anywhere, in any acoustic environment.

Of course I too am not an acoustic engineer. That hasn't stopped me from designing and building a number of larger scale actual commercial recording studio facilities. Especially when I've been through numerous, hit NYC recording studios. Some are small boxes with no acoustic anything on any visible wall, anywhere. Others are former churches, in the main cathedral. That really had nothing more than some extra windowpanes. And no other significant changes. Some airlock door ways, added. One of the studios that Robert Palmer cut a lot of hits at was 20' x 20' x 10' and nothing on the walls or ceiling. Carpeting on the floor at Regent Sound Studios. And it sounded awesome through an old 16 track Studer console to the Ampex MM-1000-16. And no other BS. And the studio was literally crap. I could hardly believe he was even recording in there?

That's point and counterpoint
Mx. Remy Ann David

ernesto Tue, 07/15/2014 - 13:45


Awesome!! Very nice bits of information in that post. And you're local :) But anyways, yes thank you so much for dropping some science. The part about going length instead of height got the wheels turning-- good stuff. I am brainstorming busily over here. I think I have the general idea for what I'm going to do. I will go over it with the contractor and update this thread. Again, thank you so much. I figured I'd get some good advice before the first nail got hammered and it was a good move.

ernesto Wed, 03/18/2015 - 10:45


Well, I went and had the room built; it is a live room/studio. It does have 8 foot ceilings, double walls, double insulation, green glue, and double ceilings. There is a window as well. I set up my monitors and started taking into account all the hot and warm spots in the room with regard to bass, mid, and high. I put up straddle acoustic panels in the corners and panels along the reflection points on each wall. While monitoring recordings w/o the sonic treatment I thought the room sounded 'okay' but the bass... too boomy but that was to be expected. After I put up the acoustic panels I set up a studio rough for a quick listen. I just sat there and smiled until the last track ran out of audio! Wow, I could hear so many new things in the music! It was tighter than my headphones (which I was using like a microscope until I got the treatment up). It really did. I was so happy that I began to skip around the studio.

The advice that Rod gave about the walls was spot on. The sound outside of the house is muffled quite well. I do have a subwoofer because I make hip hop and drum & bass so when that is on and turned up I do hear/feel it but again it is very absorbed and does not travel to the neighbor's place. Just as it has been stated before, once all the treatment went up everything making noise in the room became magnified. I instantly understood sound engineering at a higher level. The realizations hit me like a drug. I lured my beautiful wife into the studio and she said her ears felt funny and her balance got all weird. That made me so freaking happy. She was right too; when I first walked into the space it felt like there was more room than what my eyes could see. I did feel a brief vertigo but that feelings has since past. It was like when I first got into tuning my 2006 Mitsubishi Evo. The first time I launched and rocketed that car I understood speed and why people pursue it. The same happened with sound but instead of speed I want pristine audio :). Again, just like the car reference, know-how will save you money-- all these big name stores are just like mechanics and all these big name manufactures are just like car salesman.

I have a country/ pop artist who records here and her vocals are very nice with the new panels up. Rod, you are a gentleman and a scholar and thank you so much for your book! Life changing bruh :) Party On!

audiokid Wed, 03/18/2015 - 14:31

ernesto, post: 426486, member: 48213 wrote: She was right too; when I first walked into the space it felt like there was more room than what my eyes could see. I did feel a brief vertigo but that feelings has since past.

Thats what people say when they walk into my control room too.

Good for you, its good to hear people return with positive comments like that!


Love to hear some of your tracks posted here. It would be interesting to hear how your mixes sound in your new studio now.



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