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Tips on finding a contractor & designer for home studio build

Discussion in 'Acoustics (Live Room, ISO Booths)' started by DAP, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. DAP

    DAP Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Hi,

    I'm planning to convert a two car detached garage into a practice/live room, control room and iso booth. I've found a lot of good information here, and thanks to this site I found Rod's book and have been reading that for the last week. One thing that I realized quickly is that I will need specialized help to pull this off, but I'm not even sure how to find a contractor/builder that is familiar with the unique requirements of a home studio.

    I live in central/west New Jersey in the US. I've found some sites for companies that build studios (Criterion Accoustics, Francis Manzella), but they seem appropriate for million dollar studios and probably not the 30-35k initial investment that I'm willing to make. Does it make sense to use a remote design company with a local quality builder who might not have experience building studios? I'd appreciate any advice on finding someone to work with. Thanks!
     

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  2. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    Location:
    Exit 4
    Many think acoustics is a stand alone aspect of music when in fact it is a part of almost every aspect of our environment no matter where you live geographically. The physics involved are used in your vehicles and your dwellings, planes trains and skyscrapers and industrial structures.

    Based on your budget you are willing to spend a great deal on your goal but you may be hard pressed to locate a local contractor that can pull the project together without blowing the budget. There are several places in an acoustical build that will eat your lunch...HVAC (air and heat) and electrical. One of the main reasons is "decoupling". It takes a bit of work to get from the exterior side of a wall with either an electrical cable or HVAC duct to the interior wall and not have a path that vibration can move on... flanking.

    The build alone is going to challenge a typical builder although there are developments in Northern areas that are using a modified mass/air/mass type structure but it is for the thermal benefit and is often short circuited at the floor and ceiling areas, just to name a few.

    Isolation is your first concern. How loud will you and the music be and how loud is the exterior or ambient noise levels you will deal with.

    Still, unless you hire it out, a lock and key if you will, you should be prepared to know what it is you are looking at if this project gets wings.

    So you either hire and trust...and/or you spend time generating a proper design that attacks all the known weak spots.

    I prefer to look at a structure from the outside in rather than from the inside out and the reasons I posted above are exactly why. People get tunnel vision from the view from inside a room and problems arise from this near sighted approach.

    I know this is a lot, and may not meet your needs, but it is advice...
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    I like this. And Brien is right ... I've been guilty of it myself. Many times.
    "Wow this space is beautiful!"
    Failing to take into account that it's also 25 yards away from a trucking depot and the main freight spur of the Ohio Railroad... lol
    (True story). ;)
     
  4. DAP

    DAP Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Thanks Brien,

    That's a useful shift in perspective. I do expect the HVAC to take a good bite of that budget. In my old home I did some recording in the basement where the furnace was and the noise from it made the space very difficult to use, so definitley want to get the HVAC right here. This space, being completely decoupled from the house, I'll have much more control over, so hopefully that will help.

    This space also has a lot of electrical already there - it was used to work on cars and even had a lift at one point. So that will likely need some reconfiguring but perhaps nothing too extensive.

    One question I had from what I read in Rod's book: If we assume that a building is in a space that is dead quiet 95+ percent of the time, and if we don't care about sound from inside disturbing the neighbors or anyone outside the building, how important is the isolation aspect of the building? In a case like this, is minimal isolation (say just concentrate on the HVAC aspects) good enough to have a place that will still sound good and work for recording? Or is the isolation still really important to achieve a good sound inside the room? If the former I'd be tempted to cut corners on some isolation aspects as I know my budget will be going pretty fast. And as soon as I do that I'm sure the Penn East pipeline project will probably start up outside my space...
     
  5. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    Location:
    Exit 4
    High Isolation is only as important as the recordings are.

    At the very least you have to combat the ambient noise...the neighbors cats or lawnmowers...the constant buzz of the earth.

    So a typical STC of 50 or so may be all you require....you may not even require a 2 frame assembly for isolation if your isolation requirements are low enough.
     
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