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Control room build: modes, soffits, slat walls, etc.
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johndykstra
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9th March 2010
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Control room build: modes, soffits, slat walls, etc.

Hey guys,

My band and I are tackling a new control room. We've currently been mixing in a 9' cube of a bedroom, and with the thoughts of improvements on that kind of limitation, we've decided to relocate to the "finished" attic space.

The space is much larger, and we have the ability to build up new walls in an order to try to get some good room ratios.

I'm going to be exploring the possibilites of soffit mounted mains, slanted side wall slat resonators, and a whole slew of other things.

I am aiming specifically for a RFZ design modified LEDE model.

Along with the control room, will be a half bath, and a lounge. Our tracking room is in the basement, so we are looking into the feasibility of a two way video monitoring system.

This conversation has been in the works for a week or two, and typically I'd wait until I had more information to start posting. however, with the increase of "i'm building a room" threads, that start way too quickly in the design process, I thought I would get this thing started now to demonstrate an appropriate time line. If we even buy a 2x4 before next winter I'll be shocked.

Budget: $15,000... materials only, no gear. This will include properly insulating the attic, drywall, plumbing, electrical, floor refinishing, acoustics. There will be no contractors, strictly d.i.y., and some trade skilled friends. Everything done will be considered within code limitations

This will not be an "isolation heavy thread", so if that's the info you're looking for, let me stop you now.

Here's a REALLY crude sketch up with the room dimensions.

Thanks for reading, and by all means, if you see me making an error, PLEASE call me out. I'd love for this thread to help someone out some day, but really I'm doing this for the help

-John
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johndykstra
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9th March 2010
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So, I've read chapter 15 of Master Handbook of acoustics a few times in the last day or two, and I'm sure now (in that text), that there's no way to calculate the modes of a triangle. They present a scenario, with a slanted roof line where they use the average of the two... but it seems to me, with a 1.5' of difference, that ceiling could still be considered "parallel" with the floor. And even still, there were anomolies within the actual acoustic measurements they attributed to this even slightly slanted surface.

My walls go up at a 45 degree angle, and there's no (currently) horizontal surface at all up there. From what I'm getting from this, is my front and back walls are the only two surfaces that support an axial mode. Is this correct? So if that's the case, my width and height modes must be considered tangential and or oblique?

I understand the formula for calculating modes of three parallel planes, but is there a different equation for non rectangular spaces? I can't imagine it's as simple as the average... as my width goes from 281" to 0"... that should mean that mode wise, my room resonates as 11.7'. It must be more complex than that.
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photos

here's a couple of shots of how it stands today:

This is how it looked when purchased. Remember, as far as the city is concerned, this space is already "finished".
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10th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dykstraster@gmai View Post
is there a different equation for non rectangular spaces?
I don't think there is an easy answer to that problem. If you keep the dimensions as rectangular as possible, you'll make the modal performance more predictable.
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11th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dange View Post
I don't think there is an easy answer to that problem. If you keep the dimensions as rectangular as possible, you'll make the modal performance more predictable.

this is what I'm afraid of. I know I have the cubic volume to get a good sounding room, however, I've heard that a room of good ratios is essential for implementing soffits... as the soffits will only highlight any errors.

If I'm unable to track down a method of predictable results, I may have to go to stand mount.
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Why not bring some speakers up there and measure the response?

I see that you would have to do some demo, first, but those walls don't look like they will give you much trouble.

Of course, the response will change once you build your inner leaf, or how ever you plan on building it, but it would give you a starting point to visualize.
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Well,

I was smacked in the face with some math as I was waking up this morning. While visiting this thread yesterday:

Room Modes Calculation of a triangle shape control room

Dange brought up an interesting point in regards to an equation in which instead of x(height) being a constant figure, x shifts in value as related to y(width) doing the same.

I answered back that it's an interesting concept, and shouldn't be that hard of an equation (down a foot, over a foot, plot repeat) , since my walls are a 45 degree angle, THE RATIO IS ONE TO ONE. Well actually, that would be only one side, it's actually 2 to 1. BUT, I gave myself an answer... kinda. While I can't calculate actual modal results, I think I may have accidentally figured out that the height and width modes behave, albeit in a more complex fashion, as though the room were twice as wide as it were tall.... Which it kinda is. This poor ratio'ed starting point is further reinforced, if you were to stand the room up on end, so the floor were one 45 degree angled wall... the roofline forms a 90 degree angle of the other two walls, at the exact same length.



Ok.

So now I need to figure out a way to determine at which point I need to disrupt the 1 to 1 ratio... (talking a single roof line again)... and create a vertical wall inside the eve(s). It may be as simple as realizing the relationship is already there. The floor is twice as wide as the peak is tall. I can simply erect vertical walls to make the width fall into a good ratio with the height. Maybe.

Now the tricky part. These two dimensions, while their relationship may be optimized, the actual math has been choked, and now understanding the relationship to the length is well above me.
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11th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mumblesound View Post
Why not bring some speakers up there and measure the response?

I see that you would have to do some demo, first, but those walls don't look like they will give you much trouble.

Of course, the response will change once you build your inner leaf, or how ever you plan on building it, but it would give you a starting point to visualize.
Hey friend.

I was thinking about that. And I thought the same thing, the drywall isn't on the inner leaf, and I don't have a length barrier at the back wall. Anything I read from measurements is going to change. Though it may be possible to work backwards from what the modal activity tells us, and extrapolate that to which dimensions have the ability to cause what we read... well, we... who am I kidding.
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Yeah, it'll change, but you'll know more than you do right now, anyway.

"We"... HA! What does that word even mean?

To be fair, I didn't help my partners wire the patchbay, so....
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I think you misunderstood. In joking of "we", I meant I have no ability to interpret such a thing... and I'd be relying on everyone too much.
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My bad.
I thought that the "we" was all of the help you would be getting during construction.

Anyway, I think that the room is fascinating.
You've got your longitudinal axial, and everything else is a corner.
A 45 degree corner as opposed to a 90 degree corner on the sides, but still a corner. Does that mean double the bass build up?

For the slot absorbers on the sides, you will need to decide on how big of a volume that you want to seal off. You could do the whole thing, which would be a lot of volume, or you could do less, which I believe would qualify as a boundary, which could possibly make trapping more difficult (less room).

There is lots of room for different types of trapping available to you.
You could do hangers pretty easily and cheaply, or just fill the entire space with unfaced R38.

The biggest question mark for me would be the corners that you're new room would create, half way down the roof line, where there won't be any trapping to speak of. They wouldn't be real corners, but slices of wall.

Very fascinating.
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11th March 2010
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but does varying 1" thick wood slats with air space on a 2x4 stud wall really constitute a boundary?
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The wood slats do not, but in order for it to be a slot absorber/ slat resonator, it needs to be a sealed unit.
So:
Slats-2x4 frame-sealed volume-boundary.

Otherwise, it's just wood slats on absorbent... which is fine, too.
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Quick and dirty Sketch Up to show what I understand about the slat resonator thing.

A: Whole volume sealed off.
B: Some volume sealed off and what would become your new boundary (depending on mass, of course).
C: Just slats on absorbent, no sealed volume, no resonator (Helmholtz).

EDIT:
Depending on the construction, A and C may end up being the same thing, anyway.
Meaning the volume may get sealed as a result of construction methods.
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11th March 2010
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I guess I was looking more as slats with nosealed volume. An attempt to utilize the area for broadband trapping, while implimenting slats so as to introduce some life back into the space. I'm also likely going to splay these slat walls out at a 5 degree angle... which will make for some fun compound mitres in those slats. Good times!

It occured to me, in reference to adding short actual boundry walls behind the false walls....

When one changes the width of a rectangular space, by a 1' or whatever, they are changing the plane with 100% of the volume effected. Being that the wall I would create would only amount to a foot or two of vertical difference, the % of the boundry I am affecting is quite small, and given that, I'd guess the return on such an investment of time and resources may prove not worth it. It may turn out, that unless my total length of the room is a big red flag in terms of overlap with my related height and width measurements, it may be best to just construct the inner leaf of the space; put in place roughly my bass trapping material and see what I have. At that point, I'll evaluate the possibility of constructing a front soffit wall, or going the stand route.

I've got a running control room, in which I have fully intended to practice taking room analysis measurements. Time to get on that.
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11th March 2010
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Being that my width (and height for that matter) modes are so complex, it only makes sense to keep these "eve traps" as broadband as possible. Not to mention sealing such a cavity would be problematic given that the studs for this "wall" need to be tied into the roof trusses for load considerations.
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12th March 2010
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That's a good point about keeping it as broadband (and linear) as possible.
You wouldn't have any idea what you needed.

Unless you do your build and test before any treatments go in.

It goes both ways, I guess.
Who knows, you might only need minimal trapping.

If nothing else, I would construct your inner leaf and test before you go too hog wild.
EDIT:
Measure before you build anything.
Gut out the space and measure.


Ironically, your biggest wild card could end up being your length.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dykstraster@gmai View Post
Hey friend.

I was thinking about that. And I thought the same thing, the drywall isn't on the inner leaf, and I don't have a length barrier at the back wall. Anything I read from measurements is going to change. Though it may be possible to work backwards from what the modal activity tells us, and extrapolate that to which dimensions have the ability to cause what we read... well, we... who am I kidding.
A quick and dirty household wall will give you enough of an idea of what will happen.
Take a few guys and a day to rip out everything that's there and just build the back wall where you would like it to be and start from there.

That is, unless you can actually find a way to "predict" the modal behavior of the space... which may not end up being accurate, anyway.
Remember that all of these theories assume very specific properties (like 100% reflective boundaries, if I'm not mistaken).

I know that you want your space to be all that it can be, but there is more to making music than modal spacing. There is a music theory joke in there somewhere that Wes Lachot would know, I'm sure.

I don't mean to seem flippant. There is just so much that you can do with an existing space. There is really no way that you can predict how that roof and that floor will react acoustically.

Sorry, I'm kind of rambling.
I'm not trying to take any wind from your sails.
I may be in the minority, but I say just build the inner leaf where you want it and worry about the problems after.
You'll have plenty of space to try out many different things.
As far as I'm concerned, that's the fun part.
I hate drywall.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mumblesound View Post
Take a few guys and a day to rip out everything that's there and just build the back wall where you would like it to be and start from there.
It seems to me that the main length and width modes present in the space
below wall height (whatever you choose that to be) should be somewhat close
to what they would be if you had a flat ceiling. If you have a portion of the
ceiling flat (which I would do) then the vertical mode between the flat part
and the floor should be fairly predictable. What happens between the angled
surfaces that are left may not amount to much and the funny stuff may well
end up over your head where it won't matter.

All this to say that if you go ahead and build some quick and dirty walls as
Seamus suggests, which I think is a good idea, at least put them where they
give some good ratios on paper. Then measure and see what you've got.

This is pure speculation on my part.

Paul P
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Before I spent the first ounce of energy on demolition, I'd empty the room first, put a pair of decent monitors on stands at the 38% distance from the window and get a baseline.

I would be far less concerned about the walls than I would be the floor.

The house looks to be late 40's/early 50's construction. That being the case, your floor joists are likely to be the source of some major headache due to a lack of insulation and therefor, resonant cavity issues.

You can probably just rip down the gypsum from the existing walls, stuff the space with insulation and face it with fabric and create slat resonators and be fine... once you calculate some of the problem frequencies...

But again, I would be more concerned about that floor than anything, to begin with.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xaMdaM View Post
Before I spent the first ounce of energy on demolition, I'd empty the room first, put a pair of decent monitors on stands at the 38% distance from the window and get a baseline.

I would be far less concerned about the walls than I would be the floor.

The house looks to be late 40's/early 50's construction. That being the case, your floor joists are likely to be the source of some major headache due to a lack of insulation and therefor, resonant cavity issues.

You can probably just rip down the gypsum from the existing walls, stuff the space with insulation and face it with fabric and create slat resonators and be fine... once you calculate some of the problem frequencies...

But again, I would be more concerned about that floor than anything, to begin with.
I agree that the floor may be scary.
Those walls look to be one layer of rock on 2x4's.
Behind that is the roof, the construction of which would react about as predictably as my 2 year old son.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mumblesound View Post
I agree that the floor may be scary.
Those walls look to be one layer of rock on 2x4's.
Behind that is the roof, the construction of which would react about as predictably as my 2 year old son.
Prezackly...

The room is going to be damned hard to predict, if not close to insane to attempt to do, when there are so many unknown variables.

So, that's why I suggest getting measurements first, then making the calculations to tame/minimize whatever issues show up.

The cavity directly above the flat ceiling is going to need some good sized duct to vent summer heat, and getting a 2nd feeder duct in there is gonna be fun as well. So, I wouldn't automatically just stuff the area with insulation... but you might be able to treat the area the same as the side walls; using insulation to fill the space and using slats for your hard surface.

However, IMVHO, I'd approach this with more of a "do a bit and test" approach, as opposed to a design and build, then test.

It's certainly more of a crap shoot to end up with something that's going to work out great, with "do a bit and test", but that's the only way I see that makes sense with dollars and cents.... at least with your initial steps of construction.
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12th March 2010
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Hey guys, thanks for the input.

Max,

I had never even given consideration to the floor... interesting that it'd be your first area of concern. We've been planning on stripping off all of the layers of linoleum, and simply sanding down the wide plank sub floor. Do you think that adding a hard wood layer would minimize my problem enough, or would you suggest ripping up some planks and filling with insulation? And if I do rip up planks and replace them, stuff with insulation, is a simple rough subfloor a viable option?

Regarding roof vents, that's something we are looking into. The roof line is framed 2' OC, and the dimensional lumber is about 5.5" deep. We're talking with a contractor friend as to the most effective, yet least invasive course of action.

At the roof peak, it's a 90 degree angle. I had been hoping to run a super chunk along the ridge, with the exception of three horizontal electrical soffits, from which to hang a trio of ceiling fans. It may turn out, because of venting space, I may need to re-think all of that.

All of the inner leaf you see currently in the space including walls and ceiling, isn't drywall at all. It's about 1/8" thick somewhere between cardboard and fibreboard. In the second picture, that is where the back wall would be were it to be 25' 3" long dimension. I would simply need to cover it with an actual layer, and frame out the elcove on the left.

I certainly plan on taking readings before I do anything. At the very least, I'm hoping it will make me feel better about all the work we are about to do.

Paul,

I don't doubt at all that axial modes based on total width and height will be present, I just don't think they'll have the energy they would, were there to be a horizontal plane to bounce from. Then again, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to have a grasp on the behavior of air pressure when presented with the dimensions of a funnel. I fully expect there to be a lot of bizarre things going on in here, thus the 250 cubic feet of eve traps, the 25' linear of super chunk on the ceiling, a rear wall trap as deep as 2-3' if necessary, and a front wall panel trap tuned to the one axial mode I'm confident in predicting... (after measuring of course).

I'm planning as a whole, but re-evaluating with progress. The ceiling/walls will be sealed with rock, past the false side walls all the way to the eve's tips. (unless someone can convince me that a truncation of a foot or two will disrupt the 2:1 ratio I have for width:height). I also plan to extend the rock up as high as possible before yet to be decided venting hardware interferes. This horizontal "vent soffit" may be enough to disrupt that ratio as well.

Given the isolation level needed, which is very little mind you, I think I'm comfortable constructing the back wall of the room after the entire ceiling has been rocked. Before I rock the ceiling, I'll put stringers between the roof rafters spanning a good 4-6', so as to have ample adjustment area to erect my wall. The flanking paths in and out of the room are not a problem... I think.

I think I hit on everything, but I may edit this if I find something I missed.

Thanks again,

John

[EDIT] I'm thinking, that if I gut the room, and do a measurement, then rock the ceiling and do a measurement, the differences I see should be the roof line, and these new measurements could be viewed as the height and width modes. At this point, I can then calculate my back wall distance? Particularly if I find a mic placement in which the current length mode is nulled, perhaps with some help from a sine wave generator.
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12th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dykstraster@gmai View Post
I had never even given consideration to the floor... interesting that it'd be your first area of concern. We've been planning on stripping off all of the layers of linoleum, and simply sanding down the wide plank sub floor. Do you think that adding a hard wood layer would minimize my problem enough, or would you suggest ripping up some planks and filling with insulation? And if I do rip up planks and replace them, stuff with insulation, is a simple rough subfloor a viable option?
Everything begins with the foundation... without a solid foundation, you're essentially spittin' into a strong headwind and trying to duck real quick. You should always start with the floor. Then move your way up.

If they filled the joist cavities with insulation, (highly doubtful), you will be in a lot better shape as far as resonance issues from the floor. I can see where you're going to get a double resonance from where the side walls create nodes where they rest on the floor... like a finger on a guitar string. If you're lucky, they'll be symmetrical... if not... ooof... and the walls underneath the floor are also going to come into play as well.

You really need to make sure that your joists are going to be strong enough for your load and that the cavities are indeed filled. Whether you add additional mass to your floor or not, should be related to what your initial testing shows. Then you can start working your way up from there.
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12th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xaMdaM View Post
I can see where you're going to get a double resonance from where the side walls create nodes where they rest on the floor... like a finger on a guitar string. If you're lucky, they'll be symmetrical... if not... ooof...
can you extrapolate? not sure I follow.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dykstraster@gmai View Post
can you extrapolate? not sure I follow.
I think what xaMdaM is talking about is structural resonances, i.e. the walls and floors vibrating.

EDIT: Also just realised this post got a whole lot longer only read the last post.....

Won't your eve traps will only stop modes width ways? I.e. you'll still want something on the back wall? How about set your length of the room as your ideal size (space wise to get all your gear in) + the size of the rear wall bass trap?

EDIT 2: more thinking.... make the length of the room be long enough space wise + enough space to put in a bass trap (i.e. worst case scenario massive bass trap). Then you work out using a room calculator, and/or measure what the axial mode is length ways and build the bass trap big enough to deal with that frequency of mode. Then if the bass trap takes up less than you've left you gain a bit more room, but then hopefully you've left enough that the trap needed doesn't eat into your space....
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12th March 2010
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here's a floor plan of the existing crap walls, and the dimensions they create.
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12th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dange View Post
Won't your eve traps will only stop modes width ways? I.e. you'll still want something on the back wall? How about set your length of the room as your ideal size (space wise to get all your gear in) + the size of the rear wall bass trap?
well, and height... to some extent. I had highlighted rough and tumble plans for ceiling, front, and back walls a few posts back.
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Originally Posted by Dange View Post
I think what xaMdaM is talking about is structural resonances, i.e. the walls and floors vibrating.
right.

it's the symmetrical portion that I'm not clear on. My side "walls" come in from the eves the same distance on both sides. I guess I don't see how they wouldn't be symmetrical. As I type it, I realize that the walls from the space below may be what he is talking about?
johndykstra
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#30
12th March 2010
Old 12th March 2010
  #30
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Midwest
Posts: 4,767

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johndykstra is offline
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Originally Posted by Dange View Post
EDIT 2: more thinking.... make the length of the room be long enough space wise + enough space to put in a bass trap (i.e. worst case scenario massive bass trap). Then you work out using a room calculator, and/or measure what the axial mode is length ways and build the bass trap big enough to deal with that frequency of mode. Then if the bass trap takes up less than you've left you gain a bit more room, but then hopefully you've left enough that the trap needed doesn't eat into your space....
Ok, but isn't it best to figure out the height and width modes created by my triangle, and work out a length that doesn't step on those toes?

"I'm thinking, that if I gut the room, and do a measurement, then rock the ceiling and do a measurement, the differences I see should be the roof line, and these new measurements could be viewed as the height and width modes. At this point, I can then calculate my back wall distance? Particularly if I find a mic placement in which the current length mode is nulled, perhaps with some help from a sine wave generator."

With roughly 25' of depth, gear will not be an issue. Outside of the Ghost desk and tape machine, nearly everything is ITB. AS long as I can get a couch back there, I'm really not concerned.
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