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Having a 'studio' space in a one bedroom apartment (floor plan inside)- any tips?
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Xonetacular
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28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
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Having a 'studio' space in a one bedroom apartment (floor plan inside)- any tips?

So I live in a nice one bedroom apartment that I'm extremely happy with except that I can't dedicate a room for a small studio.

It's about a 900 square foot apartment and I have a bedroom then the rest of the apartment is an open floor plan where I have a kitchen, dining room area, and living room that are all open and connected in a big L shape.

Right now my tiny studio area is pretty much in the dining area and where it says computer area and it is slowly growing:



Now this has it's challenges acoustically since it's open and pretty much connected with everything else in an odd shape. I'm starting to produce dance/electronic music and while I don't have fancy monitors yet (KRK RP8s and 10s sub) using Room EQ wizard and running some test to set my sub level right the graphs seemed all over the place and the room resonates a lot. Not to mention the ceiling height changes and goes up a foot in the living room so there are more corners.

I'm aware that it's never going to be a great listening environment for mastering but I'm getting concerned that even if I were to spend $1000 or more on some decent monitors it wouldn't make much of a difference if the room is so strange and untreatable for mixing.

I don't really feel like having my studio space in my bedroom or having it take over in there- I even had the crazy thought of moving my bed out into my living room or dining area and having it like a studio apartment with a studio room in the bedroom then I realized how absurd that idea is.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to ever have a studio set up in an apartment or space like this so any pointers? I really don't like mixing in headphones.
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28th February 2012
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You can definitely make it work. With a large, open space like that bass trapping will be less important than in a small room. You can use several panels on stands, arranged around your mix station while you are working.

Of course you can always treat the room properly but that's not always practical given that it's a living space.
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28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
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Originally Posted by jwl View Post
You can definitely make it work. With a large, open space like that bass trapping will be less important than in a small room. You can use several panels on stands, arranged around your mix station while you are working.

Of course you can always treat the room properly but that's not always practical given that it's a living space.
Yeah, what about the geometry of the space, won't that cause issues and strange reflections?

Since it's not rectangular I can't exactly position my desk and monitors in the center of the space, and as far as sound treatment goes I can't really treat my kitchen.

I have my desk shoved in the corner right now where the plan says computer area but am thinking of getting a bigger studio desk and putting it against the wall directly across from the bar/kitchen 5 feet away. Not really sure how I would begin to treat.
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28th February 2012
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The main problem here is that since you live in an apartment, you won't be able to monitor at decent volumes without driving your neighbors nuts -- assuming your appartment shares a wall with someone else. Apartment buildings are notorious for having paper-thin walls, and even at low volumes, bass frequencies will seep through.

Something to consider before spending tons of money only to result in numerous knocks on your front door, or nasty notes in your mailbox.
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28th February 2012
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Originally Posted by jmvideo View Post
The main problem here is that since you live in an apartment, you won't be able to monitor at decent volumes without driving your neighbors nuts -- assuming your appartment shares a wall with someone else. Apartment buildings are notorious for having paper-thin walls, and even at low volumes, bass frequencies will seep through.

Something to consider before spending tons of money only to result in numerous knocks on your front door, or nasty notes in your mailbox.
That's the one thing I think I'm set with. I made sure to move into a newer building and there are solid concrete walls between apartments. I've been DJing in my living room quite a bit on similar speakers and a sub turned up way higher than the sub I have on my production setup and haven't had any complaints since I've been here for like 7 months. You can hear stuff outside of people's doors but that's it and between apartments the sound isolation is excellent- at least it seems so for me so far but I'm not sure just how loud you guys typically monitor at.
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28th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
That's the one thing I think I'm set with. I made sure to move into a newer building and there are solid concrete walls between apartments. I've been DJing in my living room quite a bit on similar speakers and a sub turned up way higher than the sub I have on my production setup and haven't had any complaints since I've been here for like 7 months. You can hear stuff outside of people's doors but that's it and between apartments the sound isolation is excellent- at least it seems so for me so far but I'm not sure just how loud you guys typically monitor at.
Just to throw it out there, there is still a major difference between listening to songs coming from your neighbors, and listening to your neighbor tweak a compressor & EQ on a kick drum to get the perfect thump for 10 minutes straight.
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29th February 2012
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apartments

This reminds me of my place only I don't have a patio/balcony door section. I would set up in the living room since it is a bigger open space. Try to shoot the speakers the long way. I do the same here. My apartment shares only one wall and my building is old. I have been here since August and have had no complaints cranking small wattage amps and mixing late (I am mixing now and it is 1 a.m. I am monitoring at around 80db). With that said, I have a friend that does the opposite and mixes in the bedroom and sleeps in the living room which I think is awkward.
you should post the dimensions of your dining/living room so we can all get a better idea of where you will have problems in frequency response. but good rules to follow are to treat as much corners as you can afford. maybe build some panels on stands with casters so you can move them around the room and experiment. the thicker panels are better. throw a rug on the floor if you have hardwood or tile floors, etc.
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29th February 2012
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Originally Posted by HermanV View Post
This reminds me of my place only I don't have a patio/balcony door section. I would set up in the living room since it is a bigger open space. Try to shoot the speakers the long way. I do the same here. My apartment shares only one wall and my building is old. I have been here since August and have had no complaints cranking small wattage amps and mixing late (I am mixing now and it is 1 a.m. I am monitoring at around 80db). With that said, I have a friend that does the opposite and mixes in the bedroom and sleeps in the living room which I think is awkward.
you should post the dimensions of your dining/living room so we can all get a better idea of where you will have problems in frequency response. but good rules to follow are to treat as much corners as you can afford. maybe build some panels on stands with casters so you can move them around the room and experiment. the thicker panels are better. throw a rug on the floor if you have hardwood or tile floors, etc.
Hah that's funny I considered this but you're right very awkward.

Anyway the reason I'm not set up in the living room is there is a big sliding glass door and I have a nice DJ booth/setup in that corner that's facing out into the living room and it's a nice setup when I have friends over and we DJ together. I guess I could move it but my living room is pretty set up right now. I've got no kitchen table or anything now so that wall/space in the dining area is completely open- I'll take some pics later.

This is my current setup shoved in that computer desk area (awful monitor placement, I know)



My appt is a mirror of the floor plan I posted in the first post, this is accurate



I would like to have more space and get the monitors out of the corners where they are now and I'm getting some synths and am out of desk space and need a better one.

So that wall on the left you can't see past the left of the door is where I would have my desk, I'll measure the room and take some more pics, although maybe it would be worth it to rearrange my living room since that space is kind of weird there and the long ways in the living room could be treated better.

I also wonder, would it be better to mix with the doors to the bedroom and bathroom open or closed?
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29th February 2012
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Quote:
uld like to have more space and get the monitors out of the corners where they are now and I'm getting some synths and am out of desk space and need a better one.
Yes having those in corners like that is not helping at all. It will excite the low end pretty bad.
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29th February 2012
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Yes having those in corners like that is not helping at all. It will excite the low end pretty bad.
Yeah it was just a temporary solution to get some desk space, I'm planning on getting a better studio desk that I can put in a better location and get better monitors while I'm at it eventually.
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29th February 2012
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How much are you willing to sacrifice your living room space for the benefit of your recording setup?

Keeping in mind that left-right symmetry is critical, it seems to me that having your desk facing the patio doors is probably your best location in that room. Depending on the size of the desk, you may still have room to open the bedroom door. You may also find that your best position in the room is away from the patio doors far enough that you can walk around the desk to access the patio.

Once your position is established, then you can tackle acoustic treatment locations (first reflections points and LOTS of corner traps as a starting point). Having some movable (stand-mounted) panels, and your desk on wheels, might be a good option that will allow you to set up the space for recording/mixing, and then move it out of the way for living.
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29th February 2012
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How much are you willing to sacrifice your living room space for the benefit of your recording setup?

Keeping in mind that left-right symmetry is critical, it seems to me that having your desk facing the patio doors is probably your best location in that room. Depending on the size of the desk, you may still have room to open the bedroom door. You may also find that your best position in the room is away from the patio doors far enough that you can walk around the desk to access the patio.

Once your position is established, then you can tackle acoustic treatment locations (first reflections points and LOTS of corner traps as a starting point). Having some movable (stand-mounted) panels, and your desk on wheels, might be a good option that will allow you to set up the space for recording/mixing, and then move it out of the way for living.
This is true, I guess that's the only location where I can get L/R symmetry.

I'm not going to be getting a massive desk/console just something bigger than what I have now maybe with a little rack space so it won't stretch that whole wall.

I will have to play around with it, I am willing to move my living room around a bit but it needs to be a unified space and still act as a living room. I just want everything to look as clean as possible and I don't mind my living room doubling as a studio/lounge type space as long as it looks good. Where I have it now is way too cramped when I have people over to work on music anyway. I don't want to move anything around though so I would have to figure out a permanent setup.
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29th February 2012
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Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
This is true, I guess that's the only location where I can get L/R symmetry.

I'm not going to be getting a massive desk/console just something bigger than what I have now maybe with a little rack space so it won't stretch that whole wall.

I will have to play around with it, I am willing to move my living room around a bit but it needs to be a unified space and still act as a living room. I just want everything to look as clean as possible and I don't mind my living room doubling as a studio/lounge type space as long as it looks good. Where I have it now is way too cramped when I have people over to work on music anyway. I don't want to move anything around though so I would have to figure out a permanent setup.
As someone who has beaten a few really small spaces into some form of usable, I can tell you that movable panels are REALLY helpful. My current (part of a) garage setup uses movable panels that vary location depending on what I'm doing. For mixing, they're stategically placed around my desk. For tracking, I can move them as needed for isolation.
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29th February 2012
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As someone who has beaten a few really small spaces into some form of usable, I can tell you that movable panels are REALLY helpful. My current (part of a) garage setup uses movable panels that vary location depending on what I'm doing. For mixing, they're stategically placed around my desk. For tracking, I can move them as needed for isolation.
Oh yeah I have no problem with movable panels, I just don't want to have to move the desk and my other furniture around.

Did you make the movable panels or buy them? I don't have a huge budget to spend on sound treatment as there are a lot of more creative/fun studio items I need first like a couple synths, new desk, and then I'll have to invest in better monitors on top of it.

Since I don't have anything hanging on my walls I could use some nice looking sound panels to decorate too.
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29th February 2012
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I made all my panels - I'm a DIY kind of guy for this kind of stuff. I made wood stands for a couple of my 2'x4' panels that allow me to set them at floor height or raised 2'. I also have 2 -2'x6' panels conencted with hinges (similar to GIK's screen panel).

Some things to keep in mind...
1. Monitoring is a CRITICAL part of the process. If you can't hear it accurately, you can't fix it.
2. Nothing (except talent) will improve your mixing/recording more than decent acoustics. It really is the best upgrade you can make.
3. Mediocre monitors in a good room will serve you better than great monitors in a bad room.
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29th February 2012
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I made all my panels, but not everyone is DIY-handy. I made wood stands for a couple of my 2'x4' panels that allow me to set them at floor height or raised 2'. I also have 2 -2'x6' panels conencted with hinges (similar to GIK's screen panel - I built mine first ).
You have a pic/link to them?

I'm pretty handy I just don't have a proper space to work and doing projects on my terrace is kind of a pain so if I could find pre made panels for not much more than the price of materials and a few tools that would be ideal


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Originally Posted by EricF View Post
Some things to keep in mind...
1. Monitoring is a CRITICAL part of the process. If you can't hear it accurately, you can't fix it.
2. Nothing (except talent) will improve your mixing/recording more than decent acoustics. It really is the best upgrade you can make.
3. Mediocre monitors in a good room will serve you better than great monitors in a bad room.
Yeah I guess I'll have to take care of it all eventually. My first order of business is a hardware synth (sound design on VSTs is incredibly irritating) then will come everything else. I'll definitely treat the space I just want to get the most bang for my buck since people can spend thousands on sound treatment foam.
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Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
You have a pic/link to them?

I'm pretty handy I just don't have a proper space to work and doing projects on my terrace is kind of a pain so if I could find pre made panels for not much more than the price of materials and a few tools that would be ideal




Yeah I guess I'll have to take care of it all eventually. My first order of business is a hardware synth (sound design on VSTs is incredibly irritating) then will come everything else. I'll definitely treat the space I just want to get the most bang for my buck since people can spend thousands on sound treatment foam.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pics that would help much with those items.

For pre-made acoustic panels, GIK is my first recommendation. Their stuff is excellent and so is their service. ATS Acoustics also sells pre-made panels as well as DIY materials.

BTW, forget about "foam". "Acoustic foam" might be of use later on for some final adjusting of the high end, but you FIRST need to address the low-end and midrange which is more effectively handled with rigid fibergalss insulation (commonly referenced as "OC703").

I know acoustic treatment isn't nearly as sexy as hardware, but it really is the best upgrade you can make (I'm starting to repeat myself already).
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29th February 2012
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Unfortunately, I don't have any pics that would help much with those items.

For pre-made acoustic panels, GIK is my first recommendation. Their stuff is excellent and so is their service. ATS Acoustics also sells pre-made panels as well as DIY materials.

BTW, forget about "foam". "Acoustic foam" might be of use later on for some final adjusting of the high end, but you FIRST need to address the low-end and midrange which is more effectively handled with rigid fibergalss insulation (commonly referenced as "OC703").

I know acoustic treatment isn't nearly as sexy as hardware, but it really is the best upgrade you can make (I'm starting to repeat myself already).
Sweet thanks, the ATS DIY panel kits with pre-made frames look pretty affordable and like not too much much work. I'm probably going to go with those.

I'm glad I made this thread and I appreciate everyone's replies you've helped a ton- I didn't even seriously consider moving it to the end of the living room before. I'm sure I'll have some more questions later and I'll get some measurements/pics later.
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Sweet thanks, the ATS DIY panel kits with pre-made frames look pretty affordable and like not too much much work. I'm probably going to go with those.

I'm glad I made this thread and I appreciate everyone's replies you've helped a ton- I didn't even seriously consider moving it to the end of the living room before. I'm sure I'll have some more questions later and I'll get some measurements/pics later.
One thing to consider with the ATS-built panels and frames, the plywood backing reduces their effectiveness. Panels made with a frame only (no back, like GIK's panels) can be spaced away from the wall to increase their range of effectiveness. The ATS panels are designed to lay flat against a wall.

If you have any DIY skills, it's really easy to build rectangular frames from 1x6 and wrap them with fabric. Even with the limited space on your patio, you sould be able to do that (I'm guessing) - wood, saw, screws, screwdriver.

When you get to the point of planning your treatment, make all your panels from at least 4" of OC703 (or equivalent).

There are tons of threads about DIY panels, too. Research and intelligent planning makes for much more effective and efficient execution.
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1st March 2012
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All right.

Here's what I'm working with currently

that back wall with the sliding door is 13 feet wide





Where I originally was thinking of putting a larger desk against that wall with nothing





The long wall in the living room is 17.5' until it hits the kitchen

So what people are suggesting is to center a desk in front of that back sliding door... I guess if I get a reasonably sized desk I could pull it a couple feet back from the door and still have room to walk around it and get outside and still have a functional living room.


As far as sound treatment goes I can't exactly treat my kitchen. Not sure how I could treat the right corner where my bedroom door is either.

I'm thinking I would make/buy a bunch of 2'x4' x 4" thick panels for the walls in the living room and use a cool color fabric since my walls are bare anyway.
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combine the set up you have with your DJ set up. there is a way to interface them together. kinda like my place. I have a window instead of patio doors but there is a good 3 feet to move around in behind the "desk"



Last edited by HermanV; 1st March 2012 at 03:30 AM.. Reason: image was not visible
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Sorry for the quality of the picture. The panel on the right is actually on casters and the door behind it leads to a closet. the big one on the left is a superchunk corner trap. the picture was taken from the back of the room while i was standing on the couch. behind the couch i also have the whole wall covered with traps.
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Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
The long wall in the living room is 17.5' until it hits the kitchen

So what people are suggesting is to center a desk in front of that back sliding door... I guess if I get a reasonably sized desk I could pull it a couple feet back from the door and still have room to walk around it and get outside and still have a functional living room.


As far as sound treatment goes I can't exactly treat my kitchen. Not sure how I could treat the right corner where my bedroom door is either.

I'm thinking I would make/buy a bunch of 2'x4' x 4" thick panels for the walls in the living room and use a cool color fabric since my walls are bare anyway.
With the desk in front of the patio doors, and pulled out a bit, I'm guessing that the back of the bedroom door is a first reflection point to the right of the desk. Hang a panel on it. Also hang a panel on wall to the left of the desk at the first reflection point on that side.

The short wall at the end of the kitchen (between the dining room and the kitchen doorway) looks big enough for a panel. I would suggest 6" thick, if you can.

Add as many panels as you can straddling corners for bass trapping (wall-ceiling corners count, too).

Then, suspend a panel at the first reflection point on the ceiling over the desk.

Typical OC703 or Rockwool panels can be hung like a picture frame and won't do damage to the walls. For the cloud, I use plastic anchor inserts with eye-screws connected by a length of small chain to an eye-screw at each corner of the cloud panel.

A further improvement would be a couple of moveable panels on stands across the dining room and kitchen doorways to minimize odd reflections or resonances from those areas. As I mentioned earlier, movable panels come in real handy for mic isolation (or at least controlling reflections).
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1st March 2012
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Sorry for the quality of the picture. The panel on the right is actually on casters and the door behind it leads to a closet. the big one on the left is a superchunk corner trap. the picture was taken from the back of the room while i was standing on the couch. behind the couch i also have the whole wall covered with traps.
Hmm kind of hard to see but yeah. I'll probably just put my DJ booth thing in my dining area or something, who needs a kitchen table when you live alone and have a bar... I kind of like it facing outward into the room anyway.

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With the desk in front of the patio doors, and pulled out a bit, I'm guessing that the back of the bedroom door is a first reflection point to the right of the desk. Hang a panel on it. Also hang a panel on wall to the left of the desk at the first reflection point on that side.

The short wall at the end of the kitchen (between the dining room and the kitchen doorway) looks big enough for a panel. I would suggest 6" thick, if you can.

Add as many panels as you can straddling corners for bass trapping (wall-ceiling corners count, too).

Then, suspend a panel at the first reflection point on the ceiling over the desk.

Typical OC703 or Rockwool panels can be hung like a picture frame and won't do damage to the walls. For the cloud, I use plastic anchor inserts with eye-screws connected by a length of small chain to an eye-screw at each corner of the cloud panel.

A further improvement would be a couple of moveable panels on stands across the dining room and kitchen doorways to minimize odd reflections or resonances from those areas. As I mentioned earlier, movable panels come in real handy for mic isolation (or at least controlling reflections).
Yeah I'll have to do some reading on setting up rooms.

Anyway I was looking on the ATS site for DIY panel kits and once you add in shipping it gets expensive so I'll probably just build my own it looks simple enough and will probably be a lot cheaper. Putting panels on stands seems like a good way to go too for between the openings- I'm starting to feel optimistic that it's possible and within my budget to get some good mixes in there.
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Yeah I'll have to do some reading on setting up rooms.

Anyway I was looking on the ATS site for DIY panel kits and once you add in shipping it gets expensive so I'll probably just build my own it looks simple enough and will probably be a lot cheaper. Putting panels on stands seems like a good way to go too for between the openings- I'm starting to feel optimistic that it's possible and within my budget to get some good mixes in there.
If you can source the materials locally, you can usually save some money when you factor in shipping costs. Rigid fiberglass/rockwool is bulky and expensive to ship.

Taking your time to plan your space carefully and intelligently will pay off with better results. Keep at it.

And post pics!!
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Just to throw it out there, there is still a major difference between listening to songs coming from your neighbors, and listening to your neighbor tweak a compressor & EQ on a kick drum to get the perfect thump for 10 HOURS.
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1st March 2012
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If you can source the materials locally, you can usually save some money when you factor in shipping costs. Rigid fiberglass/rockwool is bulky and expensive to ship.

Taking your time to plan your space carefully and intelligently will pay off with better results. Keep at it.

And post pics!!
Will do, any ideas where one might find rockwool locally?

My next mission is to figure out what to do for a new desk that will be a proper size and offer me room for expansion. I don't have any rack mounted gear yet but I'm sure I will in the future so something with rack space would be useful. I may end up going the ikea route and hacking something together like I did with my DJ console but it's easy to dump several hundred dollars at ikea so it might make sense to just buy something pre made.
#28
2nd March 2012
Old 2nd March 2012
  #28
Gear nut
 
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Honolulu, HI
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alohachris is offline
Aloha Xonetacular

Aloha Xonetacular,

I have two huge rooms that I iive in on two levels, 30x40', 10' ceilings w/ open rafters, maple floors, but unfortunately for recording, surrounded by glass on three sides.

I live on the bottom floor. I am an acoustic musician who records live music w/ mic's only. No sampling here. Not much volume or bass concerns.

I have a great collection of upscale mic's & mic preamps accumulated over many decades, some decent monitors & pretty much what I need to create the music I feel & write. After 50 years of regular gigging, I've turned my energies to creative, non-commercial projects to share with the many friends & family who still want new stuff from me.

The one problem, like yours, was figuring out how to live in a space AND share it with recording. Living takes up a lot of space. You don't want to be setting up everytime you want to record, right

And, the damn reflective surfaces of all this glass.

DIY, portable room treatment in the form of twenty-two (22) 4"x2'x4' OC 703 & 703 or 705 faced panels proved to be the answer. With that, you can turn ANY area of your space into a controllable recording area for tracking or mixing.

I store them out of the way in a hallway when not in use or if I need to entertain. I place them where I need them around & over my desk for mixing & in my tracking area. I create "room's within the room" with these gobo's & also vocal booths. They are very versatile.

By far, they will make the largest difference of ALL - even more than your signal chain at first - in the quality of your recordings in your space.

Here's some clips from Fran Guidry on how to make them:

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2009/...-on-the-cheap/

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2009/...and-absorbers/

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/tag/acoustic-treatment/

I didn't make all 22 absorber's at once. Usually about 6 at a time. But my room kept needing more & more being as large as it is.

I used cheap white burlap from Walmart to keep the cost down. They look clean & I added some artful strips of colorful porous material to them to spruce 'em up a bit. Lighter color will give you a sense of more space, so don't use dark colored material so many do.

I'd start with at least two 4"x2'x4' faced 703 or 705 FSK/FRK in each corner of your room (faces out), over your desk & at the key early reflection points. You will notice a marked positive difference in tone (especially the tightness of the basses) & in your ability to control your mixes in your space - MUCH better with these babies.

Good Luck Xone,

alohachris
Xonetacular
Thread Starter
#29
5th March 2012
Old 5th March 2012
  #29
Gear addict
 
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: South Florida
Posts: 317

Thread Starter
Xonetacular is offline
^thanks, I will definitely be building some nice panels


Separate question, any ideas for building or finding a studio desk on a budget? basically I want something deep enough to fit a midi keyboard, regular keyboard and mouse, and various other desktop synths and soundcards. Probably an upper shelf for LCDs and studio monitors, with a little bit of rack space under the shelves for expansion. I don't want to spend more than a few hundred bucks so that limits me to scouring craigslist where the odds of finding something to fit my needs is slim, getting lucky on a deal, building something from scratch, or hacking something together from ikea.

I want to fit two large 24"-27" LCD monitors up top so that limits a lot of the pre built stuff too looking on sweetwater. Any other sites for desks to check out?
#30
5th March 2012
Old 5th March 2012
  #30
Lives for gear
 
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 591

EricF is offline
My space with DIY furniture (granted, I have been able to source some of the materials through friend and work connections, but you might find some inspiration here)...
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