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Second Floor Live Room Help Please!
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Aaron Miller
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10th December 2012
Old 10th December 2012
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Second Floor Live Room Help Please!

I want to turn a second floor 15' x 17' x 8' (255 Sq feet) bedroom into a live room for drums, guitar, and vocals. This is for my home studio and I want to keep it simple, under $5K, and not too difficult or time consuming so I can get back to recording.

I don't care that much about isolation as I've never had outside or inside noise problems and my wife is usually gone when I have serious projects. I plan to build super chunks, inside-out walls, bass traps, etc. First step, however, is the floor. I plan on putting in some laminate flooring from Lowe's as it's cheap, durable, easy to install, and looks good. It will be 10MM with padding so it should have minimal absorbtion.

Today I pulled up the carpet and padding. The subfloor is 3/4" OSB. Underneath that there's about 16" of air, then your knocking on the drywall, which is the ceiling of the master bedroom below. No insulation at all (this is fairly typical Arizona construction, at least by KB Homes). With a flashlight I can see the other end of the house.

Since I've got the carpet out and since I've pulled out several OSB pannenls to run conduit, I'm wondering if there is are any low hanging fruit improvements I can do at this point. Is there anything that would give a little better isolation for the room below and help my live room to? I do notice some resonance in the floor so maybe that could be helped a little. Also, the cymbal mic stand barely vibrates when playing the kick drum hard (not sure if that was a factor of the carpet/padding or being positioned right on the same floor joist).

Would blown-in insulation between the floor and ceiling help much?

What about another layer of OSB on top of the existing with Green Glue in between?

Or would it be a waste unless I'm willing to dedicate more resources?




Oh yeah, I'm not a carpenter, electrician, etc., but I've layed carpet, hung drywall, framed walls, laid tile, etc. I have some very basic skills.
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10th December 2012
Old 10th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post

Would blown-in insulation between the floor and ceiling help much?
If you are talking about isolation purposes, NO, a waste of time. You would need mass for that. You said at the beginning of your post isolation was not an issue?
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10th December 2012
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Originally Posted by Icecube1 View Post
If you are talking about isolation purposes, NO, a waste of time. You would need mass for that. You said at the beginning of your post isolation was not an issue?
Although isolation in the room is not good, it is not a priority because I can live with leakage into the room below. However, I will do anything that is not expensive, fairly easy to install, and has a significant impact.
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10th December 2012
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You will always get an increase in isolation with an insulated cavity compared to an uninsulated cavity - unfortunately this does not help much when it comes to the frequency range that you're dealing with in music - and helps little to none at all when it comes to impact transmissions.

To create any decent level of isolation between floors (for studio purposes) is extremely expensive assuming that your structure could even carry the load..

There are some things you can do that would minimally help with impact transmissions - however - seeing as they are not going to really "get you there" you are probably better off living without them.

Rod
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10th December 2012
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Quote:
Would blown-in insulation between the floor and ceiling help much?
If you are talking about isolation purposes, NO, a waste of time. You would need mass for that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
You will always get an increase in isolation with an insulated cavity compared to an uninsulated cavity - unfortunately this does not help much when it comes to the frequency range that you're dealing with in music - and helps little to none at all when it comes to impact transmissions.

To create any decent level of isolation between floors (for studio purposes) is extremely expensive assuming that your structure could even carry the load..

There are some things you can do that would minimally help with impact transmissions - however - seeing as they are not going to really "get you there" you are probably better off living without them.

Rod
Okay, sounds like blown-in insulation would not help much. Would another layer of subfloor with Green Glue also be a waste? It sounds like additional smaller improvements won't be that benificial, in which case I'll save my money for bass traps, etc. Sounds like that's where I can have the biggest improvement.
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10th December 2012
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I did not say it would not help much - what I said was that it would not help much in the lower frequency range - it can make a pretty decent improvement in the frequency range of normal human speech.

It also will not help (at all for any real intent and purpose) take out the transmissions of footfall - what is vibrating into the floor structure from that bass amp sitting on it, the slap from the kick of the bass - someone dancing or bouncing around on the floor because they do that when they play, etc.

Additional mass with GG will help for airborne noise - not for impact to any great extent.

An 1 1/2 of rigid fiberglass (3pcf) with a couple layers of mass over that (with GG even better) will help a lot when it comes to isolating impact noise. However it is not a huge help with airborne transmissions.

Really - if you can live with poor isolation - this will actually make treating your room less expensive as well - the more effectively you seal up a room - the greater the isolation - the greater the cost to treat that space effectively.

You lose the advantage you have with all of the noise that is escaping the room.

Rod
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10th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
It also will not help (at all for any real intent and purpose) take out the transmissions of footfall - what is vibrating into the floor structure from that bass amp sitting on it, the slap from the kick of the bass - someone dancing or bouncing around on the floor because they do that when they play, etc.

Additional mass with GG will help for airborne noise - not for impact to any great extent.

An 1 1/2 of rigid fiberglass (3pcf) with a couple layers of mass over that (with GG even better) will help a lot when it comes to isolating impact noise. However it is not a huge help with airborne transmissions.

Rod
Rod, can you clarify this a bit?
I have an old garage with a room above it.
Regarding the floor specifically:
I'm wanting to reduce both impact and airborne noise.
Are the impact transmissions (of say drums) the main culprit to low frequency leakage?
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11th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electro-voice 66 View Post
Rod, can you clarify this a bit?
I have an old garage with a room above it.
Regarding the floor specifically:
I'm wanting to reduce both impact and airborne noise.
Are the impact transmissions (of say drums) the main culprit to low frequency leakage?
There are 2 very different issues in play here - the first is airborne transmissions - the 2nd is structure transmissions.

A bass amp sitting on a floor - will transmit both due to the vibration of the floor from the case as well as the transmission made from the speaker through air - solutions that only deal with one will not deal with the other.

Footfall might be very quiet in the room a person walks - yet very loud on floors below - the kick pedal for a bass drum will easily transfer through structure unless care is taken to deal with it in the design process.

In addition when there is a direct connection between a deck and the ceiling below due to both elements of the panel sharing a direct connection via the floor joist - it is much harder to provide isolation for air borne sound transmissions - and even with RISC systems in use to provide a level of decoupling between the 2 surfaces - low frequencies are still a challenge to control to any great extent.

Adding mass to the surface - even with GG as a part of the equation - will help to an extent - however not to any great extent when it comes to impact transmissions or enough for low frequency air borne transmissions of any real magnitude.

Adding what I indicate in the book to help with impact transmissions - which is a raised platform resting directly on a bed of rigid insulation - does help with impact - however there is no great addition of isolation for airborne transmission, and you actually pay a small penalty in isolation due to the resonant frequency of the assembly itself.

Achieving any real isolation on upper floors that do not consist of massive structure is just about impossible.

Solutions that deal with both are not only very expensive - they are very heavy - and a careful analysis of the building's structural element by an engineer is critical to ensure that there will not be a fatal collapse of whatever supports them they are supported by elevated decks.

They consist of thick concrete slabs resting on isolation pads - in order to provide the maximum levels of isolation the inner walls of the isolated room will rest on them - the design frequency for these assemblies is normally 10Hz.

I hope that helped......

Rod
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11th December 2012
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Hi Rod,

Thanks for all the good advice! You've confirmed my suspicion which was that achieving any substantial results in terms of low-end isolation would require more time and money than I'm willing to dedicate. I can live with the minor inconvenience of having kick, bass, etc. leak into the room below.

So here's a question: In smaller rooms like this, is there a (rough) ideal balance of bass, mid, and HF absorption? My main concern here is drums and secondarily vocals. I know I'm going to need tons of bass traps, and I plan on building super chunks and covering wall-ceiling corners with panels. Beyond that, I'm tempted to just build inside-out walls that cover pretty much every inch of remaining wall space with 4" of OC703. That would be fairly easy from a planning and construction standpoint and would probably help the bass and low-mids substantially. For the higher frequencies, would I still need additional absorption? I'm guessing that a combination of portable HF panels and maybe some diffusers in key locations would help avoid cymbal wash and that "boiiing" sound when I clap my hands.
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11th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
I'm tempted to just build inside-out walls that cover pretty much every inch of remaining wall space with 4" of OC703.
Hi Aaron

I would not do that personally. Your room is "smallish" but not that small. I think you may be disappointed with a total OC703 "whitewash", it will sound really dull and uninteresting, not to mention a potential waste of materials.

The best way would be to take some measurements of the room with an analysis package like Room EQ Wizard. Then treat the space accordingly by identifying the problem walls and, importantly, the correct areas of walls/ceiling to treat.
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11th December 2012
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Originally Posted by Icecube1 View Post
Hi Aaron

I would not do that personally. Your room is "smallish" but not that small. I think you may be disappointed with a total OC703 "whitewash", it will sound really dull and uninteresting, not to mention a potential waste of materials.
Absolutely correct -this would just suck the life out of the room - and you would certainly never need anything beyond that to handle high frequencies - in fact they would be the first thing affected with this approach.

Quote:
The best way would be to take some measurements of the room with an analysis package like Room EQ Wizard. Then treat the space accordingly by identifying the problem walls and, importantly, the correct areas of walls/ceiling to treat.
Here we differ........

I consider it virtually impossible to test a live room in the manner you do a mixing room.

Mixing rooms are relatively easy (in comparison) - when all is said and done there will be a "best location" for both sound source and the ears...... once set up the sound source will never move - the "sweet spot" for mixing will never move..

Treating a room and measuring the differences each change makes is again relatively easy (in comparison).

Now - let's look at a live room -

My drums kit eats up an area about 6' in width - with sound emanating from the floor to about 5' above the floor - somewhere in that space there is going to be an amp for my guitarist - another for my bass player - perhaps yet another for my keyboards - and maybe a vocalist.

If the room also doubles for the purpose of practice and not just tracking - somewhere in there will probably be some sort of PA system.

However - forgetting the PA - think about this:

You have a ton of different locations for the sound source - as well as the ears (which in this case are now the microphones capturing the instrument(s) being tracked.

Exactly how would you go about testing the room in this case to cover all possible combinations of sound source to ear location?

We know that in a control room even small distances between the unmoving sound source and the ear can make some pretty huge differences in what we measure as the room response - picture the different locations for a drum kit in that regard.

If we drop 2 overheads with my kit to pick up cymbals left and right - and then close mics for the drums and high hat - that's a total of 10 mics sitting from 15" to 6' off the ground (roughly) spaced out a width of roughly 5' - all of which are picking up different room reflections based on locations - as well as a whole host of different primary impulses/frequencies from the instruments..... how would you test for even just that in a manner that is meaningful?

And if you are a studio that any one else comes into to record - the minute someone sets up a different kit - with a different layout - with mics in different locations - all bets are off - everything changes.

Nope - testing of live rooms in this manner just doesn't work.

In these rooms we have to learn to simply trust our ears.....

Rod
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11th December 2012
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Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post

Here we differ........

I consider it virtually impossible to test a live room in the manner you do a mixing room.

Rod
... And how boring life would be if we were all the same?

"In these rooms we have to learn to simply trust our ears....."

Ultimately that's a given Rod, I couldn't agree with you more.

Gary
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11th December 2012
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Thanks Rod
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Originally Posted by electro-voice 66 View Post
Thanks Rod
you're very welcome,

Rod
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12th December 2012
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Great info guys! Thanks.

The good news is that I will be able to test (listening in room or even by recording drums and then doing a quick test mix) as I go. I can buy enough 703 for the whole room and put it in key locations, then start filling in the rest until it sounds right in terms of deadness. Moving panels around and stacking them in different combinations and locations is easy enough. Any leftover 703 will go to my control room which I'm going to build second, so there will be no waste. Once I have the 703 generally figured out, I can work on targeted issues. Maybe I'll buy or build some diffusers and try them in different areas before I finalize everything.
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12th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icecube1 View Post
... And how boring life would be if we were all the same?

"In these rooms we have to learn to simply trust our ears....."

Ultimately that's a given Rod, I couldn't agree with you more.

Gary
Gary,

do you have a testing plan that you use for tracking rooms?

Just curious here.........

And you are 110% correct - life would be very boring indeed if we were all exactly the same....

Rod
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13th December 2012
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Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
Gary,

do you have a testing plan that you use for tracking rooms?

Just curious here.........

And you are 110% correct - life would be very boring indeed if we were all exactly the same....

Rod
Rod

You really do want to throw me to the wolves? I would not be so pompous as to suggest that what I do is a “testing plan”, although I do have a method, no ISO standards I am afraid.

I am faced with remedial works on “small” studios (less than 3500 ft/3) 95% of the time. I generally get a spec based on phrases like boomy, boxy, dull, flabby OR bright, tinny, harsh etc, etc. I am an engineer/musician with a strong interest in acoustics rather than the other way round, I generally know where they are coming from but like to have something to look at to put it into context.

The “tracking rooms” I am talking about are rooms all the same. They have modal ringing issues, (particularly axial), and poor modal distribution due to their relatively small size. I treat my initial analysis of the modal region (sub 300Hz) in a similar way as I would a control room, except in the control room I am looking at a localised listening “zone” and fixed sound sources, this constraint does not apply to the studio. Of course I can calculate/(informed guess) the likely modal issues, however, there is always more than meets the eye to a structure that I have usually had no part in construction, nor is it infinitely rigid or dense.

I am aware that with multiple sources and multiple microphones spread throughout the room, as you detailed above, one could get an almost infinitessimal number of responses in 3D space with the complexity of musical content. Therefore one could argue that measuring any response at a place and time in a room is fruitless, providing no useable information? By taking multiple measurements of different loudspeaker/mic pairs would also not necessarily improve the usefulness since decisions on acoustic treatment for one set up may be different to the next and averaging may indeed solve none of them! I am also aware that, technically, sound decay in small rooms cannot be described as reverberation since a genuine diffuse sound field does not develop in the way it would in large rooms. Needless to say there is still sound decay present and I do indeed take into consideration the evenness of that decay. The majority of lay people still refer to decay as “reverb”, correct or not, I do not tend to get into technical detail on that subject with potential customers. The more informed will ask if they are concerned.

My starting point to measuring the studio (I stress not control room) is simple, minimal (and apart from one measurement in the absolute geometric dead centre of the room) all done at the boundaries. This is assuming a rectangular room (95% of my time it is, or thereabouts), I take a measurement at each boundary plane in the centre of the relevant wall(length and width) and the floor (it could be the structural ceiling of course, the floor is normally more accessible) and one tri-corner. The loudspeaker pointing towards, and reasonably close to, the diagonally opposite corner (normally the lower tri-corner a technique used for BBC diffusion tests), of sufficient loudness to drive the room. The wall measurements give me as accurate an overview, as I can ascertain, regarding the lower axial modes at the boundaries. The corner measurement gives me additional data. The geometric centre measurement is both to get away from all surfaces as far as possible and additionally an attempt to be at the pressure minima for all fundamental axial modes. It is of course one thing attempting to measure a room response, another story trying to alter it in a pleasing way. Apart from saying that I use pressure absorbers for axial modes, varied diffusion as much as I can and broadband porous where necessary, I do a lot more walking around the room using my ears!

Regards
Gary
Aaron Miller
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16th December 2012
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Hi guys, would you recommend 2" or 4" thick OC703 for the wall panels? (The corners will have super chunks.)
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