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Studio Build - The Sound Lab - Santa Barbara, CA - Part 1.
Old 15th April 2006
Gear Maniac
Trancetones's Avatar

Studio Build - The Sound Lab - Santa Barbara, CA - Part 1.

Hello All. I have undertaken the creation of a mini sound studio based on the John L. Sayers Studio in a Container design.

Here is the link to the thread:

Here is the link to the finished studio:

Here is the design. I am modifying it slightly so the tracking room is the larger room and the mix room is the smaller room. The mix position will be turned so that I'm looking to my right into the tracking room.

Here is my layout:

Primarily I am a musician, but I have always loved the engineering side of things. With this studio my intention is to get the growing assortment of gear out of the bedroom and have a space to call my own and create. This will be my first studio build, so I hope to learn a lot about the process in preparation for the day I build something more ambitious. Mostly this space will be used for the creation of my new album and perhaps some occasional project work on the weekends. I have a non-music job at an advertising company, so any money made will probably go back into gear, and/or paying off the build cost. I do very much want for my recordings to sound good, but balanced with keeping the budget reasonable. Currently I have a 1000 square foot loft that I converted from a soap factory two years ago. Fortunately that project taught me everything I needed to know about basic construction, and I still have all the tools and many of the materials to get the project moving. I still needed to research the John L. Sayer site for approximately 40-50 hours to get a handle on sound proofing and sound treatment. There will be some compromises due to the smaller space and budget, so I wanted to be informed so I can feel comfortable with some of the limiting decisions. I will be building a box in the loft. Sound proofing needs to be somewhat reasonable, but I am in an industrial area with no residential neighbors and no noise restriction, that is fairly quiet at night and weekends. I'm shooting for an STC of about 45. I am doing this project in two phases. Phase 1. will be rough build out. Then a brief break for a minor knee operation after which I will build the computer and solder all the cables. Then I'm going to do the finish work and extensive treatment. Due to the small size of the space I'll be going for a moderately dead space. I'll be relying on a combination of a Lexicon PCM60 and Kurtzweil Rumour for verb. Although now that I think of it I will have room on top for a plate, hmmm...

The space is nine feet wide and 15 feet long. I have 10' 6" ceilings, but I need more storage space in the loft, so I'm going for a height of 8' 9". I'm using basic 2x4 construction, with double layered 1/2" drywall, and 2x6 ceiling beams with a roof of 1/2" drywall and 1/2" mdf. Interior height will be 8"4" which should give me enough height for treatment clouds and overheads.

Here is the space:

Shot of the tools:

I'm going with a faux floating floor. Currently the floor in the area is concrete. My plan is to lay down 1/2" mdf, then a layer of 1/2" sound block which is like compressed fibres, then a layer of 1/8" luan which is a hardwood laminate. Everything is in 4'x8' sheets. This should will be like a poormans hardwood floor. Luan is prone to denting, but I figure this will add to the character of the floor. I picked out sheets that had a definite redwood tinge, so it should look great after some clear polyurethane.

Here is the cut layered wood:

Here are the tools needed for the floor, I used a #8 countersink bit (I intentionally broke off the drill part and just used the countersink part), and #10 screws so that they would countersink, but not pull through the thin luan. I will cover the screws and seams with some redwood tinted wood filler. I used a lot of construction glue on the luan when placing on the soundblock.

Here is the finished floor:

Here I'm putting up an additional sheetrock layer against the two existing walls. Not completely necessary because when I'm done, those will essentially be double walls. Once the sheetrock was up, I sealed all the seams with OSI acoustic caulk.

Old 15th April 2006
Gear Maniac
Trancetones's Avatar

Here are the cut base and cap plates.

Here is the initial framing. At this point I was going to leave it one big room, but after seeing the size I realized it was big enough to split into a tracking room and a control room. I struggled with the decision, but went with the two room design because it was closer to the original design, and because I wanted to be able to track others without headphones. BTW, I am building this almost completely by myself using a volvo wagon to transport the materials, I did need one day of help with the ceiling drywall though

Here the cross beams are in, and the center wall is framed in.

Here the doors are hung. I ended up re-hanging the outside door after this pic so that it swings out instead of into the tracking room, essentially giving me more usable space. I used exterior fibreglass filled steel doors from the Home Depot. Nice seal on these and good bang for the buck. I'm using a glass door between the mix and control room to keep the sight lines. Hanging the doors was tough , but now that I know how to do it it will be easier if I ever do it again. In most constuction jobs you hang the doors last, but for a sound studio I recommend doing it first so you can properly insulate around the door frame. Also most doors are meant for a stardard width wall, and with double sheetrock, you need to make some modification. You can't use expanding foam sealant around doors, because it will swell the jams and the door won't close properly, but I was able to find some at ACE Hardward by Dap that specifically doesn't overexpand and it worked great!

Here is another shot with the doors hung, next up the roof.

Here are some snacks I suprised my girlfriend with for being so supportive in living in a construction zone for 2 months as well as my incessant talk of all things gear and Gearslutz related. These types of things mid-project will lead to a successful completion and yet still have a significant other when everything is complete heh

Old 15th April 2006
Gear Maniac
Trancetones's Avatar

Here is a detail of some temporary spacers I hung around the top of the roofline so that I knew how far to hang the roof layers to end up with the wall flush once the sheetrock was hung. Every seam of sheetrock on the wall corners, ceiling corners and roof corners are overlapping as well as the seams of the sheetrock.

Here I'm sanding and adding polyurethane to the tops of the desk for the console desk the computer desk, and the autolocator/wireless DAW controller stand.

Insulation going up. Because I used standard width walls and ceiling spaces, I could use the plastic wrapped insulation without creating a three leaf situation. So nice to work with! I left space on the inner and outer wall uninsulated until the last minute so I could slip the inner sheet rock through.

Sheetrock up. I went with all surface mounted utilities to keep things airtight and used copius amounts of acoustic caulk and backer rod. I ran the dimmer on the outside to reduce rf interference.

I mounted 3" pvc pipe through the walls on both sides of the door between the rooms for running the snake and the autolocator cable so I can use my tape machine when tracking myself. After the cables are fed through I wrap them with pipe insulation and tie everything off with cable ties so that the pipes are airtight. Notice also the surface mounted outlet. I went with single outlets to save cost, and because I'm using Isobar power strips on each outlet. I installed two outlets on opposite walls in the tracking room, and one outlet in the mix room. I use Rolls ProMatch boxes to convert the unbalanced computer signal to balanced. I used one 20 amp circuit for all outlets and a seperate circuit for the track lights. The outlets are on an isolated ground that is connected to a cold water pipe with a grounding pipe connector. I ran some amp tests and the power is exceptionally clean, and 20 amps should suffice, so long as I don't run the Air Conditioner and the Mackie 1400i at the same time.

Here is a pic of the tube for the Air Conditioner vent, I'm using a portable A/C on casters. I will turn it on to cool the room down when not tracking. The A/C gets no fresh air feed so I will need to introduce fresh air occasionally as well. The tube has a dryer plug on the roof that seals when not in use. Once the tube is connected to the A/C the room will be airtight. It rarely gets very hot in Santa Barbara, and my loft stay's cool when it does, so A/C shouldn't be much of a problem.

Notice also the surface mount for the track lighting. I used a romex connector in the box and sealed the hole around the romex with fireproof caulk. I used a conduit box, to conduit connector, to 2" piece of conduit to conduit connector to track light conduit connector. Whew...

Here is a pic of the junction box on the roof that runs to the panel. All of the romex was run to this box and labeled. This junction box will get a second deck before being closed up to give room for the wires. All of the outlets are currently on one circuit, but I left open the option for one of the outlets to be run on an additional circuit if I need more juice. I was running out of time before the knee surgery, so this is fine for now.

Here is the last pic of this phase. Recovering from the knee surgery about two weeks ago so I soldered custom wiring for the monitor system using nice quality shielded cable and neutrix connectors. The monitor system will be a Hafler amp, NS10's and a 8" 100watt powered sub. The sub has adjustable crossover, so I'll just be using it a bit for below 100Hz. I wanted a small punchy sub, and this one is perfect, but it is unbalanced, so I'm using a Rolls ProMatch to keep everything in balance.

You can also see the Mackie SRM450 powered 12" that I will be using for the playback monitor in the tracking room and my modified 600W 1x15 SWR Bass Cab.

Thats all for now. I'm able to do some low impact work so I'll be taping and floating the drywall this weekend, then painting, then I can start on the room treatments. Stay tuned for Phase 2. coming soon...
Old 23rd October 2006
Lives for gear

hey man. I didn't see any completion thread of your studio. Was wondering how it turned out and if your aware of any decent comercial studios in SB since I'm in Santa Maria and need to find a place or 2 to intern at or atleast find a decent tracking room for drums.
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