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Virtalähde Mastering, Finland - mastering room in an old farming house
Old 20th September 2010
  #1
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Virtalähde Mastering, Finland - mastering room in an old farming house

(note: this thread is a mirror from Brad Blackwood's mastering forum @ PSW. Since many of you probably don't visit there often, I decided to mirror it here)

The time has come for me to move forward.

For years, me & my wife had been planning to move to the countryside and almost a year ago we finally made the move and bought a new home from Kuhmoinen, Finland.

The new location of nearly 200km from the location of my current room is most likely to change a few things, but the business has been growing steadily and I'm doing a lot of unattended sessions, so I look at the future with trust.

I've been working for about 4 years at Studio Kuu's room B in Helsinki, the last year commuting back and forth. The new room will be built inside a cold farming house that practically only works as an outer shell and a fine roof. The mastering room itself will be built on a dedicated frame and a new concrete slab.

I will try to do an update at least once a week. I'm targeting to move in by early January, but only after I'm sure the room is functioning as I expect it to. I've hired a pair of excellent carpenters for the job, and they will be building it to the state from where I can continue with the acoustics. My carpenters are a father and a son that also happen to play in the same band - a guitarist and a drummer!

First, I would like to show off a few photos of the actual location. These photos were mostly taken in August.


..Entering our yard, the construction site to-be on the left.


..The yard from another angle. Our house is on the left. This end was built in the early 1900's, the other end before the mid 1850's. Healthy, old house with a history, just as we wanted.


...We've got a sauna. What'd you expect?


..There's a pink noise generator behind the sauna. It was a dry, hot summer so the water level is pretty low compared to the one in April:



Here's a few drawings of the actual plan (small and pixelated for a purpose). The acoustics design was done by Janne Riionheimo, who has done quite a few smaller rooms with excellent results.





The actual space is 34 square meters in size to begin with. After the basic, insulated room is built, we're at about 28 square meters, and after the internal walls and acoustic treatment is in place, the size is about 22 square meters.

I would have wanted a slightly bigger room, but here comes the part I liked about the space:



The height is 3,5 metres at maximum (minus those clouds), and the angled roof and the sloped front should be working out excellent.


..This is the front wall, exploded.


..And the back wall.

What I wanted was a fairly live but a controlled, well-behaving room. A big plus in this construction is that there is no need to do any kind of soundproofing, which makes controlling the low end much easier as there's less of it that gets trapped inside the room. Thus, a smaller room like this should be working out just fine. This was one of my key design goals. I'm targeting for a listening distance of about 2,3 metres, or whatever sounds the best.
Old 20th September 2010
  #2
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This is what the actual space looks like today:








..This is the front wall from various angles.


..The back wall from the left corner. I only have one photo of it at hand right now.


..This is how the existing roof is constructed. The old hay visible in the back will soon be carried out and burned (cough).

As can be seen from the photos, the building is very basic. However, the winter with its ****load of heavy snow proved that it's a strong building and worth renovating. The studio space is the first step, the rest will be worked on during the next years.

Today's work started out by digging around the building, changing some soil. Underdrains (or whatever they're called in English) will be installed all around the building for keeping the place dry and steady in the future. The winter and the frozen ground tends to slowly break buildings, and some damage was done to the other end of the building. The shape of the building didn't change and it's still standing solid, so we can only go for the better from here.








..This is the state we're at as I'm writing this. The underdrain part should be finished tomorrow, and after that the work on the foundations of the actual room begins.

It's going to take a while until there's music playing in that space, but if everything works out as planned, I will be working in a great new room in an inspiring environment within just a few months.
Old 20th September 2010
  #3
Gear interested
 

Great thread, Jaakko!

I'm a member in Muusikoiden.net so i'm pretty familiar with your work. It's great to hear that the business is doing well. But you should move here in eastern Finland, that's where the real countryside is. heh

The whole yard is looking great! Hope things go well and we get updates often.
Old 20th September 2010
  #4
Looks like a beautiful countryside location Jaakko.

I'll be following this build for sure! thumbsup
Old 20th September 2010
  #5
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inlinenl's Avatar
wow, great project ... enjoy ...
Old 21st September 2010
  #6
Gear Maniac
Really nice place !
the best silent place for mastering ,
....very fresh "fishes" from torrent..
....it's near the genelec factory?
there is also high speed adsl connection ?


ps
let sleep "Squirrels , Marmots & co...." ;-
Old 21st September 2010
  #7
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Nice looking plan. Have you made decisions yet on the hardware, monitors, etc?
Old 21st September 2010
  #8
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Steab's Avatar
Oh my.. Best place ever and a great plan!
Sub'd wishing all my best!
Old 21st September 2010
  #9
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanaha View Post
Great thread, Jaakko!

I'm a member in Muusikoiden.net so i'm pretty familiar with your work. It's great to hear that the business is doing well. But you should move here in eastern Finland, that's where the real countryside is.
Thank you! I originally hail from Isojoki, which is way west near the edge of Etelä-Pohjanmaa. Personally, for me, Kuhmoinen is pretty east, but of course it's central Finland in reality. Eastern Finland is indeed where the truly pretty landscapes can be found, we just Joensuu & Koli in late July.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wavewalker View Post
....it's near the genelec factory?
there is also high speed adsl connection ?
I had to check, and the Genelec factory seems to be 324 kilometres away from here.

We get a fine Internet connection here (only 1,7 kilometres away from the town centre), and we might also get a new speedy cable dug in sooner than expected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syncamorea View Post
Nice looking plan. Have you made decisions yet on the hardware, monitors, etc?
Hardware stays pretty much the same I'm using right now. A new, passive mastering console is pretty much the only new thing I'll install here.

The speakers are something I'm building myself. More about this later. They're a bit like ATC SCM100's, using ATC & Morel drivers.

I'll have a new desk made by a professional carpenter. A little like a Sterling Modular Plan A desk, but some things are a little different. I should be delivering the final drawings to him soon..
Old 22nd September 2010
  #10
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Nordenstam's Avatar
 

Very nice location! Looking forward to follow the progress.

Good luck with the project!


Cheers,

Andreas
Old 22nd September 2010
  #11
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Freq AudioWorks's Avatar
 

Hi Jaakko! Or terve, as we finnish would say..

I was looking at the references of the designer, and wanted to ask the basic silly question:

"Is he good?"

I'm propably looking at hiring a designer at some point, and being Finnish myself though located in Sweden, I was thinking it could be best to hire him as I don't trust Swedish designers.. (Joke, old Finland - Sweden rivalry)

EDIT: Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread! That place looks like it's gonna be nice!
Old 22nd September 2010
  #12
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Curious about the front wall. Seems there's 1D diffusers at the early reflection points on the walls. A rather peculiar feature for a mastering room, though not uncommon in home theaters. Or perhaps I'm missing the point altogether.. Have you discussed this aspect with the designer? If you have any thoughts on this to share I'd love to hear!
Old 23rd September 2010
  #13
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guitarwolle's Avatar
What a wonderful location, wow, love it.
Old 25th September 2010
  #14
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Virtalahde's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Update time.

I was in Helsinki for the rest of the week and left the builders alone. We did not get the concrete for the foundations here yet since we ran out of floor heating cable. No biggie, it's not a rush and I got a chance to take a few photos before the only visible thing is a solid block of concrete.






..The underdrains are now finished and working around the building, and the only thing left to do is some landscaping around the yard. The building looks different now, and I have no doubt that the foundations are now stable as the rainwater is steered away from the building instead of soaking the land under the building, only to expand in the winter and ruin the foundations.






..This is what the entrance looks like now. There's going to be a block of concrete in front of the doors. Those doors are only cosmetic, the real door is going to be the studio door.


..The iron inside the concrete still needs to be lifted some 40mm upwards, and the lifters are in that sack.




..Here you can see the construction under the foundations. First there's a thick layer of crumbled rocks, I think they're about 50-60mm in size, max. Then we have two layers of styrofoam, total of 100mm. The edges of the foundations are insulated with polyurethane - you don't want your floor heating the cold outside air!
Old 25th September 2010
  #15
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..I swear I didn't!






..Here's a few good shots from the back. On the left side of the door you can see a roll of thick cable - that's the tomorrow's job for me. The 3-phase cable coming to the building was too thin for the floor heating, so I'm digging in a new cable from the house.
Old 25th September 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freq AudioWorks View Post
I was looking at the references of the designer, and wanted to ask the basic silly question:

"Is he good?"
I think he's good. Fairly new, but good, and I've liked the work he has done in a few smaller rooms. What's the best thing is that I've received mixes done in at least 3 or 4 rooms (with 4 or 5 different engineers) designed by him, and all of them have been spot on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lupo View Post
Curious about the front wall. Seems there's 1D diffusers at the early reflection points on the walls. A rather peculiar feature for a mastering room, though not uncommon in home theaters. Or perhaps I'm missing the point altogether.. Have you discussed this aspect with the designer? If you have any thoughts on this to share I'd love to hear!
The diffusors in the front wall are 1D (I suppose, with various widths and various thicknesses), and the front wall is 50% reflective, 50% absorbtive. The angled ceiling is 100% absorbed in the early reflection points, and the rest of the ceiling is partially reflective.

All I can really say at this point is that I wanted a live but controlled room. If I remember it right, we ended up at about 0,34s on average, which is a little bit more live than your typical control room.

A lot of time was spent designing the room and the designer feels it's going to turn out really good. I feel the same. Ultimately, we'll only know how it works after it's finished, and I'm prepared to modify the plan as needed.
Old 28th September 2010
  #17
Lives for gear
Nice thread & nice move.
Old 29th September 2010
  #18
Nice!! I wish my studio was in a place like that! If i only had a waterfall going on..
Old 3rd October 2010
  #19
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Thread Starter
It's time for the weekly update!

The foundations are done, and we've let it dry for the rest of the week because the nights have been quite cold. Once the basic frame is built and we'll be able to connect the 3-phase breaker box, the first thing to do is to connect the floor heating system and use it to dry up the concrete for good.


..This is how the entrance looks like now.


..That missing piece between the two blocks of concrete will be done manually.


..The front, those tubes are for cabling and there's also a hidden cableway to the machine room (more like a closet!) running under the floor.


..The back. See that old wooden wall? We've been going forward and backward in ideas whether to keep it or not, but right now it looks like we'll be able to keep it. The wall will be the back wall of those small shelves on the left & right to the triangular bass trap/diffuser. I think it's going to look and feel excellent once cleaned up.


..The machine room to-be. Lots of floor heating cabling there.


.."That's not a ground wire.. THIS is a ground wire."


..Wait, where did all that hay go?



..The fire department didn't show up, even if we did a pretty good effort in smoking the whole neighborhood. The yard looks pretty ugly after all that landscaping, but once we've evened all that ash around and seeded in a new lawn, it's gonna be all green again.

The work with the actual frame starts tomorrow, and I'm really excited to see an actual structure build up.
Old 3rd October 2010
  #20
Keep that old wooden wall! Looks nice heh
Old 3rd October 2010
  #21
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Can you tell me how you floor has been constructed....beginning with the soil....

stones.....insulation...concrete (how thick)???


I am building my floor at the moment and I need evry inch....


cheers.....very nice place indeed!!! enjoy!!!
Old 4th October 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freq AudioWorks View Post
Hi Jaakko! Or terve, as we finnish would say..

I was looking at the references of the designer, and wanted to ask the basic silly question:

"Is he good?"

I'm propably looking at hiring a designer at some point, and being Finnish myself though located in Sweden, I was thinking it could be best to hire him as I don't trust Swedish designers.. (Joke, old Finland - Sweden rivalry)

EDIT: Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread! That place looks like it's gonna be nice!
He is very good, IMHO the best in Finland and might very well rival many top scandinavians... That being said, I'm not impartial on the subject

And nice going with the project Jaakko, good luck!
Old 11th October 2010
  #23
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Time for an update!

What can I say, these boys are quick. The site already looks completely different, and at the early point of building the structure, there is a LOT of measurement going on, which can be considered as "slow" work. Phew.



..The missing piece of concrete is now done.



..The inside now looks like this. The brown stuff on the old walls is for stopping the wind blowing inside the building and also for keeping any residual water & snow leaking through the old wall. The material has been used in Finnish building for decades, and it's just about as optimum as it gets for the purpose.


..Ok, so what's this piece standing here for?



..It supports the new, fat top bar from the left side of the room. My maximum ceiling height is going to be only a little lower than this piece of wood here.



..It also supports the old roof, albeit very slightly. That old piece of log is a little bent, but if it decides to bend more, the new structure will hold it with ease.
Old 11th October 2010
  #24
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..Did I already tell you how much I love this shape, with the upgoing roof and the max ceiling height? I think it's going to be great!

It's funny to compare the old, crummy structure against the new one. Depending on how you look, either one always looks like it's completely out of whack. Maintaining the specified inner dimensions was actually pretty tricky because the old structure for sure wasn't straight at all angles. But my carpenters made it work.

Just like mastering engineer's are professionals, carpenters are too. The skills they have are absolutely invaluable.




..Some pics of the front wall construction. The all-important ventilation space can be seen between the wind stopping material and the frame/insulation.


..Wasn't this thing in The Blair Witch Project?


..The right wall is building up.




..And a couple of shots of how the joint between the old and new wall is coming together. The old wall can be thought of two "windows" punched the new wall. They will serve as the back of some shelves, and as long as everything is properly insulated from all of the edges, things are going to be fine.

That's it for this week!
Old 11th October 2010
  #25
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidasHatesGold View Post
Can you tell me how you floor has been constructed....beginning with the soil....
Nothing too special. The old soil was removed and and a layer (maybe 25cm on an average) of crumbled rocks of about 6cm in size was evened out on top of it. Then two layers (10cm in total) of styrofoam, insulated from the edges with polyurethane sheets. The concrete layer is not too thick, maybe a little less than 10cm in thickness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skwaidu View Post
And nice going with the project Jaakko, good luck!
Danke!
Old 13th October 2010
  #26
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yorica's Avatar
 

I´m impatient for the next photos.. good luck!
Old 16th October 2010
  #27
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Well, things are progressing fast, and I was extremely delighted to see the shape of the room building up as the basic frame is pretty much done.


..The place of the door is locked in.



..The shape of the rising roof can now be clearly seen.


..I believe the internal acoustic wall is going to go like that. The amount of wool behind the wall gives me chills.







..It's all built from strong beams of wood. This construction truly is a building inside of a building. Nothing else will do because it might get pretty cold during the winter, so no thin walls are accepted.
Old 16th October 2010
  #28
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..I'm starting to feel the height here!



..I wonder if all this gives me bats in the attic?


..That horizontal beam in the middle of the wall is at about my height, and I'm 184cm tall. I know the height doesn't show from the pictures, but I was *really* surprised how the internal height of 3,5 metres at the highest spot felt like. I just love it.

The clouds are of course dropping the height a little, but it's still over 3 metres, I think.

I'm thinking of the light here, and I want a lot. If I'd have a lot daylight-like light above the ceiling clouds, I bet it'd feel like I've got the sun shining down my neck while I'm working.


..That's about the width of the upcoming back shelf, I believe.

..The plan has changed a little in that we won't be extending the old wall up, but building a new wall in front and just leave the wanted spots of the old wall visible (with necessary insulation around all the edges).

This does shorten the room a little, but this should only affect the exact listening spot.


..Some people post pictures of gear.

I think old timber is far more interesting.
Old 16th October 2010
  #29
PKP
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I´ve visited Kuhmoinen many times. My wife´s relatives are from there. It is awesome at summertime! Like any place in Finland heh
Nice to see those pics. Keep it going!

PK.
Old 17th October 2010
  #30
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J. Mattheiszen's Avatar
 

Looks like it's gonna be an awesome room, and it's coming up fast, too! It's gonna be a kinda of a mind twist seeing the finished room inside that building

Thanks for the information about Riionheimo. I've been looking into such designers as I hope I'll be needing one sometime next year (or 2012) and he seems like a good choice. I know you probably don't want to give such details, but can you give a rough estimate of your budget for this build, including the design and the construction? I've been doing calculations like a mad man lately, but it's always nice to have some real world reference numbers

Thanks, and good luck with the build!
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