We used to rent a studio unit in South London but recently decided to design and build our own rehearsal room / studio. The room will be small, only 3 x 3 metres due to space limitations of the room that we have to build within.
Needless to say we are building a room within a room but we have also created a modular design so that the studio can be dismantled and moved quite easily. We can then also easily and cheaply add modules to expand the room.
The room is now complete after the past couple of months of hard work. The room is a huge success. It was very good value at under £2,000 and performs quite shockingly well. I am yet to do a db reading to determine the actual level of sound proofing but we had our singer shout as loud as possible inside the studio and could not hear anything 2 meters from the exterior door.
For any band looking for a cheap and very effective solution to rehearsing, definitely consider this method.
We used steel doors with a unique form of MLV stuck to one side. More on this will be covered below.
Here is to scale action shot of what we are aiming for
The first thing needed to do was level the concrete floor, as it was very uneven. One side of the floor was about 5cm lower than the other, you can see a black line we drew around the building which is a totally level line from the highest point of the floor. I am referring to the lower line that is right above the floor on the walls, the higher line is a perfectly level line that we measured the floor height we needed down from.
The next step, after thoroughly cleaning the floor of all dust and debris, was to use a self levelling compound to raise the part of the floor up to the height of the highest point so that it was totally level.
This took several applications to build it up, allowing time for each layer to fully set.
Here is the first part being applied:
And after a couple more, it is all set in these photos:
This has now raised the part of the floor enough to make the whole floor level, below is proof!
From the doorway (after removing the block of wood we had in there to stop the levelling compound just flowing out of the doorway!) you can see how much this part of the floor had to be raised. All the grey concrete is the raised section:
Basically, what we are doing is building a room within a room. This room is modular, made of rectangular modules that bolt together so that we can move the room elsewhere and expand it if we wish. Each module is a timber frame, which will have 2 layers of acoustic plasterboard, a layer of soundblock, and internally it will have acoustic foam. This should provide a large decibel reduction. We will give more detailed explanations as the build progresses...
Each corner has a metal bracket screwed in on the inside and is screwed with long screws from the outside edge, with expanding Gorilla Glue filling in any gaps between the two pieces of 2x4. The timber is Latvian C24. They are very strong!
We're building a room within a room which will be completely free standing. The outside room is a garden room at the end of our garden which has a concrete floor, breeze blocks for half the height of the room, single glazed windows and a plywood and vinyl roof.
This exterior room is not very soundproof at all and when we started the build the door was a very thin and badly fitting exterior door. The first thing that we had to do was get the exterior room ready to have the studio room built inside it. The concrete floor was not at all level so we had to use self levelling compound (16 bags!!) to get the floor ready for the studio.
Then we replaced the door with a high security steel door with good seals all the way round. We also cut some plywood sheets to blocks up the windows from the inside. We'll also use some of the plasterboard cut-offs from later in the build to further block up the windows.
The exterior room does not need to be very soundproof. Our main concerns are having the floor level, making the room secure and making sure the roof is watertight. We've now completed this.
The actual studio will be built out of roughly 1 metre by 2 meter modules which will be bolted together. Each module is made using 2x4 structural timber frame, corner brackets, loads of screws and wood glue. Then on one side of the frame there will be in 1 layer of acoustic plasterboard followed by 1 layer of TEC 50 sound barrier sheet and finally 1 more layer of acoustic plasterboard.
The TEC 50 Sound Barrier will be sandwiched between the layers of plasterboard and will wrap round the sides of the frame so that where one module meets another, the sound barrier is pressed together to create a seal. This will be shown in later pictures.
The ceiling is constructed in the same way as the wall modules but each ceiling module is 3 x 1 meters instead of 2 x 1.
We have a heavy duty steel door for the studio room with an acoustic grade seal. We'll also cover the door with 1 layer of TEC 50. The door will bolt into the module in the same way as each module bolts to the other modules.
The general concept is to build a very well soundproofed room which can be taken apart, transported and bolted back together in a different location. We will also have the ability to increase the size of the studio at a later date if we choose.
On the inside of the room we will have acoustic grade foam filling the inside of each module. This foam will be 10 cm deep and will give the room a very dead acoustic. This is very important since the room is very symmetrical and therefore susceptible to standing waves. This will be shown in later pictures.
We will end up with a room which has around 50 decibels of sound reduction from the interior room alone and a further 30 from the exterior room. This means that making a lot of noise will not be a problem. The TEC 50 works to decouple each layer of plasterboard from one another. The module will also be decoupled from the surrounding modules. As well as this the TEC 50 is designing to have a curve of frequency reduction that covers the weak points in the plasterboard.
We have made the smaller wall module, so now all the wall modules have been made. It is just 5cm less in width than the other modules in order to match up with the door frame which will be in the opposite wall :
Now we have started to assemble one wall and the corners attached to it.
First we cut four 3 metre strips of the Tec 50 sheet to place on the floor under the modules so that they can squash into it thus making the seal with the floor as tight as possible.
We started with one corner and then built the wall along from it. The modules are bolted together with four bolts between each:
The next stage is to build the ceiling module to go across this section, put it in place, add the next set of wall modules then the next ceiling module etc..
One outstanding issue that we still have is ventilation. We did look into the options at the beginning of the build be decided to first build the room and then fit the ventilation afterwards. We'll likely build 1 insulated ventilation unit at some point soon.
Below are pictures of the first roof module under construction. This is the first of three that are approximately 3m by 1m. They are the same sandwich of layers as the wall modules, acoustic plasterboard / Tec 50 soundblock / acoustic plasterboard on a timber frame:
Then the corner modules are secured flush to the back wall with self driving screws, which pull the join together tightly:
Today we cleared out all of the off cuts of plasterboard and all of the tools we will not be needing, and gave the space a clean up to prepare for the next stage of the build.
Then we fitted the door and remaining module to complete the final wall:
Then we used acoustic grade expanding foam to fill the gaps around the door frame and some small gaps on the floor of one side of the room. This will be sanded flush tomorrow once it is fully dried:
Then we used an acoustic sealant applied with a mastic gun around the timber frames of the modules, where they join with the first plasterboard layer. This is just to further improve the seal & the level of soundproofing. We have more of this to do, as we need every inside area like this to be done including on the roof.
We also carried out some sound tests by blasting some very loud music in the space & closing the doors. Outside once you get about 3 metres from the building it was practically inaudible, just a little bit of bass coming through at a very low level. Overall we were very pleased with the result of the soundproofing as it has turned out more effective than we expected. This is especially good news as we are not even finished with all the soundproofing to be done. We still have: 1) the remaining acoustic sealing 2) to block up the windows of the outer building 3) place the 4" thick dense foam slabs into all the wall & ceiling modules.
I have not taken photos (will do tomorrow) of what we have done to the door, which was upgrade the door seals to a very high grade acoustic sealing type, and also cover the entire door in a layer of the Tec50 Soundblock which we glued to the door with contact adhesive. This was to make the door even more hardcore in terms of soundproofing by increasing its mass, and also preventing the metal construction from resonating. I will take some more photos of the door showing this once we have installed the door handles / lock etc.
Amazing work. Looks great. How much did this cost you guys? We are looking to do a project very similar to this. Did you find your materials online? If so, any websites you can direct us to? Any general advice for taking on a project like this?
I'm big on re-cycling so I think it's fantastic that you have thought about how you can re-use the materials in the future allowing you to slowly grow bit by bit.
I also love the fact you are in the UK too and are using the kind of stuff we have over here. I've always wanted to see someone using soundbloc type stuff for example! Excellent!
I'm so excited by this, it's the kind of thing I've been searching for for ages.
I have loads of questions tho! Heres a few:
Are the corners also bolted together? It seems like it would be hard to bolt the corners once they are upright.
How does the door seal work and what are you using for the door seal. Was that easy to add? Is that a product from custom audio too?
How much were the doors and doorseals? I'm assuming they are custom audio but I can't find the price for seals or doors on their site.
Did you end up with any T50 soundbloc stuff left over? Is it hard to know how much you need?
Is the ceiling basically floating on the top? Secured by gravity basically?
Thanks! I think this is my favorite thread here ever!
The corners are not bolted together. The panels are bolted together from the inside where each panel meets the next.
For door seals, we bought them from the same place as we got the doors. They were not expensive but and not difficult to install but work perfectly.
We calculated the exact amount of Tec50 that we would need and then added 10%. At the end of the build we actually had this 10% remaining and it's still sitting in my basement.
The ceiling is fixed using self drilling coach screws. This is to ensure that it sits evenly across the walls with no air gaps.
I've realized that I should really put more information up here about the build. The studio is now fully up and running and we've installed LED colour selectable lighting. We'll be recording videos of live performances at some point very soon which I'll link to on here.
simplest thing for corners - a 4x4 where the corners meet and lag screw or bolt into it. and if you want absorption - some thin porous metal plates (LF and rugged) with insulation (leaving room between the bolts) should help.