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Tips/help for building home recording studio ($50-100k) Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
beatspin's Avatar
 

Tips/help for building home recording studio ($50-100k)

Hi,

I am starting to plan my new home studio and would love to get help from people who have thoughts/recommendations and have built studios before.
Pictures of the existing room + a rough floor plan I made attached.

I am looking for:
A nice room I can write, record and produce songs.
Keep the windows/view and keep the room looking as much like a normal room as possible.
I understand I probably have to change the sliding doors to triple-windows instead. But keeping the windows are important.

I am not planning to make any vocal booth. I will record vocals and instruments inside the main room.

If the room was soundproof and neighbors wasn’t a problem I wouldn’t have done anything other than getting acoustic treatment. I want it to look roughly how it looks now and not like a “studio”.


The room:
“Basement” of 400sq ft + large bathroom + large closets.
Ca. 400sq ft. 170 inches wide, 325 inches long
Large windows/sliding door.



General recommendations? Tips for Los Angeles based studio builders/contractors?

Budget: $50-100k (not including gear or furniture)


My thoughts/hope:
50k the build (change windows, rebuild/soundproof walls/floor/ceiling, and build door in front of the stairs)
15k acoustic treatment (Thinking from Vicoustic)


Looking forward to hearing your general setup and for recommendations for builders that can help me do this, hopefully, it's realistic to get a great sounding room within my "budget".
Attached Thumbnails
Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-1-studio-3d-1.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-1.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-2.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-3.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-4.jpg  

Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-5.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-6.jpg   Tips/help for building home recording studio (-100k)-7.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Jason Foi's Avatar
 

Best advice i could give you is to hire a consultant to design your space. You have a healthy enough budget, it would be foolish not to.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Foi View Post
Best advice i could give you is to hire a consultant to design your space. You have a healthy enough budget, it would be foolish not to.
Absolutely. Do some research to find a a reputable acoustic consultant in your area. That's the type of person you need for a project of that caliber.

- Stuart -
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
Yes, hire a designer. But do yourself a favor. Take a full survey and make drawings of the place before you go to see the designer.

Where is the power, Where and what size is the AC duct for the area. Where is the plubing, What equipment you will have to set up. Picture of the desk you plan to use, etc. How much load can the floor take. How will trafic be controlled when recording.

If you are capable, I suggest making a 3D model of the room. Google sketch up is free.

In general get everything down on paper you can before you go to see the designer. If he has to do all that himself, it will cost much more.

There are companies who specialize in room treatment. The larger ones may know the right designers in your area.

If you want to be able to record say an M49 while the AC is on, that is much harder to achieve than one might think.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
beatspin's Avatar
 

Thanks for the quick responses guys.
@Temple of Light: Awesome, thank you. Will definitely start off with consultation from Steven.

Any other recommendations or tips are much appreciated.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
We have some of the best acousticians here. Some are more specialised in specific designs, but all have the knowledge required to make your room a great room!

I'd suggest contact some of the experts here as well and get a quote from them.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
beatspin's Avatar
 

@JayPee: makes sense. But how can I tell what users are the ones with the proper knowledge, experience and skills required vs somebody that has read a bit online but that’s it.

Last thing I want to do is to hire the wrong person. Any recommendations or specific places to look?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
beatspin's Avatar
 

Another question: (bear in mind the some of my questions might be very stupid, but I’ve never ever dealt with a project of this ‘size’, just been making music and working in untreated bedrooms/living rooms or exciting studios - never ‘built’ anything)

What’s the thoughts on the dimensions for the potential to make this a great room?
My thoughts on the windows etc.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
What’s the thoughts on the dimensions for the potential to make this a great room?
There's not really an easy answer to that, unfortunately. The best that can be said is "it depends"...

Let me qualify that a little: If you want to have just a control room, for mixing/mastering, there are several "specifications" for what the acoustic response of that room should be. Two that are quoted regularly are ITU BS.1116-3, and EBU Tech.3276. They both define very similar "rules" for the minimum and maximum dimensions of the room, the relationship between those dimensions, where the speakers and listening position(s) should be, and what the acoustic response of the room should be. Those are all based on many years of research, and a lot of published literature. There are also several basic design concepts that all aim to meet those specs, in one way or another. Those have names such as LEDE, NER, RFZ, CID, etc. (I won't bore you with the meanings of those acronyms). If you build a control room following one of those concepts, and it meets or gets close to one of the specs, then you'll have an excellent control room. Great for mixing, or mastering. But lousy for recording instruments. Playing many types of musical instrument in that room would not be so good, because the room is designed with a very specific goal: to be neutral. It is designed to not "color" the sound in any way: not add anything to it, and not subtract anytime from it. It is too "dry" for most instruments: most musicians would not be happy playing in there, and any recordings of most instruments would not be very good: there would be little "room sound" to add ambience and context to the sound of the instrument.

On the other hand, if you just want to build a room for playing instruments in, rehearsing, tracking, etc., then the acoustic response would be very different from that of the control room: it would be a lot more "live", with "character" and "warmth": it WOULD color the sound of the instruments, to make them sound more pleasant, alive, bring out the best tone and timbre, etc. There are also design principles and guidelines for treating such rooms, and to a lesser extent for the dimensions: things do not need to be anywhere near as tightly governed as for a control room, and you can make the room sound any way you want it to.

And if you tried to set up your gear and mix in that room, you'd have a really, really hard time producing a good mix... because the room is coloring the sound: you are no longer hearing the clean, clear, pristine, unadulterated sound from the speakers, since the room is adding its own sounds to that...

So there's a conflict: You can see that having just one room for both tracking and mixing is not going to work too well, because the acoustic needs are different. What makes a control room great, also makes for a lousy live room. And what makes a live room great, makes for a lousy control room.

There are ways of dealing with that, such as designing variable acoustic devices for the walls, that you can open, close, flip, rotate, etc. to change the response of the room. But even then, it is best to design the room mainly for one of those two tasks, then treat it so that it can be used for the other. For example, if it will be used mainly as a control room, then the size, shape and dimensions should be chosen so that it works well as a control room primarily.

On the other hand, you could just have two separate rooms: one control room for mixing, and one live room for tracking / rehearsing / playing .

So when you talk to your potential designers, this is something that you will have to work through: Decide if you want one room or two, and if it is just one, decide on the primary purpose, then design variable "things" that can make it usable for the other purpose as well.

Quote:
A nice room I can write, record and produce songs.
That's another thing you'll need to discuss with you designer: In your studio, do you plan to work alone, or with other people? If this is a studio just for you, then that's one thing, but if you will have other musicians, writers, producers, engineer in there along with you, that's another story entirely.

Quote:
Keep the windows/view and keep the room looking as much like a normal room as possible.
For a live room, that shouldn't be a problem. For a control room, you can still probably keep some of the windows, but you might find that one or two will need to have treatment in front of them, and in that case you might want to consider just removing them or covering them up in some way. Because control rooms have tight specs, certain treatment needs to go in certain places in the room. The good thing is that you have 400 ft2 to play with, so a good designer should be able help keep as much glass as possible in the room. If the room was tiny, then you wouldn't have many options for that.


Quote:
I understand I probably have to change the sliding doors to triple-windows instead.
Not necessarily.... It might be possible to keep them. Some studio designers use sliding glass doors extensively. It is usually possible to do that, and still have good acoustic response in the room.

Quote:
If the room was soundproof and neighbors wasn’t a problem I wouldn’t have done anything other than getting Acoustic Treatment. I want it to look roughly how it looks now and not like a “studio”.
As I mentioned above, that can probably be done for a live room / tracking room / rehearsal room, but for a control room there will be more unavoidable changes to the look.

So, that's the short answer to "what should the dimensions be?".


- Stuart -
Old 6 days ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
beatspin's Avatar
 

@Soundman2020: First off, thank you for your in depth answer. This gave me a lot to think about but also explained a lot to me that I’m now looking into.
I want to head into this with as much basic knowledge myself so I can properly work with the designer and builders to get the best space for my needs.

So, although I will make rough mixes here, there will probably never be mixed and final mixes in this room ever and certainly never any mastering. I always send my songs off to mix.

The room will be mostly used for me making beats/working on productions/rough mixes and me having writing sessions with other writers/musicians/producers. A typical session have 2-4 writers in it.

As far as recording: It will mostly be recorded vocals but also guitars and various other instruments from time to time like Sax, flutes and upright piano. I will also have a lot synths, between 10 and 15 of them.

So to summarize, recording is more important than mixing.

Main priorities:
1. World class vocal sound/recording. I will have to make a-listers happy.
2. Good sounding room when I make or play my beats or songs.
3. Very soundproof, so I can play loud at any time and don’t bother neighbors. I use fairly big speakers w/ sub and tend to play very loud at times.

Thank you!
Old 6 days ago
  #12
Lives for gear
The very basics of room design:

Walk around the room, listen to your own hand claps in vaius spots. You will hear the problems.

The more non perallel & non- flat things are the better, in about 2.3' cube incriments.

A non flat ceiling is the most important because the floor is flat.
taller the room the better (unless aproaching a cube size)

Oversized plastic air ducts

sound control less than 4" thick is not desirable most of the time.

One wall with texture changes is nice. Have gobo's with live and dead sides. Sound panels that can be taken down for kick tunnel that expose rock or wood textured surface.

What I did to a place Im renting was put up a single rail at 4' up around the wall. Then I put two sets of hooks on panels 4' tall. The panels sit either 6' up or 4' up. I can move then around the walls and up/down in two positions.
Old 6 days ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
@Soundman2020: First off, thank you for your in depth answer. This gave me a lot to think about but also explained a lot to me that I’m now looking into.
I want to head into this with as much basic knowledge myself so I can properly work with the designer and builders to get the best space for my needs.
You're very welcome! That's what these forums are for...

From what you say here, it certainly seems that this room is primarily a live room / rehearsal room / tracking room, with mixing being a much lower priority, and even then it's more like what I call "scratch track" mixing, not final production mixing. So I would suggest treating it mostly as a live room, and perhaps have a few panels that you can swing/flip/rotate into place to get a bit better environment for mixing. Those same variable panels could also give you some variation in room acoustic response for the different types of instrument you plan to record: vocals and sax need rather different environments to sound good, while flutes and pianos are different again. Some instruments sound better in a live, bright, reflective, or warm environment, others sound better in a more subdued, attenuated room. With a wide range of instruments like that, variable treatment would be a very good option. I've done a couple of rooms like that, and it gives you a lot more flexibility when tracking, because you can change the sound of the room to work with the sound of each instrument. Another option is to "zone" the room: Have one end more lively, reflective, brilliant, a second area that is more diffusive, and a third area that is more absorptive, deader. Then by placing the instrument at different locations in the room, you an get different sounds.

Quote:
3. Very soundproof, so I can play loud at any time and don’t bother neighbors. I use fairly big speakers w/ sub and tend to play very loud at times.
Have you measured that level, to see how loud you are, objectively, in decibels? If not, then it would be a really good idea to do that now. When I'm designing a studio, that's one of the first things I work through with the client... defining how much isolation the studio actually needs, in measurable numbers. It's not hard to do: with a simple hand-held sound level meter (decent ones cost around US$ 100 on ebay/Amazon, useless Chinese junk ones cost under US$ 50), set it to use "C" weighting and "Slow" response, then measure the sound levels inside a room during one of your typical sessions. It doesn't matter too much where you do that, since the levels will be similar in your room, once it is built. Don't measure right next to any of those instruments: measure about 3 feet or so away, and note down how loud each one is. Now take the meter to the location where your studio will be, and at a very quiet time of day when there's nothing much going on around at all (eg, 4 AM, when everyone is sleeping), measure the ambient noise levels. Measure in several places, inside the building and outside. That is representative of how quiet you need to be. Subtract that small "How quiet" number from the biggest "How loud" number you got when measuring the instruments, and the answer is "How much isolation you need, in decibels". That's an important number, since it is an objective goal to aim for with the design of the isolation system.

With that number in hand, it is possible to choose the building materials and techniques that can produce that level of isolation (there are usually several options to choose from), then decide which set of materials/techniques best fit your budget and the local building supply industry. There's no point in choosing a technique that requires materials that are not available where you live! So at that point in the process I work with the owner to select the materials that are available to him in his city, and the techniques that can be used with those to isolate the studio. Then the actual isolation design can start. Sometimes it's necessary to "bring the sights down a bit", as high isolation is expensive. If the materials/techniques would be too costly for the budget, then you'll need to relax the specification a bit, reducing the goal number, and being prepared to live with lower-than-optimal isolation. Perhaps only record at certain times of day, for example.

It's important to define that number objectively: Guessing is not a good way to design a studio!

In addition to doing the actual sound level measurements, you should also check your local noise regulations, to find out what the legal limits are on how loud you can be. Most municipalities have such regulations, and they usually define one maximum level for daytime, and another, lower limit for night. They usually specify different limits for residential, commercial, industrial, and rural areas. Generally, residential areas have the most strict regulations, with the limits being set at ridiculously low levels, while heavy industrial areas have the highest levels. So check those regulations too, and take them into account when you do the isolation design.

There's also possibly a structural issue that you'll need to take into account: Achieving high levels of isolation requires a lot of heavy building materials, so at some point in the design process you'll need to hire a structural engineer to check that the design does not overload the load-bearing capacity of the building itself. That's rather important, too: you don't want to build he studio, then have it collapse on your head at some point! Or have the floor collapse out fro under your feet... A structural engineer is very necessary. He will analyze the design, analyze your building, and determine if it is structurally feasible to actually build it without breaking something.

Just some more food for thought, in your quest!


- Stuart
Old 6 days ago
  #14
Lives for gear
With that budget you can hire anyone.

Who you'll work with depends on the room design (response) you want. Some have their own specific room designs (FTB room = @Northward , MyRoomAcoustics = @boggy ) , others like Jens Eklund are really the man for LEDE/RZF.
Overall, they have (and others experts) the background to make you room work.

If you read a bit here, what I highly recommend you, you'll find you who are the experts
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