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Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance
Old 21st October 2020
  #1
Gear Head
 

Post Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance

Thank you in advance to anyone who reads this and even more so for anyone who shares advice or who can point my attention in useful directions. I really appreciate anything anyone can offer.

About Me: I've been a home recordist / semi-pro audio engineer for over 20 years now. However, up until February of this year, I've only been able to do audio work on the side (my day job was in Finance and Accounting). Throughout my day job career, I slowly collected serious gear and eventually rented a few different rooms over the years in hopes that I could transition at some point to a more serious audio business. 5 years ago we moved to upstate NY where I rented a professional room, continued collecting gear, produced audio for myself and a few friends, worked on a business model with my partner who is still based in NY and SAVED. This month, we will be officially setting up our new audio business' legal entity and committing to full-time audio work. My life-long dream, like so many here, is to build a small, custom studio that's mine and mine forever. And now I think we have a chance to actually do it.

Other context about me of note:
  • I'm 41
  • I'm not handy at all but will be dedicating the next year of my life to this project and I'm looking forward to acquiring new carpentry skills and learning everything I can about this process.
  • I have a long-term wonderful relationship with a local builder who is also a musician and wildly talented at custom work. He's done everything on our house to date and he will be the GC on the project.
  • I've never worked in a pro studio, so do not know what it's like to produce audio in a fully professional facility (just gotta be honest about that with you guys).

Audio we Produce: In addition to traditional recording (musicians, bands, VO, etc.), our early days clients have been leaning towards the mixing / sound design / scoring / post and installed experiential audio spaces. My first love will always be recording bands but our business is looking to expand far beyond that and the team we are building has a much broader technical background than just traditional audio (think maybe game audio, custom audio cue systems, etc.). So the space needs to be flexible so that it can follow us where the business and our clients take us. That said, I do need to be able to record bands in this space for my soul (and my own music).

The Project: My house is currently a ~2,000 SQF 1900's wood construction big old lady. We have restored / remodelled many rooms over the past 5 years we've owned it and it is our 'forever' home. We love it upstate and do not currently have any plans to leave (unless I can not build this STUDIO...lol). We have 2 options to build a studio on the property currently being discussed. My preferred is to convert the attic and so that's what this post focuses on.

The attic is unfinished and has walk-up stairs already that would be grandfathered in per the building inspector. Our plan is to add a very long shed dormer to the roof which will help us clear height requirements in the code and give us more or less a working area the entire size of the main house. If you measure the attic floor from footboard to footboard, it's approx 28' X 23'. Of course, useable space will be less than that because of the sloped roof on the side the stairs (see pics below).

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmRDBvbc

As you can see, we are in very early days with this project. I have been in contact with the city and we have a plan to address all of their concerns regarding code. I think we should be able to clear everything (including sprinklers, egress , insulation, HVAC, etc.). Tomorrow our structural engineer will come to assess the foundation, load requirements and any other issues that come up. Assuming we get the green light from him and cost isn't to the moon, the next step would be to start working on the studio's configuration with a designer to seeing what is possible.

Goals in no particular order:
- Very close to sound proof vs. the exterior (in a neighborhood so want to play drums with out disturbing and need to limit sirens, trains, etc. from contaminating recordings).
- Limit, but doesn't have to be perfect, transmission of audio into rooms below the attic space (which is primarily a guest bedroom and 'great / media room').
- Top notch mixing space to mix in (and potentially master in) that measures very well.
- Control room and live room?
- One big treated space?
- Vocal booth
- Amp iso booths
- Baffled amp iso booths in footwalls?
- 'Machine room' in footwalls?
- Half bath?
- Storage areas?

What I am looking for: Currently I'm searching for a professional studio designer who can work closely with my team on the ground (myself, structural engineer, GC) to decide how best to divide up the space and maximize the feature sets above. The space will force inherent compromises that we will need to work around. The final product won't be perfect. But it needs to be as close as possible, turning every compromise into a feature and utilizing every square inch available. I also need someone who can partner in helping me make the big decisions (one big room or control room + live room, for instance). Also looking for someone who can help me measure and tune the final product.

From the community, I'd be so grateful for any reference materials or advice from members who have tried an attic build before. I am clear-eyed and aware it's probably one of the more compromised and challenging places to install a studio. But I'm confident with the right team, smart planning and resources, we can achieve a very, very good final product that will serve as a home base for my business for years to come and is capable of producing the highest quality audio possible from a 'semi-pro home studio'.

Wade
Attached Thumbnails
Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-back-house-wide.jpg   Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-back-house.jpg   Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-existing-dormer-walk-up-stairs.jpg   Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-front-house-wide.jpg   Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-front-house.jpg  

Building Recording Studio in 3rd Story Converted Attic - Looking for Designer References & Guidance-proposed-location-new-dormer.jpg  
Old 22nd October 2020
  #2
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Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
Builds on elevated wood decks are difficult/costly when it comes to isolation. I would explore your other option. Ideall it would be on a slab.

Isolation on in the attic will likely require some concrete be laid on the floor, or a floating slab, depending on budget and isolation needs..

I would reccomend Build It Like The Pro's by Rod Gervias as the first book to buy. You may also consider contacting him to see if you can hire him for your design and build. He's located out of Conn.

"Soundproof" doesn't exist in practical terms. Your best bet is to grab an spl meter or an app (app will be less accurate), and take some readings around your house and yard and define how loud it is outside the studio room. Then define how loud your going to be in there, ie drums peak around 115-120db. Call your municipal building code office and get the sound ordinances for your area. If 60db is allowed at the property line, and your doing live drums, you need 60db of isolation. This is attained with your construction and the amount of decay occurring over free space between studio and property line.
Old 22nd October 2020 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Builds on elevated wood decks are difficult/costly when it comes to isolation.
Assuming I can make the building inspector/city happy, yes, the design of the floor of the studio is currently haunting my dreams. However, I do not expect or need complete isolation from the floor below. Only my wife and I live in the house and essentially the TV room is below. I have been studying various ‘floating floor’ designs but I’m a little concerned about losing height in the attic by building the floor up towards the ceiling of the attic bc I know I’m going to have serious insulation pushing the finished ceiling down. I’m hoping I can find a compromise floor (and ceiling) design. My goal is to minimize footfall and vibrations like the pedal on a kick drum. Actual playback audio, cranked amps, cymbal bleed, etc...I’m going for good but not perfect dampening / isolation. I think the family can live with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I would explore your other option. Ideall it would be on a slab.
I know, I know. Option 2 is essentially a more traditional ‘addition’ into he driveway that may be better for audio. But I think it would be more disruptive to family life in the house because it would integrate the studio into the first floor living situation. The attic isolates the studio from the rest of the house and it would have it’s own walk up entrance for clients/guests/friends, etc. A little isolated clubhouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Isolation on in the attic will likely require some concrete be laid on the floor, or a floating slab, depending on budget and isolation needs.
A floating slab would be my dream come true. But I’m already VERY concerned about the weight of the studio in the attic in general. The additional weight from soundproofing materials + gear + people. BUT, I will raise it with our structural engineer tomorrow and see what he thinks is actually possible. If a slab is not possible, we may need to just insulate, mass load vinyl, float a wooden floor and accept less than perfect isolation from the floors below if that keeps us in the game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I would reccomend Build It Like The Pro's by Rod Gervias as the first book to buy. You may also consider contacting him to see if you can hire him for your design and build. He's located out of Conn.
This book is literally in the mail on it’s way to me as we speak and will be here tomorrow. Rod is also on my shortlist of designers to reach out to assuming budget allows. I wanted to read his book before contacting him though so i don’t waste a second of his time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
"Soundproof" doesn't exist in practical terms. Your best bet is to grab an spl meter or an app (app will be less accurate), and take some readings around your house and yard and define how loud it is outside the studio room. Then define how loud your going to be in there, ie drums peak around 115-120db. Call your municipal building code office and get the sound ordinances for your area. If 60db is allowed at the property line, and your doing live drums, you need 60db of isolation. This is attained with your construction and the amount of decay occurring over freespace between studio and property line.
Fantastic, practical advice. i will do just that and report back findings. One completely anecdotal data point I’ve been banking on lately regarding audio leaking out of our house and disturbing the neighbors has to do with our current home theatre. On the second floor, at the very front of the house, I have a very serious home theatre powered by NAD Master Series amplification and including an SVS PB-4000 1200 watt sub that shakes the house to it’s core during action movies, etc. We watch movies at reference level all hours of the night and have never had a complaint. I’ve also done tests going outside to sidewalk when this thing is cranking and it’s audible, but not really even noticeable when walking by. You have to listen for it. That counts, right? Lol

Thank you so much Kyle. You are amazing.
Old 24th October 2020
  #4
Gear Head
 

Hi all,

I wanted to provide an update after a meeting with my GC and a structural engineer in the attic and share what I've learned so far, what some of our challenges are in this space and how we would move forward with the project if it becomes our only option.

I should say, technically on the property, I have 3 options for locations for the studio as I see it. The attic, an addition off the side of the house that takes over part of a long driveway or an outbuilding the backyard. The only option the family has approved, is the attic. The addition off the side would integrate the studio directly into the main house and does not pass the aesthetic committee's standards because it would create a 'Frankenstein' house. And the backyard is small enough that a studio out there would take up about 1/3 of the total available square footage and displace a garden (which has expanded since COVID). So...the attic is still the best, and likely only real-world option at the moment.

Here's a few takeaways from the meeting:
  • Existing rooflines will not support exterior stairs leading up to the attic without tearing up half the house and would be massively expensive
  • The ceiling of the existing dormer above the walk-up stairs would have to be raised in order to clear code on doorway height at the top of the stairs
  • The floor joists have a current depth of 6" and would have need to be heavily sisters with 8" joists so the floor will come up a few inches
  • We cannot install a 'rigid' flooring system like a floating slab because it's never a good idea to introduce something structural that is rigid to a wooden construction. It will eventually rip the house apart as it tries to settle under the new load
  • The attic would have to be sprinkled as well as the stairways leading down into the house, though the building inspector has indicated that he may be ok with just the attic stairs being sprinkled.
  • Now that direct egress has been eliminated (the exterior stairs), it means the existing walk-up stairs would be our main egress path. And of course, those stairs are not up to code as they are not quite wide enough. Though again, it will be up to the inspector's discretion if he let's them be grandfathered in.
  • The structural engineer is not worried about weight, even of the additional soundproofing materials and techniques. Though we will have to go into the basement to add footings and posts.
  • The structural engineer did say that we should expect the house to 're-settle' after the project and that there could be maintenance work to the rest of the house to keep up with new cracking, etc. Something to be aware of.
  • Because we'd be adding a new shed dormer that's the length of one side of the roof, and now we'd have to raise the ceiling of the existing domer, the project would now have to include re-roofing the entire residence. The roof right now is 30 years old but in good shape and we were hoping to do the full re-roof at a later date. But now we will have to include in this project.
  • Because of some of these new points above, this project will for sure be extremely expensive. And all of that is before I find a designer and the costs of integrating their studio design into the new, raw space. If there is any point that forces us to heavily consider one of the other locations, it will ultimately be cost.


So in my eyes, the dream studio has already been compromised in some pretty real ways. Mainly without egress directly from the outside, clients and friends would need to essentially walk through the entire main house to get up to the studio. As I mentioned, right now our business is weighted more towards mixing, sound design, scoring, etc. so this is not a complete deal breaker. But I had hoped to at least retain the same level of traditional recording as I am currently able to do out of the room I am renting. And of course, the entire project now hinges on whether or not the building inspector will allow us to grandfather in the existing walk-up stairs. Expanding them is a complete no-go because it would require too much work (I believe) to the story below.

But, let's stay positive and think how we can move forward.

What I'd love some feedback on is the flooring system and the insulation in the ceilings. These two interconnected structures are both stealing usable square footage from me. I have to insulate the ceilings and walls to R39 so the finished ceilings will be pushing down. At the same time, the floor already will come up just to support the loads and that is BEFORE floating any sort of floor.

Insulation:
What should I do here? The GC is pushing to spray closed cell foam because it would be the most compact (though most expensive) option. But I don't know if closed cell foam has the soundproofing qualities we would shoot for. Is there some combination of a layer of closed cell and then maybe a layer of wool or something else? But then again, it seems like anything other then closed-cell will push the ceilings down even more.

Flooring:
What should I be looking at here? I have been researching mass-loaded vinyl, resilient channels, etc. What sort of insulation and sound absorption techniques can I get away with that won't push the floor up too much and will give us a compromised-but-pretty-good isolation for the floors below?

Also, I've started reaching out to designers. Had some interesting conversations. But I think I'd really like to find someone who has done amazing things in residential constructions and so knows how to work around common issues. The designers I have reached out to lean towards the commercial side and I'm thinking I need someone who specializes in home studios.

Just started reading Rod Gervais' 'Build it Like the Pros'. I expect I will devour it and as has been suggested, I will likely reach out to him.

Have a great weekend all!

Wade
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
seems to me like quite a bit of expense and compromise for a room that is going to deliver non optimal results. If all these hoops to jump through created an ideal room, then perhaps it'd be worth it. That's just my opinion on it.

As far as being a buisness, if you have clients present, then you could be technically running a commercial operation, and subject to commercial codes, and zoning. One angry neighbor could drop the dime and ruin things if you were running things as a commercial operation, but not in compliance. I would check this to make sure.

I don't know what "a Frankenstein house" is, but the addition or freestanding structure in the back would be far simpler. Have you looked into modular garages? Or modular additions? What about the basement?

Loading drums and amps and other gear up and down to a 3rd floor sounds awful to me. Nevermind musicians wandering thru the house.
----
For floor isolation you have to use mass. Though i would get a second opinion about concrete since concrete has been laid down underneath tiles on wooden decks without issue. Maybe it's a local building code thing.

Concrete laid on the plywood is a thin mass layer and cost effective. Other than that steel sheets, lead sheets, or lead lined plywood could be used. Beyond that your looking at standard sheathing and sacrificing some headroom. Mlv is usually avoided due to high cost, and its won't save a whole lot of space vs regular sheathing.

----

Insulation standard fluffy insulation is the most common insulation for sound assemblies.

---

You really have to define how loud you are before anything about which isolation assemblies to use can be discussed.

----

I have attached some test data sheets so you can see what type of walls and floors offer for sound attenuation. If i recall correctly ir761 has some wall assemblies with cellulose insulation, though i am not sure its what your talking about.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
seems to me like quite a bit of expense and compromise for a room that is going to deliver non optimal results. If all these hoops to jump through created an ideal room, then perhaps it'd be worth it. That's just my opinion on it.
At this stage, I mostly agree here but don't know what to say about it. My goal with the project is to at least match the quality of the room I'm currently renting; a purpose built mix room 16'X14'5" space with 10' ceilings'. It's treated and was designed 12 years ago. It's leagues better than any incarnation of my various home studios over the years. It's most substantial design feature is a massive cloud they rescued from another studio back then. The rest of the buildout is a combination of diffusion and absorption laid onto of the cinderblock walls. It is symmetrical but has standing waves in the low end I've learned to work around. But most importantly, it is not properly sound proofed from the rest of the building and so noise from the frequently changing cast of neighbors leaks into the room making it impossible to work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
As far as being a buisness, if you have clients present, then you could be technically running a commercial operation, and subject to commercial codes, and zoning. One angry neighbor could drop the dime and ruin things if you were running things as a commercial operation, but not in compliance. I would check this to make sure.
Agreed. I started researching zoning yesterday and have spent this morning getting familiar with our city's codes. It doesn't look good but I'm also not an expert. Given the current expense and other issues with the attic, I have been heavily considering an outbuilding. However, from what I can glean from the cities zoning rules, any home office has to be a) in the main residence and b) take up no more than 1/3 of any given floor. That one section seems to kill any prospect of a legal attic or outbuilding studio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I don't know what "a Frankenstein house" is, but the addition or freestanding structure in the back would be far simpler. Have you looked into modular garages? Or modular additions? What about the basement?
Frankenstein house refers the fact that my wife loves the shape and look of the house. I was able to just barely get her to agree to the addition of a dormer in the attic. But, from a purely aesthetic assessment of the house, she will not go along with a random addition popping out the side. However, even if I could design something that looked original to the house, we'd be back in trouble with the city because the structural engineer explained that we'd need to get a variance from the city for any addition that put us closer than 15 to the property line. The addition into the driveway would do just that. An outbuilding can be up to 5 feet from a property line so again, that idea works better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Loading drums and amps and other gear up and down to a 3rd floor sounds awful to me. Nevermind musicians wandering thru the house.
Agreed. Shoot me. Without the exterior egress, I'm right there with you. I'd gladly lug stuff up to he attic all day long if it was a) a great sounding room and b) the stairs were exterior. But I'm not at all psyched about strangers being in the main house.

----
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
For floor isolation you have to use mass. Though i would get a second opinion about concrete since concrete has been laid down underneath tiles on wooden decks without issue. Maybe it's a local building code thing.

Concrete laid on the plywood is a thin mass layer and cost effective. Other than that steel sheets, lead sheets, or lead lined plywood could be used. Beyond that your looking at standard sheathing and sacrificing some headroom. Mlv is usually avoided due to high cost, and its won't save a whole lot of space vs regular sheathing.
Will absolutely get a second opinion, especially when I get a studio designer on board who can work with the structural engineer and better explain what we need.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I have attached some test data sheets so you can see what type of walls and floors offer for sound attenuation. If i recall correctly ir761 has some wall assemblies with cellulose insulation, though i am not sure its what your talking about.

Supremely helpful. Thank you!

Regarding running a legal recording studio out of one's home, how can it be done? When you read the zoning rules, it reads as though it's much pretty targeting recording studios directly to keep them out of neighborhoods. They're loud. They require special construction. There's musician-types hanging around, etc. I really don't understand how there are so many people with very built out professional studios in their homes on YouTube and forums and things. I need it to run completely above board with the city so I can properly insure it, legally have clients there and I'm willing to spend what I have to in order to soundproof and protect my neighbors. Does anyone have any words of wisdom in this area?

Thank you!!

Wade
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theodd View Post
Hi all,

I wanted to provide an update after a meeting with my GC and a structural engineer in the attic and share what I've learned so far, what some of our challenges are in this space and how we would move forward with the project if it becomes our only option.

I should say, technically on the property, I have 3 options for locations for the studio as I see it. The attic, an addition off the side of the house that takes over part of a long driveway or an outbuilding the backyard. The only option the family has approved, is the attic. The addition off the side would integrate the studio directly into the main house and does not pass the aesthetic committee's standards because it would create a 'Frankenstein' house. And the backyard is small enough that a studio out there would take up about 1/3 of the total available square footage and displace a garden (which has expanded since COVID). So...the attic is still the best, and likely only real-world option at the moment.

Here's a few takeaways from the meeting:
  • Existing rooflines will not support exterior stairs leading up to the attic without tearing up half the house and would be massively expensive
  • The ceiling of the existing dormer above the walk-up stairs would have to be raised in order to clear code on doorway height at the top of the stairs
  • The floor joists have a current depth of 6" and would have need to be heavily sisters with 8" joists so the floor will come up a few inches
  • We cannot install a 'rigid' flooring system like a floating slab because it's never a good idea to introduce something structural that is rigid to a wooden construction. It will eventually rip the house apart as it tries to settle under the new load
  • The attic would have to be sprinkled as well as the stairways leading down into the house, though the building inspector has indicated that he may be ok with just the attic stairs being sprinkled.
  • Now that direct egress has been eliminated (the exterior stairs), it means the existing walk-up stairs would be our main egress path. And of course, those stairs are not up to code as they are not quite wide enough. Though again, it will be up to the inspector's discretion if he let's them be grandfathered in.
  • The structural engineer is not worried about weight, even of the additional soundproofing materials and techniques. Though we will have to go into the basement to add footings and posts.
  • The structural engineer did say that we should expect the house to 're-settle' after the project and that there could be maintenance work to the rest of the house to keep up with new cracking, etc. Something to be aware of.
  • Because we'd be adding a new shed dormer that's the length of one side of the roof, and now we'd have to raise the ceiling of the existing domer, the project would now have to include re-roofing the entire residence. The roof right now is 30 years old but in good shape and we were hoping to do the full re-roof at a later date. But now we will have to include in this project.
  • Because of some of these new points above, this project will for sure be extremely expensive. And all of that is before I find a designer and the costs of integrating their studio design into the new, raw space. If there is any point that forces us to heavily consider one of the other locations, it will ultimately be cost.


So in my eyes, the dream studio has already been compromised in some pretty real ways. Mainly without egress directly from the outside, clients and friends would need to essentially walk through the entire main house to get up to the studio. As I mentioned, right now our business is weighted more towards mixing, sound design, scoring, etc. so this is not a complete deal breaker. But I had hoped to at least retain the same level of traditional recording as I am currently able to do out of the room I am renting. And of course, the entire project now hinges on whether or not the building inspector will allow us to grandfather in the existing walk-up stairs. Expanding them is a complete no-go because it would require too much work (I believe) to the story below.

But, let's stay positive and think how we can move forward.

What I'd love some feedback on is the flooring system and the insulation in the ceilings. These two interconnected structures are both stealing usable square footage from me. I have to insulate the ceilings and walls to R39 so the finished ceilings will be pushing down. At the same time, the floor already will come up just to support the loads and that is BEFORE floating any sort of floor.

Insulation:
What should I do here? The GC is pushing to spray closed cell foam because it would be the most compact (though most expensive) option. But I don't know if closed cell foam has the soundproofing qualities we would shoot for. Is there some combination of a layer of closed cell and then maybe a layer of wool or something else? But then again, it seems like anything other then closed-cell will push the ceilings down even more.

Flooring:
What should I be looking at here? I have been researching mass-loaded vinyl, resilient channels, etc. What sort of insulation and sound absorption techniques can I get away with that won't push the floor up too much and will give us a compromised-but-pretty-good isolation for the floors below?

Also, I've started reaching out to designers. Had some interesting conversations. But I think I'd really like to find someone who has done amazing things in residential constructions and so knows how to work around common issues. The designers I have reached out to lean towards the commercial side and I'm thinking I need someone who specializes in home studios.

Just started reading Rod Gervais' 'Build it Like the Pros'. I expect I will devour it and as has been suggested, I will likely reach out to him.

Have a great weekend all!

Wade

Quote:
Originally Posted by theodd View Post
At this stage, I mostly agree here but don't know what to say about it. My goal with the project is to at least match the quality of the room I'm currently renting; a purpose built mix room 16'X14'5" space with 10' ceilings'. It's treated and was designed 12 years ago. It's leagues better than any incarnation of my various home studios over the years. It's most substantial design feature is a massive cloud they rescued from another studio back then. The rest of the buildout is a combination of diffusion and absorption laid onto of the cinderblock walls. It is symmetrical but has standing waves in the low end I've learned to work around. But most importantly, it is not properly sound proofed from the rest of the building and so noise from the frequently changing cast of neighbors leaks into the room making it impossible to work.



Agreed. I started researching zoning yesterday and have spent this morning getting familiar with our city's codes. It doesn't look good but I'm also not an expert. Given the current expense and other issues with the attic, I have been heavily considering an outbuilding. However, from what I can glean from the cities zoning rules, any home office has to be a) in the main residence and b) take up no more than 1/3 of any given floor. That one section seems to kill any prospect of a legal attic or outbuilding studio.



Frankenstein house refers the fact that my wife loves the shape and look of the house. I was able to just barely get her to agree to the addition of a dormer in the attic. But, from a purely aesthetic assessment of the house, she will not go along with a random addition popping out the side. However, even if I could design something that looked original to the house, we'd be back in trouble with the city because the structural engineer explained that we'd need to get a variance from the city for any addition that put us closer than 15 to the property line. The addition into the driveway would do just that. An outbuilding can be up to 5 feet from a property line so again, that idea works better.



Agreed. Shoot me. Without the exterior egress, I'm right there with you. I'd gladly lug stuff up to he attic all day long if it was a) a great sounding room and b) the stairs were exterior. But I'm not at all psyched about strangers being in the main house.

----


Will absolutely get a second opinion, especially when I get a studio designer on board who can work with the structural engineer and better explain what we need.





Supremely helpful. Thank you!

Regarding running a legal recording studio out of one's home, how can it be done? When you read the zoning rules, it reads as though it's much pretty targeting recording studios directly to keep them out of neighborhoods. They're loud. They require special construction. There's musician-types hanging around, etc. I really don't understand how there are so many people with very built out professional studios in their homes on YouTube and forums and things. I need it to run completely above board with the city so I can properly insure it, legally have clients there and I'm willing to spend what I have to in order to soundproof and protect my neighbors. Does anyone have any words of wisdom in this area?

Thank you!!

Wade
I hope i wasn't discouraging, i just wanted to express the idea that "maybe" something other than the attic would deliver less compromises.

Is it possible to build back instead of out? Maybe preserving the look of the house from the front but giving you better acesss and space? Just brainstorming.

---

Codes vary by location, and i am not an expert so take these as food for thought as opposed to reccomendations.

If i understand correctly the studio is allowable as residental zoning, as long as your not taking money for services rendered to the public in that facility. If it were a practice space then its not considered commercial. Or if your mixing / editing the tracks alone, that's a buisness, but doesn't fall under commercial code requirements. I "think" this is generally how it is. In some cases it might be under commercial usage just for using it as a buisness. With so many home based offices and buisnesses it doesnt seem possible they all are in commercial zones. It may be that they are required to be up to commercial code adherence. I would be surprised if every ebay store or lawyer or mechanic ect, is running from home or a garage had to meet commercial code.

With the tax law, they don't limit the size per se' they just limit what is deuctable. So your limited to a certain sqft regardless of how big the studio is.

----

As long as your not violating noise codes i don't think it matters if its a studio or office.

----

At Triad Normandy, its a dual commercial/residential zoning, so we had to add updated fire safety alarms, but adhere to residential sound ordinances.

----

Im not sure of what legal loopholes there are with regard to having people in the studio. My guess is it comes down to how the place is advertised, and what services are billed / documented. Perhaps tracking is just not a billable service, but mixing is, and is priced accordingly. This is not something I've dealt with since my home recordings were just friends or my own stuff, and the commercial work i did, i was an independent contractor.

I would imagine there is a comfortable, legit way to navigate your needs with both Uncle Sam, and the building dept. Perhaps there are other home studios in your area you can ask.

I know in Nashville they are trying to repeal a fairly recent judgement that essentially restricted home studios to personal use. Ive not investigated the details, but there is motion to change that basic premise.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I hope i wasn't discouraging, i just wanted to express the idea that "maybe" something other than the attic would deliver less compromises.
You have not be discouraging at all. I am supremely grateful you are helping me work everything out out. If I seem a bit discouraged it’s just because there are so many facets to this process that present challenges...and especially in the beginning stages, things can seem impossible...which is not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Is it possible to build back instead of out? Maybe preserving the look of the house from the front but giving you better acesss and space? Just brainstorming.
Turns out I may have gotten a bit over my skis on the idea of additions or building in the back (more on the back later). I think the only currently approved location at the moment is the attic. So I’d like to keep focused there and take the planning and design phase as far as I can.

Again, the questions are simple. If we buildout the dormer on the attic and have it professionally designed:

1) Can I achieve a control room equal to or hopefully better than the one I’m currently in for mixing, scoring, sound design and recording the live room.

2) Can we create a booth or space to cut absolutely professional vocals and VO

3) Is there space for a complimentary live room good enough to track drums, guitars, bass, violin, saxophone, etc. (I know ideally, there might be separate rooms for all of those, but this is a home studio so will make compromises.

---

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Codes vary by location, and i am not an expert so take these as food for thought as opposed to reccomendations.
100%. I want to be very careful here and really think things through regarding zoning, my neighbors, the project and my intended use cases.

I talked to my RE lawyer today, my RE agent and dug into the zoning rules. Here’s what it says about the list of ok professions:

C. Accessory uses shall be limited to the following: A professional office or studio of an architect, artist, public accountant, chiropractor, City planner, clergyman, dentist, electrologist, engineer, insurance broker, lawyer, musician, optometrist, osteopath, physician, real estate broker, surgeon or teacher, subject to the requirements of § 405-9C(3).

So I take this to mean that an ‘artist’ or ‘musician’ or ‘engineer’ can technically have a home office if it comports with all the other rules. Such as:

§ 405-9C(2).Accessory uses shall be limited to the following:
(2) Customary home occupations, provided that:
(a) No display of goods or waste material therefrom is visible from the street or adjoining properties.
(b) Such occupation is *incidental to the residential use of the premises and is carried on in the main building by a resident thereof with not more than one assistant who does not reside on the premises.
(c) Only customary household appliances and equipment are used.
(d) Such occupation is carried on in an area not exceeding 30% of the area of one floor of the main building.
(e) No obnoxious odors, noise or vibration emanates therefrom.


This is where it goes south. A recording studio is not ‘incidental’ to the house. It would also limit the studio to the attic in my case and would prohibit a outbuilding seemingly. Though I know plenty of neighbors who have wood shops, metal shops and fix cars out of garages in town. Is a microphone or a compressor a ‘customary household appliance’? I’m pretty sure architects have drafting boards and compasses and things. Are those somehow customary? Not sure what to make of that.

And finally:

§ 405-9C(3).Accessory uses shall be limited to the following:
A professional office or studio of an architect, artist, accountant, chiropractor, City planner, clergyman, dentist, electrologist, engineer, insurance broker, lawyer, musician, optometrist, osteopath, physician, real estate broker, surgeon or teacher, provided that:
(a) Such office or studio is incidental to the residential use of the premises and is carried on by a resident thereof with not more than one assistant who does not reside on the premises.
(b) Such office or studio shall occupy not more than 30% of the area of one floor of the main building. Studios where dancing or music instruction is offered to groups in excess of four pupils at one time or where concerts or recitals are held are prohibited.


So now the studio can only be 30% of the attic.

So basically, the way I see it, if I were to stick to the letter of the law, or sort of close anyway, I have 2 options.

Build the most kick ass, world class recording studio the earth has ever seen in my back yard...but never take a cent from anyone to record them there AND I technically cannot mix, sound design, etc. professionally (ie for money) since for some reason, I’d have to do that from inside the main house.

OR

Do the build in the attic, but keep the control room to 30% of the overall attic space. This would allow me to mix, sound design, score from there solo professionally. And the vocal booth, live room, etc would be designed in such a way that maybe we could argue they are not part of the ‘home office’? However, I think even that falls down because recording studios are not incidental to the main house. Who knows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
If i understand correctly the studio is allowable as residental zoning, as long as your not taking money for services rendered to the public in that facility. If it were a practice space then its not considered commercial. Or if your mixing / editing the tracks alone, that's a buisness, but doesn't fall under commercial code requirements. I "think" this is generally how it is. In some cases it might be under commercial usage just for using it as a buisness. With so many home based offices and buisnesses it doesnt seem possible they all are in commercial zones. It may be that they are required to be up to commercial code adherence. I would be surprised if every ebay store or lawyer or mechanic ect, is running from home or a garage had to meet commercial code.
These are very interesting points/ideas that I will discuss further with my lawyer. The fact is, if I hire the best designer/acoustician I can find to work on this project AND it ends up being in the attic, besides the dormer popping out, our neighbors will likely never know there is a studio there. The outbuilding would be a bigger risk but I still think the same is true. Once the neighborhood is over that there is a new shed/garage/workshop in our yard, I’d hope they never hear a peep from us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
With the tax law, they don't limit the size per se' they just limit what is deuctable. So your limited to a certain sqft regardless of how big the studio is.
What’s funny here is a have small office on the first floor which I started consulting (Finance / Accounting) out of this year on a new schedule C. So then can I have different ‘home office’ in the attic for my freelance audio work? LOL. Not too worried about it either way. I’ll just do what my accountant tells me to do to stay on the good side of Uncle Sam.

----

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
As long as your not violating noise codes i don't think it matters if its a studio or office.
Exactly. I hope...

----

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
At Triad Normandy, its a dual commercial/residential zoning, so we had to add updated fire safety alarms, but adhere to residential sound ordinances.
Makes sense. We will definitely build whatever we build to code with plans from the structural engineer and then supplemental plans from a studio designer (unless one studio designer can do both...maybe Rod?)

----

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Im not sure of what legal loopholes there are with regard to having people in the studio. My guess is it comes down to how the place is advertised, and what services are billed / documented. Perhaps tracking is just not a billable service, but mixing is, and is priced accordingly. This is not something I've dealt with since my home recordings were just friends or my own stuff, and the commercial work i did, i was an independent contractor.
Agreed. Will check with lawyer. The other point is about liability insurance which I was planning on eventually getting if it could have run as a legal recording studio. If it can’t be a full fledged open to the public facility and I end up mixing, sound design there and have people over occasionally to record, if something were to happen, I would hope our umbrella policy that sits above our home owners policy would kick in. Need to double check. Also curious how to insure the gear if it’s in the house but that’s for another day...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I would imagine there is a comfortable, legit way to navigate your needs with both Uncle Sam, and the building dept. Perhaps there are other home studios in your area you can ask.
I think I do know someone I can reach out to. I’m not 100% sure where his studio is located but I think it might be in his house. Will report back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
I know in Nashville they are trying to repeal a fairly recent judgement that essentially restricted home studios to personal use. Ive not investigated the details, but there is motion to change that basic premise.
I know, I’ve been following a little bit now because of my situation. And Lij is leading the charge. Love his podcast!

Thank you again, Kyle. Honestly...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
My thoughts as I see your dream studio gets more squeezed, compromised, and intrusive into your inside and outside family space, is that you might look for a nearby commercial building or space to buy or lease. Most of the downtowns in my area (Central California) have older buildings with very substantial construction and high ceilings that are going vacant. It is a trend that was noticeable starting two decades ago, but accelerated in the last few years as Amazon Prime replaced a trip to whatever store for whatever item. COVID has shut even more of these businesses, and there is nothing waiting to fill those spaces.
I don’t know how close you are to such a building, or even if they exist in your area, but you, and more so your wife, might be happier if your studio was not literally on top of her.
If I was looking for a space that would satisfy your studio plans, I can easily think of five suitable and empty places less than a ten minute car ride away.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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avare's Avatar
 

Read Master Handbook of Acoustics and Home Recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros. Learn Sketchup.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
My thoughts as I see your dream studio gets more squeezed, compromised, and intrusive into your inside and outside family space, is that you might look for a nearby commercial building or space to buy or lease.
Hi Bushman, thanks for posting!

In theory, if money were no object, it would be quite ideal to own a building and build out a pro commercial studio. Owning the real estate is probably the only way to protect any investment in a studio in 2020, though I’m not an expert. Maybe that’s a goal for my 50’s. But part of what we are doing is trying to reduce our financial footprint by eliminating an existing lease (the room I’m now paying now) during these really unstable times.

The room I’m currently in, while purpose built, is also compromised in that a) I’m a month to month sub-lease and the LL is constantly threatening to increase the rent and b) they keep putting loud tenants around me (like a stationery bike studio and a karate studio) which compromises the room since it was not built to be ‘sound proof’ past a certain level. The studio used to be the only thing in the basement so they didn’t have to worry about it back then. Now there are lots of tenants down there and the studio’s days are clearly numbered. Having watched the end of this play out in the past few years, I am not looking to become a studio owner in a building I’m renting, improve the LL’s asset and then eventually get squeezed out and lose all my investment. You know? At least if I build something crazy in my house, it’s mine...for better or worse...lol.

In terms of our city, because of the relative proximity to NYC and the mass migration of folks fleeing the city due to COVID and buying up everything in sight over the past few months, the RE market is absolutely off the charts here right now. Home prices have appreciated 200% since March. Articles in the WSJ and NYT documenting our city’s recent RE market have been published recently. The last time this happened in this city was 9-11 for the same reasons. Not sure about commercial spaces though. Besides, even if we did buy a building (investors, etc), then I’d be back to having monthly overhead (RE taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.). Which is why I see having something in/at the house as the most viable long term plan that I can accomplish with the given budget. At least if we don’t think about the potential zoning issues for a second. Though I am open to brainstorming and ideas.

So yes, the dream is getting squeezed and compromised. But I’m trying to take a good thing (a good budget) and find a solution at the house we love (and already have) in order to remedy a bad thing (a room full of gear that day by day becomes an unusable and unstable situation I’m not in control of). The nightmare scenario I’m really trying to avoid is being kicked out of the studio with no place to put all my gear and absolutely no plan of what to do.

It’s odd because as I consider some of the feedback and concerns from folks, while absolutely valuable and has already uncovered facets of the project I did not consider, I feel like the general subtext is “don’t do it in the house, it’s too hard, etc”. But I have this weird feeling if I had already refurbed the attic and it was just a big empty room that we could take back to the studs and I started posting for advice on how to turn it into a really nice home studio, I’d be getting more support and would be able to find someone to help me design something really comfortable. Putting aside the room I’m in now, historically speaking, I’m coming from just regular rooms with treatment on the walls etc, in whatever apartment/home I’ve been in for the past twenty years. I still made music and produced audio. It wasn’t ideal but was fine. Now I’m in a position where I finally own the building, can sort of do what I want to a point, have a budget, and it seems like folks are saying don’t bother. Is it because you kind folks are commercial studio owners and just can’t imagine producing audio a purpose-built but ultimately compromised home studio? Are we coming at this from two different extremes? Where are my home studio warriors going “yeah! That’s what I did and it’s awesome!” Hahahaha.

Finally, I’ve been reading Rod’s book and am about 1/3 of the way through. It’s astounding as everyone knows. But it seems to provide practical things that you can do to elicit acceptable results from a home studio build. Especially in a situation like mine where we are building something new on the house (addition or outbuilding). We might not have the ideal SQF or ceiling heights or location, but by hiring a professional designer and incorporating as many of Rod’s designs as we can, doesn’t it seem like we will be able to mitigate some of those shortcomings and ultimately design something we can be proud of and produce great sounding audio in? Am I wrong about that?

Maybe I confused the situation in describing multiple options, etc. so I apologize if I got us all in the weeds. But I guess the simple question is still: If I work with a proper studio designer / architect, structural engineer and GC, is it possible to build a nice home studio in the attic that will be somewhere between 280 and 330 finished SQF that will allow me to produce professional grade audio?

Just trying to keep the dream alive here. Thanks everyone!
Wade
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theodd View Post
In terms of our city, because of the relative proximity to NYC and the mass migration of folks fleeing the city due to COVID and buying up everything in sight over the past few months, the RE market is absolutely off the charts here right now.
Thanks for responding.
Your zip code torpedoes my suggestion. Here, while the home market is very strong, commercial real estate is so depressed that property owners are open to almost any “creative financing” deal that offers them a way out or a reliable monthly income.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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avare's Avatar
 

Too much to quote but great post! The more you know the better the results. I have been told that the 90% in tagline is too low. The area is for the entire studio or just the main room?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Too much to quote but great post! The more you know the better the results. I have been told that the 90% in tagline is too low. The area is for the entire studio or just the main room?
Thank you avare!

Exactly, I’m very happy to stay in the planning stage until I’ve sufficiently addressed each major concern and considered everything as carefully as possible. If there are no complete showstoppers discovered, I fully expect this to take 8-12 months from now before I have a final product. And I’m happy to spend the next 3-4 months building the right team and designing it all on paper.

The 280 to 330 SQF range is me doing my best to measure ONLY the area the new shed dormer would create. So if you imagine a dormer popping up out of the roof of a house and creating a rectangular shaped room below, that’s what I tried to measure. The reason there is a range is because there are currently 2 potential dormer length options being discussed. I would also say those working figures are ‘stud to stud’ as opposed to estimated interior space with finished walls. So maybe shave 10-15% (?) off those figures when we consider usable studio space once the walls are insulated and treated for sound isolation?

On the sides of the dormer, there will be an add’l 2-5’ (again, depending on dormer option) extending all the way to the gables at the front and rear of the house. And of course on the other side there will be deep knee-walls for storage or maybe a little machine room cavity or cab baffles, etc. All of this awkward space will need to be utilized in the studio design.

I have calls with 2 designers this week and will update any significant findings or developments in case anyone else is considering an attic build like this. I hope whatever info we uncover is ultimately useful here.

Thanks all,

Wade
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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avare's Avatar
 

It sounds fantastic! It is great that are reading Rod's book. After that read MHoA. It will be much easier because it will build on what you studied in Rod's book. At your leisure learn the free version of Sketchup.

You have some great people here helping you. Show sincerity and you will get fantastic results.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
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Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theodd View Post
You have not be discouraging at all. I am supremely grateful you are helping me work everything out out. If I seem a bit discouraged it’s just because there are so many facets to this process that present challenges...and especially in the beginning stages, things can seem impossible...which is not the case.



Turns out I may have gotten a bit over my skis on the idea of additions or building in the back (more on the back later). I think the only currently approved location at the moment is the attic. So I’d like to keep focused there and take the planning and design phase as far as I can.

Again, the questions are simple. If we buildout the dormer on the attic and have it professionally designed:

1) Can I achieve a control room equal to or hopefully better than the one I’m currently in for mixing, scoring, sound design and recording the live room.

2) Can we create a booth or space to cut absolutely professional vocals and VO

3) Is there space for a complimentary live room good enough to track drums, guitars, bass, violin, saxophone, etc. (I know ideally, there might be separate rooms for all of those, but this is a home studio so will make compromises.

---



100%. I want to be very careful here and really think things through regarding zoning, my neighbors, the project and my intended use cases.

I talked to my RE lawyer today, my RE agent and dug into the zoning rules. Here’s what it says about the list of ok professions:

C. Accessory uses shall be limited to the following: A professional office or studio of an architect, artist, public accountant, chiropractor, City planner, clergyman, dentist, electrologist, engineer, insurance broker, lawyer, musician, optometrist, osteopath, physician, real estate broker, surgeon or teacher, subject to the requirements of § 405-9C(3).

So I take this to mean that an ‘artist’ or ‘musician’ or ‘engineer’ can technically have a home office if it comports with all the other rules. Such as:

§ 405-9C(2).Accessory uses shall be limited to the following:
(2) Customary home occupations, provided that:
(a) No display of goods or waste material therefrom is visible from the street or adjoining properties.
(b) Such occupation is *incidental to the residential use of the premises and is carried on in the main building by a resident thereof with not more than one assistant who does not reside on the premises.
(c) Only customary household appliances and equipment are used.
(d) Such occupation is carried on in an area not exceeding 30% of the area of one floor of the main building.
(e) No obnoxious odors, noise or vibration emanates therefrom.


This is where it goes south. A recording studio is not ‘incidental’ to the house. It would also limit the studio to the attic in my case and would prohibit a outbuilding seemingly. Though I know plenty of neighbors who have wood shops, metal shops and fix cars out of garages in town. Is a microphone or a compressor a ‘customary household appliance’? I’m pretty sure architects have drafting boards and compasses and things. Are those somehow customary? Not sure what to make of that.

And finally:

§ 405-9C(3).Accessory uses shall be limited to the following:
A professional office or studio of an architect, artist, accountant, chiropractor, City planner, clergyman, dentist, electrologist, engineer, insurance broker, lawyer, musician, optometrist, osteopath, physician, real estate broker, surgeon or teacher, provided that:
(a) Such office or studio is incidental to the residential use of the premises and is carried on by a resident thereof with not more than one assistant who does not reside on the premises.
(b) Such office or studio shall occupy not more than 30% of the area of one floor of the main building. Studios where dancing or music instruction is offered to groups in excess of four pupils at one time or where concerts or recitals are held are prohibited.


So now the studio can only be 30% of the attic.

So basically, the way I see it, if I were to stick to the letter of the law, or sort of close anyway, I have 2 options.

Build the most kick ass, world class recording studio the earth has ever seen in my back yard...but never take a cent from anyone to record them there AND I technically cannot mix, sound design, etc. professionally (ie for money) since for some reason, I’d have to do that from inside the main house.

OR

Do the build in the attic, but keep the control room to 30% of the overall attic space. This would allow me to mix, sound design, score from there solo professionally. And the vocal booth, live room, etc would be designed in such a way that maybe we could argue they are not part of the ‘home office’? However, I think even that falls down because recording studios are not incidental to the main house. Who knows.



These are very interesting points/ideas that I will discuss further with my lawyer. The fact is, if I hire the best designer/acoustician I can find to work on this project AND it ends up being in the attic, besides the dormer popping out, our neighbors will likely never know there is a studio there. The outbuilding would be a bigger risk but I still think the same is true. Once the neighborhood is over that there is a new shed/garage/workshop in our yard, I’d hope they never hear a peep from us.



What’s funny here is a have small office on the first floor which I started consulting (Finance / Accounting) out of this year on a new schedule C. So then can I have different ‘home office’ in the attic for my freelance audio work? LOL. Not too worried about it either way. I’ll just do what my accountant tells me to do to stay on the good side of Uncle Sam.

----



Exactly. I hope...

----



Makes sense. We will definitely build whatever we build to code with plans from the structural engineer and then supplemental plans from a studio designer (unless one studio designer can do both...maybe Rod?)

----



Agreed. Will check with lawyer. The other point is about liability insurance which I was planning on eventually getting if it could have run as a legal recording studio. If it can’t be a full fledged open to the public facility and I end up mixing, sound design there and have people over occasionally to record, if something were to happen, I would hope our umbrella policy that sits above our home owners policy would kick in. Need to double check. Also curious how to insure the gear if it’s in the house but that’s for another day...



I think I do know someone I can reach out to. I’m not 100% sure where his studio is located but I think it might be in his house. Will report back.



I know, I’ve been following a little bit now because of my situation. And Lij is leading the charge. Love his podcast!

Thank you again, Kyle. Honestly...
Glad to help where i can. I enjoy watching things develop from idea to finished product.

I think sometimes laws are written vaugely to give the people involved something to do. Lol. (My uncle has been a civil Attorney focused on enviornmental law for 30 years)

Perhaps it might make sense to frame your buisness as an entertainment, or publishing company instead of studio. Keep the music a hobby and accept payments for posting the band's music on your website or something. Just brainstorming here, seems like you have thr right idea with local professionals in that area of things. I think google gets around being a monopoly by calling themselves an advertising company.

As for your questions, here are my thoughts. I dislike the quoting system on gs because it is cumbersome on my phone, or perhaps im not aware of how to easily do it. My reply is next to the asterisk under each question.

1) Can I achieve a control room equal to or hopefully better than the one I’m currently in for mixing, scoring, sound design and recording the live room.

*If your new place is about the same size you should be in the same ballpark very generally speaking. Shape and dimensions will play a factor.

It may be worth running some REW tests to quantify how your studio performs by an objective measure.

You can also use its dimensions and run some calcs for reference/comparison.

2) Can we create a booth or space to cut absolutely professional vocals and VO

Sure. I've found vocals to be one of the most forgiving thing to record as far as acoustic environment. Mic choice and signal path is much more influential. When your singing a couple inches from a mic alot of the room is not picked up. From stage, to control room, to booths, to rooms with gobos, vocals on "real" records get cut all over the place.

Imho its acoustic instruments ie drums, strings, horns, pianos, ect that tend to really get enhanced in flattering rooms.

3) Is there space for a complimentary live room good enough to track drums, guitars, bass, violin, saxophone, etc. (I know ideally, there might be separate rooms for all of those, but this is a home studio so will make compromises.

*What are the dimensions of the room? Ive gotten good drum sounds in little booths before. You can get an open sound by not dampening the drums much. Any "controlled" environment can work. You may not get a brilliant ambience to "tape" but there's some awesome convolution reverbs that can enhance a clean balanced signal.

Id never under emphasize the Magic of a great live rooms sound and feel, but it is possible to get good sounds in reasonable rooms, even in questionable rooms. It's alot to do with mic technique and wether you desire a great natural ambience or not.

There's nothing wrong with tracking live to in one room together. Bleed can be awesome, an advatange, and close mics, gobos, tight pickup patterns, can yeild a remarkable amount of isolation.

------

Some thoughts.

1. Define how loud your loudest instruments are ie drums approx 110-120db, 150 watt tube full stack approx ear bleeding once you know in db (and ideally db per frequency range) you can define how many db's in TL you need to conform to laws and your family comfort level.

You can use the test data in the IRC papers to match an assembly closest to your needs, and use the mass law and/or GG data to estimate further. You can also use a MAM (mass air mass) calculator to estimate things, adding mass sheets in it till you hit your goal.

2. Define your load bearing capability.

3. Compare what your assembly weighs with what your structure can support.

4. Modify the stuctrure or the assembly. Weight is where GG comes in most handily imho. It's isolation added with little extra weight. GG is not perfect, but may be the difference maker in some cases.

-----

I would consider these nnecessary things to think about in the first part of planning since it essentially defines your isolation limits, which is the big part of the budget. Your construction methods and materials are critical to know as well.

Along with this you can work on the size and shape and layout of the room. This can help define the acoustic treatment possibilities, and key logistical things - door locations, hvac vents, booth sizes ect.

Things can move and shape along the way, but I've found it useful to try and eliminate variables, and define practical limits for things in the early part. Designing to the limits shows max budget, and performance (to a reasonable degree), and helps get one's expectations in line with reality. It also can avoid doing a lot more work before realizing the location is unsuitable or whatever. And for me personally it relieves me of "coulda been better" syndrome, or perpetual upscaling/improvement.

It then just becomes a game of efficiency imho. Efficient use of space, money, and materials, maximizes performance to your hard limits.


----

Im glad to see Avare on this thread he is incredibly knowledgeable. +1 on the MHOA, i read it after Rods book and found it great, and a nice progression from rods into more of the theory.

-----
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Glad to help where i can. I enjoy watching things develop from idea to finished product.
Thank you so much for posting Kyle. So much great information and I will respond more in depth in a subsequent post. But I wanted to provide a small progress update.

Over the past 4 days I've had numerous calls/discussions with my wife, our contractor, a few designers our RE lawyer and our structural engineer. I consider all of these chats essentially part of a broader feasibility study on the attic project which has essentially resulted in a general consensus that we should probably look for an alternative location on the property.

So, for the upcoming week, I plan on starting a NEW feasibility study exploring the possibility of an outbuilding in our fairly small backyard. My wife is excited about this prospect because we will set aside budget to re-vamp her garden and she will design the exterior look of the building/shed/workshop. I plan on posting detailed updates here as well in case it helps others looking to do the same. But not sure if I should keep updating this thread or start a new one for the backyard project.

Let me know where the best place to continue our discussions would be and a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has posted or who is following along.

Have a great week all.

Wade
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theodd View Post
Thank you so much for posting Kyle. So much great information and I will respond more in depth in a subsequent post. But I wanted to provide a small progress update.

Over the past 4 days I've had numerous calls/discussions with my wife, our contractor, a few designers our RE lawyer and our structural engineer. I consider all of these chats essentially part of a broader feasibility study on the attic project which has essentially resulted in a general consensus that we should probably look for an alternative location on the property.

So, for the upcoming week, I plan on starting a NEW feasibility study exploring the possibility of an outbuilding in our fairly small backyard. My wife is excited about this prospect because we will set aside budget to re-vamp her garden and she will design the exterior look of the building/shed/workshop. I plan on posting detailed updates here as well in case it helps others looking to do the same. But not sure if I should keep updating this thread or start a new one for the backyard project.

Let me know where the best place to continue our discussions would be and a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has posted or who is following along.

Have a great week all.

Wade
Congrats Wade! Your thorough examination of your situation has/will pay dividends. I think you will find an outbuilding much simpler to design and friendlier on the pockets.

As far as where the best place to continue is, is up to you, its your ship. If you start a new thread you can always add a link to this one to avoid re-typing things.

Looking forward to seeing your project evolve!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle P. Gushue View Post
Congrats Wade! Your thorough examination of your situation has/will pay dividends. I think you will find an outbuilding much simpler to design and friendlier on the pockets.

As far as where the best place to continue is, is up to you, its your ship. If you start a new thread you can always add a link to this one to avoid re-typing things.

Looking forward to seeing your project evolve!
Sounds good. I think once I have a building permit in hand in in the coming weeks, I will start a new thread since there should be nothing stopping us at that point and we can refocus energies on the actual build (the fun stuff!). I should hopefully have a designer on board by then too.

Also added to my list for the week to shoot my current room with REW. I haven't done it in a few years and a lot has changed. But that is a very good idea...something tangible to try and beat. I'm not so well versed in that area of things but will do my best and post results so we can analyze what they mean and what areas I should focus on. Hopefully they don't say I'm already in the world's most perfect room...LOL.

Take care,

Wade
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
The only nearly perfect rooms I’ve heard of are in the hinterlands of South Africa, and they were near-abandoned when I read about them last.

With your purpose-built construction in consultation with the people here and with your thoughtful approach, I suspect that your room could be as good as a home studio can be.
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