Basement Remodel -- Music Room

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
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2,872
I'm about to begin a complete remodel of my basement, which will include a 12'x40' area to be divided into a family room (probably 12'x25') and music room (probably 12'x15'). Not the biggest basement area in the world, but it will give us a lot of fun new options. I'm excited about the music room especially.

Our basement is block walls, with about 80" from the floor to the floor joist ceiling. We're probably doing standard 2x4 walls, with spray insulation between the studs, and also insulating the ceiling. Sheetrock walls and a drop ceiling of some kind.

We might do some recording in there, but I'm mainly going to set it up as a rehearsal space for a 3 or 4 piece rock band, with drums against the back wall as you can see below. I'm not trying to do a full sound proof studio with it, just somewhere to go play loud. I'm willing to invest a few extra thousand dollars into it to get some extras for a music room.

I've done a ton of reading and planning, but I'd like to borrow the ideas from you guys who have built music rooms on a few specific things. Can you recommend some things for me to consider as far as:

--Sound deadening material for the ceiling (between the floor joists)
--Ceiling materials (not sheetrocking the ceiling)
--Flooring material (it's poured concrete)
--Creative routing of cables/wiring in walls, to minimize the clutter that a rehearsal space typically falls into. Ways to hide or run cables, mic stands, where to place the mixer, etc. Any clever ideas are appreciated.

I'm actually thinking also of having the wall between the sound room and family room to be made with folding or accordion panels so we can open it up, turn the mains around and play some music into the family room for friends.

Thanks for your ideas.

 

mattball826

Member
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20,813
Use the entire basement or at least 2/3 of it. How big of a TV room do you need?

Don't get too excited about a 12x15 music room.

When I built mine, I took up most of the space since she has the rest of the house. Den upstairs, but she wanted a sitting room. A room where nobody ever sits lol. I said F that, built the den there, took the basement for my jam space and studio setup 31x18 with the remaining space for utility room, 1/2 bath and storage. I wanted isolated rooms so that was easier than other options and completely decoupled from the joists so there is no real vibration in above floors.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
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2,872
We all play direct into the PA. No amps, just mains and monitors played slightly loud. We currently practice where the couches are in my drawing.

Also thinking of getting a JamHub and playing with in ears. There are only three of us right now.
 
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1,136
Negativity on this forum blows me away sometimes. Congrats on the new music room. I've wanted one my whole life and I finally got one. It was life changing for me. I just love going down there an fiddling around during the week. It's my own little sanctuary.

What you have mapped out is great, I do like the idea of adding space with the accordion doors if need be. I have a room that is a little smaller than 12x15 and it's great for my 3 piece band. We use powered speakers for vocals and have tried going direct, using amps, and using my jamhub and all work well. I somewhat prefer the Jamhub with headphones while going direct because we seem to get a better mix.

One thing I can suggest is a large monitor hooked up to a computer. I love playing the songs with the tabs up on the big screen. It helps me learn songs quicker, and it's a nice tool for working parts out in practice with the group.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
Use the entire basement or at least 2/3 of it. How big of a TV room do you need?

Don't get too excited about a 12x15 music room.

When I built mine, I took up most of the space since she has the rest of the house. Den upstairs, but she wanted a sitting room. A room where nobody ever sits lol. I said F that, built the den there, took the basement for my jam space and studio setup 31x18 with the remaining space for utility room, 1/2 bath and storage. I wanted isolated rooms so that was easier than other options and completely decoupled from the joists so there is no real vibration in above floors.
It is what it is, good or bad. I can only dream of numbers like 31x18.

There is a little negotiation over where the wall goes between the two rooms, but I'll only get maybe another 2' out of that deal. The 12' dimension can't be changed. So, it's an economy music room.

So you were able to do the room-in-a-room. Wish I had that high of a ceiling.
 

aleclee

TGP Tech Wrangler
Staff member
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12,998
We might do some recording in there, but I'm mainly going to set it up as a rehearsal space for a 3 or 4 piece rock band, with drums against the back wall as you can see below. I'm not trying to do a full sound proof studio with it, just somewhere to go play loud. I'm willing to invest a few extra thousand dollars into it to get some extras for a music room.
...
I'm actually thinking also of having the wall between the sound room and family room to be made with folding or accordion panels so we can open it up, turn the mains around and play some music into the family room for friends.
If you're doing accordion panels, I wouldn't put too much time / effort / money into soundproofing. If it's not airtight, it's not going to stop sound very effectively. You can spend all you want on insulating between the basement and upstairs but sound traveling through your ductwork will undo all that if there's a path to the upper floors. Similarly, the gaps in a movable wall will make it impossible to effectively contain sound the way you'd like.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
Negativity on this forum blows me away sometimes. Congrats on the new music room. I've wanted one my whole life and I finally got one. It was life changing for me. I just love going down there an fiddling around during the week. It's my own little sanctuary.

What you have mapped out is great, I do like the idea of adding space with the accordion doors if need be. I have a room that is a little smaller than 12x15 and it's great for my 3 piece band. We use powered speakers for vocals and have tried going direct, using amps, and using my jamhub and all work well. I somewhat prefer the Jamhub with headphones while going direct because we seem to get a better mix.

One thing I can suggest is a large monitor hooked up to a computer. I love playing the songs with the tabs up on the big screen. It helps me learn songs quicker, and it's a nice tool for working parts out in practice with the group.
Thanks! I've wanted to play with in-ears for a long time, but never have pulled it off. The JamHub would be perfect, especially if I go toward electronic drums instead of a real drum set. Haven't made that investment yet.

Great idea putting tabs up on the monitor. I have a Mac Mini hooked up to a flat screen monitor on the far left wall, which will get moved into the music room when we're done. I also just refurbished a Macbook Pro that someone gave me and loaded GarageBand and MainStage on it, for use with a small midi keyboard and/or percussion pad. I'll run those into a Scarlett 2i4 and into the Macbook. Now, where to put the macbook and 2i4...
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
If you're doing accordion panels, I wouldn't put too much time / effort / money into soundproofing. If it's not airtight, it's not going to stop sound very effectively. You can spend all you want on insulating between the basement and upstairs but sound traveling through your ductwork will undo all that if there's a path to the upper floors. Similarly, the gaps in a movable wall will make it impossible to effectively contain sound the way you'd like.
Good point about the sound traveling through the ducts. I don't care if sound travels freely into the area where the couches are. The family room will be sort of a poor man's home theatre, so between that and the music, I'll treat the whole ceiling the same way, whatever that turns out to be. But ducts are ducts and I'm not moving those, so it won't be perfect. I used the term "sound deadening" loosely.

You know those massive panels that hotels use to cordon off their meeting rooms? I'm considering fabricating some kind of carpet-covered pocket wall thing that would retract into the utility room (the bottom center in my layout) when I want to open up to 12x40.

This whole project falls into the category of "when life gives you a lemon..." I'm excited about the lemon!
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
4,812
As soon as you go with drop ceilings & accordion panels all "soundproofing" goes out the window, literally. At that point the focus should be on making the room sound good, as in musically pleasing. No sense in wasting money on materials that aren't going to do anything especially if you can't/won't move the duct work.

And yeah, 12x15 is small for a music room... also a bad set of dimensions. Rules #1 no evenly divisible numbers. 13x15 would be better... 12x17 and so on. No comment on the jam hub/silent DI thing. Not how I ever work or play music but still, 12x15 is going to get very small very quickly once you get gear and a handful of bodies in there.
 
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6,131
Any chance of making it a little bigger? For instance, I get that the bedroom and bathroom might be needed, but I assume you have a living room already, do you really need another?
 

great-case.com

a.k.a. "Mitch"
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5,748
How's your HVAC in that area? Have you ever measured the long term Temp(s) and relative Humidity? That's what coems to mind, now the lame humor... Is it just me or does anyone else regret inviting a drummer into less than 1000 square feet?
 
Messages
1,136
Thanks! I've wanted to play with in-ears for a long time, but never have pulled it off. The JamHub would be perfect, especially if I go toward electronic drums instead of a real drum set. Haven't made that investment yet.

Great idea putting tabs up on the monitor. I have a Mac Mini hooked up to a flat screen monitor on the far left wall, which will get moved into the music room when we're done. I also just refurbished a Macbook Pro that someone gave me and loaded GarageBand and MainStage on it, for use with a small midi keyboard and/or percussion pad. I'll run those into a Scarlett 2i4 and into the Macbook. Now, where to put the macbook and 2i4...
One recommendation I'd have is to use can headphones at home. In-ears are great for gigs, but I've never been too happy with the way they made my guitar sound. I bought a pair of Isolation headphones for $130 and I couldn't be happier with my tone.

I can't believe more people don't use the Jamhub. I use it as a mixer for almost everything. It records at the push of a button and is super easy for everyone to get their own mix. It's one of the best single purchases I've made.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
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19,078
jmoose is right on the money. You probably won't be able to contain the sound of a drum set within the limitations of that space, so any money you spend should be focused on making the room a pleasant place to play (sonically and otherwise).

You definitely want soft materials anywhere you can get away with it. Carpet on the floor. Maybe a few homemade or pre-fab "clouds" hanging from the ceiling. Less reflective surfaces on the walls (no mirrors for sure). Consider whether your powered mains should be used on sticks (meh), in monitor orientation (better) or even mounted higher in the room and facing down (if floor space is at a premium).

Cable/clutter management will be easier to suss out once you're in the space. Using a drop snake is one idea. An easier idea might be to just buy mic and speaker cables that are long enough to run around the edges of the room instead of across the middle of the floor.
 

335guy

Member
Messages
5,232
Our basement is block walls, with about 80" from the floor to the floor joist ceiling.
I realize there's not much one can do about the existing ceiling height. But FYI, if you're pulling a permit for this remodel, it may not pass due to the ceiling height. According to this city in Iowa ( Altoona ), the minimum ceiling height for habitable spaces is 7' ( 84" ) from finished floors to the bottom of the ceiling material. A drop ceiling would even be lower. I have no idea how you would get around this requirement, unless you do it without a permit OR in your area, the building codes are different.

"Must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet, measured from finish floor to underside of ceiling membrane."

http://www.altoona-iowa.com/download/City Departments/Building/Handouts/Basement Finish.pdf
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
As soon as you go with drop ceilings & accordion panels all "soundproofing" goes out the window, literally. At that point the focus should be on making the room sound good, as in musically pleasing. No sense in wasting money on materials that aren't going to do anything especially if you can't/won't move the duct work.

And yeah, 12x15 is small for a music room... also a bad set of dimensions. Rules #1 no evenly divisible numbers. 13x15 would be better... 12x17 and so on. No comment on the jam hub/silent DI thing. Not how I ever work or play music but still, 12x15 is going to get very small very quickly once you get gear and a handful of bodies in there.
I think you're right, focus on making it sound good from inside the room. Whatever we do will be an improvement over what we currently have going.

Do the dimensions have something to do with the way sounds travel around the room?

Any chance of making it a little bigger? For instance, I get that the bedroom and bathroom might be needed, but I assume you have a living room already, do you really need another?
Truly wish I could make it bigger. I've drawn up this floor plan a hundred times and can't find a better arrangement. It would cost way too much to move the furnace and hot water heater.

How's your HVAC in that area? Have you ever measured the long term Temp(s) and relative Humidity? That's what coems to mind, now the lame humor... Is it just me or does anyone else regret inviting a drummer into less than 1000 square feet?
Temps in the basement are 65-68 year round. I run two humidifiers in winter and the AC in summer. The whole house is 45-55% humidity year round, unless it gets really cold. Then I can't keep ahead of my furnace which draws the humidity down to around 35 sometimes.

Had a good discussion with our drummer tonight. He said if we're moving toward a 12x16 room, he said there's no way he would put a set of acoustic drums in there. Electronic drums it shall be.

One recommendation I'd have is to use can headphones at home. In-ears are great for gigs, but I've never been too happy with the way they made my guitar sound. I bought a pair of Isolation headphones for $130 and I couldn't be happier with my tone.

I can't believe more people don't use the Jamhub. I use it as a mixer for almost everything. It records at the push of a button and is super easy for everyone to get their own mix. It's one of the best single purchases I've made.
I am pretty seriously considering one of the bigger JamHubs. My oldest daughter and my second daughter's husband do worship music for a living, so when they come home we all love going downstairs and making sound. A jamhub could be a blast.

You definitely want soft materials anywhere you can get away with it. Carpet on the floor. Maybe a few homemade or pre-fab "clouds" hanging from the ceiling. Less reflective surfaces on the walls (no mirrors for sure). Consider whether your powered mains should be used on sticks (meh), in monitor orientation (better) or even mounted higher in the room and facing down (if floor space is at a premium).
The old paneling currently in my basement does a surprisingly good job dampening the sound. There's no echoing down there right now. The new sheetrock walls are bound to be way more reflective of sound, so I'll have to take a look at surfaces, as you suggest. Sheesh, foam sound panels are pricey.

Cable/clutter management will be easier to suss out once you're in the space. Using a drop snake is one idea. An easier idea might be to just buy mic and speaker cables that are long enough to run around the edges of the room instead of across the middle of the floor.
It will be fun to get to that point.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
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2,872
I realize there's not much one can do about the existing ceiling height. But FYI, if you're pulling a permit for this remodel, it may not pass due to the ceiling height. According to this city in Iowa ( Altoona ), the minimum ceiling height for habitable spaces is 7' ( 84" ) from finished floors to the bottom of the ceiling material. A drop ceiling would even be lower. I have no idea how you would get around this requirement, unless you do it without a permit OR in your area, the building codes are different.

"Must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet, measured from finish floor to underside of ceiling membrane."

http://www.altoona-iowa.com/download/City Departments/Building/Handouts/Basement Finish.pdf
Whoa, there's some good homework. Altoona is about 40 miles from here. I'll be chasing the building permit in the next couple weeks. Grumble.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
So you guys have me second guessing whether I should even build a wall or partition (or accordion or pocket doors) between the music and family room areas. If the whole area has the same sound treatment, then why divide it with anything that is semi-permanent. I'm not trying to keep sound from traveling over to the family room. I'm just trying to reduce sound traveling to the upstairs, compared with what we currently have. Maybe I should focus on doing a decent job sealing off the sound from traveling freely up the stairs, which is where most of the sound travels currently.



Looks like the morning after a rehearsal. This is looking toward the area where the couches will be set up after the remodel. Where I'm standing is about in the middle of what will become the music area.

Very tempting to leave it an open 12x40 space, and put 2x4s inside the walls in the right place so a future wall could easily be built, if someone wanted to convert it to a bedroom. With an open 12x40 layout, we could set up with monitors facing us on the floor, and mains on poles facing the family room. Turn the mains on only when there might be some friends over listening for fun.

So many options...
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
5,124
I think that's a better option. Sound proofing is going to be crazy expensive. You have to decouple all of the walls, floors, and ceilings, as well as seal everything air tight. That's why you have to build a room within a room. This being a basement though, it should kill most of the sound for the neighbors, so it's mainly the upstairs that will get the brunt of it all. You could try to add a second door at the bottom of the stairs (a heavy solid wood door), and that might help. But I wouldn't spend too much money on all this stuff. Unless your willing to do the room within a room thing, I don't think anything you do will be highly effective. As long as the walls and ceiling are touching the rest of the house, sound will still travel.

And if you can avoid making the room smaller, I would. The reflections in a basement are usually pretty bad due to the concrete walls and floors and small dimensions. Making the room even smaller will make the reflections that much worse. I've played in a few rooms that were just barely big enough to fit a 3 piece band in, and let me tell you, it hurt. You can't hear yourself nor anyone else because the reflections smear everyone. You think you just need to turn up louder, but that just makes things worse and makes everyone else turn up.

If you're going to spend money on this room, I'd look at bass traps and broadband absorbers. They'll set you back a couple of grand and won't do anything for sound proofing, but they will, if properly set up, make the sound in the room sound better, and make recording a whole lot easier. It may allow you to hear yourself better, so you don't have to turn up so loud, which could help with bleed. But realistically, this is the main reason why most people don't go building recording studios in their house, even though we all want one. It's not the cost of the gear. It's the cost of the room.
 

Jdstrat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,872
I realize there's not much one can do about the existing ceiling height. But FYI, if you're pulling a permit for this remodel, it may not pass due to the ceiling height.
I talked with our local city guy about the permit. Our minimum habitable space is 7'6" to the ceiling. I told him my floor to joist measurement was 84", and he said, "Ok, just make your drop ceiling as high as possible." So it's all good.

I think that's a better option. Sound proofing is going to be crazy expensive. You have to decouple all of the walls, floors, and ceilings, as well as seal everything air tight. That's why you have to build a room within a room. This being a basement though, it should kill most of the sound for the neighbors, so it's mainly the upstairs that will get the brunt of it all. You could try to add a second door at the bottom of the stairs (a heavy solid wood door), and that might help. But I wouldn't spend too much money on all this stuff. Unless your willing to do the room within a room thing, I don't think anything you do will be highly effective. As long as the walls and ceiling are touching the rest of the house, sound will still travel.

And if you can avoid making the room smaller, I would. The reflections in a basement are usually pretty bad due to the concrete walls and floors and small dimensions. Making the room even smaller will make the reflections that much worse. I've played in a few rooms that were just barely big enough to fit a 3 piece band in, and let me tell you, it hurt. You can't hear yourself nor anyone else because the reflections smear everyone. You think you just need to turn up louder, but that just makes things worse and makes everyone else turn up.

If you're going to spend money on this room, I'd look at bass traps and broadband absorbers. They'll set you back a couple of grand and won't do anything for sound proofing, but they will, if properly set up, make the sound in the room sound better, and make recording a whole lot easier. It may allow you to hear yourself better, so you don't have to turn up so loud, which could help with bleed. But realistically, this is the main reason why most people don't go building recording studios in their house, even though we all want one. It's not the cost of the gear. It's the cost of the room.
I wish for all the world they had put one or two more courses of cement block in this house when they built it. Dang utilitarian ranch house designs of the 50s. Lots of walls, small rooms, low ceilings.

Thanks for the suggestions on making the room sound better. This thread was worth starting if only to redirect my thoughts from 'sound reduction' to 'sound quality.'
 




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