Basement studio build

Messages
2,139
I recently moved into a new house, and I finally have the chance to build a dedicated control room for my work. I thought I would start a thread to document the process of renovating my basement into something useable.

I was very fortunate to find a place with a big basement and pretty high ceilings (9ft). On the basement floor there's a roughly 20'x25' living room, and an adjacent 12'x14.5' bedroom that I will be turning into a control room. Although the living room will ultimately be mixed use, I'll be able to use it for recording guitar cabs and an occasional drum set.

I'm a podcast producer, so most of what I do is editing and mixing spoken word, but I also compose bumper music and music beds for shows. Occasionally I'll mix for music artists as well. I also record voiceover and narrate audiobooks.

So my primary goal for the control room is:
  1. Great frequency and time domain response, especially between 50-200Hz. I've always had trouble in this range in my previous rooms because I couldn't put in the acoustic treatment required to smooth that area.
  2. Just enough isolation for VO, but I'm not trying to fully soundproof. Aiming for about 40dB of isolation from outside noises.
  3. Easy access to guitars, amp heads, and keyboards for recording. I like these to be organized, patched in, and ready to go quickly -- all I have to do is throw a mic or two on the cab in the "live room." Keys and bass will be direct.

Here's a shot of the room when we moved in. Check out the uber chic fake wood paneling!


bHsl2oW.jpg



And here's a sketch of the room dimensions:
f6Tng6T.jpg
 

jasnc

Member
Messages
112
Congratulation, that’s going to be awesome. I checked out your site, are you still in Texas? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a basement in Texas!
 

mlkIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,520
Awesome man! I am in the process of (very slowly) turning my basement into a useable studio space. I don’t have anywhere near that much room in my basement but I only ever do guitar session work and occasionally bass. My issue is that I have concrete floors and I’ve gotta figure out something else there.
 
Messages
2,139
Awesome man! I am in the process of (very slowly) turning my basement into a useable studio space. I don’t have anywhere near that much room in my basement but I only ever do guitar session work and occasionally bass. My issue is that I have concrete floors and I’ve gotta figure out something else there.
I actually picked up some heavy duty (20mm) laminate vinyl plank to put down over the concrete floor when I’m done with the rest of the room. It looks really nice. I found 300sqft on sale so it was the same price as the lower grade stuff from Lowe’s.
 

mlkIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,520
I actually picked up some heavy duty (20mm) laminate vinyl plank to put down over the concrete floor when I’m done with the rest of the room. It looks really nice. I found 300sqft on sale so it was the same price as the lower grade stuff from Lowe’s.

Thanks for that!! This is my first time building a studio myself so I wasn’t sure what best option would be. I plan on laying rugs down everywhere too. I am going to have a digital based studio for the most part but I have a large storage closet I am going to use for cabs. Just need to figure out what to do about isolating the sound a little better.
 
Messages
2,139
I did a couple consulting calls with our very own illustrious @jmoose where we discussed some options for treating the room. He had several great ideas for treatment, including using the existing 2x4 structure that was holding up the mirror doors to create a false wall full of absorption.

Here's the basic gameplan after our talks:
  • Tear out the drop ceiling. Stuff the joists with insulation for broadband absorption and a natural ceiling cloud for first reflections over the desk.
  • Add some 2x4's to the existing closet structure and mount ~12" deep of OC703 to it with air gap behind. The closet space is 22" deep, so there will be 12" of trapping and 10" of air gap. This should smooth out the low end quite a bit since it's deep and it covers the entire back wall.
  • Beef up the party wall to the rest of the basement (the wall with the doorway). It's currently just a 2x4" stud wall with thin wood paneling tacked to it. I'm going to rip off the wood paneling, and put up double layer of 5/8" sheetrock on resilient channel to improve the isolation between the control and live room. Right now the wall doesn't go all the way up to the floor joists because of the drop ceiling, so it's actually just open air between the two rooms. More on this later.
  • Seal up all the spaces between the joists leading to the garage. Right now there's some A/C noise coming in through the gaps.
  • Solid core door with heavy weatherstripping
  • Variable acoustic treatment in the rear part of the control room -- a little diffusion for mixing, or I can flip around the treatment to make it deader for voice over and narration work.

I'm not going full monty with the isolation. Just trying to seal up the bigger gaps and beef up the party wall to hopefully get about 40dB of isolation. I'm lucky in that this room is already fairly quiet and isolated from the rest of the house. The house is on a couple acres so environmental noise from neighbors, etc is very low.

So the main goal is to make this room sound as good as possible, with just enough isolation to not drive me crazy. A/C noise is the real killer. I may have to add a baffle box to the supply vent in the room...
 
Messages
2,139
Thanks for that!! This is my first time building a studio myself so I wasn’t sure what best option would be. I plan on laying rugs down everywhere too. I am going to have a digital based studio for the most part but I have a large storage closet I am going to use for cabs. Just need to figure out what to do about isolating the sound a little better.
There's a lot to learn when it comes to studio isolation of any kind. It's a very specific construction approach and requires a lot of attention to detail. I chose to forego isolating my room to typical control room standards, because the cost and complexity was too high and I can get away with "light" isolation I think. Time will tell...

What is easy to do, though, is to get a lot of broadband absorption in that closet so you can tame the resonance of the room and absorb those muddy low mids that tend to build up in small spaces. Even just building a fort of 703 around the cab can do a lot to get a nice clean capture. Won't do much for the volume, but it will sound great.
 

mlkIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,520
There's a lot to learn when it comes to studio isolation of any kind. It's a very specific construction approach and requires a lot of attention to detail. I chose to forego isolating my room to typical control room standards, because the cost and complexity was too high and I can get away with "light" isolation I think. Time will tell...

What is easy to do, though, is to get a lot of broadband absorption in that closet so you can tame the resonance of the room and absorb those muddy low mids that tend to build up in small spaces. Even just building a fort of 703 around the cab can do a lot to get a nice clean capture. Won't do much for the volume, but it will sound great.

i may message you when I get to that point if that’s cool with you. I have a 7 month old so I do plan on spending the most in sound dampening of some sort.
 

tele1951

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
887
I hope I'm not hijacking the thread but I have a question:
I'm building a stand alone rehearsal/recording space.
I plan to have sealed concrete floor with various sized area rugs.
I have acoustical panels(for walls and ceiling cloud) and corner bass traps.
Is the concrete floor a good idea or should I go wall-to-wall carpet?
 
Messages
3,182
Awesome! My advice is to make acoustic measurements early, and make them often…let your build adapt to what the readings are telling you. Especially important when it comes time to build in your treatment.

keep us updated!
 

scotth

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,494
I did a couple consulting calls with our very own illustrious @jmoose where we discussed some options for treating the room. He had several great ideas for treatment, including using the existing 2x4 structure that was holding up the mirror doors to create a false wall full of absorption.

Here's the basic gameplan after our talks:
  • Tear out the drop ceiling. Stuff the joists with insulation for broadband absorption and a natural ceiling cloud for first reflections over the desk.
  • Add some 2x4's to the existing closet structure and mount ~12" deep of OC703 to it with air gap behind. The closet space is 22" deep, so there will be 12" of trapping and 10" of air gap. This should smooth out the low end quite a bit since it's deep and it covers the entire back wall.
  • Beef up the party wall to the rest of the basement (the wall with the doorway). It's currently just a 2x4" stud wall with thin wood paneling tacked to it. I'm going to rip off the wood paneling, and put up double layer of 5/8" sheetrock on resilient channel to improve the isolation between the control and live room. Right now the wall doesn't go all the way up to the floor joists because of the drop ceiling, so it's actually just open air between the two rooms. More on this later.
  • Seal up all the spaces between the joists leading to the garage. Right now there's some A/C noise coming in through the gaps.
  • Solid core door with heavy weatherstripping
  • Variable acoustic treatment in the rear part of the control room -- a little diffusion for mixing, or I can flip around the treatment to make it deader for voice over and narration work.

I'm not going full monty with the isolation. Just trying to seal up the bigger gaps and beef up the party wall to hopefully get about 40dB of isolation. I'm lucky in that this room is already fairly quiet and isolated from the rest of the house. The house is on a couple acres so environmental noise from neighbors, etc is very low.

So the main goal is to make this room sound as good as possible, with just enough isolation to not drive me crazy. A/C noise is the real killer. I may have to add a baffle box to the supply vent in the room...

Are you going to do any testing before adding all of that treatment?

It seems odd to me that anyone would go to the trouble of “treating” a room, without 1st diagnosing the trouble areas.
 

jmoose

Member
Messages
5,122
Are you going to do any testing before adding all of that treatment?

It seems odd to me that anyone would go to the trouble of “treating” a room, without 1st diagnosing the trouble areas.

Not really no. Not uncommon to do zero testing of a space at the stage he's at vs desired end results...

Given the scope of work any measurements taken in the raw space? As he got it? Basically meaningless.

The rear wall is coming out, ceiling, floor etc all getting rebuilt.

Easy enough to plop in the raw room dimensions and calculate nodes on any of the free room computers but once you start doing heavy construction?! Near worthless.

There has to be a certain amount of new/modified construction complete before investing the time to shoot & measure test tones becomes worthwhile.
 
Messages
3,182
Not really no. Not uncommon to do zero testing of a space at the stage he's at vs desired end results...

At the starting stage I think the relevant measurements have more to do with establishing the isolation requirements. How bad is the environmental noise? How effective is the current construction at blocking sound transmission?

It wouldn't hurt to run a few sweeps...but yeah, it's all going to change once the walls get beefed up. Usually, things get worse once the walls become more rigid.
 

Cosmo-D

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,099
I hope I'm not hijacking the thread but I have a question:
I'm building a stand alone rehearsal/recording space.
I plan to have sealed concrete floor with various sized area rugs.
I have acoustical panels(for walls and ceiling cloud) and corner bass traps.
Is the concrete floor a good idea or should I go wall-to-wall carpet?
In my basement studio, I left the concrete uncovered except for some strategically placed throw rugs, which cover probably 75% of the floor. IMO it's better to leave some reflective surfaces on the floor rather than totally deaden it with carpet. It's much easier to add more rugs to tame reflections than it is to remove carpet to add back some liveliness. I went with acid stained concrete and it looks great.
 
Messages
3,182
Oh something just occurred to me…buy a roll of shielded twisted pair, and run your tie lines before you get the walls sorted. Think about what your future needs might be. It’s cheap to run un-terminated wiring at this stage.

Also, maybe think about a dual sub setup at some time. Multi subs can give you really impressive (and even) bass response in small rooms. Check out Floyd Toole’s papers on this approach.
 
Messages
2,139
Not really no. Not uncommon to do zero testing of a space at the stage he's at vs desired end results...

Given the scope of work any measurements taken in the raw space? As he got it? Basically meaningless.

The rear wall is coming out, ceiling, floor etc all getting rebuilt.

Easy enough to plop in the raw room dimensions and calculate nodes on any of the free room computers but once you start doing heavy construction?! Near worthless.

There has to be a certain amount of new/modified construction complete before investing the time to shoot & measure test tones becomes worthwhile.
Exactly. Once I rebuild the party wall and seal up the joists, I can start shooting some measurements. I’m curious to see how much the false wall impacts the low end frequency response.
 
Messages
2,139
Oh something just occurred to me…buy a roll of shielded twisted pair, and run your tie lines before you get the walls sorted. Think about what your future needs might be. It’s cheap to run un-terminated wiring at this stage.

Also, maybe think about a dual sub setup at some time. Multi subs can give you really impressive (and even) bass response in small rooms. Check out Floyd Toole’s papers on this approach.
Definitely. I’m going to run a snake into the other room through the party wall when I open it up. Moose had the idea to build a hatch with weatherstripping (so it seals tight) so I can run/replace new cable as needed.

I’m going to run an angled PVC pipe through the wall as conduit for the cabling.

Ive considered a sub or two. My monitors (Focal CMS-65’s) are -3dB at 40Hz so I’ll see how good I can get the freq response with treatment first before seeing if I need/want any reinforcement in the low end.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom