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Building a Home Recording Studio


Sound proofing and the acoustics for music rooms are two separate entities. SP is the ability to prevent sound being made in your music room from escaping to another area. This is not to be confused with your music room's own acoustic properties. For example, lots of upholstery and curtains create a dead room, tiles and polished floors make a live sounding room. It is important to realise at the outset that lining your walls with fibreglass, egg trays or acoustic tiles will not 'Sound Proof' your music room.

These opening articles will serve to highlight basic ways for improving your own home Studio's acoustics. So, putting a few questions in a nutshell — what is Sound? It is variations of air pressure level at frequencies detectable to the human ear. What stops Sound? Density and Mass (ie. heavy hard materials).

We know what sound is and what stops it, but as with everything in nature it's not that simple and compromises must be made. I built a Control Room in the roof space of a bungalow and the lounge was turned into my studio (I have a very understanding wife!).

Figure 1. Sound attenuation of party walls. Cross-section of Side Elevation.

Basic Principles

First, we must consider the most suitable locations for building a home studio. In order of preference, these are:

Ground floor Detached House
Any rooms in a Detached House
Occupants of Semi's, Flats and Town Houses - MOVE HOUSE!

Figure 2. Party wall sound attenuation. Cross-section of Plan.

Here are some important points to get us started:

1. It's not always possible to use solid concrete bricks to block up windows and doors to contain your sound, but if it is use them. Breeze and Thermalite Blocks are not very good sound proofers.

2. Air being the medium for carrying sound (as well as the medium for sustaining life!) needs to be sealed in the music room, yet changed when stale. These two requisites are contradictory, but there are many solutions, from air conditioning plants to merely opening the doors between recording.

One inventive customer of ours who has a Cellar Studio incorporates a suction vacuum cleaner tube in the wall and stops it off with a large cork when not in use. A small extractor fan with 'Dog Leg' ducting is the norm.

Figure 3. Sound attenuation of party walls and stud partitioning.

3. It's a good idea to add extra sound proofing to existing interior walls. The following sketches should give the reader insight to proven methods.

4. This next method is not fully recommended, but is a compromise by means of the construction of a studded wall where it is not feasible to use brick.

5. Floors ideally should be built solid and vibration free, and the best method is to use concrete floated on mineral building mat. The next best method employs a false floor on mineral slab. However, most home musicians settle for double felt underlay or special acoustic felt.

Construct the timber frame to suit your room size (fit it together piece by piece in situ). The 24 and 36 inch centres will coincide with the plasterboard sheet size exactly and only a narrow strip needs to be cut off the mineral slab to ensure a snug fit between the battens.

It is easily cut with a sharp knife. Use a 'yard-stick' or similar strip of rigid wood as a 'straight-edge' for guiding the knife. Note: For stud partitioning 3x2, 4x2 or 4x3 inch section timber is employed. For party wall 'sandwich' 2 x 2 inch section is adequate. Inside stud partition 75 or 100mm thick slab and between party wall the 50mm thick mineral slab. (The above drawings are for 100mm 'in-fill', but basic construction is identical for both). Neoprene: Wherever the timber frame meets floor or ceiling, wall behind or at the side, an anti-vibration membrane is essential.

Wet Application Plaster Finish (optional): When it is desirable to complete the final surface with emulsion or wallpaper, it is essential that the plaster skim does not set directly in contact with adjacent construction.

Next issue, we'll continue ideas for basic construction. In further articles we'll be pleased to discuss readers' specific problems on sound-proofing. Please write to me at (Contact Details)

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Home & Studio Recording - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Home & Studio Recording - Sep 1983

Feature by Alan Cheetham

Previous article in this issue:

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