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Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

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Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:04 pm

I’m about to have a loft conversion done on a terraced Victorian house (plans received today). Velux on one side, dormer to the rear with French doors. L 5.28m x W 3.46m H 2.00. The room is likely to be used for tracking acoustic instruments (especially vocals and acoustic guitars) and mixing. I have a number (c 12-14) 6” deep rockwool 2’ x 4’ panels for acoustic treatment, and may add more. The real issue, however, is soundproofing.

The biggest concern is actually keeping sound out of the room – I play fingerstyle guitar with a light touch and background noise is a big issue (in a way that it’s not for vocal tracking) – even self noise on mics can be a problem. The street is relatively quiet, but plane noise may be an issue.

I appreciate this is a difficult area. Is there anything I should be considering as to the general construction? There isn’t a huge budget for the soundproofing (I don’t think I’m in room within a room territory, for example), but if there’s anything that can be done to help sound proof the room during construction, now’s the time to consider it! The weakest points in the room will likely be the glass (one double glazed Velux S06 and double glazed French doors), but there’s nothing I can really do about that (save for putting rockwool against them whilst tracking). Given that a room tends only to be as soundproof as its weakest point, is there really much else I can/should be doing?

Any tips/tricks greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

P.S. I would expect this to have come up before here on the forum but I'm not having any joy finding anything related to lofts using the search function - I suspect because of the time limits of searches.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby James Perrett » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:23 pm

What is the present roof construction? If it is just tiles with felt underneath then there's not going to be much that you can do although it might be worth looking into mounting the plasterboard on resilient channel. It may also be worth using more than one layer of plasterboard but you need to check that the existing structure can handle the additional weight. About the only sensible thing you can do with the windows is to double them up. Does the Velux window have to open? If not, you could add another layer of glass underneath. With the french doors you would need to have 2 sets, the outer one opening outwards and the inner one opening inwards. Putting rockwool against the windows will have no effect.

It may be worth talking to an experienced acoustic consultant who will have more experience than I have and could give you some ideas that wouldn't be too expensive to implement at this stage. Unfortunately, if you go ahead with the build without thinking about the acoustic isolation, you could end up with a room that will be very difficult to improve in the future.

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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:49 pm

Thanks James. I have detailed plans with materials to be used in the construction which I can email if that helps. I suspect the existing roof is little more than tiles/felt/beams. It occurs to me that, what with having eaves storage accessible from the room, that that will be another (perhaps THE) weakest point.

Unfortunately the velux will need to be able to open and doubling up the doors is also not an option (it is not possible to have a set opening outwards for various reasons which I'll spare you with).

The thinking behind the rockwool over the glass doors/windows whilst recording (or perhaps just around the recording position) was simply that it might help absorb a little sound heading towards the mics (sound shadow) - but I appreciate that mass/density and, most crucially, air tight seals are what's really required to have an appreciable effect.

I may well have a word with a consultant to see if there's anything worth thinking about. However, I fear there's little that can be done...!
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Ant Gamble » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:50 pm

I had this problem with trains.

The cheapest option was to...learn the timetable lol!

I make sure I'm not in the middle of a take at 15 minutes past the hour or 10 minutes to the hour!

Failing that...rather than do the whole room, why not build a booth into a corner? Or buy a ready made one from someplace like studio spares.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Pete Thomas Music » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:11 pm

Dan B wrote:

The thinking behind the rockwool over the glass doors/windows whilst recording (or perhaps just around the recording position) was simply that it might help absorb a little sound heading towards the mics (sound shadow) - but I appreciate that mass/density and, most crucially, air tight seals are what's really required to have an appreciable effect.

The rockwool will do next to nothing, I would bung a couple of layers of plasterboard onto a wooden frame and find a way to mount over the window and door, so you can easily take it off and on.

Having the eaves accessible is a problem, It would be way better to wall them off, most loft conversions have a low wall all around, which you can have cupboards in. Anything like that would help.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:25 pm

Pete Thomas Music wrote:
The rockwool will do next to nothing, I would bung a couple of layers of plasterboard onto a wooden frame and find a way to mount over the window and door, so you can easily take it off and on.

Having the eaves accessible is a problem, It would be way better to wall them off, most loft conversions have a low wall all around, which you can have cupboards in. Anything like that would help.

Thanks - I'll give the plasterboard option some thought.

As for the eaves - yes, they'll be walled off, but with access hatch(es) for storage, so I'm thinking the access hatch(es) will be the weak point, since they tend just to be a sheet of mdf (magnetically mounted), and then you're straight into the loft eaves, which have to be left as are (tiles, thermal insulation, and not much else) for ventilation.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:29 pm

Ant Gamble wrote:I had this problem with trains.
Failing that...rather than do the whole room, why not build a booth into a corner? Or buy a ready made one from someplace like studio spares.

Will have a think about that - though a fairly big room would be needed for tracking acoustic guitar and they're not cheap! And there's the question of whether the floor/party walls could take the weight. It would also ruin the rest of the room...

I may just need to concede that I'll lose a few takes to the odd police siren (this is Brixton after all!), passing car and plane. Should be considerably better than where I am now in any case, which I'm having to record an album of fingerstyle guitar - no doubt also featuring starring roles from the number 3 bus, the birds in the garden and the neighbour's tv.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Pete Thomas Music » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:30 pm

Dan B wrote:
As for the eaves - yes, they'll be walled off, but with access hatch(es) for storage, so I'm thinking the access hatch(es) will be the weak point, since they tend just to be a sheet of mdf (magnetically mounted), and then you're straight into the loft eaves, which have to be left as are (tiles, thermal insulation, and not much else) for ventilation.

Maybe just glue some plasterboard to the inside of the mdf if you aren't able to construct stud/plasterboard walls.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:32 am

I think you may be pleasantly surprised when the build is complete. Modern building regs are very strict on insulation etc and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the room was a lot quieter than your anticipated. Velux windows won't be a problem, they're double glazed and hefty. Your access doors should be well sealed and insulated on the back too. I had a loft converted and once the plasterboard and insulation were up and some acoustic treatment installed it was not a bad space. You could always get them to plasterboard the loft side of the studding too in true BBC fashion.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:46 pm

I'm still considering whether to upgrade the soundproofing as if it's not done during the build it'll be impractical and uneconomical to do anything about it, but could render the room useless for recording.

I'm thinking different insulation material, double layers of plasterboard and possibly triple glazed Velux. There will also be a 1800mm bi-fold or french door - that may not be possible to get triple glazed. In which case, is that (a double glazed glass door) likely to be the weakest point - and it may not be worth doing much more (or at least, not going for triple glazed Velux windows).

Any thoughts on all this, and who to contact/get advice from on how to do this properly would be greatly appreciated.

I have the full architects spec and plans available.

Many thanks,

Dan
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby zenguitar » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:10 pm

As you are spending a lot of money it might be worth a day of Max's time consulting for you. You can be certain that he will give you a thorough and reliable assessment.

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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Dan B » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:00 pm

Yup - trying to get it touch with him at the moment. Any other thoughts appreciated.

In terms of tracking, the main noise appears to be passing planes. Light traffic noise too, but much less audible.

With windows as the weak points, that would suggest that the benefits of soundproofing (e.g. additional walls/isolation floor) would (only) be to keep monitoring noise out from bothering the neighbours... Which is actually less of an issue than minimising noise for tracking.
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Re: Loft conversion - treatment and esp sound proofing options

Postby Ant Gamble » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:16 pm

Or...

Buy/ build some free-standing screens. When bands record live, you see them segregating the instruments.
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