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Lofting a control room?

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Lofting a control room?

Postby Funkyflash5 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:44 am

Hi all,
I've recently gotten use of a roughly cubic room 18ft(5.5m) on a side in an old warehouse that is playing the role of rehearsal space. I've treated it acoustically (thanks in part to the information here) to the point where it sounds quite good, and would like at some point to be able to use it for recording as well. Since there's not enough floor space to divide the room into live and control rooms, I'd like to build a loft over part of the room so as to have something like an 8x11 control room and some extra storage over one side, but still maintain the high ceilings over more than half the room. What I'm wondering is, what do I need to account for in constructing this, so as to get as much isolation as I can between control and live on a moderate budget?
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:34 am

Things to consider :-

You'll need access via ladder or built in staircase, this will use up floor space below.

It will need to be structurally sound, which won't be cheap. And you don't want it collapsing destroying the gear in the loft and that below (or worse still injuring the muso's below or worse). And anything other than minimal isolation is expensive and difficult requiring mass, not just simple stud walls.

Electrics (mains and audio tie lines)?

If you are renting will the landlord allow you to make such significant alterations?

Do you intend to use the loft for mixing or just as a control room when tracking (if the former symmetry is important as is more acoustic treatment and the smaller space will make controlling the low end harder)?

Will you be playing in the band you plan to record (better off with the gear in one room especially if getting to the desk involves climbing a ladder or staircase) or acting as dedicated recording engineer (separate spaces)?
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:04 pm

Around here we would talk about constructing a mezzanine floor. This is pretty common in industrial properties and there are plenty of companies that could do it for you. It usually involves building a steel frame which carries the new floor and walls. I'm not sure of costs but it would probably be worth a search on mezzanine floor construction.
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby Funkyflash5 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:16 am

Thanks for the replies! There's lots to consider!

The landlord has signed of on my making improvements to the space on my own dime, especially since when I moved in it was literally a concrete and brick box with 2 lights hanging in the middle, so anything is an improvement.

Here in the land of big timber, wood comes up a lot cheaper than steel, so I'm planning on using either 6x6 or 8x8 posts around the perimeter with engineered I-joists as the main beams across and 2x6's as joists. Then a sub floor of glued and screwed plywood. it will be anchored into the brick walls around the perimeter to prevent racking and the posts will be anchored into the concrete floor using post brackets. All framing will be rated for more than code of a freestanding deck, and the I-joists will be rated for more than double the stiffness spec'ed by code(around L/960). I'll be loosing to the stairs about as much floor space as the mixer, computer, and stored subwoofer take up now, so it should net out to a similar experience on the ground floor.

Electrical is currently run in conduit on the walls, so tapping in to a junction box to run a length up to the mezzanine is easy. I was given a length of snake cable plus wall boxes by a friend, so 16 channels worth of analog audio between live and control will only cost me some time and solder. I'm running a Midas m32 as board/interface/control surface, so at some point a digital snake box will probably be added to my kit, so I will run extra Ethernet cable during construction since it's cheep. I'll also be able to control the m32 from my tablet, so accessing the mixer physically should be less critical, and if I need to rig a solution for hitting record on my daw from the ground floor, I'm sure I can take care of that over either wifi or ethernet.

I'm sure I will be doing a mix of playing with in a "studio live" setup, as well as acting as recording engineer. I would like to be able to rough mix there, but I do have a mixing space at home, as well as a friend with a pro studio that I can borrow for any critical recordings.

The main things I'm less sure on is how I want to build the control room walls (including do I need to frame in front of the brick?), whether I need to create a second ceiling or can just use the existing one, and if there's anything I can do to reduce sound coming through the floor. Also, is there anything else I'm forgetting?
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:06 am

Sounds like you're pretty on it as far as structure and services is concerned :thumbup: Brick would best for sound isolation but may be impractical. The very best construction is only as good as it's weakest section and isolation will be negated though if you allow any air gaps or thinner sections. I'd probably be pragmatic and go for double or triple layers of plasterboard packed with rock wool (but bear in mind I'm no expert) possible with some mass providing layer.

Please let us know what you end up doing, it sounds like a great project.
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:07 pm

I would go for the box within a box approach by building an outer structure attached to the existing walls and probably using the exisiting ceiling. I would then build a second inner box which is completely separate (apart from resting on pads) from the outer structure. For the inner and outer walls use a triple decker sandwich of 19mm plank/12mm acoustic/15mm acoustic plasterboard (drywall) with Green Glue between each layer.

You'll need to allow adequate ventilation and (depending local climate) air conditioning. The ducting needs to be designed so that it doesn't compromise the sound isolation.

Do a search on here for posts by Studio Suppport Gnome - he did this sort of thing for a living for many years and his posts are full of good advice.
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby Funkyflash5 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:42 am

Ventilation is a point I had totally forgotten. Heat to the room is just from a couple of gaps to the rest of the building (good thing no one else is there after hours to care when I get loud!) which is only heated to a constant 55F and then augmented by a space heater in the room when occupied, and there is no AC, although the mass of the building is alleged to keep things relatively cool (it is a half million square foot building, and the room is right in the middle). But I can see that the control room could get quite stuffy if truly isolated and sealed. Are there any best practices for passively venting it without sound leakage? or am I best off just making sure to take 5 every hour or so and leave the door open?

If I do the room within a room framing, I would go with the staggered stud type approach, but how do the window and door attach without coupling the 2 sides together? or is that just a compromise that has to be made? Also, since I only have 8ft of platform width to work with, can the inner wall next to the existing brick have the 2x4's turned sideways to save 2 inches? I know that doesn't leave a lot of gap, but how much will that make a difference there? And is there a good guide to floating the floor?

Due to the sizes of materials being used, the control room should end up being about 7.5ft wide, and 8.5-9 ft tall, but the length is somewhat negotiable. is there any advantage to it's internal acoustics to making it a couple feet shorter or longer? I'm quite aware that there will need to be significant acoustic treatment on the inside as a separate matter from isolation (i've got 84 cubic feet of rock wool bass trapping in the space as it is), but if I can start from a better place I'm inclined to do so.
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue May 01, 2018 10:48 am

This thread https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=43047 will probably tell you all you need to know about DIY studio design. The OP there is building a serious studio and detailing all his work with many pictures. Well worth the effort to read what is a long but interesting thread. If you don't want to read the whole thing then search for 'attenuators' and that will take you to the relevant posts.

Regarding room size just avoid multiples of the width and/or hight and make the length as odd a fraction of the other dimensions as possible.
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Re: Lofting a control room?

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 01, 2018 11:06 pm

Funkyflash5 wrote:Are there any best practices for passively venting it without sound leakage? or am I best off just making sure to take 5 every hour or so and leave the door open?

I've found long lengths of flexible acoustic insulated ducting to be sufficiently effective at sound attenuation. I have 2 100mm inlet ducts in my control room and 2 100mm outlet ducts which are combined and connected to a 125mm fan. I find that I rarely need to use the fan unless the control room is very full of people.

Funkyflash5 wrote:If I do the room within a room framing, I would go with the staggered stud type approach, but how do the window and door attach without coupling the 2 sides together?

...can the inner wall next to the existing brick have the 2x4's turned sideways to save 2 inches?

I kept the windows and doors completely separate for each layer. If you want to cover the gap you could use acoustic foam, neoprene or fabric.

Depending upon the weight of the structure, you may be able to get away with 2x3's but the gap is useful for attenuation so I wouldn't reduce it too much.

You can find some pictures of my studio build at

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... b7f7f4d849
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