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Basement studio.

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Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:10 am

We've had some friends staying with us for awhile, but now they've gone and it means a reorganisation of our house and "re-purposing" of rooms which leaves the basement free to turn into a studio.
This is going to be a revelation, as it will enable me to have a seperate control room/performance araea, which will make our sessions a lot easier from a monitoring point of view. The control room will be in the basement, with the piano in a room upstairs, with mic lines/talk-back joining the two.
Trouble is, the basement is quite cramped, with a ceiling height of only 7 feet, with exposed beams and bare brick. It's an oblong room, about 12X15 ft, with one window looking out onto a gully.
I'm wondering about possible acoustic problems, especially with the low ceiling, we are thinking of selling the house, not immediately, but it will happen, and this is going to limit what I want to do regarding acoustic treatment, I don't want to make too many drastic structural alterations, so any advice about "remedial" treatment would be welcome. I've also got to think about smaller monitors, as my huge KEF"s won't fit, so that's another thing to think about, especially positioning.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:36 am

Doesn't really sound like an ideal control room too me... far too many compromises. And basements always have more serious bass problems there's nowhere for the low end to escape -- no leaky plasterboard walls or windows...
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:44 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Doesn't really sound like an ideal control room too me... far too many compromises. And basements always have more serious bass problems there's nowhere for the low end to escape -- no leaky plasterboard walls or windows...

Thanks Hugh, well, I've taken a set of monitors down there and played a few things now, bass seems very light, and boomy, and the stereo imaging is weird, there's almost no definition in that respect, it's all very vague. It's like there isn't room for the sound to breath, or expand. I need time to move the monitors around.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:50 am

Weird imaging is almost always down to strong reflections from side walls and (low) ceiling. Light and boomy bass are classic symptoms of major standing wave issues. I doubt moving the speakers around will help, although it will probably change which note frequencies boom and disappear...

It sounds like you're going to need a lot of acoustic treatment to get a reasonable-sounding room. It could be made removable fairly easily... but it will be an expense and it will reduce the usable space significantly.

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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:04 am

Well, my parade has well and truly been rained upon :)
Yes, I think its going to be a no no, I may still use it, as a room for my synths and electronic stuff, I can always use headphones for that, or a pair of really small monitors.
That will free up a lot of space upstairs, cut down to the computer, and mic's, and it'll leave more room for our Marimba and piano.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:33 am

My basement studio is far from being an ideal space, it too has a low ceiling (around 6' 9" but reduced further by the broad band absorbers stuck on there). It does sound reasonable though to my ears so something usable can be achieved (for a certain definition of useable) with £300 of DIY treatment.

What is useable for me is probably not adequate for your needs so, obviously, you'll need consider carefully before committing.

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BTW, as you can see I did manage to fit my medium sized Kev 104aBs in there.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:20 am

Sam Spoons wrote:My basement studio is far from being an ideal space, it too has a low ceiling (around 6' 9" but reduced further by the broad band absorbers stuck on there). It does sound reasonable though to my ears so something usable can be achieved (for a certain definition of useable) with £300 of DIY treatment.

What is useable for me is probably not adequate for your needs so, obviously, you'll need consider carefully before committing.

Image

BTW, as you can see I did manage to fit my medium sized Kev 104aBs in there.

Sam, I'm not looking for anything of a mastering studio standard! As you say, just a "usable space" I think having the benefit of a seperate monitoring room will far outweigh any compromises in the acoustics, doing away with having to record and perform in the same room. If it doesn't work fine, and it's "really bad" I'll just have to stay where I am.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:20 pm

Well, disregard my signature, at least as far as taking it seriously, that hasn't really happened yet but my basement is a nice place to be, I practice (alone and with the band, both acoustic and rock trio), do a little 'not yet serious' recording and just hang out and play with the toys. Soundwise, I don't have 'golden ears' (or indeed particularly well trained ones) but the difference between the room before treatment and after is night and day.

WRT headroom (physical rather than audio) anybody much over 6 ft has to play sitting down :smirk: but, at 5' 6" I'm very comfortable in there :D
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:29 pm

Arpangel wrote:Sam, I'm not looking for anything of a mastering studio standard! As you say, just a "usable space"....

You can certainly use the space! I was just pointing out that all the acoustic deficiencies you'd highlighted were inherent in a space of that type, and they would only be resolved with the addition of acoustic treatment.

However, there's no reason why whatever you install can't be removed easily -- there are a variety of low-impact methods of hanging panels on the walls and ceiling, and standing bass traps in the corners, for example.

Just have realistic expectations of what can and can't be achieved, and the likely cost and physical impact of treating the space.

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Re: Basement studio.

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Arpangel wrote:it will enable me to have a seperate control room/performance araea, which will make our sessions a lot easier from a monitoring point of view. T

A bit depends on why you desire a separate control room... if it's for actually listening or mixing it's bad news, but if you want it for the logistics it can be a good idea so long you use headphones for monitoring :)

For example, with less experienced singers or players (and also some experienced!) I often find that it's good to get out of the way after pushing "record". Reason is that, if they know and see someone in the same room looking at them, they feel a little embarrassed and are less able to let go and perform at their best. It's just a psychological trick but nevertheless I find it gives me better takes. I have panel curtains, which can be moved out to create a "wall", thus giving that psychological isolation that certain people need to perform at their best.

A separate control space where you can talk with the artists while actually being visually out of the way is not a bad idea - even if you cant actually monitor there.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:27 am

Sam, looks like you have absorbers on the wall and ceiling, and a couple of bass traps in the corners, I'm very interested in how you arrived at where to put them, or did you put them in "obvious places" and worked from there? I think it can be easy to get confused when trying out positions for panels etc, and I'm scared I might make it worse without realising it.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:34 am

The best way to start is to install 'proper' bass traps in the corners (because that's where they work most efficiently), and broadband panels on the walls and ceiling in the 'mirror points' where they will prevent the first reflections from bouncing back to the listening position.

After that lot is installed and auditioned, you can consider placing additional panels on the front wall behind the speakers, and the back wall, and maybe elsewhere depending on what remaining issues need to be addressed.

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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:41 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The best way to start is to install 'proper' bass traps in the corners (because that's where they work most efficiently), and broadband panels on the walls and ceiling in the 'mirror points' where they will prevent the first reflections from bouncing back to the listening position.

After that lot is installed and auditioned, you can consider placing additional panels on the front wall behind the speakers, and the back wall, and maybe elsewhere depending on what remaining issues need to be addressed.

H

Thanks, I know about mirror points, actually I forgot! Thanks for reminding me! :blush:
I'm thinking of experimenting with rolls of loft insulation to start with, as bass traps, not sure about constructing the panels yet, there's no ceiling as such, just open beams, with floordoards on top.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:52 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The best way to start is to install 'proper' bass traps in the corners (because that's where they work most efficiently), and broadband panels on the walls and ceiling in the 'mirror points' where they will prevent the first reflections from bouncing back to the listening position.

That's exactly what I did, guided by advice given on here and articles in the magazine. The wall and ceiling panels are indeed at mirror points (and there is an additional one on the back wall). The position of bass traps is, I believe, less critical so I placed them in the front corners, they are floor to ceiling and about 600mm across the front (built from stacked triangles, super chunks style). What is not obvious is that the blue panel behind the monitors is another bass trap 250mm deep and 1400 x 800 mm. I used the remaining materials to build some additional panels and placed them over the drum kit and the other side of the room (visible in the top right of the pic).

My room is symmetrical around the mix position but not around the other end, the door intrudes into the back left corner WRT the mix position (the pic is taken from the doorway).

Arpangel wrote:Thanks, I know about mirror points, actually I forgot! Thanks for reminding me! :blush:
I'm thinking of experimenting with rolls of loft insulation to start with, as bass traps, not sure about constructing the panels yet, there's no ceiling as such, just open beams, with floordoards on top.

If you want to reduce sound transmission into/from the room above you'll need to fill those gaps between the joists (I simply installed a ceiling fixed to the joists and fill the voids with rock wool, it was a long time ago though and I didn't know any better). If 'soundproofing' is not a requirement then absorbers could be made to fit between the joists.

DIY is pretty easy, I built all the panels for around £300 and over ⅓ was for Cara fabric to cover them. I have 7 x broadband absorbers and 3 x bass traps.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:06 am

Sam Spoons wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:The best way to start is to install 'proper' bass traps in the corners (because that's where they work most efficiently), and broadband panels on the walls and ceiling in the 'mirror points' where they will prevent the first reflections from bouncing back to the listening position.

That's exactly what I did, guided by advice given on here and articles in the magazine. The wall and ceiling panels are indeed at mirror points (and there is an additional one on the back wall). The position of bass traps is, I believe, less critical so I placed them in the front corners, they are floor to ceiling and about 600mm across the front (built from stacked triangles, super chunks style). What is not obvious is that the blue panel behind the monitors is another bass trap 250mm deep and 1400 x 800 mm. I used the remaining materials to build some additional panels and placed them over the drum kit and the other side of the room (visible in the top right of the pic).

My room is symmetrical around the mix position but not around the other end, the door intrudes into the back left corner WRT the mix position (the pic is taken from the doorway).

Arpangel wrote:Thanks, I know about mirror points, actually I forgot! Thanks for reminding me! :blush:
I'm thinking of experimenting with rolls of loft insulation to start with, as bass traps, not sure about constructing the panels yet, there's no ceiling as such, just open beams, with floordoards on top.

If you want to reduce sound transmission into/from the room above you'll need to fill those gaps between the joists (I simply installed a ceiling fixed to the joists and fill the voids with rock wool, it was a long time ago though and I didn't know any better). If 'soundproofing' is not a requirement then absorbers could be made to fit between the joists.

DIY is pretty easy, I built all the panels for around £300 and over ⅓ was for Cara fabric to cover them. I have 7 x broadband absorbers and 3 x bass traps.

Thanks for the info Sam, sound leakage out isn't a problem, so I haven't got to deal with that. I'll try with some insulation rolls first, and see what happens regarding bass traps.
There is definitely a lot of standing waves, and imaging is awful.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby MOF » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:26 pm

I may still use it, as a room for my synths and electronic stuff, I can always use headphones for that, or a pair of really small monitors.
That will free up a lot of space upstairs, cut down to the computer, and mic's, and it'll leave more room for our Marimba and piano.

Is your cellar dry? Often they’re not and putting expensive gear down there is not a good idea unless you go to the expense of tanking it.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:03 pm

MOF wrote:
I may still use it, as a room for my synths and electronic stuff, I can always use headphones for that, or a pair of really small monitors.
That will free up a lot of space upstairs, cut down to the computer, and mic's, and it'll leave more room for our Marimba and piano.

Is your cellar dry? Often they’re not and putting expensive gear down there is not a good idea unless you go to the expense of tanking it.

This is a good point and I did indeed have to do that.
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Re: Basement studio.

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:09 am

MOF wrote:
I may still use it, as a room for my synths and electronic stuff, I can always use headphones for that, or a pair of really small monitors.
That will free up a lot of space upstairs, cut down to the computer, and mic's, and it'll leave more room for our Marimba and piano.

Is your cellar dry? Often they’re not and putting expensive gear down there is not a good idea unless you go to the expense of tanking it.

This could be the deciding factor, it did flood a few times, about ten years ago, the water table is high where we are. It's our laundry room at the mo, and has a drier in it, there is an area under the stairs that lead down to it that gets damp, but the rest is dry.
This is a concern though, but I do store unused equipment down there and it seems fine, I keep it on high metal shelves, and check it regularly.
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