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"Drop" Ceilings (grids) and Acoustic Treatment


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I'm aware that "acoustic" drop ceilings only tend to attenuate frequencies in a very limited range of frequencies, and they're pretty much useless for bass. But, if I had a room with a drop ceiling, with a 2'x2' grid, and about eighteen inches to two feet of space between the grid and the underside of the roof above it, could I use heavy insulation (OC705 or perhaps that heavy Ultratouch cotton insulation) along the edges to act as hidden bass traps? I could even remove ceiling tiles in that area and replace them with a lightweight burlap-and-wire grid or something else acoustically-transparent, so the grid would just be holding the 705 (or 703 or Ultratouch or whatever dense material I used) in place along the edge of the room.

 

Would this work well enough to be worth doing? Or would I be better off just putting in a sheetrock or wood ceiling and putting bass traps in the corners?

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Actually, grid ceilings are awesome for full bandwidth absorption. Even just a "stock" installation of panels and airspace above is pretty impressive. But... lay out some fiberglass batts on top, as thick as you can get away with, without actually filling the void and you're now flat down to 125Hz. All the way cross the drop ceiling.

 

And yes, using 703 board in place of the tiles is even better. Alton F. Everest has/had some great absorption coefficient charts of common material installations like that. He's got a couple of books that deal with small studio construction, but the one I like the best is called How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch ... With 12 Tested Designs

 

http://www.amazon.com/Budget-Recording-Studio-Scratch-Designs/dp/0830629661

 

Great book. Easy to understand but doesn't stop there. He goes deep enough. And the Ab Co charts are priceless.

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the guy I bought my house from did some pretty crazy stuff when he remodeled the basement. Insulated drop cieling. A few non HVAC vent grids and triple layers of drywall in spots. 2x6 construction on a few reflective walls with insulation. Its wierd. but it works.

 

Funny thing is that he didn;t have a studio. He just had a nice audio system. I geuss his listening room turned into my tracking and mastering area. My basement it pretty damn good. I was Shocked by it.

 

Actually, grid ceilings are awesome for full bandwidth absorption. Even just a "stock" installation of panels and airspace above is pretty impressive. But... lay out some fiberglass batts on top, as thick as you can get away with, without actually filling the void and you're now flat down to 125Hz. All the way cross the drop ceiling.


And yes, using 703 board in place of the tiles is even better. Alton F. Everest has/had some great absorption coefficient charts of common material installations like that. He's got a couple of books that deal with small studio construction, but the one I like the best is called How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch ... With 12 Tested Designs


http://www.amazon.com/Budget-Recording-Studio-Scratch-Designs/dp/0830629661


Great book. Easy to understand but doesn't stop there. He goes deep enough. And the Ab Co charts are priceless.

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I'm aware that "acoustic" drop ceilings only tend to attenuate frequencies in a very limited range of frequencies

 

Yes, most standard office type ceiling tiles are designed to absorb only speech frequencies, and do very little at low and high frequencies. As Lee explained, the large gap helps absorb some at bass frequencies, but it's still not enough for music applications.

 

The best approach is to lay R-38 fluffy fiberglass (12 inches thick) above the entire grid, and use two layers all the way around the perimeter so the fiberglass reaches the corners at the tops of the walls where they meet the hard ceiling above. This is actually better than rigid fiberglass, and costs a lot less too.

 

--Ethan

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Yes, most standard office type ceiling tiles are designed to absorb only speech frequencies, and do very little at low and high frequencies. As Lee explained, the large gap helps absorb some at bass frequencies, but it's still not enough for music applications.


The best approach is to lay R-38 fluffy fiberglass (12 inches thick) above the entire grid, and use
two
layers all the way around the perimeter so the fiberglass reaches the corners at the tops of the walls where they meet the hard ceiling above. This is actually better than rigid fiberglass, and costs a lot less too.


--Ethan

 

...well, I think I've figured out how I'll be approaching the ceiling in my studio room this summer, then. :) I'll just put in a drop ceiling grid and lay insulation on top of it. Then I'll add bass traps in the wall/wall corners and address my early reflection points and go from there. Awesome.

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a room with a drop ceiling, with a 2'x2' grid, and about eighteen inches to two feet of space between the grid and the underside of the roof above it,

 

Here's a fun weekend project for you... get some sheets of 1/4" plywood and a reel of metal wire [like picture hanging wire]... now cut those pieces of plywood into uneven shapes [some wider, some longer].

 

Drill a couple of holes in what will be the top of the plywood and then string the wire through the hole and tie it off.

 

Now staple good old "in the wall" insulation to both sides.

 

Here's the fun part!!

 

Hang these above the drop ceiling in a pattern of 3 panels go "East -West" then 3 panels go "North - South" and create a checker board of hanging panels with fiber glass across the entire drop ceiling.

 

You should now have a very effective bass trap!! In fact... you might not even need the drop ceiling panels at that point... you might be able to cloth cover the ceiling panel grid and then use the ceiling tiles elsewhere [if you're going for that 1970's dead as a door nail kinda sound].

 

Best of luck with all you do!!

 

Oh yeah... try to get the room as cold as possible while you're working with the fiberglass... and pick up a "haz mat" suit from the hardware store... and a resperator... and when you're done take a cold shower [hot water opens the pores... you definitely want them as closed as possible!!] and chances you won't itch like a bastard for the next couple of days from the fiberglass dust sinking into your pores.

 

Peace.

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Thanks, Fletcher. I'm not really going for a "dead as a door" sound. Just trying to get a decent sound in the room. If all goes to plan this will be about a 40'x34' room with a concrete floor. The roof will be 12' at the edges, so about 10' at the edge for the ceiling, which I may make flat or which I may make follow the slope of the roof (1:12) but it'll probably be flat at about 10' or 10'6". Or I might go to 14' at the edge of the roof and raise the ceiling accordingly - that extra 2' can only help. Sheetrock walls, bass traps in the corners, and I'll treat early reflection points and such as necessary, but I'm hoping the room will be big enough to get a little bit of useful room sound. We'll see, though.

 

This will be a combination room for me. It'll be a home studio, but it'll also be my living room. That should be OK, as I ought to be able to route all my cabling and wires where they won't be stepped on through the use of in-wall and in-ceiling snakes and such. So the room will have a couch and chair and TV and such at one end, and music gear at the other. I thought that would be a better use of the space than trying to have two separate rooms and making them smaller. It still won't be a BIG room, of course, but it'll be much bigger than what I have now.

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Yes, most standard office type ceiling tiles are designed to absorb only speech frequencies, and do very little at low and high frequencies. As Lee explained, the large gap helps absorb some at bass frequencies, but it's still not enough for music applications.


The best approach is to lay R-38 fluffy fiberglass (12 inches thick) above the entire grid, and use
two
layers all the way around the perimeter so the fiberglass reaches the corners at the tops of the walls where they meet the hard ceiling above. This is actually better than rigid fiberglass, and costs a lot less too.


--Ethan

 

This is how I did mine. Works well. It doesn't isolate the room though. But when I considered putting drywall ceilings in, I was talked out of it. Because my ceilings were low, 7.5 ft. I think it was bpape over at your forum, who said something to the effect that sure it will isolate your rooms more, but at the expense of a lot of troublesome vertical modes.

 

The room above has hardwood floors, and basement ceiling allows alot of sound through, because of the gaps in the subfloor. My house is old school my subfloors are planks not OSB. So I thought I should attempt to sound proof it with drywall ceilings in basement studio. Bpape and yourself convinced me that was the wrong way to look at it. I was better off, forgetting about sound proofing and instead focus sound bettering. :)

 

Those anderson tiles and then adding insulation behind them, really made my room sound worlds better. It didn't isolate the sound from the upstairs very well, it damped it down quite a bit. Still a lot gets through. But I don't care, my actual recording environment has vastly improved.

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...well, I think I've figured out how I'll be approaching the ceiling in my studio room this summer, then.
:)
I'll just put in a drop ceiling grid and lay insulation on top of it. Then I'll add bass traps in the wall/wall corners and address my early reflection points and go from there. Awesome.

 

Careful with those grids. They rattle.

 

I used 2x4's and 2x2's. I screwed and liquid nailed them to the ceiling joyces. Then used an nail airgun and liquid nails to attach the ceiling panels directly to that. Its alot more robust and not as rattly. However, it makes maintenance a bitch if you ever need to remove them. Actually not a bitch just you end up having to ruin a panel or two if you need to do some wiring or lighting work. I have a bunch extras, so If I need to do some wiring. Ican just replace a panel here or there.

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They can rattle, but with a little extra care and a bit of glue in a few spots, it shouldn't be anything I can't take care of. As long as the metal grid is solid and prevented from rattling, I should be able to keep the tiles loose, which will make it easier if I ever need to get back above the ceiling grid.

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I work for a company that installs acoustical ceilings. There are many options for these ceilings to help absorb sound, go check out USG or Armstrongs websties, specifically at Armstrongs website is a tile called "Nubby" open plan.

Here is a link....

http://www.armstrong.com/commceilingsna/ceiling_data.jsp?productLineId=37&itemId=44767&typeId=1

 

I could talk for a while on the different options depending on the space your are going to install the ceilings, price, etc.

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Actually, grid ceilings are awesome for full bandwidth absorption. Even just a "stock" installation of panels and airspace above is pretty impressive. But... lay out some fiberglass batts on top, as thick as you can get away with, without actually filling the void and you're now flat down to 125Hz. All the way cross the drop ceiling.


And yes, using 703 board in place of the tiles is even better. Alton F. Everest has/had some great absorption coefficient charts of common material installations like that. He's got a couple of books that deal with small studio construction, but the one I like the best is called How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch ... With 12 Tested Designs


http://www.amazon.com/Budget-Recording-Studio-Scratch-Designs/dp/0830629661


Great book. Easy to understand but doesn't stop there. He goes deep enough. And the Ab Co charts are priceless.

 

I have a signed copy. Highly recommended. :phil:

 

In most pro studios, the visible surfaces of the room don't always represent the hard physical boundaries of the room - it's not just about the surface treatments that you can see, but also what's built into the spaces behind the surface of the walls / ceiling... and usually, there's quite a bit of space in various places in a good room design - and it's nearly always utilized in one way or another.

 

If you have the room above the drop ceiling, why NOT utilize it? Hidden corner bass traps, fiberglass batts laid out on the topside of the drop ceiling tiles, even multiple sheets of 703 / 703 in ceiling traps can all be used to good effect. And several companies make acoustic products of various types (absorbers, diffusers, etc.) that are designed to drop right into standard ceiling grids, and perform better than the cheap "acoustic" tiles you'll find at your local hardware store. If the ceiling's high enough, I'd go for broadband absorption mixed with diffusers, but would lean more towards fully absorptive if the overhead height is low.

 

However, be EXTREMELY CAREFUL about laying stuff directly on top of that drop ceiling grid, as opposed to properly mounting it directly to / independently suspended from the walls and ceiling - the framework and hardware and wires all have to be sufficiently / safely capable of handling the increased weight load, and if they're not, you'll need to reinforce them first before proceeding.

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Best of luck with all you do!!

 

Great suggestion Fletcher. I've been in rooms where the ceiling had a grid of hanging 703 panels laid out in a similar way, and it sounded pretty darned good.

 

Oh yeah... try to get the room as cold as possible while you're working with the fiberglass... and pick up a "haz mat" suit from the hardware store... and a resperator... and when you're done take a cold shower [hot water opens the pores... you definitely want them as closed as possible!!] and chances you won't itch like a bastard for the next couple of days from the fiberglass dust sinking into your pores.


Peace.

 

Great tip. :phil: Don't forget the goggles / eye protection though - fiberglass in the eyes is no one's idea of a good time. Well, maybe it is for someone out there, but personally, I'm not a fan... :eekphil::lol:

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Also here is an entire forum devoted to studio design. You'll basically find about the same info as already given (plus a lot more) and also some pics and stuff of other projects you might wanna try. FWIW I own 2 or 3 of F. Alton Everest's books. Pick one up you'll be suprised how much info is in there. Esp the aforementioned difference in sound proofing and sound treating.

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Thanks for the tips, everyone. :) As always, I'll be walking the fine line between "I want this to sound great" and "I'm not a professional studio and need to remember my budget." :D But if I do it right, it should be a HUGE improvement over recording everything in the spare bedroom in my trailer... I mean, it can't get any worse. :)

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Thanks, Fletcher. I'm not really going for a "dead as a door" sound. Just trying to get a decent sound in the room. If all goes to plan this will be about a 40'x34' room with a concrete floor. The roof will be 12' at the edges, so about 10' at the edge for the ceiling, which I may make flat or which I may make follow the slope of the roof (1:12) but it'll probably be flat at about 10' or 10'6". Or I might go to 14' at the edge of the roof and raise the ceiling accordingly - that extra 2' can only help. Sheetrock walls, bass traps in the corners, and I'll treat early reflection points and such as necessary, but I'm hoping the room will be big enough to get a little bit of useful room sound. We'll see, though.


This will be a combination room for me. It'll be a home studio, but it'll also be my living room. That should be OK, as I ought to be able to route all my cabling and wires where they won't be stepped on through the use of in-wall and in-ceiling snakes and such. So the room will have a couch and chair and TV and such at one end, and music gear at the other. I thought that would be a better use of the space than trying to have two separate rooms and making them smaller. It still won't be a BIG room, of course, but it'll be much bigger than what I have now.

 

I was kinda kidding about the "70's dead" sound... but not about the trapping in the ceiling. It's a tried and true technique [often called "westlake bass trapping"] that is VERY effective.

 

Store bought traps in the corners won't be as effective... though making the walls "non-parallel" will be highly effective. If you want, you can also either checker board the drop ceiling tiles and make cloth covered frames for the missing tiles so long as you make sure that the perimeter of the room has no tiles as bass likes to couple with shell walls and the bass will travel to the ceiling area along those walls.

 

The other thing you will quickly realize is that the "living room furniture" will have a huge effect on the general RT-60 [reverb time] of the room.

 

Best of luck with all you do!!

 

Peace.

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just moved into my new bedroom in the basement and it all dry wall. 7' roof its 7'5"x14'7" wide

 

I cannot sing in here. there are some crazy reflections goin on in here,

 

I need tips on helping with the room so I can record vocals in here.

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In a room that small (my current room is 10x10' with an 8' ceiling, so I feel your pain) you just don't get much usable reflection of any sort, so I pretty much just tried to make mine a dead room. It isn't ideal, but I feel like I wind up with better recordings since I added treatment to the walls and ceiling to make the room basically dead.

 

I don't know that it's the best way to do it, but, that's what I did with mine. I'm hoping the new room will be big enough that I won't have to do that.

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what did you do with the cieling?

 

Put foam on it to kill the midrange and treble reflections, and hung bass traps in every wall-ceiling corner. I made the room DEAD (at least in the upper mids and highs). There are still severe low-end problems in the room, but the midrange and highs are tamed.

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just moved into my new bedroom in the basement and it all dry wall. 7' roof its 7'5"x14'7" wide


I cannot sing in here. there are some crazy reflections goin on in here,


I need tips on helping with the room so I can record vocals in here.

How much construction can you do, and what's your budget?

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