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QUESTION: Drum Recording Studio

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Hi everyone,

I apologise in advance if this has ever been covered here before, yet I couldn't find info.

I'm looking to start a recording studio specifically for drums - for myself to do remote sessions, and in the eventuality someone else would like to use the studio.

Essentially, I'd like some advice with regards to sound isolation (and treatment) and people's experience with this in their own (or rented) homes; whether a bedroom or garage.

I know it's a very general question. The main sticking point in all this is mobility... I'd like to be able to take this sound isolation to other places I might move into in the future.

Any thoughts would be welcome.


Nick x


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There are two general areas to consider relative to "acoustics" - isolation (often called "soundproofing") and the acoustics within the space itself - how the room "sounds". One is relatively easy to achieve compared to the other, and one is well-suited to mobility compared to the other. Unfortunately, you have to be concerned with both.


The main problem you run into when trying to achieve isolation is that it typically takes a lot of mass to "block sound" - especially loud low frequency sounds like what you get from a kick drum. Isolation can be extremely difficult to achieve - especially if you're trying to do it without making permanent modifications to the dwelling.


Of course, the amount of isolation required varies from situation to situation. If you live in the middle of a five acre lot in the middle of a cornfield somewhere, the only external sounds you're likely to have to worry about getting "in to" your room and getting on your recordings are birds, the folks in your home, and maybe some farm equipment - and the sounds you make will only annoy those who live with you, and you won't have to be concerned about your neighbors... but if you live in an apartment with thin walls, you're really in trouble.


Can you tell us a bit about the rooms you're considering using? Dimensions? Location within the house and relative to your neighbors? Any rooms above or below the space, or adjacent to it? What are the walls, floors and ceiling made of? Any nearby neighbors who are particularly loud or noise-sensitive?


Any details you can give could be helpful... :)


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Hi Phil,


Thanks for taking the time to reply.


To address your questions directly:


Rooms I'm considering using: I'm look to use my garage, of which the dimensions I'm not yet sure of as I'm just gathering as much info as possible as far as process first.


Location within the house and relativity to neighbours: I'm in a semi-detactched house. My neighbours are pretty tolerant as they understand it's my job (I use the garage to teach in the evenings). Sound isolation, I think, will let me also teach til later and record in the evenings if need be - keep in mind that given I'd record during the day, everyone's at work so not that big a deal... Although I still don't want to make a racket!


Rooms above or below the space, or adjacent to it, what are the walls, floors and ceiling made of: Walls in the garage that connect to the house are the living room (brick wall), and my bathroom (on the same floor, also brick / concrete). The other wall (brick) faces a clearing, and the other is the garage door (paper thin, really). The ceiling is also paper thin. Both ceiling and garage door are main concerns, really.


As I mentioned, don't yet know dimensions, but will be measuring soon. Does this help?


What I mean by mobility is that I want to be able to take the sound isolation stuff I'll be making to whatever house I may move to in the future...



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I converted my garage into a studio and did allot of sound proofing on a low budget and got excellent results.

I should note, sound proofing is not sound treatment. I had to add sound treatment after sound proofing.


The garage has simple painted dry wall inside and was not insulated. The outside is brick which helped allot to cut down on issues with the neighbors. The garage doors were wood and didn't block sound very well.


The first thing I did was have a Truck come in and blow insulation into the walls and above the ceiling. This was not only important for sound but for temperature control. Next I built a double sides drywall with insulation in front of the one garage door. I then built a drop ceiling and wall in front of the second. I wanted to be able to raise the door on one side and put in a door to the outside through the front. This make a an enclose in front of the door and I had a door which came from the side. I was also able to install a small AC unit in the Drop down ceiling area so the AC could vent from the back. TX gets super hot and that one unit works well.


Next I nailed up 1X4' wood slats on all the vertical studs, then put up another layer of dry wall. This provided an air gap between the original inside wall and the new walls. Over that I used acoustic ceiling tiles on the sheetrock and ceiling. Then over that I bought Foam under matting used for rugs. Its made of compressed foam chunks and could be stapled in place against the tiles.


after all those layers I can crank 100W guitar amps, 300w bass amps and have a drummer play full tilt and not bother the neighbor which is fairly close to the house and they have no complaints about the sound.


All this layering did make for an extremely dead sound room. Its like being in a coffin when you walk in and there's no reflectivity at all. It was kind of irritating in fact. I did allot of recording that way and had good isolation without additional barriers but I had to use reverb units on everything to get ambiance.


Later I tool wood paneling in back and over the drum set to get some reflectivity back. This brought back the brightness you need to get a good recording. I also added strategic reflective panels throughout the room to add some reflectivity so the room had more liveliness. Its still a bit dry. I can record vocals and not have to worry about any rogue room resonance. There were also a few area that had some boosted bass resonance I cured.


In all its not the prettiest looking studio but that was never my concern. I can get excellent results micing drums and instruments and get the recordings I want without bother the wife or my neighbors which is all that matters.

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Nick, are you renting or do you own the house? If you're renting, do you think the landlord would allow you to do something like put up a couple of extra layers of sheet rock on the garage ceiling? Or is it an open ceiling with just rafters and a roof above them?


Isolation takes mass - and lots of it. The other thing that helps is making the space air-tight.


Your garage door is definitely a weak area. Short of building a temp / removable wall directly behind it to seal it off, you're going to have some real challenges there.


A few to several hundred dollars in materials and some labor on your part (with a friend to help) would allow you make some isolation improvements, but a lot of that material would not be reusable later if you moved. You'd need to leave the added ceiling / wall drywall in place, remove the temp wall, etc.


As far as treatments for inside the room to make it sound better, that too could be done for a few hundred more in DIY material - and once built, those items would be relatively easy to take with you to a new location where you would be able to continue to use them.


The good news is that you have tolerant neighbors. :)

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