The heat is on – a rant about eggboxes

control-1The baffle (which will be above the planned twin Mac screens) is under construction – plasterboard and timber form the frame, and the final layer will be the same as the ceiling – rockwool and fabric. Behind this (at the bottom left of the vertical plan below) is the air circulation routing. This, again, is something of a trade secret, so I’ll confine myself to a description of the underlying physics and a plug for Jeff’s ingenuity (and Artis’ estimable craftsmanship). Basically, high frequencies are absorbed by ‘soft stuff’ and low frequencies are absorbed by ‘dense stuff’. But isolation and damping are two entirely different things. You may have heard of the urban myth about studios putting eggboxes on the wall. This does actually work to some extent in that it provides high-frequency damping and stops reverb (sound bounces less easily off rough non-uniform cardboard surfaces than it does off flat surfaces like tiling or plasterboard) but in my experience, this just has the same effect as a thick curtain or other soft furnishings. What eggboxes (or any similar lightweight materials) don’t provide is isolation – i.e. soundproofing – this can only be achieved through very dense/heavy materials that don’t resonate with uniform wavelengths; hence all the earlier variations in thicknesses and materials (rockwool, air, SterlingOSB, plasterboard etc).

picture-12This, of course, becomes a problem when you come to design air conditioning systems. Any air con system requires a duct – or hole – through which air of different temperatures can pass. And sound travels rather easily through holes! So the challenge is to create a construction that extracts air while preventing sound leakage into the rooms. The ducting needs to have some soft interior lining (to stop high frequencies) and a wavelength-averse construction (to stop low frequencies). And it goes without saying that the fans themselves need to be completely silent. Oh, and this studio is done on a very tight budget, so we can’t afford a top-of-the range air cooling system.

All of this secret construction cleverness is hidden behind the baffle in this picture – and you’re not allowed to see it, I’m afraid, but I’ve seen Jeff and Artis building the ducts, and it’s very impressive so far.

Will the guys solve all these problems and deliver silent aircon without breaking the bank? Tune in next time!

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