Raising the roof!

In order to accommodate the air handling (and possibly the Sunpipe) we’re raising the ceiling height very slightly. It’s just as well that this was part of the project, because the lifting of the roof timbers showed some unexpected – and unwelcome – dry rot. So we’ll need to replace more roof timbers than originally thought.

Artis has been raising the height of the ceiling using four-inch blocks of wood as spacers – we’ll add a line of concrete blocks at the top soon. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t rain for the next couple of days!

Dividing wall and sound isolation

img_0806The first thing to go up is the dividing wall – the one-block high line that Jeff’s building at the moment. This is at a slight angle for acoustic reasons, and also to make the control room slightly wider than the live room. The cement mixer here is roughly where the drum kit will be. The main wall in the middle will eventually come down and be replaced by the new one.

Wall and window

In the picture above you can see where the glass wall is going to be. Both rooms will be sealed boxes, and this wall of concrete blocks will provide mass for (mostly low-frequency) absorption between rooms. The physics is all based around the principle that sound travels least well when it has to get through varying densities. So the dividing wall will have a sealed box, then an air gap, then a large mass (these concrete blocks) then another air gap, then another sealed box.

FlooringTo show the principle further, here (on the right) is one of Howard’s close-up discussion diagrams for the floor, using concrete (floor) ‘jablite‘ (insulation), 2 x ply (flooring) and rubber-backed carpet (click on the image for a larger version).

Vertical plan


And here’s the plan – live room shown here on the right of the picture; this shows the angled wall and window position more clearly.

Garage to studio in 3 months

img_0802I moved house this year, and the new place has a double garage. Not being a car lover, and having no garage-mechanic skills whatsoever, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to build a ‘proper’ home studio to replace the family-unfriendly spare rooms and attic hideouts I’ve used so far. So here, for posterity, and for fellow studio nerds who take an interest, I’m going to blog the building of the studio as it progresses.

The design

I’m using the StudioWizard organisation, who designed the MusicLab at Bath Spa, which has proved to be the most tutor-friendly teaching studio I’ve ever used. The design is taken care of by Howard Turner. These are the initial CAD pictures – live room and studio.

Working methods and tech

I tend to work purely at the Mac with the minimum of outboard apart from mic pre-amps. The studio is based around a Digi002 and an Intel Mac running Pro Tools and Logic Pro. The most important consideration was not tech (I already have most of the kit) but ergonomics – how would I move around the working environment. Typically I’ll be working on my own for most of the time, with one other person (session player, collaborator or co-writer). After much discussion, Howard and I decided we would try to squeeze in a tiny live room – just enough for a minimal drum kit. Live drums is the one thing I’ve always had to farm out, and although I don’t actually play kit, it’s going to be great to have the option of real drums for projects; once you factor in the time it takes to program (and produce) sampled drums properly, it can often work out cheaper simply to hire a kit player – and most of the time it sounds a whole lot better. BFD is great, but it’s like any other virtual instrument – it sounds amazing right up the moment when you compare it to the real thing! All of my projects (guitar teaching books and songwriting stuff) are based on creating a ‘live band’ sound in some form, and I don’t expect to get inspired by Techno any time soon, so having a live room (albeit an acoustically dry one) is going to be a real plus for future recordings.