In the white room…

The final look of the control room - oak-coloured laminate floor, 'ginger' carpet tiles and the light green hessian.

The final look of the control room - oak-coloured laminate floor, 'ginger' carpet tiles and the light green hessian.

We’re done! The building part of the project is complete. The final phase, in two weeks’ time, will be the building of furniture followed by the equipment installation. More on this in a few days’ time, as I start to set up my current studio kit in there.

Jeff finished the last of the carpet tiling today, and there’s now nothing more to do to the building apart from tweak the aircon heatsink, and ‘box in’ one of the fans. Since the last post we’ve been working on the final bits of cosmetics, selecting colours (‘ginger’ carpet tiles and ‘antique light oak’ laminate flooring). Jeff and I took a run out to B&Q where he haggled with the staff (which you can do, apparently, if there is minor damage to the stock).

The control room floor is a combination of wood-effect laminate and carpet tiles. The laminate is actually preferable to wood, because I’ll need to be able to scoot around on a wheeled office chair (between analogue desk, Digi002, Mac and music keyboard) and a real wood floor wouldn’t be as durable as the high-quality laminate that Jeff uses. We’re only using laminate as far as the left-hand edge of the music keyboard (facing the live room window); the rest will be carpet tiles to avoid any reflections coming off the floor. The live room floor is all laminate – and I’m still asking around for rug ideas for the drum kit. What kind of rugs do drummers like anyway? Most drummers I’ve worked with seem to use a thin and moth-eaten Persian rug that smells a bit damp – but that may be an economic choice rather than a musical one.

We’re treating the lobby as a utility area so its look is, er, utilitarian. We’ve painted it all white, and left the hard surfaces of plasterboard panels, OSB ceiling and MDF door panels. It will be a great room for one particular guitar sound that I love – the loud-amp-in-a-small-room effect – although I don’t yet know how much ‘room’ I’ll be able to create in a space that size. Reamping was never really an option with my previous setup because of the need to avoid noise pollution for the family – looking forward to fiddling about with mic placements etc.

Lobby area fan unit for the control room.

Control room fan unit.

The air fans are now fitted and working, so the cooled air in the lobby can be pushed through the ducts at the front of the control and live rooms – there’s a variable speed fan for each room. Jeff has advised me to locate the control for the live room fan outside the room in the lobby (“we don’t want drummers fiddling with it”). Personally I’d rather like to have a speed control for some of the drummers I’ve met ;-).

It's like, how much more white...

It's like, how much more white...

...could this be? And the answer is...

...could this be? And the answer is...

...none. None more white.

...none. None more white.


The music keyboard area - the laminate goes as far as the left hand piano part. Mustn't play too many low notes.

The music keyboard area - the laminate goes as far as the left hand piano part. Mustn't play too many low notes.

And our final B&Q purchase was a pair of black handles. These are purely to help with the ‘garage door’ illusion and neither of them are fixed to a real door.

The finishing touch is the black handle. It's purely cosmetic (it's actually just screwed into a plywood wall) to achieve that 'garage door look'.

The finishing touch is the black handle. It's purely cosmetic (it's actually just screwed into a plywood wall) to achieve that 'garage door look'.

The final look of the exterior - guttering has been added, and the door lock is now fitted.

The final look of the exterior - guttering has been added, and the door lock is now fitted.

And here, for comparison, are the original garage doors.

And here, for comparison, are the original garage doors.

Jeff and Artis are off to start a large-scale acoustics job at Coventry University, so we all had a few beers last night to celebrate the end of the build phase of the project. During the evening Jeff impressed us with his uncanny ability to identify specific models of Ducati engine by the sound only.

And Artis, of course, introduced us to yet more Latvian music. We got into a long discussion about how Skyforger have gone mainstream since they started introducing electric instruments, and started investigating which traditional instruments they played. This got us into talking about the Kokle – a Latvian zither/dulcimer/harp. Here’s composer Laima Jansone performing variations on some traditional folk tunes on the kokle.

But you want more eighties hits perfomed by Latvians, don’t you? Happy to oblige. This time Artis has introduced us to an a capella band called Cosmos – sort of Flying Pickets with proper beatboxing. Check out this amazing version of Billie Jean.

Next time I’ll be blogging about kit and tech spec – Jeff calls this stuff ‘small wires’ and won’t countenance any discussion of it on-site. Don’t worry – Howard will be here in a week or so, and normal geek service will be resumed…

Different light

He's not called Artis for nothing, you know!

He's not called Artis for nothing, you know...

Day 7 of phase 2. Today Jeff went out hunting and managed to capture an air-conditioning unit. Meanwhile back on-site, Artis took time out from his heavy schedule of banana-drawing (see photo) to construct some lighting boxes. And the lights are going to be fantastic. There will be eight downlighters in the control room – four built into the baffle above the monitors, and four across the centre of the room. There will be a dimmer switch in each room, and each light is built into its own cube-shaped box, ensuring that the bulbs don’t touch the rockwool, and allowing hot air to escape safely into the ceiling void. The light fittings are moveable so each 35W lamp can be angled as needed.

Think this looks easy? YOU try hanging a door with 1mm accuracy!

Think this looks easy? YOU try hanging a door with 1mm accuracy...

Both interior doors are now fitted. They’re pretty dense as they are, but the guys will be adding an MDF layer to the lobby side of each door to add density (the door and its hinges being potentially the weakest point in the room in acoustic isolation terms). The art and craftsmanship of pro door-hanging is truly a thing to behold. There’s a perfect coin gap all the way down – a £1 fits snugly and a 50p rattles around. This is a pretty phenomenal achievement when you think about it – fitting a 40KG 2m high door within less than 1mm tolerance. I once tried to hang a bathroom door at my previous house. I did such a bad job that I had to move house to avoid the embarrassment…

On the music front, we’ve temporarily stopped listening to Skyforger and have now moved on to Jackyl – AC/DC blues with live chainsaw solos. Oh yes!

Moveable light fitting, fitted into the wooden panel that forms the lower side of the 'lighting cube' in the ceiling

Moveable light fitting, slotted into the wooden panel that forms the lower side of the 'lighting cube' in the ceiling

Here's how the lighting panel will fit into the ceiling. Artis tries valiantly to get out of shot but realises at the last minute that his arms aren't long enough...

Here's how the lighting panel will fit into the ceiling. Artis tries valiantly to get out of shot but realises at the last minute that his arms aren't long enough.

Air refrigeration units run wild and free in the forests of Bath, you know...

Air refrigeration units run wild and free in the forests of Bath. You just have to know where to go hunting.

True colours

Don't mess with the Sandworms - they can bite your arm off.

Don't mess with the Sandworms - they can bite your arm off.

Firstly, a quick thank you to everyone who’s made suggestions about bringing the studio and phone box projects together (see ‘categories’ on the right hand side). The best suggested studio-related uses for the phone box include shower for sweaty musicians, vocal booth for agrophobic session singers, and banjo booth (need not contain an XLR socket).

The aircon tubes have gone in (the silver snakes that look to a man of my vintage like David Lynch’s sandworms from Dune). These will carry cooled air in from the refrigerated lobby area along the side walls, inside the baffles, and into the live and control rooms respectively. Today also (day 2 of phase 2) Jeff and Artis have constructed the front wall that will eventually have the fake garage doors stuck to them. The original plan was for this exterior wall to be made of concrete, but we learned that the asphalt driveway outside the original garage doors has no foundations under it – so eventually a concrete wall would, er, sink!

Jeff told me a story about a client to whom this had happened a few years back – the guy had assured him that the foundations were sound, so Jeff dutifully constructed a heavy exterior wall. After a few weeks, it sank ever so slightly during one of the client’s studio sessions, preventing the heavy acoustic door from opening and locking the client and his musicians inside. Jeff was called from another site to come and let them out – he had to cut through the door to get in; they were stuck in there for around 7 hours, and apparently got really bored (lightweights – I can spend that long editing a vocal!).

So, if I’m to be potentially imprisoned, what colour should my cell walls be? Now that we’re well on the way to choosing a sofa, here’s another chance for you, dear reader, to influence the design of the studio. Essentially, we have two colour decisions to make (walls and ceiling) and four colours of hessian to choose from (these are rough photos of the fabric rolls, and the colours don’t come up great, but you get the idea – for info the green is slightly deeper than this). The walls and ceiling have to be different colours – a single block of colour will look ‘orrible. Scroll down, and vote now!

Light grey

Light grey

Red

Red

p_1600_1200_50C4F522-8CEE-45AF-A543-F76B2D29F13B.jpeg

Light blue

Light green

Light green

Aircon pipe feed on the left-hand wall of the live room, seen here from the lobby.

Aircon pipe feed on the left-hand wall of the live room, seen here from the lobby.