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How Does One Convert a New Garage into Music Studio?

wst3

Lunatic - it's really that simple
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I would just mention parallel walls are generally problematic.
Actually they are no more problematic than splayed walls. With parallel walls you can easily calculate things like room modes and decay times. Splayed walls may spready the modes out - and it might even work, but you would have to use finite element analysis to calculate the modes.
 

pinki

Senior Member
Actually they are no more problematic than splayed walls. With parallel walls you can easily calculate things like room modes and decay times. Splayed walls may spready the modes out - and it might even work, but you would have to use finite element analysis to calculate the modes.
Not true. Calculating room modes and decay times is still possible with splayed walls in real world measurements, not theoretical. Also my walls were parallel before the addition of the splaying panels. The acoustician for my space calculated all modes and decay times.

Anyhow..I really don't want to start one of those internet acoustics debates Nick alluded to.
It worked for me, the room sounds great!
 

alcorey

Doctor Wooh
Alcorey and Nick are spot on and the rest of the replies are not terribly helpful, if not downright wrong.

The only things I can tell you, without a great deal more info, is a rough order of priorities and some advice:
1) sit in the empty garage and listen - what do you hear? You will hear stuff. And from that you can decide how much soundproofing is required. Bear in mind that soundproofing will probably make the acoustical behavior of the room worse, since energy will no longer be able to escape.
2) optional - put a source an amplifier, and a couple loudspeakers in the garage, blast some music, and then go listen outside. How much do you hear? See above.
3) Floor treatment is a personal taste thing - some folks like a reflective floor, some don't. I like cheap wood flooring over some form of padding, and usually throw in a small rug here and there. This is one of those things you can do later, don't worry about it now. (although you probably want to do whatever you want to do before you move all your gear in.)
4) now that we know to start with an "ignore all" mindset bring in your studio monitors, some source capable of playing music, a chair, and your ears. This will be the optimal configuration, sadly it is totally useless - except for this. Move the chair and the loudspeakers around - closer to the wall, further from the wall, facing east, facing south, closer to the chair, further from the chair, etc. You will find one or more configurations that sound (subjectively) better.
5) Avoid cheap measurement microphones and free software tools. Avoid expensive measurement microphones and expensive software tools. And avoid any software that says it will fix your room. Just don't do it!
6) avoid "experts" that are trying to sell you stuff.
7) There are a number of companies making soundproofing and room treatment products. Check them all out. I like ASC and GIK, and if I had the money, RPG. (something about three letter acronyms?) There are some I avoid, but in the past they have been known to sue for defamation if one criticizes them, so I am afraid I can not list them.
8) set up your studio in the configuration you liked most from step 4. Spend some time listening to tracks that you are intimately familiar with, and do not freak out if they sound different - they probably will.
9) subjectively figure out the worst problem - noise, low frequency rumble, discrete echoes, etc. Solve the problem. Move on to the next problem. Repeat until you are happy.
10) if you have the budget, before you spend money on treatments "hire" an acoustician that is familiar with small, critical listening spaces and get their opinion. (actually, if the budget allows just hire them<G>).
11) similarly, try to budget to hire an HVAC company that has a clue about recording studios. It isn't rocket science, but you will need HVAC, and a poorly installed system will be a nightmare.
12) if you are hiring contractors to do any build-out find ones that have have a clue as well.

Above all else, have fun with this exercise. You are going to learn a little bit about acoustics, and a lot about your ears. It is supposed to be fun!

Once you have any room demons tamed it will be time to hook everything up. That is nearly as involved, but a lot easier to grasp. Ask questions, just like for the acoustical treatment.

And if all else fails, listen to Nick!
Excellent advice here and good contributions from nick and pinki
@DJames, keep us aware of your progress (pictures are nice!)
 
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DJames

DJames

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Thank you @wst3 and @pinki. This was very helpful and I appreciate your time. I love your studio pic - very inspiring! I gots lots to do!
 

NukillerMedia

New Member
This is absolute insanity. put the carpet debate on pause. And Forget treatment That is literally the last step.

find acoustician.
prepare to spend a lot of money changing The garage from a rectangle to something that will work and by work, that means where you plan to have your monitoring.

the acoustician will give you options.
doing it right will cost a lot. You need permits. you need cooling, or heating. sound proofing which is not the same as treatment.

or you can put up carpets and shitty foam.

i think Perhaps had you phrased it as work space, it would be easier. Studio implies a certain standard.

start with goal. get professional help. Adjust said goal if budget isn’t there. You need to plan it from the top down.
 

jmauz

Active Member
I spent a year during the onset of the pandemic converting/rebuilding my detached garage into a soundproof studio complete with extensive acoustical treatment. I could talk for days about the experience. Send me an IM with any specific questions. :)
 
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DJames

DJames

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Here's another thought. What about a room within a room? Could one buy a 10 x 10 wood shed, add the acoustic foam inside, shut the door and get good results for a straightforward DAW workstation? Or would this create a "dead room" situation? I'm sure my wife would love having a shed inside the new garage, lol. o_O
 
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NukillerMedia

New Member
Here's another thought. What about a room within a room? Could one buy a 10 x 10 wood shed, add the acoustic foam inside, shut the door and get good results for a straightforward DAW workstation? Or would this create a "dead room" situation? I'm sure my wife would love having a shed inside the new garage, lol. o_O
no.

and if there is fire, and anyone gets hurt, you get to spend a few years in jail.

foam isnt sound proofing. Soundproofing requires air , power permits. Honestly, I think you are underestimating what you think it takes to build a studio.

what is your budget. It is hard to tell how serious you are.
 

alcorey

Doctor Wooh
Daniel, pretend you have alzheimer's and forget the foam - waste of money as many have said

You've gotten absolutely fantastic advice by most in this thread, yet it doesn't seem like you are listening to any of it - I hope you'll give things a second look
 
If you want to build something that you could sell as a "recording studio" then you're either going to need to:

1. Hire multiple professionals and open up your wallet

OR

2. Spend a lot of time (roughly one to two thousand hours) learning about:

(a) the science of acoustics
(b) the science of construction

And then you'll be in a better position to... Hire multiple professionals and open up your wallet.

In all seriousness, it is definitely possible for you to DIY to a room that gets you into the ballpark of commonly referenced Professional Standards, but be prepared for a massive investment of brainpower and/or finances.

I went the DIY route myself and it took almost 11 months of learning and then building to convert a single room to professional spec (and that was without having to mess with electrical or HVAC, which probably would have added another two months). Zero regrets because I love the space and it ended up being a lifesaver during the pandemic, but it's so much more than slapping foam on walls and calling it a day.

I really recommend two books as primers:

1. "Build it Like The Pros" by Rod Gervais for studio construction considerations

2. "The Master Handbook of Acoustics" by Everest for the underlying science
 
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DJames

DJames

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Initially, I'm thinking of
no.

and if there is fire, and anyone gets hurt, you get to spend a few years in jail.

foam isnt sound proofing. Soundproofing requires air , power permits. Honestly, I think you are underestimating what you think it takes to build a studio.

what is your budget. It is hard to tell how serious you are.
Good point. The thought was short-lived anyway. To be clear, like in my original post the intent of this room is to compose music with my DAW station and potentially do piano lessons. It's not for high-end pro recording with live instruments or anyting. Maybe that makes it a workspace and I'm using the terminology of "music studio"wrong? I just want to get the garage to not sound like crap when I am using my monitors. I just want to hear a somewhat accurate sound.

Initially, I can put $3000 into this right away but will need to include venting the air so it doesn't get damp, hot, etc. I am willing to take a year if need be to take care of all the other details bit by bit as $$$ trickles in.
 
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DJames

DJames

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Daniel, pretend you have alzheimer's and forget the foam - waste of money as many have said

You've gotten absolutely fantastic advice by most in this thread, yet it doesn't seem like you are listening to any of it - I hope you'll give things a second look
Definitely listening, taking notes, and even bought that book you recommended but also trying to think outside the box, or in this case...shed, lol. My name is Donovan btw. The shed is a no-go anyways. Seemed cool for a moment there until it wasn't.
 
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DJames

DJames

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If you want to build something that you could sell as a "recording studio" then you're either going to need to:

1. Hire multiple professionals and open up your wallet

OR

2. Spend a lot of time (roughly one to two thousand hours) learning about:

(a) the science of acoustics
(b) the science of construction

And then you'll be in a better position to... Hire multiple professionals and open up your wallet.

In all seriousness, it is definitely possible for you to DIY to a room that gets you into the ballpark of commonly referenced Professional Standards, but be prepared for a massive investment of brainpower and/or finances.

I went the DIY route myself and it took almost 11 months of learning and then building to convert a single room to professional spec (and that was without having to mess with electrical or HVAC, which probably would have added another two months). Zero regrets because I love the space and it ended up being a lifesaver during the pandemic, but it's so much more than slapping foam on walls and calling it a day.

I really recommend two books as primers:

1. "Build it Like The Pros" by Rod Gervais for studio construction considerations

2. "The Master Handbook of Acoustics" by Everest for the underlying science
Hi David. Thanks for the book links. I've added them to my Amazon to-buy list. I realize that this is going to take more time to get it right. I've got three books to read, all recommended by you and another member here. I can spend about $3000 initially, and then the rest bit by bit through the next year. Appreciate it!

 

alcorey

Doctor Wooh
Definitely listening, taking notes, and even bought that book you recommended but also trying to think outside the box, or in this case...shed, lol. My name is Donovan btw. The shed is a no-go anyways. Seemed cool for a moment there until it wasn't.
Sorry Donovan - don't know where I got Daniel from :rolleyes:
 
Hi David. Thanks for the book links. I've added them to my Amazon to-buy list. I realize that this is going to take more time to get it right. I've got three books to read, all recommended by you and another member here. I can spend about $3000 initially, and then the rest bit by bit through the next year. Appreciate it!

Excellent! You'll soon realize that building a recording studio is in some ways like constructing a house of cards -- every decision you make impacts the final result, and one "tiny" mistake can result in a room that is physically incapable of achieving your goals. So I would start by developing a complete treatment plan before you spend that 3k on anything but books.

(Eventually you'll need a measurement microphone. I used a calibrated one from these guys: https://cross-spectrum.com/measurement/calibrated_umik.html , they go in and out of stock so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the site if you're interested. You won't actually need to use the microphone until your room is under construction, but it's helpful to start measuring things so you can learn how the software works -- I used RoomEQ Wizard, which is fairly standard -- and how to read the various graphs the software spits out, which will help inform you about what kind of treatment you need and whether treatment you install is actually working.)

One big caveat is that I would expect a build to cost roughly 15k-20k, minimum, if you want to get to the point of it actually being marketable as a studio and increasing the value of your home (is this how you're pitching this to your partner? :)) This is because the majority of potential buyers who would factor in "studio" to their purchase are going to want it to have sufficient isolation for recording of live instruments without interfering with the neighbors, and isolating requires a fair amount in materials/labor to do.

Some examples here:


and here:


If you decide to improve isolation, it requires a lot of work to the actual structure, and the HVAC must also be installed factoring that in. And then you'll get a sense for the maximum possible dimensions of your final room, which in turn will dictate the treatment philosophies available to you, which will inform how you ultimately position your monitors, etc. The house of cards begins slowly.

If you're not married to the idea of re-selling this as a studio space and/or aren't willing to spend 15-20k and you just want a better room to mix in you can probably forget all the books and instead read up on how to treat at first reflection points, get a measurement mic to figure out exactly what you're working with, build panels for the walls and ceiling designed to treat your specific problem frequencies (the nice thing about physics is this is all calculable). You may have some money left over for a subwoofer or two and some kind of room EQ software, and you can call it a day.
 
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