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#235004 - 01/14/14 08:16 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio...
PeterGannon Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
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Hi, I'm building a home music studio in our basement. The room has a 4x4 foot closet that could work for an isolation booth. (for vocals, or maybe recording guitar amp). It has drywall on it now, with a wooden door. Any tips for converting this to an isolation booth. For example, I would think we should have egg carton type panels on the walls of it?
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#235011 - 01/14/14 08:47 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Peter, actual egg cartons will do almost nothing except break up high frequency reflections related to a fairly narrow band of wavelengths. If you are just using for an iso booth, then make the walls non-parallel first, just by a few inches with drywall. This can effectively kill off most of the room mode, low frequency standing wave issues that happen with parallel walls.

Then you can get some acoustic foam - www.foambymail.com is cheapest place, and I would also get some of their corner bass trap items. Buy the deepest wedges that you can afford.

HOWEVER, a more useful and dual purpose thing you can do is also use the thing as an actual closet, at least along one wall, and better . Do a two-tiered clothes closet and fill both rails with your fluffiest clothing. This will actually have a whole bunch of absorption as it's quite 'deep' - think of the spaces between the clothes as the same as the spaces between the wedges in acoustic foam. Depth is king as it pertains to generally absorbing materials like clothing, or acoustic open-cell-foam. Even better use two walls, that join at a corner. If you feel like it, put the foam wedges on the other walls. Plush carpet on the floor.

The thing is, you really don't need to worry about it being a booth - sealing off from the rest of the room, unless you are monitoring over speakers while recording. Close-miking, in front of the fluffy clothes, will work wonders, even with the closet door open - preferably with the door open as that eliminates a big part of the reflective surface for the wall that the door is mounted in. This is true as long as you don't have loud stuff going on in the main room. If you can control that a bit, then you have a much more useful closet than just one for recording purposes.

-Scott

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#235039 - 01/14/14 10:07 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
DennisD Offline
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Registered: 01/14/06
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Peter, I second John's reply. You can also consider hanging heavy curtains an inch off the walls on tracks. You can then open or close them to liven up the room if needed. Normally I record the vocalist (and instrument) dry, but give them a wet ear monitor feed if they need to get into the song more. I run carpet on the floor but also have a piece of plywood leaning behind the curtain to lay down if needed. The ceiling is heavy curtain material that is suspended from the corners and in the middle of the room. Try Johns method or this before investing in a lot of time and expense. I know there are some more crafty "forumers" out there as wellGood luck. DennisD
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#235093 - 01/15/14 02:18 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Mac Offline
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The surefire and easy way available today is to call in one of the many Home Theater installation contractors and tell them what you want to do.


There is now a lot of good stuff available due to the proliferation of the home theater audio and much of the technology, panels, etc. is exactly the same as we need for home recording and even pro recording purposes, with the added consumer benefit of mass production and marketing lowering costs considerably.


--Mac
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#235144 - 01/15/14 09:35 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Mac and Dennis have good points as well.

Another rather low cost source of absorbing panels (though clothes and wedges will do better) is to contact a local used office furniture/partition dealer. The patterns/materials on panels used to make 'cube farms' go out of style and end up at wholesale places. You can use some of those to make the walls non-parallel pretty easily. Here's one in Vancouver with their used acoustic panels listed:
http://www.buyritebc.com/used-products/modular-panel-systems/acoustic

The thing to keep in mind with these panels, however, is that they will not absorb mids and lows as well as something that has more depth to it, but they are certainly more durable than foam wedges, and if you don't have a bunch of overcoats and sweaters and blankets and sleeping bags to hang in that closet, they are a great solution. However, generally more expensive than buying purposed acoustic foam. First link www.foambymail.com is the absolute cheapest I have found over the years.

There's also great DIY instructions for building your own absorbing panels and bass traps at Ethan Winer's website.

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#235183 - 01/15/14 11:55 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Mac Offline
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That's getting more into the realm of the Helmholz Filtering thing, which again, isn't about isolation, its all about acoustic preparation.

With today's DAWs, etc. not so much of a problem, though.

If you can record a good dry and nonreflective track from the mic, without too much in the way of bad standing waves, you can accomplish the rest using Plugins. Ambience, EQ tailoring, Compression, etc. will do the trick.


--Mac
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#235198 - 01/15/14 01:00 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
90 dB Offline
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4x4 foot closet? Hang some thick quilts on the walls and throw a shag rug on the floor.


If you can't get a clean signal like that, call in the Home Theater installation contractors. grin



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Bob
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#235217 - 01/15/14 02:51 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
PeterGannon Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 13416
Many thanks for the replies.

Our original plan was to use Acoustic Foam panels like this: http://images.digitalmedianet.com/2007/Week_52/omk1l6jw/story/004_foam_pieces.jpg
(For clarifciation: I shouldn't have referred to these as egg carton type panels, as we weren't planning actual egg cartons)

From the suggestions above, we should modify this idea to :

- use non parallel walls (by adding dry wall)
- use acoustic foam (I am unclear if this is different than the panels as illustrated above.
- use fluffy clothes hanging 1" from the wall

===========================================================================
Scott,
Foam by mail looks great, and they have a Canadian site too:
http://canada.foambymail.com/acoustical-foam-products.html

>>> Scott: Then you can get some acoustic foam - www.foambymail.com is cheapest place,

Great. For the walls (if clothes are not available), which of the foam products on this page would you recommend
http://canada.foambymail.com/acoustical-foam-products.html

>>> Scott: "and I would also get some of their corner bass trap items. Buy the deepest wedges that you can afford."

They have these bass traps: http://canada.foambymail.com/CBA/corner-bass-absorbers.html
Is the idea that you put one of these on the floor at each of the 4 corners, so you use 4 in total?
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#235241 - 01/15/14 04:24 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Robh Offline
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Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 4166
Loc: California
The wall panels come out to somewhere around $2.70 per sqft USD. Seems kinda pricey to me considering you do not really know how effective they are. hhhmmmm I would make my own at around half that.


2 inch rigid fiberglass panels, and some muslim cloth, a couple cans of 3M spray clue and some drywall screws and washers. or even some molding to make picture frame edges would look nice.

Some of that rigid fiberglass comes with a black matte backing and would look good framed in even without a cloth cover, but i would still cover it for the long haul.
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#235282 - 01/15/14 06:53 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Mac Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Peter,

Tuck Andress uses a surplus hearing test booth to record his wife Patty right in their own home in San Francisco.

They have made whole albums like that, with her singing in the test booth and Tuck playing his guitar outside the booth. One can also place the guitar amp inside the booth with mic to overdub in effective isolation, as well.

Here's a bit of quick basic info on how to measure the ambient noise levels in your closet space.

http://www.ehow.com/list_7628211_specifications-audiometric-booths.html

A Sound Level Meter can be purchased from Radio Shack.

Fifty bucks, someone in your business should have one anyway and you might have one of the good older original models, still a workhorse within the industry.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12680845

Find out where you stand empirically as regards background noise before purchasing anything in the way of panels.

Depending on what your background noise survey tells you, the situation could be done any number of ways, for example, if the area already has chiefly a low background noise level to begin with, the type of panels to incorporate would have to do mostly with the actual acoustic in your booth rather than having to deal with both the acoustics plus ambient noise abatement.


--Mac
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#235285 - 01/15/14 06:57 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Mac Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA

http://www.whisperroom.com/

Also investigate the surplus/used market for hearing test booth near to you, Audiologists, E.E.N.&T. docs, military and even public schools often put testing booths up for sale at bargain prices. They can be disassembled into panels, moved, and reassembled in place.

Most already have patch panels for audio connections in them, too.


--Mac
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#235294 - 01/15/14 07:23 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7236
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Mac is right on about knock-down assembly hearing testing booths. Here in the western US, MSR West is the most reliable provider of used hearing test booths. I know the sales VP there if you want a connection, send me a PM.

As for which purposed acoustic panels to buy, go for the deepest wedge that you can afford - this will help with managing reflections of lower frequencies than the more shallow wedges.

The absorption coefficient as a function of frequency is shown on each product's page. The 4" Wedge foam looks to have the best overall absorption. You don't need to cover all the walls with this; most critical is the one that you will 'sing into/play into', and you can always supplement with some strategically placed clothing or blankets or sleeping bags, etc. It doesn't have to look nice unless you are going to have clients coming over.

As for bass traps, you can make these on your own as well. Do at least one corner for each major dimension. You are trying to kill cavity modes, which with a 4' x 4' x ? room, you can calculate these quite precisely to predict where they will be in the frequency domain. Here's a website that will do it for you: http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

A sometimes used trick is to place non-energized speakers into the corners of the room - if the cones have a big surface area. You put a resistor across the leads to the speaker and voila - you have a tunable bass trap. The resistance value plays into this and where they are most effective. I'll have to do some more digging to see if I can find a reliable resource. I can also call up my college acoustics professors and see if they can point to any resources. This does work.

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#235413 - 01/16/14 08:15 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
Guitarhacker Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5298
A 4 foot by 4 foot closet is an ideal size to convert.

Are you planning a window in it? If so remember that the glass will reflect the highs very well so be careful how you position the mic. You certainly don't want it behind the mic and close in. Based on the size and location of the glass, that could be a real possibility. If the glass has to be close and behind the mic, a reflection filter would be a good idea.

Wall hangings of heavy fabric such as a decorative quilt and those professionally made foam "egg crate" designs would look cool and absorb enough of the reflected highs to serve the purpose. Place the quilt behind the singer on the wall for the visual looking through the window, it will absorb the reflections as well,,, and the egg crates on the sides.... and also beside the window to cover the sheetrock.

Carpet on the floor acoustic tile ceiling with mini recessed lights.

Again, you don't need to hire a theater contractor to build an effective and nice sounding vocal isolation booth. Keep it simple.


Edited by Guitarhacker (01/16/14 08:17 AM)
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#235861 - 01/18/14 10:52 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7236
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Peter, I just posted pix of my semi-booth that also doubles as a winter clothing/linen closet in the thread on studio pictures started by guitarhacker.

This arrangement, where I have a non-enclosed 'booth', but in a very dead part of the room due to the fluffy clothes, sleeping bags, etc. and the acoustic treatment on the back side of the GOBO that I face into the closet, makes for a really nice recording space for vocals, acoustic guitar and other single or double mic recordings.

There's another advantage to this room - there is no HVAC ductwork in/out of the room. It's much quieter than the actual studio space I built in the basement of our previous house where tons of noise would come into the room through the forced air ductwork.

If I were you, I would experiment with whether to actually keep your door open or closed for your closet. Closing the door can 'complete' the wall, which can cause a standing wave propensity, that would fall to the bottom end of audible range with the door open - at least in that dimension of the closet. Use a mic with a high pass filter and you are all set. I think that you will have better luck keeping that mode out of your mic with keeping the door open.

Use the room acoustic mode calculator: http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

I estimated your closet height was 7', and I put in 4' x 4' into the calculator.

The first mode is floor to ceiling, at 80 Hz.

Next modes are the side to side modes, equal at 141 Hz.

If you open the door, that will kill off one of the 141 Hz modes for the most part because the wavelength will get much longer, not knowing how big your room is that your closet is in, but guessing that it's probably 10-15' across, you would have a 14' half-wavelength, or 28' wavelength, which is 40 Hz - if the room is 10' wide in that dimension. Add another 5' and the mode drops all the way down to 30 Hz.

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#235868 - 01/19/14 01:04 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Building Isolation booth in Home Music Studio... [Re: PeterGannon]
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 13416
Thanks Scott. The room plans have a door for the closet (no window), but it could be open as needed (if there aren't other instruments being recorded in the same room). If the mode shows up in the mic, is it a hum sound at that frequency?
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