So you want to design your own studio, all by yourself? Great! But where to you start? What's the process? Over the next weeks and months I'll be writing a series of articles about that, t in this area of the forum, focusing on three very different types of home-studio: 1) treating an existing room in your house, 2) building a studio in a garage, basement, or other room, and 3) building a studio from the "ground up", on an empty piece of land.
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Postby Soundman2020 » Sat, 2020-Jun-20, 15:33


So, you have decided that the time has come: you need your own recording studio, listening room, home theater, rehearsal room, or other acoustic space.
And you have also decided to do it yourself.
Excellent! So now the big question is

Where do you start?

Is there some sort of procedure that you can use? A step-by-step process or "recipe"? A method that will guide you in your quest?

Well there should be! And that's the purpose of this section of the forum: to provide a simple plan for you to follow, when designing and building your studio.

If you look around the internet, searching for guidance on how to design and build a home recording studio, you won't find any detailed descriptions of how to go about this process. There's a few partial ones, and a couple of limited explanations, but nothing like what you'll find here: A complete description of every step you need to take, to successfully build your own studio.

On the internet, you'll find lots of places that want to sell you rolls of exotic (and expensive!) materials, such as MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl), or sheets of "special" drywall (also called "gypsum board"), or packages of "acoustic foam", or even ready-made "acoustic treatment" devices that you can just hang on the wall and that will magically make your room perfect! Except, of course, that they won't.

Some of that is legitimate, as long as you know what you are looking for, and how to use it, but there's also quite a few unscrupulous websites out there, in the fields of acoustic scams, hoaxes, and snake-oil: Filed with misleading, incorrect, silly, or just plain whimsically nutty information and products for studios (see here, for example: "Fake Acoustics": Myths, legends, mysteries, and scams). Other places want to sell you books about making a studio, and you can easily spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on those, and end up owning a lot of pages filled with hieroglyphic equations that mean nothing at all to you, or dozens of photos of gorgeous-looking sophisticated studios, that you could never hope to afford, or advice that seems impossible to even understand, let alone follow. You might even find other forums about studio design, with desperate questions about some intricate aspects, and often cryptic answers that you could only understand if you have a masters degree in physics, or 50 years of experience in construction.... (In some of those places, you won't even get an answer at all if you don't have a budget with lots of zeros on the end, or a room big enough to park an airliner inside...)

But what you won't find, is any place that will show you, simply and in down-to-earth language, the entire process of how to go about designing and build your own home recording studio, or home theater, or garage band practice room, or basement music room, or other similar acoustic space.

That's my intention here: to give you a set of steps that you can follow, with detailed explanations, so you can work your way through the design, construction, and tuning of your own home studio, small or large, low budget or high, in whatever place you have available. It doesn't matter if you can afford to spend US$ 200 or US$ 200,000 on your place: the purpose of this forum is to guide you through the process to squeeze out every last drop of acoustic performance from each of those dollars (euros, pounds, yen, pesos, etc...), so you can get the best possible results in your room.

I am dividing this area of the forum into three basic categories:

  1. Simple acoustic treatment for an existing room in your house (eg, bedroom, living room, spare room, finished basement or attic).
  2. More extensive building inside an existing room with moderate renovation and/or construction (eg, an unfinished basement, garage, attic space, garden shed).
  3. "Ground-up" building (starting from an empty piece of ground in your back yard).

That should cover most situations, from low budget to high, and simple needs to complex.

There's a lot of overlap between these, of course, so do make sure that you cross-check!

This is an ambitious project on my part, and it will take time: I can't write it all at once! So please be patient.... If you are new to the forum, and looking for immediate answers that you don't see here yet (because I didn't write them yet!) then try checking the numerous other threads here on the forum, of people who are already building there places: you might well find the answers you are looking for! And if you have a specific subject or question that you'd like me to cover, feel free to ask that in the "Questions and suggestions" thread. (And if you really can't wait, then consider hiring me to design your place for you: I offer several design services that might fit what you need: and it's probably not as expensive as you think. Contact me via PM [End of shameless self-promotion...])

Hopefully, this section of the forum will help you to get your design rolling, and help you build your studio, successfully!

- Stuart -

silly-signs-just-beware.jpg (26.98 KiB) Viewed 2126 times
silly-signs-just-beware.jpg (26.98 KiB) Viewed 2126 times


Yup, unfortunately there has to be one of these here. Because "common sense" isn't very common, apparently! It seems to be in short supply these days, and people sometimes do silly stuff! That's why you see things like this:


Yes, those are actual, real, product warning labels and signs. ( Believe it or not.... ). If simple, normal, every-day products need such silly labels, then something inherently dangerous like building a studio, needs an even bigger one!

So, here's my disclaimer about everything you see on this forum:

warning-sign-sml-CRP-TINY.jpg (12.34 KiB) Viewed 2126 times
warning-sign-sml-CRP-TINY.jpg (12.34 KiB) Viewed 2126 times


It might be illegal where you live. Or dangerous. Or fattening. Or unpleasant. Or tiring. Or impossible. Or whatever.
If you choose to follow my advice here, that's your responsibility, not mine. I can't be responsible for anything you design or build based on advice you found here on the forum.

Before you do ANYTHING to design or build your studio, first check your local building codes and all applicable local, city, county, state, Federal, national, and international regulations, to make sure you are doing things legally, and safely. Get all the permits that you are required to get. Follow all the legal requirements that you are required to follow where you live. And check your home-owner's insurance policy too: You might find that your insurance does not cover any modifications you make to your house. You might need additional insurance. Also check your health insurance, and life insurance. I mean that seriously! There might be some types of accidents or injuries that are not covered! Also check other applicable contracts: If you live in a condominium, or if you are renting your place, you might find there are restrictions on what you can do, and even on when you can do it. HOA's (Home Owners Associations) are notorious for having outrageously stupid restrictions about what you can do on your own property.

Basically: make sure you are very well informed about your legal, moral, and common-sense responsibilities, before you even start thinking about designing or building your studio. I cannot and will not accept responsibility for any bad things that might happen with your studio.

(On the other hand, if your studio turns out fantastic, and you love it, and everyone who goes there raves about how incredibly awesome it is, then I will be happy to accept some credit for that! :) )

Also: Work Safe! Take care to use proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when you are building. Eye-protection, hearing protection, steel-capped work boots, tough gloves, hardhat, respirator, harness for heights, etc. And lots of common-sense. If something seems risky, it probably is, so don't do it! First make sure you know how to do it safely, before you start. Don't take chances.

In general: Just be careful! We want you to have a great studio, injury free!

As the sign says:
silly-product-warning---brainless--images.ENH.jpg (22.25 KiB) Viewed 2126 times
silly-product-warning---brainless--images.ENH.jpg (22.25 KiB) Viewed 2126 times

So, where to you go from here? What's the first step?

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