The Build Diary........

The Up to date Build diary is now on Facebook at the above link.

There's lots happening so please check regularly.

17 September 2017

 

The void between the control room and tracking room is very large. Bigger than necessary for isolation. This was due in part to a beam, but also to keep line of symmetry in the middle of the window. So I am building some storage into the live room wall. This will be treated in the same way as the walls with three layers of plasterboard to ensure continuity of the wall mass. Looking at the view along the void, there is still plenty of separation. At the closest point it is still over 300mm.

View from Tracking room.  The cassetes above and below the window are effectively the wall so they will need to have the same mass as the wall.  I will be lining these with as may layers of plasterboard as the walls get.

Window from Control room, looking through window into the live room.

17 September 2017

 

Making a start on the ventilation attenuators. 18mm MDF boxes that create a baffled path for the air to travel. It is lined with Rockwool, which is lightly sprayed with water based lacquer to avoid dust shedding. Alternatively I will cover in cloth to be sure. Once sealed they will be covered with 3 layers of plasterboard to have the same mass as the ceiling. Will be around 80kg when finished!

 

Lining the attenuators with 50mm RW45 Rockwool.

10 September 2017

 

Framing finished! Next job is building the attenuators for the HVAC. Then, insulation and boarding.

Not too much waste!  I made a plan in Sketchup so I couldorder the correct amount of timber and minimise wastage.

3 September 2017

 

Some images to show the shape of the framed ceiling

Front and view toward trackingroom window/

View from tracking room  

1 September 2017

 

This is what I have framed. Notice the hard surface is offset so it is underneath and reflective at the front. The rear 2/3rds, the hard surface is on top meaning the ceiling becomes part of the acoustic treatment.
Care has to be taken with the first beam as the bolt holes could present an air path so they will be well caulked. Nothing touches the outer shell. This differs from the original plan due to beam sizes, so I ran it passed the studio designer, who will recalculate the bass treatment in due course.

30 August 2017

 

Framing the control room. View of the front with window to the garden and left wall with window to the tracking room. Framed in 45mmx95mm. Ceiling support beams 3 x45mmx195mm bolted together. On the lower beam I used 3 x 45mmx220mm. Around the windows I used 45mmx195mm to provide a strong support for the glass. Nothing touches the outer shell.

 

Window into tracking room.

From tracking room into Control room

End of ceiling support beam.  The spec was 3no. 195mmx45mm but I used 3no. 220mmx45mm

Ceiling support beam sits underneath the existing trussses.

28 August 2017

 

Recording our Hofner "Beatles" bass (Re-issue) through an Ashdown Evo II 300 Bass combo. Microphone is an Electrovoice RE20 and is great on bass cabs. The amp fan is audible so we used an Ashdown extension cab to capture the amp's tone, but also took a DI signal into the Apollo so we can re-amp later if required.

Close up of Electrovoice RE20 on cab.

20 August 2017

 

This drawing gives a general idea of the ceiling shape. The structural engineer has returned the calcs for the two beams and the building inspector has checked them and confirmed it is ok to go ahead.

4 August 2017

 

The final floor layout. You can see how much volume I will give up for isolation. I have plans for the extra large void between the live room and control room which will create some rack space in the live room. I'll go into that later. I have slightly adjusted the design to put the line of symmetry in the middle of the front window. It was only a small adjustment and meant making the room a little smaller and the void bigger.

2 August 2017

 

Floor finished and sole-plate laid out. The ceiling design is with the structural engineer doing the calcs for the BCO. This will be a heavy ceiling approx 40kgm2 plus it will support four ventilation attenuators approximately 80kg each.

28 July 2017

 

Hit me with those laser beams!

Summerly Studios' new pencil condenser mics from Aston. Based on our positive experience with the Spirit we took a chance on these. Three separate voicings, vintage, modern and hybrid. We love options.

 

Very god on everything so far.

Package includes two Rycote shock mounts, mic clips, wind shields, stereo mounting bar and importantly an enamel pin badge!

One of the starlights on overhead duty.

24 July 2017

 

First layer of floor consolidation complete. Second started.

Lots of screws in the final layer of chip.

25 May 2017

 

Also a new microphone to join the others.

 

It's an Aston Spirit multi pattern condenser mic. British made and remarkable value. I've only tried it on my J45 acoustic so far and it sounds fantastic. I'm considering another for use as drum overheads...  Although Aston have another offering that maybe beter.

24 May 2017

 

A delivery for Summerly Studios, Upgrading our monitoring and audio interface. Also a new mic, shock mount and reflection filter.

Upgraded Monitoring Adam A77X.

 

New Interface Apollo 8p

 

A reflection filter to help with vocals in our temporary space.

 

Don't worry about the cheapo stands.  They were included free!   I will make robust stands when the new space is finished.  These are temporary.

30 April 2017

 

Here you can see the original floor layout.  To the right of he gap in the floor is where the booth would have been.

 

The new lobby can be seen in the slightly different shade of flooring on the lower right of the image.

 

The gap in the floor needs to be filled, and the floor consolidated. This will be achieved by a layer of 12.5mm plasterboard and another layer of 22mm chip flooring screwed at 200mm centres.

 

Another view of the control room with new exit at the back on the right.

8 April 2017

 

The RSJ in place. The props are gone and doorway sealed for now.

22 March 2017

 

Doorway done! The cutting only took a couple of hours but breaking up the concrete has taken all day! Just the small reveals for the lintel to do. Thanks to Connor and Liam from CA Drillers Canterbury. Quality job and super tidy!

21 March 2017

 

Home made panel absorber covers. My little sister made these acoustically transparent covers. Face on it looks like black and grey stripes but shine a light across..... Genius, take back the "knitting is frumpy comment"! Concrete cutting delayed but begins tomorrow!

20 March

 

Another delivery of materials. 72 sheets of plasterboard. Plus osb, mdf and chip flooring. Thanks to Steve for helping move it to the studio!

19 March 2017

 

So why am I building a lobby instead of making music?

In the original plan the entrance to the studio was via the door (bottom right).
The problem with this is having to go through the bar and lounge area with gear. I decided I wanted to avoid this. (The rest of the building is not shown on the plan) The exit at the top was proposed as an emergency exit in the event of fire. This is the concrete I am battling at the moment. So I thought this would be an opportunity to use the dead space behind the building to create a lobby. It will be soundproofed so I have my iso booth back. Two birds! I'll also add a toilet in this area for convenience and maybe use it as a reverb chamber. That's another two!

6 March

Today's events include a pitiful attempt at concrete cutting with a 230mm angle grinder. It was of course futile so I went out and hired a 300mm petrol jobbie. It started first pull, but swiftly packed up before it was introduced to the wall. So back to HSS who replaced it with a unit that looked a little jaded. Not an easy starter, heavy and incredibly unstable. I touched the wall and it started bouncing around. The water attachment wasn't working so visibility was zero after a few seconds. So after spending most of the day on the road, I discovered that diamond blades don't like embedded plastic in concrete and I nearly topped myself with the mother of all kick backs. This is going to be a long and boring job!

4 March 2017

 

Stripping the insulation and cutting off the pvc rails was not at all easy. The concrete core is now exposed and ready for cutting. The building was constructed in ICF. This picture gives a clear view of the construction type and is a reminder to try and get things figured out before building is started.

Props in place ready for the removal of wall.

Here is a view from the control room into the tracking room.  I have started dismatling this wall as the door and window are now in slightly different positions.

3 March 2017

 

This is the inside view of the rear wall of the control room. The tracking room is on the right and the lobby will be where the broom is resting.  The exterior door will be cut here,

28 Feb 2017

 

 

This is the outside of the building and the back of the control room. The new doorway is going to be in the corner where the blue rake and RSJ are leaning. First job is adjust the gutter and down pipe, then strip the cladding.

 
 

Cladding removed exposing ICF (insulated Concrete Formwork)

 

Outside of building and rear of control room.

25 Feb 2017

 

The project is taking a litttle longer than I had planned but it seems that is fortunate.

 

My current studio is partly to blame as it keeps me busy,  However the isolation is poor, it is not properly treated and not ideal for the longer term.

 

So I need to put some projects on hold and finish the main studio.

 

I almost finished the framing the studio last year. As I was putting up the walls of the CR and Booth I felt it would be too small for my needs and current setup.  Originally my desire to have a booth meant a compromise in the size of the CR.  As I have managed so far without one I and going to do away the booth.  To get around that I will use the tie lines to the rest of the building for speaker cabs where necessary.

 

Also I'll be posting in future on Facebook @summerlystudios so be sure to like to follow progress there.

 

 

1 December 2016

 

Ok so I have been a little busy and the dairy is a little behind.

 

So the walls of the live room are framed.  Inbetween the studs there is 100mm rockwool RW45 slabs

 

You can see a better view of the ceiling now and a clearer view of the double trusses the darker for the roof the lighter for the ceiling,  No contact between them.

 

Another delivery of materials, this time more RWA45 slabs

 

 

22 October 2016

 

I used up a a lot of my materials on a shed.......   I needed to replace my sheds which were near the end of their life.  I was trying to put it off as I want to get on with the studio.  However taking into account the weather will turn soon and having to clear the studio space to continue,  I needed to rebuild them and make them sturdy.  So I used a lot of my timber, OSB and insulation for the shell.  I have fully insulated walls, ceiling and floor.  I put a new rubber roof on to seal it tight.  I think I over engineered it for a shed but it will last.  I had an old window from some renovations to the house many years ago and a pair of doors that were originally on the old studio.  The doors were super heavy.  So I have freed up loads of space using materials in the store but now need to replace them all.

I have wrapped the shell in breather membrane ready to receive the cladding, which was left over from the studio building.

Once this is done  it is back to the framing the studio. 

 

 

22 July 2016

 

Just finished fitting the first door between the bar area and the live room.   This is a solid core door which was about 40kg.  So it is approx 20kg m2.  As the wall construction is approx 30kg m2 I'll add a layer or maybe two of 18mm MDF to the inside face.  I still need to add the seals.  The locks are fitted blind to one side.  I used 4 heavy duty hinges and I included a heavy duty closer to prevent any injuries or damage with such a heavy door swinging about.  On with framing but I still need to deal with stuff that's accumulated in the area!

Door and surround to studio

29 March 2016

 

Tasked with re-fitting my daughters bathroom at the moment.  I decided to strip it out completely as it is in a dormer so I could uprate the insulation. It will also be easier to tile with new plasterboard.  I am not short of plasterboard!  Oh I broke a bone in my wrist so have to take it easy for 10 days.  Luckily it is the end of term so I like to devote this time to the kids anyway.

 

Here is an image of the bathroom in it's currrent state.

Stripped Out Bathroom

11th Feb 2016

 

The shell is now airtight.  The stud wall dividing the live area and the rest of the building is fully beefed up with 3 layers of 12.5mm plasterbord.  That was a really tedious job.  I think I used around 15 900ml tubes of acoustic caulk in this wall.

 

You can see in the pictures the doorway open.

 

As a test before increasing the mass of the wall I ran the PA with some random music in the adjacent room.  I got a reading of 89db on the sound meter.  Then on the studio side and had a reading of 69db

 

After increasing the mass  I used pink noise.  On the meter I used A weighted, fast setting got a max  of 92.5db.  On the studio side I got 64db. The door aperture is just sealed with 18mm ply and you can clearly tell that is where all the sound is coming from.  I hope to make a door soon and will report back when complete..

 

Of course after the time and enery of sealing the wall I cut a big hole in it!!!  This will be the access area to the loft where the aircon will be.  It will be the only way in to this void when the inner shell is sealed.  I will of course make a very heavy door for this the same mass as the wall.

Close Up Of Loft Access Hatch
Loft Access hatch
Chill out area looking into the studio space
Studio Side Looking Into Chill Out Area

Jan 2016

Why the long delay!

It is a bit complicated to illustrate but here goes.......

 

When I built the shell I had a 50mm gap between the beam & block floor pads and the walls.

This gap was bridged by bituthene DPM which is a bitumen backed membrane.  (Sticky than Toxteth O'Grady's you no what.)

 

This is actually a weakness in the construction as around the perimeter there is no substantial mass to the underfloor ventilation.  Just membrane and rockwooll.

That said there should always be some room for expansion and contraction on a large floor so it is inevitable that there would be some kind of gap filled with low mass material.

 

Anyway I had not reckoned on mice!  The underfloor ventilation uses modern airbricks and rodent proof grills the other end of the telescopic vents.  So imagine my surprise that I spotted some rockwool "fluff" in one corner.  I knew I had swept and hoovered.  On closer inspection I noticed a tunnel on the edge of the rockwool.  When I put my hand near it I could feel a draft!

 

So I ripped out that area of Rockwool and sure enough a hole through the membrane to the underfloor.  I later found a nest in one of the rolls of insulation I had stacked up.

 

So the weakness and therefore risk exists around the perimeter of the large room.

 

I have monitored the situation for a while and there have been no repeat visitors.  So I intend to seal up the hole squeezy foam any gaps around the perimeter and press on.

 

In the meantime I converted the office/store back to a studio and it has been getting plenty of use.  This is at least one positive to come from it.

 

Drum Room

14 July

So the shell is plasterboarded apart from the steel beam, (top right of picture), which is being boxed in at the moment.

The lighter colour trusses in the picture are temporarily suspended between the roof trusses awaiting the walls to be built underneath.   I had to use trusses as the span is over 7m and was the best way to get a clear span with max height.

Once the walls are in place they will be lowered and braced but nothing will touch the existing roof trusses which are part of the shell.

I still need to sort out the air conditioning......

2 June

Floor done, just starting to plasterboard the outer shell.  This is just to ensure the shell is air tight.   I have tidied up around the window reveal with ply, sealing every junction joint and seam.  I am using an acoustic caulk around the edge of each plasterboard.  I'll also tape the joints.  It won't be necessary to sand it all down as this will never be seen again.  (That said, I probably will as I will be happier knowing the finish is good in the void??)  I am only boarding down as far as the DPC which is why you can see the dpm visible below.  I have unibonded the bottom of the boards to seal them and I will caulk the bottom of the boards to the dpm to maintain the integrity ot the air seal.

Interestingly the only work I outsourced to a builder was beefing up the gable end of the roof over a year ago.  I was doing a favour as he was working here and it was raining so I offered an alternative rather than sending him home for the day. Two layers of plasterboard, each one sealed at the perimeter with caulk and all screw holes filled.  Then fill with insulation.  Strict instructions with the obligitory lecture on airtight construction.   Look what I found when I removed the insulation by chance today.....  True it is not possible to get the caulk gun in there but this sort of thing can have a serious impact.  

10 May

A massive thanks to Dave Cherry of Oram Audio.  It is people like this that make it a pleasure to be part of this creative industry.   John Oram is a pioneer of audio engineering.  You can find out more here - www.john-oram.com. In addition thanks to everyone who has offered help, support and advice. I can't think of many industries where people are so keen for you to succeed and are willing to help out.  

29 April

Since the last update, due to a minor accident and a holiday over Easter we have fallen a little behind.
The subfloor is now complete. The floor has sufficient mass to dampen the previous resonance issue. The sand was overlaid with a polythene membrane which in turn is overlaid with 100mm Rockwool Rockfloor. This is just a very dense mineral wool insulation slab designed for use in floors as it has high compressive strength I think it is around 140kgm3. This is ready to take the chip flooring once I have laid it out.
You can see the walls are pink and black stripes. The pink stripes are extruded polystyrene, the black are uPVC rails which the eps sits in to form the walls. This is the way the building was constructed. For more detail take a look at the Polarwall website or there is more detail on my website under ancient history. In order to ensure air tightness I will need to screw plasterboard to the plastic rails and caulk and tape all the edges and screws. I'll need to pay particular attention to the window reveals.
The last job before building the internal structure is to strengthen the stud wall separating the studio from the lounge. That will be a case of putting a layer or two of plasterboard between the studs, caulking the edges and holding them in place with some timber battens.

17th March

So here I am adding another layer of sand to add mass.

Blinding

16th March

The dpm and insulation went in ok but it seems that there is still some resonanace in the sub flooring. It is no where near as bad as it was but it is still there. I have peeled it all back and added more sand blinding in the hope the additional mass will dampen it a bit.  I may be worrying about it too much as this is still the outer shell, but I don't want to regret ignoring it later.

10th March

Another delivery of fence posts means a few more days of fencing.  The sand blinding is still saturated but it has been a glorious couple of days so hopefully it should be dry enough to put the dpm down soon.  The temptation is to crack on but I am mindful of the rockwool I have underneath the floor slab and don't want interstitial condensation to soak it.

6th March 2015

I have had a busy few weeks replacing our fencing tidying up outside. Our ground is clay with flints that seem to form an impenetrable layer so bashing in fence posts has been really hard work.  I have run out of posts now but I am on the home stretch through woodland where the ground is a lot softer.  This wil be finished this week

 

I placed the sand blinding over the floor but unfortunately the sand was so wet that it still hasn't dried.  Even though it will be under the dpm I wanted it to be drier before sealing it away.  

In terms of the floor construction I could either place a reinforced concrete floor pad for each room over the rockwool insulation or simply use two layers of flooring chipboard glued together.  My instinct was to go the concrete route but speaking to the designer the chip route would be sufficient in my particular circumstances.

23rd February 2015

Well half term is over and it is back to work.

Here is the floor layout.

This is designed to our requirements, taking into account our existing space, differing floor levels and also, to some extent, to make use of materials already on site.

There are of course numerous pdfs of construction details as well as the ongoing consultancy in order to ensure the results meet expectations.

With kind permission of the designer

10 February

The beam and block floor is grouted!!  This needs to dry out a little although it turned cold again today.

This week we have been upgrading the security including cctv and new burglar alarms and fire alarms. (I outsourced this to a professional company though!)

I have also been busy replacing our post and rail fencing which has been a pig. I have bashed in around 100 meters of posts so far but have another 300m or so to go!

I have three tons of sand to blind off the floor so I can get the DPM in.  Then it is just a case of getting the insulation down and we can lay out the floor.

The next post will be a copy of the plans for which I have permission.

2nd February

 

It's a little too cold for concrete but this image shows:

 

1.  A view from the CR/Booth host space into the live/cinema area.

2. Shows the "floating floor" on 100mm rockwool. (18mm Chip, 15mm plasterboard, 18mm Chip)

3. The difference in floor level between the two areas.

4. The entry and exit point to the studio (ply sheet rear right with the steps resting against it.)  The other side is the lounge and bar which just needs skirting and architrave to be complete.  We are already using this area....

5. I have a bit of tidying to do......

6. The trusses on the LHS will carry the inner ceiling being placed inbetween the existing trusses but resting on the new stud walls I build.

Looking into the live/cinema area

29 January

 

Beams and blocks all in ready for grouting.....

 

27th January 2015

 

Today have been continuing with the adjustment of the sub floor.  Why is is taking so long?  When a block and beam floor is laid you use a mix of sand & cement to fill in the gaps between blocks and beams.  As I have already used these before there is stuff stuck to the beam & block edges so the each one needs to be cleaned first.

 

Anyway a picture of the area I am working on.

Looking Into the area that will house the CR & Booth

26 January

A bit about the host space.

The external walls are made of Insulated concrete formwork (ICF).  That is 50mm extruded polystyrene 150mm of concrete and 50mm of polystyrene.  The outer face has battens then a cement fibre weather board.
The roof is warm roof construction.  So over the trusses there is 18mm OSB, 50mm rockwool insulation, battens then counter battens with clay tiles with membranes in the appropriate places.
On the inside of the OSB sheathing I have installed 2 layers of 12.5mm plasterboard caulking all edges and joints.  At this point I should point out that when I ordered the trusses I specified a higher load to take this into account, just in case.

The floor for the tracking room is beam and block overlaid with 100mm 140kgm3 rockwool and a layer of 18mm flooring chip 15mm plasterboard and another layer of 18mm chip awaiting the final floor finish.
This floor does not touch the outer walls but does sit on the same strip foundations. The airspace beneath this floor is vented as per UK building regs but if there is any unexpected problem then I can deal with it even after the room is done.  (Simply cutting out the centre of the floor and filling up the void if necessary.)

The CR and booth originally had the same floor construction but due to a nasty floor resonance  I called in help.  Then I decided to rip it all out and start over. This was a major hold up.  I had moved all the beams and blocks to our field opposite the house whilst I made some adjustments.  As they are quite heavy I was unable to move them back as the weather got bad and turned the field into a bog.  In fact some unsavoury characters had broken into the field, I presume to try and steal them, they clearly underestimated the state of the ground and left empty handed, but left me to repair the smashed field gate. (as if I haven't enough to do!) Anyway the recent ground frost gave me the opportunity to bring them back on Friday with help from my friend and singer/songwriter, Craig.   Needless to say the guitar was not picked up on Saturday.  They are in place ready to be infilled with blocks. Each room will have its own floor of similar construction to the live room, not touching the outer walls or each other.  I anticipate this method will reduce flanking noise to a degree.  Membranes will all be in the appropriate places.

Today all the beams were levelled and some of the blocks are in place.  Although ther airspace should beneath the floor should be fully vented I have added some rockwool to the voids to help dampen and resonance.

Shortly I'll start uploading photos of progress.

First some history.

I come from a drumming background and have built fairly well isolated drum rooms in most properties we have owned. With hindsight and the more I have learnt from the various resources available, I realise I must have used up a lot of luck getting acceptable results, particularly from an acoustic point of view.

I have a single room at the moment which has now become a store room and is partially converted to an office.
In October 2008 I started building an outbuilding to house a small recording studio, a bar / lounge, kitchen, bathroom and somewhere for guests to stay. I'll elaborate if there is any interest although there will be some background on the website in due course. Anyway, it was slow going as working full time in the City (London) meant that the time with my family was premium and pushed the build to the bottom of the list as I want to do most of the work myself.

At the end of 2012 I got a nudge towards early retirement. We decided it a perfect opportunity to leave the City career behind to spend more time with my family and focus on some of the things we wanted to do. I had only just been toying with the idea of getting a turnkey solution but having new found freedom decided it was something I would do myself.

I wanted a large live area and CR but thought that I may get good use from an iso booth that could possibly be used for vocals as well. It was a question of compromising a larger CR for more flexibility in future. In addition the small lobby created between the three rooms will serve as a transition between the different levels in the building, and possibly another exit point if necessary.
The large live area should also double as our home cinema in order to get max value from the build.

After an extensive research project, buying many books and trawling the usual forums I learnt more about studio design and building. However, I found the wealth of information available was quite often in contradiction which made me wimp out and call in a studio designer.

After an initial meeting with Howard Turner of StudioWizard we decided to go ahead and do a full set of drawings with plans for appropriate acoustic treatments.

After some extensive dialogue over many months in 2013 my plans were delivered. I then had to make some structural adjustments and decided to finish all my other outstanding projects as I had a feeling that once I started there was no going back.  

Anyway Howard is kindly and patiently supporting me and I have the appropriate permissions for anything I post.

The basic shell that will house the rooms is nearly complete so have about 3-4 weeks worth of work before I start framing the inner rooms.

To finish this post I would like to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without the support of my wife also affectionately known as the spending committee, and of course my two children who after all this is all for.

January 2015
 
Here I plan to post the story of my recording studio build.  This will comprise a control room, a booth and live room.  The slight complication is that the live room will also be the family home cinema.
 
I anticipate delays but I'm determined to keep this record as up to date as possible.  So many diaries never seem to reach conclusion, so I have deliberately taken a year to make sure preparations are right, a budget is in place and other potential distractions won't slow progress too much.
 
I hope you enjoy reading as much as I have enjoyed reading the many heroic studio builds featured all over.
 
As always if you need any further info or have any questions or criticisms please do not hesitate to ask or comment.  If you see me stumbling into a glaring mistake or would like to propose an alternative method please do contribute as this discussion helps benefit everyone and is entertaining.
 
Below is a mock up of the area based on the final plans.
 
The pianos in the image attached are just to give an idea of relative scale
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