My original draft of this post was over 3 written pages long without pictures. I’ll try and condense it all into a readable length. I’ve never invested so much of myself into anything so it’s hard to know what to leave out.
When I started building the studio I was planning on giving a shout out by name to everyone that helped and how they contributed. Well, this was a bigger undertaking than expected and needed a lot more help than expected. Almost everyone I know helped out in some way. So if you lifted heavy stuff, built anything, babysat so we could get stuff done or helped in any way, I want you to know how much I appreciate your help. This has been my dream for a long time now, and it’s finally real, and you helped with that. I sincerely thank you.
There are some shout outs that I have to give, because I just can’t say thank you enough. If you are not mentioned by name it doesn’t mean I’m not eternally grateful for your help.
This was all possible because of my beautiful wife and my parents. My poor mom and dad put up with years and years of noise. Given that neither of them are a fan of loud noises, this was a big deal. I was not quiet about any of it. My mom supported me and helped me believe in myself and my music. Amy has been/is unbelievably supportive in this endeavor, and without her, I probably would have quit a long time ago. She has been so patient in not seeing me for a couple years because I spent every spare minute and holiday building. My dad was absolutely indispensible in building the studio. He helped me meet my acoustic ideals with reality. He’s spent so many hours on building this. I physically couldn’t have done it without him. My brother Kurt hooked me up time and time again and saved me more money than I’d like to mention here. His craftsmanship on building the studio desk was awesome. Amy’s dad laid the carpet for us in the piano room and office, as well as putting in the floors in our laundry room. Thanks again to everyone who helped.
The short and skinny of this is, after going to school for Recording Engineering, no one in Utah would hire anyone without at least 5 years experience in a studio. One of the bigger studios in Salt Lake said that I could fill an internship if I could wait 6 months and work for free. That would have been fine except we were newly married and I needed a paying job. So Amy and I decided we would need to start our own studio.
We eventually bought a house with the intention to convert the basement into a studio. We didn't want it to be like some kid recording in his bedroom. We wanted a real professional studio. That was a MUCH bigger project than we expected. We weren’t able to leave much of anything in the basement. We had to move almost every pipe, the walls were all useless and crooked. We gutted the whole thing.
This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Ever. I had been planning out the studio since I was in school and had to make some changes to accommodate the smaller space we had to work with. I designed it after some of the million dollar studios out there, and for the most part, was able to stay true to the same materials and design of those studios, just on a smaller scale.
I’m trying not to make this overly technical and boring. But if you see the studio, you don’t see just how much work went into building it. You see a wall, but not the 6 layers beneath it that nearly killed me. My blood sweat and tears were literally in every room of our studio.
To build sound proof rooms you build a room within a room and it should touch the outside room as little as possible. Where they do touch, you use decoupling devices or materials.
We then covered the soundboard in soundproof rubber which also acts as a decoupler. (This rubber is more soundproof than lead). After that there are metal strips called r-channel that hang the next layers an inch or so down from the previous layers. This is a big soundproofing technique because air gaps stop sound, as well as the metal absorbs a lot of the vibrations so it doesn’t go through the next layers. (Vibrations=sound). On that we hung 1.25” Drywall. This was no small feat because each 4x8 sheet weighed over 200 lbs. Luckily I had my brothers and dad as well as my brothers drywall lift to help with that. Thanks Steve for the lift! We also put acoustic calk in all the cracks between each sheet. The rubber was awful also because each roll weighed around 140lbs so gravity wasn’t a fan of me putting it on a ceiling.
Next were the floors. To get rid of outside rumble, and not having the height to float the floors we had to do a virtual float. We put a layer of soundproof rubber over the floors and sealed the joints with acoustic sealant.
Then we put the subfloor down and then built the walls.
All the walls for the studio are double walls, except between the sound room and the control room, that’s a triple wall. All the walls are decoupled from each other and have at least an inch gap in between. The studio walls are all steel studs. They weren’t as fast as using wood, but they were so much nicer and straighter when it was done. The studs were filled with the same rock wool and r-channel as the ceiling. Then 5/8” drywall. We then covered all the walls with the rubber and covered that with ½” drywall. All the walls were also decoupled from the floor and ceiling with an additional layer of rubber on top and bottom of the steel studs.
Amy and Kyle helped me a ton with getting the rubber on the walls. It was not fun to do.
This is our wall construction: Steel studs filled with rock wool, rc channel, 5/8" sheetrock, 1/8" rubber, 1/2" sheetrock
Last were the hardwood floors. I liked doing that with my dad and brother Kurt. They were meticulous and it turned out really nice and I learned a ton.
All of the electrical was run on the surface of the walls so I only had 1 hole where the electrical came in. Fewer holes = more soundproof.
Another shout out to my dad, he custom built all the doors for the studio. (which is a lot because with double walls comes double doors). He even donated 2 of the doors. Not only that, he custom cut all the other doors for the office and such, and put a new outside door through 14 inches of concrete to get the piano down the stairs.
The window was a huge pain with layer after layer. The wall it went in was almost 18 in. thick. I think I used 3 or 4 of the giant tubes af acoustic caulking to seal all the different layers.
Lastly we put in all auralex acoustic treatment.
For the microphone lines I used the best cable in the world – Canare cable, and Neutrik connectors. It took 1000 feet of cable and hundreds of connectors to wire up the studio, but you can access any signal from anywhere and I love that, I’m in signal routing heaven! What I thought was going to be a day soldering everything together ended up taking weeks because there were so many connections. Another shout out to Stewart at Sweetwater who hooked me up with some awesome gear and helping me find the right stuff. I’m so excited to be done with this part and now I can start recording again!
The desk my brother Kurt, dad and I built
Finished pictures I know most of them are blurry and the coloring is bad, but you get the idea.
The piano room
Testing the studio out on my beautiful nieces and radical nephew
I left all the important decisions to Producer Axel