Building a Studio next to barking dogs!!
Hi audio gurus...
After a week of reading through article after article on soundproofing, I wanted to see if you would please tell me what you think of my plan to soundproof my new video studio I am about to break ground on.
I am building a freestanding video studio from scratch in my back yard.
There is traffic and dogs that bark very nearby (100 feet away) and I need to kill or at least tone down the sound to be barely audible.
I don’t have crazy money to drop on total soundproofing... I have never recorded music - most of the time it’s simple interviews.
I read that the best way to stop sound is to put mass between you and the sound and to seal up any cracks and holes the sound may get through.
My studio is 50x30 and has zero exterior doors or windows and all electrical will be internal conduit wiring so as not to put a single hole in the walls... other than interior doors to the control room and editing suite.
My plan is to construct 2x4 frame then put THREE layers of drywall on the inside.
Do you think this will mostly kill the dogs outside? Construction is on a concrete pad and I would also put three layers of drywall on the ceiling.
Again, knowing I don’t need it to be PERFECT, do you think this will work?
I will then be hanging a thick theater curtain around the entire studio to dampen the echo.
I know there are other solutions that are more expensive, but I’m thinking for my budget and needs this is my solution.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
There are better ways. First, if the three walls of drywall aren't hung properly (think resilient channel and similar techniques), you'll still get noise conducted in through the nails and studs that are attached to the exterior walls. IOW, if you do it wrong you're just throwing the money away and not getting any benefit. Said another way -- if you build it the same way your house is built, it will sound just like your house sounds. And you already know that's not going to work, yes? So it's reasonable to think that a standard "stick built" house wall is insufficient for your needs.
There are better and more efficient (noise wise) techniques than the standard builder "stick building" 2x4 walls used to make your house, like "double stud" construction. Start reading to find them. And I'm not convinced that the third layer of sheet rock can be that useful -- law of diminishing returns and all that. There's a reason hardly anyone tries that.
Best way IMHO is to build a room within a room. That is, a thick masonry shell (think poured concrete). Then, build a room inside that isn't touching the walls or ceiling, and float the floor off the concrete pad. And think about what you are doing -- you can't let the HVAC or electrical ducts / conduits, etc. touch the outside wall either or you'll "bridge" the noise into your room within your room.
If you aren't going to spend the time to research how to do this effectively, use an acoustical engineering service. It's too easy to mess this up, and sound flows into a structure in ways that are not at all intuitively obvious. And, BTW, it's really difficult (and expensive) to fix your mistakes after the building is already up, so you really should try to do it right the first time. Good place to start is one of the books about how to build a home studio. There are a number of books about this -- it's a popular topic.
Also, you could participate in some of the online forums about this. Gearslutz has a Studio Building / Acoustics forum for example. There are of course others. Does CreativeCow have one? IDK.
Another source to examine is the home theater people. This group usually understands the difference between sound proofing (keeping out your dog sounds) and acoustic treatment (controlling absorption, diffusion, and bass traps to make your interior sound good), and they build stuff like this all the time. IOW, they know all about green glue. You should too.
IMHO you need to know about and understand all these considerations well before you start digging your foundation, or you're likely to be an unhappy camper later. I'm just sayin' that there's a lot more too it that just:
[joseph wilkins] "I read that the best way to stop sound is to put mass between you and the sound and to seal up any cracks and holes the sound may get through."
If that's all you got, you need to read more. Seriously. A lot more.
Also, save yourself a lot of heartache and build a video studio with 12' ceilings at a minimum. Trying to light from lower ceilings is a PITA. It's always better to light from a light grid, no matter how small that grid is. A single section of grid pipe is often all you need to hang lights, and you can always expand a grid as you need to. But if you don't have the height, you can't install even a tiny grid. Just sayin'.
Thank you Bruce for your thoughtful and detailed response.
I guess I have more homework to do.
The big problem here is that I'm not building a little studio room I can float. This studio will be 60 feet long, 36 feet wide and 16 feet tall. Floating a room of that size is just not something I have the ability to do financially.
Maybe I can set my expectations a little clearer.
I currently own a studio that is being knocked down to widen the freeway. It's literally 30 feet from the busiest freeway in the state. It's noisy outside. Dogs on one side, freeway on the other. The space is a converted garage unit downstairs with my editing suites in the office space above. On the side and back of the building it has a brick exterior and on the other side is another garage unit - separated by a cinder block wall. On the front is a garage door. Years ago I had a contractor layer a few sheets of drywall 3-4 layers thick in front of the garage door to block the sounds of the freeway.
Inside it is not perfect... we can still hear a slight hum of the freeway and clearly hear when a Harley goes by, or when engine brakes are applied, but that's about it. For my needs, it works out just fine.
What I need to know before I break ground building my studio in my back yard is... will it be better or worse than what I currently have going on at my existing studio? I can live with the same.
So based on that description, what do you think I'll hear with frame construction and drywall?
Or would it be better to build with Cinderblock? Or brick? I'm open to any suggestions.
In my state, when they take people's property to widen a freeway, the state is often forced by the courts to build a "noise abatement wall" between the freeway and the adjacent land owners. If this is not being done for you, you might want to consult a lawyer to see what your options are. A noise abatement wall would probably be well worth having just for the higher frequencies. Low frequency noise (traffic rumble) will generally travel through the ground.
As to construction technique, there's too much to consider to be able to cover it all in a few postings. You would probably be best served by hiring an acoustical consultant. Just the variables in how to construct a wall to a given STC level can be overwhelming to the inexperienced. Here's an example of some of the options available. Which method is right for what you want? I have no way of knowing.
All this, and you still have to meet your local building codes which force electrical outlets where you don't want them, etc.
You didn't mention budget/schedule? I agree that "stick-built" ordinary wood stud construction is probably a waste of money. I would think that "tilt-up" solid concrete or at least concrete-filled cinder-block construction would be necessary for attenuation of mid/high frequencies. Note that reverting to a conventional "stick-built" roof will rather negate the attenuating effect of the solid concrete walls.
Low frequencies (coupled through the ground) will be more difficult without extreme methods like "floating" inner floors, etc. However, if you are doing interviews (or vocal music) recording, then you can roll off low frequencies since you don't need to record them anyway. Note also that using close microphone techniques (like headset mics) will greatly increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the desired signal (the speech) vs. the noise levels.
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.
Hello Joseph and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
What you want to do is not trivial.
You pose an interesting challenge that Bruce (as he usually does) has analyzed beautifully. Yes, Density is your friend, but you're missing a point. It's not just one density. Effective isolation requires Density-Isolation-Density. (DID). (or even more DID layers)
I like the idea of a noise abatement wall, but as Bruce notes, a lot of the LF stuff travels through the ground, to your foundation and into your space.
ANY compromise in the isolation and you're screwed. One facility I know of in Arlington, VA is right on the street of a major thoroughfare. There was you basic sidewalk and then the building wall. On the other side, literally, was a suite of audio control rooms and VO booths. I was impressed by how quiet it was. They said their walls were resiliently hung and they had SEVEN layers of drywall.
Another facility in N. VA was built into the ground floor of a (then) contemporary office building. The first floor was vacant and had taller ceilings. They built the studio facility on that floor. The spaces were arranged around a machine core room. Each space was floated and none of the spaces touched each other. This was something the owner really had to bird dog because the construction company simply didn't get that isolation was that important. It is.
At Flite Three in Baltimore, one of the best isolated facilities I know of. (Studios floated on 4" of cork, separate building for HVAC compressors decoupled from the main facility, huge over-sized ducts, block and brick construction, three studios), we were comparing mics one day. They big had Urei 813 (I think) soffit mounted monitors. During the test, we noticed that occasionally the woofers would visibly throb or wiggle. No doubt, it was from the occasional truck or bus passing by on Cold Spring Lane, at least three hundred feet from the audio building.
So, again, your job is not trivial. One trick I did pickup on for heat, recently was a facility in which they imbedded pipes into the concrete floor and created a radiant floor system. I worked in that facility in winter and it was very comfortable, with no noise from the floor, and no HVAC fan noise.
Best of luck with your process. Please do keep us in the loop.
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Sorry to be late to the party.
When I did my studio conversion, one major win that cost very little compared to regular drywall construction, was to substitute a layer of drywall for one of MDF.
MDF has MUCH more mass than simple drywall.
It's a pain in the butt to work with, since two guys can typically hold up drywall sheets to nail to a ceiling where you can't get a sheet goods jack in place to do the work, but for the crew to do that with MDF, it took FIVE guys to do the same job, but the mass improvement really helped.
I was not far from a commuter airport that landed a good number of small jets - yet I never heard them after my studio was finished.
The shell was (outside to inside) Stucco/Standard exterior plywood/Fiberglass insulation between 4x4 posts (the original hay barn framing)/then a layer of MDF/and finally a layer of standard sheetrock.
Inside that we built what I called "the capsule", a control room with non-parallel sides and the double glass window where I could mix things and had my voice booth - but even in the general studio, the only noise that got into things that could potentially shut down the microphones in the main studio space was an active hail storm.
So In your scenario, three layers of Sheetroock, was one of exterior plywood, one of MDF for mass, and one of sheetrock for the interior finish.
Worked really well.
For what it's worth.
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Thank you! Super useful info.
Bill, how thick was the MDF?
I think I will take you up on your advice.