How to Build a Recording Studio – Part-8: Studio Design, Materials and Tools
Designing a recording studio is a professional job. Every room is totally isolated and separated from each other. The widely accepted method is to build a room within a room. The inner walls have no contact with the outer walls, creating an air gap between them that traps sound. All the walls can be several feet thick and rooms are divided by doors and more than one layer of thick glass.
The floors of every room is raised from the ground using spacers that also help to maintain an air gap to minimize vibrations and to stop undesired sound leakage. Floors have their unique characteristics that make sound waves reflect off their surfaces. While floors made from wood provide a warm tone, tile and concrete give a brighter tone. This is also true in case of walls.
A proper plan is necessary to draw cables from room to room so that every room is interconnected for microphone signal and headphone communication systems. PVC tubing or specially made cable channels are used to send microphone cables to the control room via a panel. Headphone lines connecting the control room are run through the walls to communicate with all rooms.
Materials and Tools
Drywall is used on walls. More drywall layers will increase the studio wall thickness. Drywall layers will be of different thicknesses. By alternating along the seams you will minimize transmission of sound between rooms. You will need drywall screws and an electric drill.
Ceiling clouds and wall panels covered with fabrics are used to control absorption. Fabrics of specific types have different frequency of absorption. Each texture and thickness has different co-efficient rating at different frequency bands.
Any fiberglass product used and AC duct board are covered with fabric and stuck with spray glue and these absorbing panels are called Bass Traps and Wall Boxes. Fiberglass Insulation or thermal fiber is sandwiched between sets of walls and ceiling to build up additional thickness giving a different texture, consisting of fiberglass, and this is excellent for trapping sound.
Sand can be used as a very good alternative choice for filling up walls preventing transmission of sound wave. Wooden structures support the boxes and panels. Bigger bass traps having large ports may be made from fiberglass or wood. Mathematically designed wooden slats form panels for absorbing and refracting or for soaking up and scattering of sound within a room. Wooden custom racks house the console, patch bay and outboard gear. Custom studios may also be designed for particular style and situation.
Doors, walls and Windows
Doors and walls account for the maximum leakage of sound in recording studios. A small air gap of ¼ inch at the lower threshold of a door can leak sound to the extent of 30%. All the gaps must be sealed for maximum possible sound proofing. All gaps present in corners and cutaways for frames of windows and doors must be sealed using a caulking or silicon material. Remember that sound will pass through any gap that air can.