The NEW Recording Booth Build
Feb 15 2014
(UPDATE: This post, from 2014, details the building of a custom sound suppression/recording booth at my former home. Information about my current studio, constructed in 2017, can be found here: 2017 Studio Build – Part One and here: 2017 Studio Build – Part Two)
After a month of solid use, my new recording booth is working like an absolute champ! So, I wanted to give you a short description and share some images and information from the build.
Andy Kidd handled the design and build from beginning to finish and I couldn’t be happier with the job he did! All the pieces of the frame were constructed in the garage before being brought down to my office/studio. We constructed the floor first (3/4 inch plywood, 2×4 frame, fully insulated and sealed), then the exterior walls, with a single layer of drywall on the exterior of the frame. The ceiling was dropped in after the walls were in place, and featured a plywood top and 2×4 frame (after installation, fully insulated and sealed as each wall).
Andy, attaching the framed walls.
After putting floor, walls and ceiling together – the insulation was installed. We used shredded denim acoustic insulation in the walls and applied to the studs (most packaged denim insulation comes with pre-cut strips for studs as well perforated panels).
Shredded denim insulation – with excellent sound absorption
After insulation, comes two more layers of drywall on the interior of the booth. Between the layers, we used Green Glue noise-proofing compound. This stuff is fantastic!
In the photo below, you’ll also see the framing of the door. We used a solid-core, steel exterior door (out-swing, opening from the left). A great door with a tight seal is an absolute must when constructing a recording booth – so we even moved the latch plate back a 1/4 inch, so you really have to pull the door closed to get that “click”.
The interior of the booth features two layers of drywall
In order to run cables into the booth (for the microphone, electrical, monitor, headphones) , we opted for a PVC pipe, with rubber caps on either end (then, we simply cut an “x” into each cap). With the caps, we didn’t even have to jam insulation in the pipe. The caps alone are quite effective to limit sound bleed.
On the topic of ventilation, some “home build” sound suppression booths utilize small fans (computer fans) to draw external air from floor level and exhaust air from near the ceiling of the booth. These systems usually use channels or ducts with bends or baffles to increase sound suppression while still maintaining airflow. Other methods use larger fans (bathroom vent fans) to move larger volumes of air – quickly replacing the air inside the booth. Both require compromising the walls/ceiling with a hole or holes – and no matter how well sealed, I felt this would increase the external noise bleed into my booth (not to mention add to the cost/effort of the build). Not to mention, there isn’t a fan quiet enough to run while recording – it just made more sense to use the door to ventilate the booth as needed.
Cables coming into the booth through PVC pipe.
After sealing all the seams/cracks/crevices in the interior drywall (using Green Glue), we installed “self-adhesive” carpet tiles to floor, walls and ceiling. Knowing that gravity might not be so agreeable, we used double-sided carpet tape to help the adhesive on the panels. As it turns out, for the walls and ceiling, a staple gun was also required to make sure they stayed put long-term.
“self-adhesive” carpet squares? Not exactly
One of the biggest sources of noise in a home studio is the fan in the computer. So, keeping the tower on the outside of the booth, means I need a satellite (with the same feed as the monitor at my desk) monitor on the inside of the booth. I mounted the monitor high on the wall, because I typically stand when recording. This is anchored by some very heavy-duty drywall anchor screws.
On a side-note, I use a 21 inch LCD wide-screen monitor in my booth – because LCD screens (this one in particular) are known for low heat output – which is essential in a small booth with no integrated ventilation system.
Wall mount for satellite monitor
The studio door is an solid-core, steel external door (no window). Out-swing, from the left – due to space limitations and layout of the room. Once it was leveled and installed, we set to sealing any cracks/crevices around the frame with expansion foam. This is not “maximum expansion”, but more of a windows and doors foam (so technically, minimal expansion). Of course, after the stuff set and dried, we cut it level for the next step of the build.
Expansion foam goiters. Yummy.
After the drywall, the sealing of seams/cracks/crevices – and after the carpeting on floor/walls/ceiling – came Auralex and other acoustic foam treatments being applied. The premise is simple – you need non-parallel surfaces in a booth this small. The foam panels deadened the high-end frequencies, but mid/low range were still a problem after installation of what you see below.
The Death Star is now fully operational.
To remedy the low/mid frequency bounces I was experiencing, I constructed a bass trap in one upper corner of the booth. Some heavier fabric is stretched into the corner and attached to the walls/ceiling – and filled to capacity with the same denim insulation which is in the walls. This made a huge difference! No more low/mid bounces.
Regarding lighting: I use LED rope lighting, mounted to the ceiling. I’ve found it gives off relatively little heat – while lighting up the room efficiently. And, unlike florescent, there’s little to no inherent frequency being picked up by my mic.
So, there you have it – the new custom sound-suppression booth! Thanks for taking a look!