What's In The Booth?


I'm still not sure, but I'm about as sure as I'll probably ever be. I've thought about it for many years, and I've had many design ideas as a result. In fact, last year alone, I had a few ideas I had thought through pretty far into the process. And, in the end, it all came down to the idea that I've executed. It's been a balancing act of going too far and not going far enough. Although it comes down to an opinion based on perspective, I think I made a pretty good decision.

Last week, I constructed a basic sound-treated booth for recording. Though the primary inspiration for building it is for use in recording vocals, it can be used for anything that fits within it. I've known that I wanted something to use for recording this winter and delaying the building of a sound-treated booth would only kick the can further down the road. I'm good at that.

You'll notice that I wrote "sound-treated booth" and not soundproof booth. Sound can still get in and out, even though it has a harder time doing so. What's mostly been treated are the high frequencies and mid-to-high frequencies. How low in the spectrum I've treated for would only be a guess. As a result of the treatment, reflections and slap-back have been dulled. My wife and kids have even noticed the difference between standing in and out of the booth when it comes to how they hear sound. Mission accomplished.

The path to here has been a winding one. In reality, I now have a booth in part because I negotiated with myself. I view what I did as a basic booth I can mold, change, add to, and manipulate–a starting point. However, if it never changes, I still have something to use. So, what I ended up building was a frame out of 2x4s and then covered the whole thing with packing blankets.

When you see the finished product, you'll probably wonder why it took so long. Sometimes even simple solutions take a while to flesh out. I had ambitions to make the booth be more able to block sound from getting in and out, but in the end, that would have made it a much more expensive and time-consuming project. I did start down that path last fall. I had decided to bite the bullet and just go for it. I had given myself the fall season to see how far I could get. Ultimately, and perhaps ironically, I would have been happy to have progressed to the point where it was framed out with blankets covering it.

After the project ending delay (see Sump Chump), I thought more about it and decided that in the end, right now, a more costly and time-consuming sound booth would not be the best use of my time and money. I was off to a great start, and it does sadden me to abandon the idea, but it's prudent. If I ever decide to go all out on a studio, it'll have to be one that's outside the home and is generating enough income to warrant it. What I've built is sufficient for what I do now. It took me a while to be okay with that.

Going into the process, I knew there were certain parameters I wanted to work within. 1) I didn't want it attached or built into the house. I didn't want to mutilate the finished aspect of the basement. I wanted to be able to move it if necessary. And lastly, keeping it a separate structure is good for decoupling. 2) I wanted the booth to act as a sound treatment for the whole room. I will have more work to do with the room's sound treatment, but using this project as a means toward that goal is just sensible. The way I built the wood frame is good for diffusion and the packing blankets help dampen and control sound frequencies, as I pointed out earlier. 3) The placement of the booth had to work in regards to access while recording since I cover all of the studio duties, even when recording myself. The booth's placement also had to work with the flow of the room, and the flow of the basement as there are other people who live in my house.

I won't get into it too much now, but placing the booth where I did helped solve another issue I didn't know how I was going to tackle. The short of it is this: I've got some shelving I want to build, and I want to be able to hang cords and guitars on the wall. Essentially, I want to store my equipment better and in a more organized and eye-pleasing way. There will be posts and pictures for that sometime in the future.

*How is anybody going to see while inside the booth?*

Excellent question, convenient passerby! I plan to have an LED light that runs off of batteries that will attach to the wood frame part of the ceiling. I know we have one or two around the house that aren't being used, and being LEDs, it will be good on energy use. Speaking of lights, there aren't many good places to put a booth that nearly touches the ceiling. Between lights, air exhaust vents, and a smoke alarm, I was bound to be close to one of them. Although I don't think it will be a problem, I will be replacing the light bulb near the booth with an LED bulb since they don't get hot. I've been slowly changing out all of the bulbs in the house to LED anyway, so it's only a matter of time.

Well, I'm sure I've rambled on long enough, and maybe I'll think of more things to say and add them to a future post about the studio. This week, I need to get back to working on and moving forward with two projects, even if the studio is still a bit of a mess. I can now start recording vocals on the third Diads release, and after talking with a client this past weekend, it seems my role as theme song creator has been expanded. Also, he's talking about having music done as early as May.

No time like the present.

And...

PICTURES! (With comments)

First,

I have to give a GIGANTIC shout-out to my awesome and talented wife. Our talents seem to complement each other each day, and she was a big help with the booth. Her suggestions and work on the booth were highly valued contributions. She sewed blankets together and helped get the grommets in place along with helping me hang them.


Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twine

Materials and tools prepped and ready to go. Area for the booth cleared.
Electrical tape marking where the outer corner of the booth will be.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twine

Two bundles of packing blankets. Frame completed and in place.
Electrical outlet not blocked for possible future use.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twine

Blankets in place and looking good. Notice the exposed wood on the ceiling?
I expected there to be more on the inside walls, but the blankets are big. I didn't have a problem with more coverage for now. The booth is still changeable if I desire it. The exposed wood reflects sound and balances the absorbing qualities of the blankets. Four blankets were placed on the ceiling with no need to secure them.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twineGraham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, sound booth, sound treatment, recording, sound, music, DIY, home studio, basement studio, vocal booth, packing blankets, 2x4 wood, grommets, hemp twine

More pictures of the exposed wood on the ceiling and the front corner of the booth where the electrical tape was placed on the floor. Also, a picture of the sewing and grommet work my wife championed and I helped her with. Every two blankets (for the walls) were sewn together and then had ten grommets attached. Four blankets were used for each wall, overlapping due to the size, meaning a couple spots are eight blankets thick. Hemp twine was used to hold up the blankets; it came from a giant roll that was given to me and will probably last a century.

I still have four more blankets to use as I wish. I don't foresee using them on the booth, and they will be available for any other sound treatment I want to do in the studio. In addition to the plans I mentioned earlier, I plan on building baffles within the room for recording and general sound control.



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