Building Free House Studios: How We Got Here
Having just completed the building of my Bristol based recording studio, I thought I would write this to explain progress of the the studio over the last three years and the building of its current incarnation.
For the last three years, while studying in London, I have run a recording studio part time out of my various bedrooms.
Playing home to some of London’s best up and coming singers, rappers and musicians, with spots from SB.TV and Don’t Flop Entertainment as well as having gone on the road to Boom Bap Hip Hop Festival, the studio was going strong. But, being a home studio, it was limited in its capabilities – I wanted a separate studio to work in, away from my home, with the capabilities to record, mix and master full bands, rather than just vocalists/small instruments. While considering the future of the studio I came to the conclusion that London was over saturated and increasingly expensive and that in order to grow, Free House would be better suited in a city home to a thriving, collaborative scene so in September 2013 I moved to Bristol and took over a small unit in the centre of town.
And converted it from this:
Having done very little DIY in the past, short of hanging a few pictures on a wall, I was naively optimistic about the simplicity of the task that lay ahead. Having watched a handful of YouTube videos detailing how to build stud walls I strolled into B&Q to buy my timber, still unsure about quite how much I needed…and began the building process.
The first step was to frame the stud walls, using 2″x4″ timber, 600mm (centres) apart where possible – these are the studs, joined by timber between them (noggins). The opening left for the door is the width of the door (24/27/30/33″) plus the width of the door lining (varies, depending on which you get) plus an addition 9mm across and 18mm top to bottom, which allows the door to open and close once hung without obstruction. The space for the window was fairly arbitrary – if you frame you own glass then you can leave any gap you want for the window, ensuring the bottom of the frame is properly supported, glass is heavy! (This video was helpful – though, as my floor and ceiling are both slanted and the new wall runs floor to ceiling I constructed my frame in place rather than on the floor…).
Once the walls were framed I filled the gaps with Knauf Earthwool 50mm acoustic wool, which is very effective but for extra isolation you can go for the flexi slabs (I used Rockwool 100mm slabs to build my bass traps – the most important thing when dealing with sound absorption is density of fibreglass. Each side of the acoustic wool is a layer of 12mm acoustic plasterboard and the window is made of acoustic laminate glass, two panes of glass, either side of a thin strip of PVC.
These ‘soundproofing’ measures give me a good level of isolation, enough to avoid bleed between mics tracking in either room. To increase the amount of isolation gained it would be best to construct a second wall, leaving a cavity gap between the two, and, again, the higher the density of the door(s) the less sound will pass through.
1. Buy this book. I have bought it since and wish I’d acted sooner!
2. Plan, plan, plan.A�Don’t wait for your frames to be up before buying your fibreglass…don’t wait for your fibreglass before buying your plasterboard.