Recording and Studio/workshop advice requested

thewriterbenny

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Hello all,

I'm only 90% sure this is the right forum, so please excuse me if I'm being a fool.

I've been lurking here a long time and finally decided to start posting. You all seem like a nice community of helpful folks, so I'm hoping y'all can point me in the right direction here.

About five years, two kids, and eight cats ago, my wife and I bought her grandparent's old house. We got the place for a bit of a steal, since it was a family sale and the folks that had been living here renting absolutely trashed the place. Thanks for the advent of the internet, and knowing an electrician and several handymen, we basically stripped the place down to the framing inside and re-did most of it all.

All of that said, we're having our second daughter come March, so the "spare room" isn't a spare anymore. But we have a three-car detached garage that was built in the 90s and is fully insulated and wired. My wife's grandad used it to restore old muscle cars. My wife agrees that it's time to clean it up and store all my instruments out there.

I want to set the space up to, hopefully, be a recording space, a workshop for woodworking and guitar building, and a small craft space for my wife to mess around with. Please excuse the decorations, we had a Halloween birthday party for my now-two-year-old yesterday.


Taking that into account, can you wonderful people point me to threads/books/videos/resources of any kind on how best to lay out and design this space?

The building itself is about 23' x 33' inside. For dust-control purposes, I'm assuming it would be best to start by dividing the space up between "workshop" and "studio." Honestly, I don't even know where to begin planning for this one, so any advice is much appreciated! I know it's a nebulous topic, so any tips, pointers, or words of wisdom are appreciated.
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no doz

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lovely space, welcome to the forum! i would likely divide it up between work space + studio space as well, taking into account my major needs in both areas

what type of recording work do you see yourself doing in there? basic demoing and largely direct / in the box tracking? live overdubs? full band tracking? mix work?
 

StoneH

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Wow! That is a killer space!

I am too new at home recording to advise, but from a remodeling point of view, I would ask if you have adequate HVAC to protect the gear you will be moving into the space.

(I have the same size detached 3-car garage (no HVAC), and I wouldn't leave a transistor radio out there).
 

thewriterbenny

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lovely space, welcome to the forum! i would likely divide it up between work space + studio space as well, taking into account my major needs in both areas

what type of recording work do you see yourself doing in there? basic demoing and largely direct / in the box tracking? live overdubs? full band tracking? mix work?

Thanks! This is my first foray into recording that isn't plugging my guitar into a little USB interface and using amp sims, so I'm not clear on all the jargon. Ideally, I'd like to be able to record a full (four/five-piece) band, separately or together if possible. I don't know how much space a drum kit or mixing room take up, but that's why I'm asking for info here I'd love it if this space could be used to record myself and a friend on guitar, some bass, vocals, and drums, then mix it all. Hopefully that clarifies a bit.
 

thewriterbenny

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Wow! That is a killer space!

I am too new at home recording to advise, but from a remodeling point of view, I would ask if you have adequate HVAC to protect the gear you will be moving into the space.

(I have the same size detached 3-car garage (no HVAC), and I wouldn't leave a transistor radio out there).

Appreciate it!

I've been keeping electric guitars and an amp out there over summers and monitoring temps and humidity. The building is insulated and is in shade, so it's pretty much always 70-75 F and ~50% humidity during the summer. Come the other seasons of the year, I bring stuff in the house and keep the place humidified for the instruments and for the family's comfort.

The man who's done our HVAC in the house was told what I'd like to do with the space, and was firm that since the building is wrll-insulated, he'd be able to make sure it's a nice temp throughout the year. I'd have to figure out humidifying, though.

I appreciate the help!
 

Masmus

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First off there is no one right way. If it were my space
I'd have a control room with enough size to properly hear the bass, leave the ceiling as high as you can. I'd have the largest area for recording drums and a small vocal booth. Usually I record bass and drums together with the bass recorded direct and then I duplicate the track and use an amp plugin or rerecord the output into a real bass amp for the second bass track. Everything else can be recorded in the large space.
 

TomBrokaw

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Give 'em the beans!
If you have and are comfortable with Photoshop, you can use it to create a floor plan, and move things around. Same with Sketchup, although it might take some time to model. I'm sure other software could be used for a layout as well.
 

no doz

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Thanks! This is my first foray into recording that isn't plugging my guitar into a little USB interface and using amp sims, so I'm not clear on all the jargon. Ideally, I'd like to be able to record a full (four/five-piece) band, separately or together if possible. I don't know how much space a drum kit or mixing room take up, but that's why I'm asking for info here I'd love it if this space could be used to record myself and a friend on guitar, some bass, vocals, and drums, then mix it all. Hopefully that clarifies a bit.

totally does. room layout is obviously super important to acoustics and capturing audio recordings, so if full band tracking and live drums are a goal i'd recommend giving priority to the recording / tracking portion of your space, and once that's been carefully planned out, dedicating whatever available area is leftover for the workshop portion of your idea.

i've found this forum helpful for studio design questions:
https://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/index.php

i also like the facebook group "Room Acoustics: Absorption, Diffusion, and Soundproofing" as well, lots of knowledgable people on there

youtube is an incredible resource as well. a handful of "home studio design basics" videos should get you familiar with some of the steps that will be important towards a successful build
 

loudboy

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Ideally, I'd like to be able to record a full (four/five-piece) band, separately or together if possible. I don't know how much space a drum kit or mixing room take up, but that's why I'm asking for info here I'd love it if this space could be used to record myself and a friend on guitar, some bass, vocals, and drums, then mix it all. Hopefully that clarifies a bit.

Some considerations:

That's going to be tough to do in that size of a space, and also have a workshop. You'll have a hard time doing a drumset in less than 12' square, IMHO. Mixing/control about the same. Preferably, your whole space would be used for the tracking area.

Noise leakage, both ways? Do you have neighbors? If so, how close are they, and do they mind having drums/live band playing? Soundproofing adequately will have an X10 effect on your budget. Construction and especially HVAC considerations are ridiculously expensive.

Cost of gear/experience. It takes a LOT of gear to record a full band, and you need to know how to do it. An option might be to create a "music room" for you to store your gear and jam, with a basic recording setup to record guitar/vocal overdubs, etc. and then go to a real studio to drums. Ask yourself realistically, how often are you going to record drums/full band, and then judge whether or not having a rig that will capture all the inputs needed, and the associated mics/stands/cabling/etc. are worth the investment. You can get a studio with great gear and an engineer who knows how to use it, for $30/hr. almost anywhere.
 

matman14

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A lot depends on how serious you want to get. Recording drums well takes space, acoustic treatment (not sound proofing) and inputs. I recorded a band yesterday where I used 10 inputs/mics just for the drum kit.
If you want to bring in HVAC in, again depending on how serious you are, damping and sound insulating become a consideration. If you don't care about the sound and rattle of HVAC in your recordings or if you are prepared to shut down the AC and sweat it out while you record, you can work without it.
Sound proofing, eats up space and budget, you have to build a treated room within a room and air gap and insulate. Not cheap, but if you have neighbors and are recording full band and drums, a consideration.

The main live room is the most important thing to get right. I wouldn't bother with a "vocal booth" if space is limited. If you can get the main room sounding good it will sound good for vocals too.
You'll need a good amount of acoustic treatment to keep the space sounding tight.

This rabbit hole can get expensive pretty fast.
 

loudboy

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A lot depends on how serious you want to get. Recording drums well takes space, acoustic treatment (not sound proofing) and inputs. I recorded a band yesterday where I used 10 inputs/mics just for the drum kit.

Care to share just the cost of the mics you used? <g>
 

matman14

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Care to share just the cost of the mics you used? <g>

I'm in a recording studio so I probably have a lot more into mics than a home set up, and I try not to tell people what they "should use". While the cost of the mics was a good deal of money, it's not even half of what room treatment, isolation and HVAC silencing, etc. cost me to set up.

I've always prioritized material/talent, then room, then mics, then gear.
Nice mics don't mean a whole lot if you're recording crappy material in a crappy sounding room.
 
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loudboy

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I'm in a recording studio so I probably have a lot more into mics than a home set up, and I try not to tell people what they "should use". While the cost of the mics was a good deal, it's not even half of what room treatment, isolation and HVAC silencing, etc. cost me to set up.

I've always prioritized material/talent, then room, then mics, then gear.
Nice mics don't mean a whole lot if you're recording crappy material in a crappy sounding room.

My point was, it's a tremendous investment, before note one is recorded.
 

studio

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Hello all,

I'm only 90% sure this is the right forum, so please excuse me if I'm being a fool.

I've been lurking here a long time and finally decided to start posting. You all seem like a nice community of helpful folks, so I'm hoping y'all can point me in the right direction here.

About five years, two kids, and eight cats ago, my wife and I bought her grandparent's old house. We got the place for a bit of a steal, since it was a family sale and the folks that had been living here renting absolutely trashed the place. Thanks for the advent of the internet, and knowing an electrician and several handymen, we basically stripped the place down to the framing inside and re-did most of it all.

All of that said, we're having our second daughter come March, so the "spare room" isn't a spare anymore. But we have a three-car detached garage that was built in the 90s and is fully insulated and wired. My wife's grandad used it to restore old muscle cars. My wife agrees that it's time to clean it up and store all my instruments out there.

I want to set the space up to, hopefully, be a recording space, a workshop for woodworking and guitar building, and a small craft space for my wife to mess around with. Please excuse the decorations, we had a Halloween birthday party for my now-two-year-old yesterday.


Taking that into account, can you wonderful people point me to threads/books/videos/resources of any kind on how best to lay out and design this space?

The building itself is about 23' x 33' inside. For dust-control purposes, I'm assuming it would be best to start by dividing the space up between "workshop" and "studio." Honestly, I don't even know where to begin planning for this one, so any advice is much appreciated! I know it's a nebulous topic, so any tips, pointers, or words of wisdom are appreciated. View attachment 908268

If I was in your position, I would divide the room in half
and give your wife the portion with the most light.
Then spend a nice chunk of your budget on making
your wife's section as workable and comfortable
as can be. Make it the best you can give her and
then some.

Next would be to make sure your wood shop has proper
dust collection and i would guess closer to the big door.

Then, as you walk through your wood shop, there's a
door in the back where your jam room would be.
These days you don't need much as electronic
drum sets don't take up much room and you can record
some nice quality music with so many variables these days
it might not take up much space to do so.


I have a friend that has an open garage space that
is part jam/recording workshop and part costume design
room. it's funny to be laying down tracks in there
next to a life sized Batman costumed mannequin!

58386b6a-27d0-40d8-98fe-6838e699fcd1.jpg
 
Last edited:

T Prior

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Ahhh..the big question. DRUMS ! I like the idea of cutting the room in half, give your wife the bigger half ! BUT also allow the bigger room to be used as a drum room or AMP room while recording if necessary , just send a snake thru a door or "gateway" . For setting up a PRIVATE smaller space , you don't need all that much room but it needs to be somewhat quiet and totally workshop DUST FREE. I don't like the thought of a woodworking workshop sharing the building.

I guess I would ask, what are your goals or intentions for recording ? You by yourself or maybe with another player ? or FULL BAND ? As that defines how much space you require. I recommend you answer that question ( to yourself) first.

A smaller personal room can accommodate your needs for years, while a larger space may end up being an unused room , ready for recording, for years.

Lastly, unless the entire building is "SOUNDPROOFED" when you use Condenser MICS, you will hear your neighbors and the Mailman, just a heads-up. :eek:

Anyway, great room, wish you the best !

tp
 

naveed211

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Lots of good points already.

I’d lean toward dedicating most of it to a live room if possible.

It sounds like your wife is cool with a small space for crafts/projects, so maybe 10x11 or approximate would be sufficient for that (we have a small house and our bedrooms are about that size, so that seems adequate to me, maybe it’s not for other folks).

So, the craft room could be about a square, then a control room could be a square next to that, and the rest could be live room. Just an idea. My math may be totally off (It’s early) but that seems like a decent space. In any case, have about a 20x20 space give or take.

You can easily fit a band in there and not be super cramped. Have your console in the side control room.

Treat the room as best you can, there are videos and articles online how to do it properly.

Get a couple acoustic partitions to put between instruments if/when you’re tracking live.

Sounds exciting, I wish I had a space like that available. Good luck to you!
 

0ct0Pr0n

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A lot depends on how serious you want to get. Recording drums well takes space, acoustic treatment (not sound proofing) and inputs. I recorded a band yesterday where I used 10 inputs/mics just for the drum kit.
If you want to bring in HVAC in, again depending on how serious you are, damping and sound insulating become a consideration. If you don't care about the sound and rattle of HVAC in your recordings or if you are prepared to shut down the AC and sweat it out while you record, you can work without it.
Sound proofing, eats up space and budget, you have to build a treated room within a room and air gap and insulate. Not cheap, but if you have neighbors and are recording full band and drums, a consideration.

The main live room is the most important thing to get right. I wouldn't bother with a "vocal booth" if space is limited. If you can get the main room sounding good it will sound good for vocals too.
You'll need a good amount of acoustic treatment to keep the space sounding tight.

This rabbit hole can get expensive pretty fast.

Lots of good points here. I had a project studio for years with no isolation booth of any kind, just one room with the workstation against a wall.

As far as air gap sound proofing goes, that's when things start to be cost prohibitive for a home studio imo. Look at your local noise ordinances, talk to the neighbors. As long as you're tracking at reasonable hours, **** it.

I would absolutely put budget into *treating* the room before you put budget into mics and preamps.

You can get a great drum sound with just one mic if you want to, as long as the room sounds good. It just takes experience, or in lieu of that, patience and trial-and-error. Placement, placement, placement. It also helps if the drummer has good kit control. I once played a local tv spot where the broadcast AE miced the drum with a single SM57 overhead. I had a minor conniption, but he took me into the control room to listen to it through monitors, and it sounded GREAT, mostly because the sound stage was so well-treated.

When I was recording in an open space I used in-ears to monitor the signal while placing mics.

As far as treating the room goes, here's a little tip: look up companies who sell and/or install acoustic paneling in your area. They usually order more than they need for a job, and since they ordered in custom dimensions and colors on a per-job basis, they can't use them on the next. Call them up and see if they have any leftovers in stock. You might be able to get a deal. As far as the actual treatment goes, it isn't rocket science. The more surface area you can cover with panels, the deader it will be. Concerns such as bass traps and wall geometry to eliminate standing waves are out of scope for a home studio setup.

Also, I'd say that one quality channel and mic > four mediocre channels and mics.
 

0ct0Pr0n

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Also, let's not forget that trashy room sounds are a total VIBE.
I've had several projects where I couldn't work around ****ty acoustics, and embraced them to great effect.
 

thewriterbenny

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Some considerations:

That's going to be tough to do in that size of a space, and also have a workshop. You'll have a hard time doing a drumset in less than 12' square, IMHO. Mixing/control about the same. Preferably, your whole space would be used for the tracking area.

Noise leakage, both ways? Do you have neighbors? If so, how close are they, and do they mind having drums/live band playing? Soundproofing adequately will have an X10 effect on your budget. Construction and especially HVAC considerations are ridiculously expensive.

Cost of gear/experience. It takes a LOT of gear to record a full band, and you need to know how to do it. An option might be to create a "music room" for you to store your gear and jam, with a basic recording setup to record guitar/vocal overdubs, etc. and then go to a real studio to drums. Ask yourself realistically, how often are you going to record drums/full band, and then judge whether or not having a rig that will capture all the inputs needed, and the associated mics/stands/cabling/etc. are worth the investment. You can get a studio with great gear and an engineer who knows how to use it, for $30/hr. almost anywhere.

Thanks for the perspective! That's why I posted, I'm totally new to recording, so having folks who know contribute wisdom is exactly what I needed.

I think that's a lot of really good points. I have no clue what size space is needed, so I think the idea of a jam space/music room with rudimentary recording for guitar/vocals is much more achievable, and likely to get much more usage.

We've always planned on getting the building set up with HVAC, and have a quote for the work/materials from someone we trust, so thankfully that's not a worry. I really appreciate the advice, thank you!
 




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