Tag Archives: studio construction

Studio Construction is Finished

I’m happy to report that the heavy construction work on my studio is complete. All the drywall has been hung, sanded and painted (except for a section near the service panel… if I drywall there, then I can’t add other electrical lines, so that part will be left bare for awhile). I laid the last of the flooring a few days ago. The maintenance and engineering dept, aka my workbench, has been built and is ready to work. Now I’ve got to figure out the best place to put all my stuff.

Almost as soon as I got my bench finished, I turned my attention to the mixer. I’ve discovered much more than the “few issues” that I was told about when I bought it. The good news is that nearly all the input channels are functional… one channel wasn’t connected, so that was easily corrected, and number 26 has a bad HPF switch and only works when the filter is active. And the power supply does have new capacitors in it.

The bad news is the master section has got a number of very mysterious problems, with no obvious or easily traceable causes. I think the best course of action here is to send it off to Creation Audio Labs in Nashville to see if they can sort it out. I expect to be sending them a lot of work over the next few months, but I plan to break it up into installments and have them do the work as I can afford it.

The next job on my work list will be to build a cabinet to house the mixer and equipment racks for the outboard gear. I’ve designed a desk that I can build for about $150 or so, it’s just a matter of getting the plywood and slicing it up.

Lots of other finish work remains… installing double glass in the window & trimming that out, treating the door for sound isolation, etc. I expect that to take awhile yet. And I’ll need to buy an air conditioner before the heat of the summer starts up in earnest. But it’s very nearly a useable space right now, which is an enjoyable feeling.

Update: By replacing a voltage regulator in the power supply, I was able to correct a mysterious problem with the LED meters where it would only illuminate in segments of five LEDs… as the signal increased, the lower five LEDs would go dark while the next segment lit up. Very odd. Channel 26 was repaired with a copious squirt of contact cleaner. Next on the list is a rather large order for capacitors from Mouser… there’s room on the boards to increase the voltage and temperature rating.

Building a Studio

Karen and I recently moved to a new house. It’s quite a bit larger overall than our old place… there’s more room for our teenage son, a more-isolated space for Karen’s work (she delivers web-based training, so things have to be quiet). And for me… a freestanding, 2-car garage.

My soon-to-be studio space

This is going to become my all-purpose space… my office, certainly, as well as equipment storage and a bench for electronics fabrication and repairs. But primarily, this space will be my studio, though it won’t have a separate control room. Instead, tracking and mixing will be done in the same area to capitalize on the relatively small footprint (about 300 square feet). We did a lot of work this way at my old studio.

It’s been awhile, but this isn’t the first studio I’ve built. Robert and I built the first OnLine Audio location in Charleston, SC, rebuilding two front rooms of his house into a studio and control room. We started with a 1/2″ 8-track, and then quickly went up to a 1″ 16 track recorder. When we bought the 24 track, we moved to a large space on East Bay St in an old cigar factory that had been converted into a small business development center. The other tenants hated it when we fired up a big stack of Marshalls, but that usually occurred after regular business hours. Robert and I designed and built the control room, iso booth, and large studio room, and we put the 16 track and mixer into a “B” room.

The interior of the studio looked like this when I started.

Construction has been going on for about six weeks now. The old “ceiling” has been removed, exposing the heart pine beams. The underside of the roof was layered with Quiet Brace (tarboard), and drywall has been applied to about 75% of the roof joists. I’m exposing the old beams and installing a vaulted ceiling. It’s a pain in the ass, but it will add a lot of cubic footage to the space… and it should look really classy besides.

Electrical work was finally completed last week… I went through five different electricians before somebody finally showed up to do the work. But I’ve now got a separate 50-amp service line for the audio and lighting, with a dedicated ground. I’ve installed new outlets along all of the walls, and now the insulation and drywall are going up. Garage doors were removed and replaced with an insulated double door and insulated stud wall to reduce sound transmission in both directions. I still have a lot of acoustical leaks to plug, but since it’s a cinderblock building, the space is already relatively quiet.

The studio as of January 4th, 2012… it’s a construction site minus the workers. Things are progressing, despite the mess.

I’ll be posting more photos as work progresses. Right now, everything’s a big mess. Work remaining to do… install blown insulation in the ceiling and seal up the sheetrock, install sheetrock and insulation on 2 more walls, insulate and sheetrock the gable ends. Tape, mud, and sand all the joints. Seal up & insulate the doors, install another window, add trim. Paint, Install the floor, build the workbench and gear storage racks. Then I can start looking at studio furniture and consider the purchase of a larger mixer… ideally, something like a Soundcraft 600… but not as big as the TS12 we had at OnLine Audio. I figure it’ll be a month longer at a bare minimum, but probably 2 more month’s work before I can start moving equipment in.

My studio will have digital capability, but the plan is to use an analog signal path for mixdown as much as possible. Plus I’ve got a design in my head for an old-school plate reverb that I’m dying to try.

Building a studio in today’s economy doesn’t seem like a good idea, but it’s about the only way that one can do studio work anymore. There are very, very few “studio jobs” left as more places close down. Several other studios exist here in Chattanooga, ( one less than a block away) plus Nashville is less than two hour’s drive from here. So I won’t be taking out any loans or installing a Neve. But I feel quite certain that I can bring some rather unique skills to the party, and that I can develop some markets for my little studio. More info will be posted as it develops.