November 9, 2005 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Two questions about recording studio design...

1) We're in the top floor of an old factory. The guy who lives downstairs doesn't think the soundproofing is adequate. We were told that there was a foot thick slab of concrete between the floors, but that isn't true. Now, before we get all uppity with the landlord, we need to know if the foot of concrete is gonna make a difference.

What we were planning to do was lay a frame down around the entire room on a layer of Sonopan, and then fill it with concrete (this is good, because that way we can have the snake pop up out of the middle of the floor along with electrical outlets and headphone amps. Convenient).

Is this gonna do anything in terms of limiting sound transmission? Do we have to get an engineer to approve the project?

2) We have four heads, four cabs, a bunch of effects, and a bunch of guitars and synths. Does it make sense to hook them all into a patchbay so we can route guitar A through head B through cab C, for example, and then change that routing just by repatching one cable in the patchbay? Does that work?

We wanna just be able to say, "Okay, I want this guitar [patch] in this head [patch] through this cabinet [patch]."
posted by jon_kill to Technology (11 answers total)
You will need to make sure that the floor will be able to support the weight of all that concrete.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:28 AM on November 9, 2005

im pretty sure all you would need is sand, not concrete.
posted by hummercash at 9:58 AM on November 9, 2005

Forget the extra concrete; the more density, the greater the sound transmission. A wooden frame built on padding should be sufficient to limit most sound.

Your best bet is to consult with a sound engineer.
posted by mischief at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2005

1) i think you should probably research other materials besides concrete

2) i think this would work, but i also think you don't want to forego direct into the board or having the possibility of having more than one cabinet miked for something ... there may be situations where you want an amp differently placed or use more than one signal
posted by pyramid termite at 10:22 AM on November 9, 2005

Best answer: 1) It won't work. Foot-thick concrete will transmit the sound exceedingly well. You need to build a floating floor, and a room-within-a-room to isolate yourself properly - sound travels really well through solid continuous materials. You are in for a long and difficult battle if you want to improve the soundproofing at all. But don't take my word for it. My favorite location for all things isolation-y and recording studio design-y:

Here's a good thread on floating floors: link

The search function is also good.

2) yes, it will work, and yes, it is a good idea.
posted by aquafiend at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2005

oh, one amendment - I should have mentioned that the problem with your sonopan plan is that if your new floor is attached to the frame, and the frame is resting on the original floor, you still have a direct route through - so your sonopan will do nothing. Check out the site I linked.
posted by aquafiend at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2005

Please don't put a patch bay between the head and the cab. You've not dealing with a line level there and if you mis-patch anything (purely by accident, of course) you could blow your output transformer. Always, always, always go direct from the amp out to the cab in with a single speaker cable.

As far as effects and stuff goes, patch away. As long as your dealing in line levels, you're safe.
posted by Rubber Soul at 10:58 AM on November 9, 2005

Response by poster: Rubber Soul: if we had a seperate patch bay for the cabs/heads to minimize the chance of such an accident, would we be ok?
posted by jon_kill at 11:25 AM on November 9, 2005

Re: signal routing:

Pstch bays are hell of professional-looking (invite other musicians in, watch them get confused, laugh at them), but more power to you if you can keep the patchbay in use for more than a project or two. Too often for me I'll decide to mix and match "manually," meaning with a bunch of 6" cables entirely outside the bay arrangement. If you're the type who likes to tinker with effects order especially, and/or run unconventional signal chains (and who doesn't get an urge every once in a while to just plug stuff together and see what happenes?), then you may find your patchbay sitting on the sidelines, unloved.

Then again, I don't have any experience in a studio that I didn't have to tear down immediately after my project was completed. Maybe having your own permanent location will conduce a permanent, ingrained patchbay. Best of luck!
posted by electric_counterpoint at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2005

Re: Head>patchbay>cab: I still wouldn't do it, even with a separate bay. There's still the matter of impedence matching. Also, if you screw up and run a head without a load (cab), it will fry spectacularly and catastrophically.

If you're set on the idea, Radial makes a dedicated switcher called the Headbone that does mind ohmage for you.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2005

There are multiple ways to construct patch bays, some allow for more flexibility, I believe. Take a look at the whirlwind product pages if you're curious, and delve (google) deeper if you want to make one.

Aquafiends link looks pretty perfect. The basics as I understand them: Vibration isolation requires different techniques vs. sound absorbtion. Sound absorbtion is achieved in one of two manners. Converting energy into heat by friction of porous material, or distribution of energy over a large membrane. There are other benefits from using the diffraction of sound around corners, and refraction through different materials. A solid layer of concrete is probably going to reflect high frequencies fairly well, but not absorb them, and won't do much for low frequencies either way.

Heavy curtains/drapes deal well with low frequencies, but you can't make floors out of them. Some DIY constructions like sawdust filled walls are surprisingly effective, but if you can afford to, stick with the professional recommendations.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:24 AM on November 10, 2005

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