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How to build or convert a space into a Home Studio

We often get calls and/or enquiries from customers who are wanting to convert their garage or shed into a home studio or build an entire home studio in their garden, therefore we thought we would put together a few key points about taking on such a project…

When it comes to building or converting a space into a home studio, one of the main rules we tell customers is ‘You are only as strong as your weakest point’. An example of this would be if you upgraded the acoustic performance of all of your walls, floor and ceilings but didn’t acoustically treat your doors or windows you wouldn’t expect much of an improvement as these would be weak points within your acoustic system.

 To significantly reduce the amount of sound that can transfer in and out of the home studio, you will need to create a room within a room. We can achieve this with a wide range of our systems, within this article we will look to address each surface to make sure you get the best out of your room.

  • Walls
  • Floor
  • Ceiling
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Absorption
  • Ventilation

 

Walls

One of the highest performing wall systems is to create a fully independent stud wall (MuteClip® Stud Double Plus). When building a stud wall you would look to use an isolation strip F5 on the perimeter of the stud to reduce the transfer of vibrations to and from the adjacent walls. The addition of MuteClip® on this stud wall further de-couples the independent wall to create one of our highest performing wall systems.

If you do not have the space for an independent frame, then the MuteClip® Double system is again a great option for a very slim line partition whilst keeping the high mass layers de-coupled from the wall.

With an independent stud frame, you will usually loose approx. 100mm + plasterboard layers whereas when installing the MuteClip and channel direct to wall takes up 40mm + plasterboard layers of space from the wall which leaves enough room to fit the mineral wool (25-30mm 60kg/m2) behind the bars.

It is best to install the walls first and drop the ceiling into the room and raise the floor within the room. This will give you the best seal.

 

Floor

A floating floor is the best option to reduce the sound transfer in and out of your home studio and should be installed within the room after the walls have been boarded.

MuteCradle™ is a great low-profile isolation pad which reduces the points of contact on the floor for better isolation. The use MuteCradle™ also helps to create a cavity that can then be filled with acoustic mineral wool (60 kg/m3) which further helps to reduce airborne transfer.

In order to reduce flanking sound and to allow the floor to move up and down without the vibrations transferring from the floor into the side walls, you should use a perimeter flanking band to line the perimeter of the room, keeping all ridged materials off the walls.

Further upgrades can be added on top of the structural flooring such as MuteMat® 2, VersaFloor or Tecsound® SY70.

If you feel this is over kill, then we also have a wide range of acoustic systems that can be laid directly on your existing floor, such as our MuteMat® 2 and MuteMat® 3 systems, to help take the edge off the sound flanking under the walls.

 

Ceiling

Again, linking to the rule of ‘You are only as strong as your weakest point’ you want to keep a similar level of acoustic insulation on every surface. If you are converting your garage into a home studio, then the ceiling typically has a lot less mass and is considerably more lightweight than the adjacent brick/block walls. Often it is not possible to build a fully independent ceiling below the existing joists, as this usually results in a 110mm height loss (as a minimum) before adding plasterboard layers.

We recommend the MuteClip® Double system on a ceiling to de-couple the ridged high mass layers from the joists. This can be a slimline as a 5mm drop below the joists with the MuteClip LP (low profile) system. The MuteClip® LP is mounted onto the side of a ceiling joist with the MuteClip® Channel showing just 5mm below, ready to accept the acoustic plasterboard and vibration dampening layers to achieve the best slimline solution.

 

Windows

Windows are always going to be a weak point! If you are going to have a window in the room then we always recommend the thicker and heavier the better, you can invest in a specialist soundproofed window (please see some suppliers below) however these are often quite expensive in comparison to other options, and in our experience there is often a limited budget when building a home studio.

One of our most common suggestions to improve the sound insulation of a window for people building a home studio would be to install a 2nd window with an air gap, as this can efficiently reduce the sound. You must also make sure the windows are fitted well with an airtight seal.

 

Doors

There are a few suppliers of acoustic doors within the market who offer high performing and aesthetically appealing doors. The higher performing systems are the double door systems which consist of 2 separate doors going into the room with an air gap between them.

If you are looking to build your own double door system, then you want to start off with the heaviest fire doors possible with sufficient hinges to take the additional weight. You can add a layer of Tecsound SY70 and MuteFoam to the door face to further improve the acoustic performance of the door. The Tecsound® will reduce the sound from transferring through the door with the MuteFoam absorbing some of the sound in the cavity you will be creating with a double door system.

You will also need acoustic seals around the perimeter (Perimeter seal) and on the bottom of the door (dropseal threshold plate) to give an airtight finish. These are all surface mounted on the door and frame for ease of installation.

 

Absorption

Finally, you come to tuning the room. It is recommended for good speech intelligibility within a room you look to achieve RT60 (reverberation time) between 0.8-1.2 seconds, however a studio/cinema room would ideally be lower at around 0.5-0.8 seconds. You will also want to consider diffusing the sound as well as absorbing the sound when looking at a higher quality finish.

Depending on your preferred aesthetic and often the head height available we have a wide range of products available to reduce the reverberation within your home studio. Our Soft Note™ panels (fabric wrapped panels) are a Class A absorber and are often the most economic, however we also have a wide range of baffles that can be dropped into the room with are more design led (Adagio, Octave and Riff).

 

Ventilation

An important thing to bear in mind is that you will want some ventilation to keep a supply of oxygen in the room, as all other surfaces should be airtight! A baffled ventilator is what you are looking for, as this helps to slow the sound transmission through the ducting.