Site Selection

one of the most common questions i see in the forums, as well as private messages, is about site selection. if you already own/rent/lease the property and you have a limited budget, then you’re very likely going to have to live with whatever situation you have. on the other hand, if you are exploring your options, its all about location location location. find the best possible location and facility you can find that meets your budget.

1) access and security – find a place that is easily accessible from car, public transportation, and other neighborhoods which are conducive to your studio operations. consider parking, nearby hotels, food, and drink. Security is often overlooked but the location and the facility should have good security, or be readily secured. Nothing worse than having your studio robbed, or clients harassed.

2) suitable for purpose – make sure you pick a building which is suitable for purpose. pick a place with tall ceilings (12′ or 3m+), plenty of open floor space (makes designing and building it easier), organized plumbing, HVAC (if possible), electrical service, etc. this way you can build your studio correctly and not struggle with layouts that have to address problematic building construction.

– do not pick a place with 6′ high ceilings, lots of odd permanent partitions, next to another organization with induction motors or other noise generating machines.

3) get a long term lease – you don’t want to invest a lot of money in building up your studio only to have your lease run out, and make sure you have termination clauses that protects your investment – don’t let a landlord run you out so they can rent your studio to someone else – make sure they have to give you enough time to disassemble it 🙂 maybe some business insurance to cover costs of a bad landlord.

if you find yourself in a lease/rent situation with low ceilings, bad layout, no or crummy services – get out if you can – it really will not be fun for anyone to accept a substandard location for your dream studio.

when in doubt, get a hold of me to discuss a site you are looking at as a possible location for your studio. i don’t charge for an initial consult (but even if i did it would be worth it!) so feel free to ask advice. Cheers!

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Cost Effective Construction

Since the majority of my customers tend to be in the under $100,000 studio market, one of the key points i make is that i like to use commonly available construction materials instead of higher priced specialty components (unless its necessary or desired). There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding DIY construction and there are many different opinions on how to best create proper isolation and acoustic neutrality (not lifeless!) in a studio.

of course it depends on your needs, but most people can get by on a reasonable level of isolation because then they can properly monitor the recording process, and most folks can also get by with a reasonable level of acoustic treatments. all too often we (not designers per se) get carried away with thinking we need 100db of isolation and all the latest diffusers and electronics. in most cases, going from 50db of good isolation to 70db of isolation is going to shift your budget from under $100K to probably well over $500K… why? because the very structure you are in determines just how much isolation you can ultimately achieve. once you get the air borne sound levels under control, its all about flanking. or structure borne sound. then infrasonic and the whole rest of the audible frequency range come into play.

most project studios and small commerical operations cannot afford to use floating foundations with costly suspension systems to get beyond 50db easily. Cheap and good isolation is not something you can use in the same sentence.

acoustic treatments – if your builder can read the design docs, they should be able to build the necessary acoustic treatments properly. if your budget can support it, then commercial treatments are a really good choice to ensure that the calculations your designer spent all that time on will very likely be reflected in how your rooms perform. it can also reduce your materials and labor costs if you can obtain the treatments for a reasonable price, and that in turn can lead to getting your studio online faster, and in a business situation, allow you to start taking on work sooner.

striking the right balance in the design to ensure you have options when it comes to construction your facility is a key part of what i (and most designers) do. getting the inside knowledge on how to properly apply common materials and construction methods to solving isolation and treatment problems is essential to making sure the money and time you spend on getting your studio built is used as best as it can be.

remember to hug your studio designer today!