Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

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Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by thatme » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:26 pm

We're likely buying and renovating an older home in the next few months. One feature that I'm excited about is the possibility of a combo home office/music practice room. It would actually be in a detached garage. The current design of the garage is approximately four garage bays (the prior owner restored cars). Our plan would be to keep two garage bays for cars, one for storage/workshop, and then to convert the garage space on the end into an office/music area. There's not a garage door there, so it would be accessed by an interior man-door. It's a complete blank slate and I'm looking for recommendations. I know very little about acoustics, so please teach me!

It seems like wood walls and floors, no carpets, no sheetrock if we can avoid it, would be a good start, but let me know what you think. The ceiling is about as high as the ceiling gets, but everything else is open for negotiation. I would plan to have a desk in there, but not much else in the way of furniture.

My current practice area is our guest room in the basement, which is carpeted, has a queen size bed and not much else, and seems to be the least acoustic place in the world. I'm looking forward to this project, and would love to see pics if you've got them for ideas!
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by Specialk3700 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:39 pm

Depending on were you live you may want to consider how you will heat/cool the space. You can't play trombone in 0 degree weather or at least not very in tune
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by thatme » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:51 pm

Good idea. Since the prior owner did cars out there, it’s heated and cooled (could probably use an upgrade), and I plan to make sure that continues. I work from home a fair bit so the office part of it is important as well.
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by ExZacLee » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:03 am

A garage can be a very lively place with too many reflections - play in it some with another trombone player to see how tolerable it is over a longer period of time. If it is too live, you can deaden the room somewhat with expensive soundproofing material, or you can do it on the cheap with blankets, carpet swatches, thicker fabrics, even some packing materials make for great sound absorption. Egg crate foam - the kind for mattresses (or eggs!) is much cheaper per square foot than the "acoustically treated" kind, and works just as well. For "light" treating start with a decent sized rug on the concrete floor and maybe hang some tapestries, rugs, even paintings on bare canvas - anything without a hard reflective surface - on the walls - start in the middle to break up large sections of flat reflective surfaces. You probably don't want to deaden the entire area, just enough so the sound isn't too loud or harsh. If you plan on doing low register work in the room I would also consider bass traps - wedges of absorptive material placed in the corners to break up low wave lengths. You can look up "bass traps" to see what they look like and construct your own out of any kind of foamy material. A friend took care of his corners by riveting a blanket across the corner and putting his packing materials behind it - storage and function! You can tell if this is going to be a problem by practicing some really low notes on a bass or tuba - if it feels like the lower pitches are staying around too long or are annoyingly more prominent than other pitches, bass traps can mitigate that somewhat.

There are some great articles online on acoustically treating a room for recording studios - for your practice/teaching space you don't have to go as hardcore on the treatment as a recording studio - just enough to save your ears during those 8 hour teaching days. I have the Alan Parsons Art of Sound Recording book and DVD set and I consult that for just about everything concerning acoustics, recording,etc... it's laid out really well and I'm an idiot so I need things explained well.

Ceiling fan - make sure you don't have one right over or too close to where you are playing. Go practice your long tones under one and you'll see why! You hear that weird "I can't get anything in tune" shimmy-buzzy sound? It's like the sonic equivalent of a sour stomach... that's due to the fan blades causing multiple reflections in multiple direction, some of the reflections are effected by the Doppler effect causing a slight change in pitch, and some of the reflections are not "dopplerized" so you're getting back the original pitch and one that's slightly off. If your fan is high enough off the ground you may not notice the effect as much. This is one of those things that can drive some people crazy or make them feel uneasy - particularly if they are very sensitive to changes in pitch or have perfect pitch.

I'd recommend getting an old used filing cabinet to put all of your method books, solo/ensemble stuff, excerpts, what not and what have ya. A coatrack with smaller dowels glued in place make a great mute tree. It's wonderful to have a piano around, but I'd probably get a keyboard instead so you're not dealing with having the tuner come over a few times a year.
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by CharlieB » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:04 pm

What worked for me.........
Started with sheet rock walls and ceiling. Despite carpet on the floor, room was still too lively.
Bought carpet off the roll at Home Depot and tacked it to 6' by 7' wood frames.
Stood the frames against the walls to adjust the acoustics by trial and error, then hung them on the walls.
I liked the result best when I got some sound reflection off of the far wall, but dampened it to my sides and back.
YMMV. Not a high-tech solution, but economical and easily adjustable until it sounds just right.
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by Bluesfish » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:33 am

It sounds like you’ll be adding new walls to divide the spaces. Consider avoiding parallel surfaces. ie slope the ceiling and avoid perfect 90 degree corners in the walls. This will kill most if not all standing waves. I have a small bedroom for my practice area and have to kill the ceiling fan when I play. I can’t even tune my guitars properly when the darn thing is on!
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by Doubler » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:32 pm

All the responses to your question address sound reflecting within the space. If reducing the amount of sound that gets transferred from the room is a concern, consider offset/staggered wall studs. This reduces the amount of resonance that is transferred through the walls to adjacent areas. Do an online search for "staggered studs for soundproofing" for ideas.

A lower ceiling structure separate from the actual top of the room would create a dead air space above the room, as well. In addition, there are ways to use this concept to insulate a floor (for those of you who are interested in soundproofing a non-concrete floor).
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Re: Home Trombone Studios (physical space) - give me recs!

Post by ngrinder » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:43 pm

Great posts from everyone so far! The first thing I did with my room was to put down a layer of mass loaded vinyl for the floor. This really deadens the sound, and is fairly inexpensive. I put the sheet of the MLV over some yoga mat-type foam, and then put carpet on top of that, covering my entire floor. It's amazing what just treating the floor did for deadening the room.

I also have foam panels covering about 50% of the my walls (including bass catchers in the corners). A great and inexpensive way to hang acoustic foam is to Gorilla-glue a piece cardboard to the back of the foam, then use a few Command poster strips to attach the cardboard side to the wall. I've had some of my panels up for about two years now without them falling, and they are really easy to take off and move around, save for the sacrifice of the hanging strips.

I also bought a moving blanket to put over the ceiling.

I found that having a bit of hard surface worked for me - usually rooms that are completely dead can be a bit of a drag to play in, so finding that sweet spot is key. The combo of MLV, panels, and the moving blanket (along a piano, my horns/cases, bookcase, and other junk) seems to give me a decent sound.
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