SONGCAVE (SideShow) Studios - Design and Construct

Discuss the studios designed by John Sayers productions

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Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

SONGCAVE (SideShow) Studios - Design and Construct

Post by Sideshow »

(I have changed the working name - you will also find design and construction details here)

My friend and I are building a small recording
studio in my small-ish double car garage.
Comments, questions and suggestions welcome (we trust we have provided enough info and not overdone it?)



Progress Stage

We are at the design and plan stage (about 8 weeks in).
Realistically we plan to start construction in November this year and
complete around mid next year (as we may only have one day a week to work on the studio). :wink:

Location Details

The double car garage has a level concrete floor and single brick walls.
There is one window on the East side.
Outside the window is a space with double cage gates for access to the
back yard in case of bush fire.

We are in a very quiet street/culdesac. Trains and truck rumble from
across the valley (1 km) are picked up by our large condensers microphones....

We have a plasterboard ceiling in the garage with cornices.
The ceiling is uninsulated in the
roof cavity.
It has a a gable style tiled roof with sarking.
We back onto a bushland valley (nice) :wink: with no neighbours behind as we are on a ridge with bushland behind.

We have 3 x roller doors which we prefer to leave intact but can be
removed and walled/panelled in - if imperative. We have designed around
them and they are included on the plan at full rolled up size.
The front 2 garage doors lead to the driveway and to the road out front
(approx 2 car lengths away).

On the drawing there is a small side door (SW) that is access to the
front hall of the home. This is where we will enter the studio.
Kick drums can fit through easily (I don’t plan on recording timpanis or rolling in full size pianos) etc).

Currently I have light and power circuits in the garage. I get noise
spikes on my current recordings (done inside the house) from the fridge
and hot water units.
Most drawings supplied here face North.
I have found out that 3 phase wiring is wired from the street pole to our switchboard but 2 phases are terminated at the street pole.
The street does have 3 phases if required (available opposite side of the road) – so we would have to get these poles connected with 2 more cables.
Our Power board is on the other side (west) of the 2 storey house and extra phase
maybe be routed easily though cavity between floors.
The gap for internal cabling is line of sight from one side of the house (garage)to the other (far wall/switchboard).
So pulling an extra phase or 2 through from board to garage should be easy.

Only the south west corner is common with the house /entry area.

Research to Date

I have purchased Rod's book. I have read it cover to cover twice. Great
My friend is an industrial arts teacher and has built much of
his own home. I have spent weeks reviewing all the wonderful information in the Forums
here and have attempted to apply as much as possible into our plans
prior to posting so we can (hopefully) ask intelligent questions and get
some constructive feedback?! ;)
We have contacted CSR (Australian Gyprock supplier), local hardware yards and other studio owners.

Our wish list is as follows:

2 Rooms preference:
Relative sound isolation for a control room and maybe even better for a
multi- purpose small drum/vocal/gtr amp iso booth.

Proposed Float Floor
Plastic sheet, neoprene pucks, timber frame with rock wool, 13mm sound check (acoustic gyprock) with wood laminate finish. Pls refer drawings

Proposed Walls
From inside - Sound check - RC - Timber Frame/Insulation - Double/single
sound check. (see drawings)
Other walls (as per drawing) we are considering slat resonator as per SAE site.

We have rotated the room for symmetry and to avoid parallel walls.

Proposed Ceiling

Cloth, rockwool/frames/joists, sound check, rock wool.

One wish is to keep our wonderful neighbours happy for another 10 years
Our neighbours to the East (are approx 25 feet away and their place is double brick).
All our neighbours are keen on music and encourage us which is fantastic
- but we would like to keep them onside if we (on rare
occasion) need to record into the night.

Keep road and dog noise out.
We have dogs that bark in our back yard. It would be nice to have the iso booth isolated from such
noises - as much as practically possible with the space constraints we
have. ;)
Our street is a quiet street (most of the time) :wink:

I would like to aim for better acoustics for recording and mixing semi pro projects.
I currently record some smaller professional projects in addition to
recording my own band but have realised the limitations of the
boxy/reflective , untreated rooms I have in the house. I wanted to wait for the studio before I go splashing $$$ on acoustic treatments.
I enjoy recording real drums and like to be in a separate room when
tracking to get the best sound possible to HardDisk. I am happy to add
"ambience and "grease" to the sounds after when mixing. Not everyone can record
drums under a great sounding stairwell in Wales.... :wink:
Understanding rhythm section vibes I plan to record bass via DI etc at
the same time with the bass player either in the control room or next to
the drummer under headphones.
Then I plan to record the rest of the band individually and layer it.

Late Night Mixing
I would like to have the flexibility to mix into the early hours and
intend on attempting to preserve my hearing into old age - life
permitting - I don't mix at stupid volumes - real quiet and then
moderately loud to check bass etc. My setup is digital with racks (no
tape). I use the smaller Behringer Truth active monitors.

Air conditioning
I have organised Air conditioning quote and specs. These will be forthcoming in next few weeks.
Plan is to have split cycle system outside east wall.
Refrigerant Pipes will access through gap above East existing wall into existing ceiling.
The ceiling will house the rest of the air con equipment.
Supply Air will enter via North walls of both rooms and return via ceiling above couch in control room back into ceiling etc.
The doors between the control room and iso room will be open when using air conditioning.
That’s the rough plan.

$15k au


1. We placed this first post in the design section as we would like to confirm the layout and shape follow the guidelines.
Does the layout look OK?

2. Walls. (we can move these following questions to construction if need be?)

We have found (to our limited understanding) no consistent placing of
resonator slat walls and RC walls on mixed wall type small rooms....Are
certain walls in our design better with slats or RC?
Which walls would you suggest?

We planned on going with walls as per Rob's drawing. Single Sound check
on RC on insulated wood frames with single maybe double sound check on
Then we saw John's space saving suggestion on incorporating treatment
with the walls.

Walls and Ceilings - So we are wondering what sort of TL /isolation with
this design using resonator slats and doing away with the inside
soundcheck and RC (see John's "My Wall"). We would add extra insulation
on outside leaf as per drawing.
Can the resonator slats be coupled through the cloth directly to the wall
With the isolation I am hoping for (of course it won't be prefect)
should a double layer of soundcheck (13mm) be sufficient? I don't plan
on using green glue here. If necessary I will have to import it as other Aussies on the formums have suggested.

Must all lighting be low voltage?

4. What about the slope on ceiling the iso room?
Is it necessary?
Is it necessary to slope the ceiling in the control room?
We really don't have too much room to play with like sloping a
ceiling due to space and the rear door. Should John's cloth ceiling idea
be OK (as per and then some down lights on swivels.

5. Soffits - we have worked on 60 degrees for hearing.
Does it look Ok on the drawing?
We are leaving 20mm behind for active speaker cooling etc.

6. I am unconcerned with the very low PC fan noise in control room. Should
I be?

We have put it off for long enough and we believe this is the right place to be at so here goes!!! :D
Thanks in advance for any constructive advice you can offer. :)
Last edited by Sideshow on Fri May 04, 2007 3:55 pm, edited 10 times in total.
John Sayers
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Location: Australia

Post by John Sayers »

here you go. If you wish you can place the rear spakerL over the door of the control room and have a correct 5:1 layout.

Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Thank You

Post by Sideshow »

Thanks John,
We were very excited and grateful to get your input. :)
We are compiling a list of questions that we hope to discuss/solve via your phone service (hopefully in the next week or 2).
Just letting you know - thanks - and that we haven't dropped off the edge of the world.
Speak soon.
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Behringer B2031A Active speakers - soffit mount?

Post by Sideshow »


I have a pair of these monitors - I really like them a lot. I will be mixing in 5.1 further down the track but for now I would like to get some input on the following please?

It appears from this link ... it&start=0 that I would be better NOT soffit mounting these speakers as they don't seem designed for it - but John mentions a preference for soffit mounting all speakers if possible because of the advantages - the drawing at this link with the ventilation behind seems a good way to go..I am unsure what to soffit mount or not to soffit mount...

If I grab a sub woofer to compliment this it would be better free standing right? as opposed to soffit mounted..?
I plan on purchasing 3 x more Truth B2031s for centre and right and left surround....I will run cabling and go for it when the time is right.


John Sayers
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Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2003 12:46 pm
Location: Australia

Post by John Sayers »

from my reading of the Truth specs they would be ideal as a soffit mount as they have full control over low end response.

Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Questions Re John's Excellent Drawing

Post by Sideshow »

Hi John/all,

We are going ahead with our design incorporating John's suggestions - we start in November....after our Halloween party! (My wife is Canadian so she loves Halloween!!) :twisted:

We were hoping to clarify a few things by phone so we emailed you some tentative times and dates for phone conference - but maybe you have been too busy or you might not have received the email? :?
Anyhow, here are our questions - hopefully you or one of the other members can shed some light on these please?
1. What are the double wall sections on the side walls(East and West). Are they – are they side wall absorbers as in your DIY Wall units? or are they extra thick rock wool attached to outer leaf?
2. We seem to have lost the angle between the internal dividing walls ( with the sliding doors) – will this impact sound isolation? I have checked the latest specs on the sliding door John recently had built - seems to give great isolation with that Bass amp cranked! So I suppose if the doors are similar we don't need the splay angle between sliding doors? :?:
3. Your drawing appears to couple the inner stud walls of the studio to the outer brick wall – this would of course make construction a lot easier but we should keep a gap right?

4. The rear inner walls – I assume these are bass traps with either hanging insulation of stacked with ply spacers?
5. The interior walls with the speakers in them – why have the space behind the centre wall section? Is this where I should soffit mount the 5.1 "centre" speaker? I will place the sub on the ground infront of mixer and between L&R front as per ... _1_Rec.pdf - cheers guys.
6. Where resonator slat finishes and wall begins shall we go with RC or simply fix the inner soundcheck direct to frame? If we go RC there will be a gap between traps/resonators and RC walls.

7. Ceiling/Roof
a. Should the control room ceiling have a slope to front when we are limited with height? We will plan on a flat roof if not advised otherwise.
b. Should we build the roof in two separate parts so there are two separate rooms?(separate rafters for each room roof)
c. Is the method of using panels for the roof structure suitable and correctly constructed in terms of layers, size etc
d. To hold rockwool into the ceiling panels on the inside of the ceiling we should use some string then fabric stretched and attached to the rafters with thin peieces of ply.
e. What about lighting – what is the common method for placing lighting, any suggestions on positioning? It seems we should build a small cloud and fix to the ceiling rafters. Are we on track here?
8. Floor Construction
a. Does our floor construction method look ok, any suggestions?
b. Should we build the floor in two separate parts so there are two separate rooms?(separate joists and flooring for each room)
c. Do we need rockwool in between floor joists?
9. Air Con - Our air con quote for a smal split system came in at $5K!!!!! Whoa!!! I was expecting approx $3.5k-$4k max...these guys also said they only needed to come to site once - at the end of the project - smash holes in the north walls and they would tape up the gaps...they said they have "really good tape"... :cry:
In essence all that great work sound proofing for nicks... I have spoken to some more people and a suggestion is to get underfloor vents fed supply air from a single large fan outside (may mount outside south door).
Apparently the large fan will keep noise down and positive pressure inside - right? :?:
Then we should look at buying a split cycle "head" for inside the control room (right/east wall mount) that will do the heating and cooling. I think this would need it's pipes run through small hole to outside unit (compressor etc)
I am having a lot of trouble here with the Air Con design - Rod G 's book mentions some ideas but I am really unsure of what best applies here.. :?
A mate mentioned some baffle units that seem to have a "damper" system to cut noise - am looking into it..

Any other comments, tips? Thanks in advance...
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Pinging to start....

Post by Sideshow »

OK some diary pics coming soon! :)

I have cleared most of the garage - I dug and paved out back and built a shed for all that extra "crap" ;) - Hard work and I take my hat off to any of you that do it for a living!
You don't want to see a pic of a shed... :oops:

The process was good actually - I had a chance to go through boxes that have moved with me probably 15 times over the last 20 years...the junk we accumulate!? :shock:

Rob and I called John this week - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
He has saved me IMHO $5000 :!:

We have decided after the chat with John to use Firecheck 16mm for walls and ceiling (as opposed to double layer Soundcheck 13mm) - single layer on outside only. Saves me $$$$ and any more is overkill for what I need.
Our original drawing is below for reference. You will get the modular panel idea..

Looking into Dacron alternative to Rock wool - can't seem to find a supplier on the net :?

We are not floating the floor anymore. We are on a concrete slab and will build the floor last. Cabling will be separated from desk following speaker angles by cutting channels in the concrete.

We are not bringing in 3 phase now. Saves me $$$$. We will have the sparky put suppressors on the refrigerator in the kitchen – and probably on Air Con – but I don’t think I really want the air con on when tracking anyhow…..
The power and light circuit fuses will be upgraded at the SB.

Inside out walls is the order of the day for us - with some custom mods - updated drawings on their way.

We are wiring for 5.1 but will start with stereo and sub - I looked into the Behringer Sub and found out it is HUGE!! (2 x 8") I already have a wonderful Yamaha sub (single 15" 550W) that KICKS - I bought it for doing live sound to add to JBL EON system - really only required for 1 band gig out of 10 - so it will be used more in the studio! So that saves me $$$ :D

Air con - still chatting to my Dad. We have a few ideas and John suggested 2 more. Probably going with Hitachi head 2HP out east wall and fresh air via North walls at floor height - exit above rear doors. My head is in centrifugal fan space at moment and jotting other notes like - network to house, firewalls and hubs, line filters etc etc. :lol:

Ceiling we will have two separate ceilings - one for ISO and one for CR. They will be built in a modular style between rafters.

I spoke to Turramurra Music yesterday and looks like I gotta go it alone if I want info on UPS....unsure of how much I will need it though - some nice rack mounts versions .
Turramurra have all the bits n pieces for wall mount XLR box etc so I will chew over exactly what I need and make a decision. Input welcome..

I only have an 8 channel sound card – at most I will mic 7 x drum mics and bass DI live. I could upgrade to one of those Mackie things for 16 in to PC but I think that is overkill for my purposes – I would love it but ….maybe in the future when we have flying cars….
My desk is 2442 so I can mix extras on the way in – maybe a 16 channel wall plate?
XLR only. Thoughts?

I am using a rackmount Behringer 4 channel headphone amp - if I put that on a rack in ISO I don't think I will need any 1/4" sockets on wall plate? The headphone amp has XLR in.

Questions – maybe I should now move to a new forum?

Sourcing Materials in Oz like

Firecheck - CSR
Timber – Bunnings etc
Flooring - acoustic underlay and thin timber lock in pieces. Any flooring/carpet place
I have contacted Fantech (Melbourne) re air flow ideas.
Aluminium sliding doors x 3 - am getting a quote now - if it is reasonable and I choose to go ahead I will post the supplier details.


Cabling – Belden?

Anyone got the pros and cons on UPS?

Anyhow, that's it for today...
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Location: NSW, Australia

Post by aussieglenn »

Hi Sideshow.

Just found your post regarding your studio design - I must get out of the studio construction site more!! I'm into a very similar project but my building is a 12m x 6m Titan shed, so I envy you your bricks! However, I'm 25 minutes outside Canberra, in the bush, so I'm not too concerned about isolation to and from the outside world.

Regarding your ?s about supplies, after lots of searching around I've used Bunnings for my timber, rockwool and gyprock. I think they're about as cheap as you can get in Aus and if you get the right assistant, they're extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

I'm also concerned about power consistency and I'm probably going to go for an Ellipse Premium 800 USBS which is available from who are based in Brisbane. The units are about $340 and they will keep my computer and 02R96 going for about 15 minutes in the event of a power cut as well as cutting out spikes.

I did notice a serious ommission in your supplies queries and you might wish to check out the Bing Lee site where you can pick up a Platinum Bar Fridge Can Stacker for the same price as a UPS!!

All the best with the studio build. I can assure you it's rewarding but it's also bloody hard work. The main difficulty initially is filtering all the advice and establishing what you actually want. Once your over that hurdle you're half way there. If I could offer one piece of advice that I've learned through experience, make sure you buy/hire quality tools for the job. I decent bench saw, a nail gun and an electric plane will save you lots of energy!


Last edited by aussieglenn on Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Serious Omission...

Post by Sideshow »

Hey Glenn!
It's fantastic to get a reply from another member - esp a local one at that! :D Thanks!

I have a feeling you are right - Bunnings are about 20 mins down the road which is actually our closest "large" supplier - I will put the quantities to them for quote. I appreciate the advice.

I can't actually find a dacron supplier so looks like rockwool is the go for the studio.

I will also have a look at the UPS you mention here as spikes are my main worry here (being at the top of a big "hill" - well I like to think of it as a mountain) :wink: Sounds grand..

The fridge - yep I have a spare full size monster so that will have to do - but a small bar fridge would be good to double as a keyboard stand you think? :wink:

I will invest in a Makita Drop/Slide saw LS1013S I think (or equivalent) and when the job is done it will be great present for my mate Rob who is helping me - he loves woodwork etc so I am sure he will give it a good home.

We are just about to start placing some orders for materials -I can't believe that we will need more than 1/2 a kilometre of wood!!!! :shock:

I am sure as well this job will treat me like an unfit guy doing a 3 week trek in the montains (something similar to Bill Bryson's walk in the woods).
But seriously, I am really looking forward to it and hope we can make it a nice workable studio....we have been planning for months now and the garage is nearly empty of years of crap - after Halloween party we begin - so will keep you posted.

Have to catch up sometime!?

If you are in our neck of the woods flick me an email so you can drop in.

Cheers M8E!

John Sayers
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Post by John Sayers »

Yeah - the first thing the contractor for Oasis did was open a Bunnings account ;)

Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
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Placing the orders...

Post by Sideshow »

Well I suppose it might be time to move to the "Studio Construction" Area? :?:

I found Mitre 10 at Blackheath have the best prices on most hardware I need. :D

Clarke Rubber at Penrith came in winners on gaskets and fridge magnet strips n stuff.

Solid Maple core doors I bought on eBay - 1/2 price clearance at Rydalmere. Awesome! 8)

I went with Stoddart's Joinery in Mudgee for the 3 x Sliding aluminium doors - should be delivered mid November. (The aluminium surrounds will be black - goes with everything my wife wears....she is such a Goth) :roll:
Good to place a few orders in Rural towns methinks - less rent - lower prices (and nice people who REALLY want to help). They had done the local radio station so they were in tune with exactly what I needed - different combinations of glass and seals etc.

I researched Dacron supplies but the quotes came out more than twice as expensive as Rockwool! Such a Shame - rockwool and face masks and gloves it is then...

Electrical and Air Conditioning Quotes should all be done and dusted by mid November.

I can't believe it is all starting to come together.....

Oh and the UPS - looking at posting re advice as I have found some but I wonder if I need to power ALL my stuff off UPS or just PCs and pre amps?
Might shunt this quiz to the electrical section.

Lights - I think some track lights - simple - but I wonder how I can create "mood" lighting without using dimmers - maybe low wattage bulbs - coloured?
Maybe another for the electrical...

With the air conditioning I am going to have a split system installed on the spot marked with an X

The doors will open for fresh air to start. I can't forsee too much trouble in piping fresh and exhaust air as per my (really dodgy) arrows after construction is complete - and we test it all out. Probably using lined MDF angled ducts to registers above doors with Fantech fans etc. More on that later....

Well that's it for today...
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Ready to roll........

Post by Sideshow »

We have settled on a electrical/HVAC team close to home. Price was great - exactly what I had estimated!
The electrician is coming in the next week or so to remove all existing fittings bar 1 x GPO and 1 x light.

We chalked the floor - everything was exact as per our Vector Works /Sketchup Drawings! - except the soffit angles were 70 degrees from seat and 5 degrees out on soffit against CR front baseline - so we fixed that last weekend - easy. (60/30/30)
To keep the chalk marks clear we used some clear lacquer to spray them down - in case one of my dogs tries to find a nice place to sleep and erase the chalk..... :wink:

Jamie's thread pointed me to a shop in Annadale in Sydney for the DUET cloth - acoustically and aesthetically good - price - I can't believe they make it so cheap (see materials forum for details)

We picked up the 10" compound (drop) saw last Saturday - Rob is over the moon with his new toy :D

We are almost finished the estimates for timber, Fyrestop (Gyprock) and Insulco Semi Rigid. The spreadsheets have been a big help - we have it all down to the mm. Then some extra for waste and bits n pieces.

This Saturday we bring the drum kit in for final ISO room check - incl mic stands etc and check for O/H "air".

My father (who is very ill) sent some cutouts to me in the post from a HVAC mag - he so wants to be involved on the job God love him!
He found this interesting link

Check out the "Silencecair Brickvent" - award winning ventilator.

He also sent some detail on a monster called the Punto Filo - an axial fan that integrates a backdraught shutter when off! Probably incorporate this in ceiling of east wall.

Have been working on custom desk designs using Frank's great design as the template.
More info Alex Franke

Alex is a good guy and has intelligent input on mods if required - flick him an email!
The plans are well priced and nicely laid out. (Old style Imperial (US) or modern Metric available)

The 19" LCD screens arrived so we need to work out ergonomic height for the screen without blocking the centre 5.1 speaker...
I am still considering using some NS10s as near fields in addition to the soffit mounted 5.1 Behringer 2031A + Sub system - advice from my mate Simon Tonx (ex - Sony In House Engineer)
So the desk must allow for those too. Might be overkill - but it is easier to leave the bridge ears on than add them later... :wink:

Anyhow - took some photos of us chalking so I will upload those to give you the workspace and my ugly face...
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia


Post by Sideshow »

OK I promised som epics - to show we have actually , seemingly done "nothing" except plan for months and have now chalked.....
Well most of the "bits" are in transit and we are holding off much of the timber due to 2 x bush fires in our area - 2 km from the timber supplier actually in Blackheath...roads and rails lines closed etc - we only have one road thru the mountains :(

It should give you some idea of the garage so you can put plans to pics...:)

YOu should be able to see the chalking - hope it makes sense!?
Well at least it does to us...;)
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

East Wall Frame Pics

Post by Sideshow »

Ok here we go...started at 2pm Saturday and wound up with this by nail gun yet so Rob was testing my hammering skills.... ;)
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:02 am
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia

Very superstitious...

Post by Sideshow »

We had a little friend come watch.... :)
& I don't like the number of posts we this makes it!
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