Hi, all –

For the next few weeks my new blog is going to be dedicated to the trials, tribulations and triumphs of building a new heavy-duty sound isolation booth in the garage of my home in LA.  This somewhat lengthy first post is just an overview of what we’ll be accomplishing in the next 7-10 days. 

As the job progresses I will post pictures, videos and other commentary. We began building today (Sun 6/7).  Perhaps the contents of this blog will help someone who is similarly deranged to attempt a similar booth of their own.  For others- I hope it may just be interesting in a totally nerd way.  I’ve personally been fascinated by what I’ve learned so far.

The reason I thought blogging on this topic might be of interest to some is that:

  • The booth is being designed and built from scratch – not a kit.
  • Because I live very close to the Van Nuys airport (one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world), and am also in the flight path of commercial jets coming in to Burbank airport, the booth must be heavily sound-proofed.  We’re targeting very high STC (Sound Transfer Coefficient) ratings.
  • Because the booth could only go in my uncooled / unheated garage which  regularly reaches triple digits for several months of the year, we’ll have to get pretty creative solving the ventilation issues.

I am very fortunate in that I have two amazing family members who are donating their labor.  My nephew has worked for high-end Audio/Video companies that install home theaters, music studios, etc. He has designed the double-walled booth and put up with many, picky questions on my part during the design process.  I will also be the beneficiary of some cost-savings on certain materials through his company.  My brother-in-law is a contractor and has been part of the building of many sound-isolated studios in custom homes in the Aspen valley area.  Amazingly – these two have flown out to my LA home from Colorado for 10 days and are donating their labor to put this together – for the fun of it.  How lucky am I?  Frankly – the bonding experience of working together on this is one of the main reasons I opted to go with this approach rather than having an experienced booth builder do the work.  God knows that would have been easier and less time-consuming, but YOLO, right?

For those of you interested in some details – here are the basics of what we’ll be building:

  • Booth Interior dimensions – 3′ X 5’6″ X 6’3″ high.  (subject to small changes as we go)
    So I should be able to record sitting or standing.
  • Booth Exterior footprint – appr. 5′ X 8′ X 8’2″ high
  • Exterior shell materials:  1/2″ MDF green-glued to 5/8″ ply attached to 2X4 studs with heavy sound-absorbing bat insulation made from recycled denim between the studs.  The whole structure will rest on “kips” (engineered rubber/fiberglass pucks which minimize specific sound frequencies transferring from the concrete pad up into the booth.)
  • Interior shell materials:  two 1/2″ drywall layers green-glued together, then green-glued to 5/8″ ply, attached to 2X4 studs with the same bat insulation.  All of that will be wrapped with 1/8″ Mass Loaded Vinyl.
  • In between the exterior shell and the interior shell will be a 3/4″ air gap.  The only contact between the inner and outer shells will be the kips on the floor between the two shells.
  • We’ve been able to figure out a way to do two separately sealed “communicating” doors.
  • There will be no window because I don’t anticipate being in a situation where I’ll be working with an engineer when recording here.  That’s one less complication to deal with.
  • At this point we haven’t determined the method by which we’ll be circulating air through the booth – watch in the coming days for those details.
  • We’ll add a small supply cabinet outside the booth to house the computer equipment, and the ventilation will route through that cabinet to keep the equipment cool.  
  • We’re adding layers of aluminum foil and metal screen into the walls and doors which will effectively make the booth into a Faraday cage which will block all electromagnetic radiation.   The computer equipment cabinet will also be set up this way.
  • Finally – the whole thing will be built in such a way that the booth can be disassembled and moved should a time come that I need to sell it or move. (though that will admittedly not be an easy task – this thing will be a beast expected to weigh about 3,500 lbs!!)  Part of my challenge will be documenting how it needs to come apart so I’ll have the video record if/when the time comes to take it down.  Maybe one day I’ll sell my house to a fellow VO artist / narrator who will love it and I won’t have to move it!

Okey dokey – that’s the groundwork.  As I said – I’ll post progress reports as we go.  Hope folks find this at least marginally interesting.

Keith