2017! I do enjoy the start of a new year. Always feels like a time to refresh some goals and embrace the new. January was a time for catching up on all of December's mixes and continuing work on readying music for Whatever Penny. What is Whatever Penny? More on that in a later post...
Some more important catching up that I did, was with family and friends. We were able to make a trip upstate New York to visit the in-laws, celebrate my Grandmom's birthday (and uncover some early photographic gems in the chronicles of Tim), and went to a zombified birthday party at a dance studio where we ate brain cake and "danced" ourselves silly to learn the choreography from Thriller. Hilarity was plentiful.
December is always a bear of a month for musicians, and somebody has to record them! This year was chock full of Messiah singing, with two recording dates, and one time of me singing with choir at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Cherry Hill, NJ. Sometimes it was hard to Handel.......
Puns aside, it was a great month of music with so many talented musicians. January will give me some time to catch up on mixes and album orders, but the new season will be here soon enough!
Hello Internets! Do your ears a favor and go check out this new tune by Aaron Stoquert! This was mastered here at Segado Audio recently, and you can expect more coming down the line soon.
"The Preacher" will be appearing on the "Decade of Decapitation" compilation put out by Neal Jones / Ukulele Horror Records as well my upcoming EP "Act I: The Rite, The Refusal".
Both will be available later this month.
As an added bonus the first 10 people who share this post will receive a download code for the EP "Act 1: The Right, The Refusal".
This track was co-written / produced / mixed by Ryan Dugan, Mastered by Segado Audio with artwork by Anne-Marie Mueschke
With everything painted, the finishes begin! I had always wanted to try my hand at making a wood wall, so try I did! Since I used steel studs for the wall construction, I furred out the wall with 1x2s so that I could nail the planks to the wall easier. I used thin tongue and groove cedar planks and stained them 4 different colors (lightest to darkest - honey walnut, cherry, early american, and kona). I started at the top to ensure a clean visible line, and then worked my way down the wall in a somewhat random pattern.
I really loved the way that this wall came out. The colors it brings back into the room is excellent. I also installed some new cage pendant lights in front of the wall so that I had some different lighting options. It really came out just the way I had wanted. You can also see my brand new desk that I built, and the fabric ceiling/massive acoustic cloud as well.
For the desk I modified some plans I found online to make for a deeper work surface. My previous desk was a multi level desk, but this works so much better for me, and if far more comfortable to use with my control surface and iMac all being on the same level. Used my keg jig for the pocket holes to assemble the table top, which turned out great.
Like I had mentioned in a previous post, the ceiling joists were filled with a dual layer of Roxul Safe n Sound over the mix position, and then I used Guilford of Maine fabric to stretch across the ceiling joists. I could have used a cheaper fabric, but GOM is fire rated, won't stretch out over time, and is acoustically transparent. For the areas where I stapled the fabric to the underside of the joists, I used lengths of mullion trim to cover the staples.
And those recessed lights? they are all tied to a Leviton dimmer switch on the wall that, through the Wink app, I can control from my phone. #awesome.
And now, onto insulation and drywall. I could really envision the room once the framing went up, but once the insulation went in, I really started to see what the space was going to feel like. I installed Roxul Safe and Sound in all the walls and cavities, including some double layers in between the floor joists above. Plus, Rockwool is flame retardant, moisture repellant, and fantastic at absorption.
Since the ceiling was low to begin with (7' to the bottom of the joists), I opted to turn the ceiling into a giant acoustic cloud of sorts. I knew sheet rocking the ceiling would make it feel too low, and didn't want to hang acoustic clouds even lower than the ceiling already is. The solution? Stuff the ceiling with Roxul SnS, and then stretch Guilford of Maine fabric across that bad boy! (More on that later...)
Once the insulation was in, there was already a several db drop in noise within the room, and noise from the AC unit next to it was cut dramatically.
And now for drywall! I went with 5/8" mold-resistant drywall (can you tell I absolutely did not want any moisture issues down here?)
When it came to taping and mudding this guy up, I had the assistance of my lovely wife Kat who was a total champ.
No, I didn't use two layers of drywall, and no I didn't use green glue, etc. etc. but there is good reason for that. I never intended for this studio to be completely isolated. Did I want some decent db reduction? Absolutely. Did I have the money to blow on extreme isolation measures? Absolutely not. To do that, I would have had to have a separate AC/heat feed, or build bulky air dampeners, lower the ceiling even more than it is, as well as several other things that would have cost prohibitive. I wanted to it to be reasonably quiet, where sound in and out would be minimized as much as possible. So far, it has been fantastic.
This now puts us at the end of July. I had lots of traveling to do for recording gigs in the spring so that put a damper in my construction workflow, but I really got back at it when summer started. Because there is no better way to spend a summer than covered in drywall dust in your basement.
Number 2 was the winner (and always was in my mind). I love the way that it shows off some really different shades in different light. Its a really warm blue that turned out perfectly. After painting the walls, I vacuumed every single inch of that floor, and laid down one more coat of paint of the floor to cover all the drywall scuffs and dust that embedded itself into the paint.
Also, notice the support pole the the two pictures above? That used to look like this. We painted on two coats of a hammered metal finish from Minwax, and it looked instantly amazing. What had previously been a rusted, nasty metal pole, was turned into....a much nicer looking pole. Poles aren't too exciting, but if they were, this would take the cake.
Next time on This Old Basement, we get to start putting some finishing touches on! Also, doors. Woo!
Once the basement had been prepared and painted, it really started feeling like a different space altogether. It was amazingly comfortable down there, especially after the hellscape it had been previously. Now it was time to frame....and insulate!
So while this space is definitely dedicated to making music, I also wanted to it to be practical and double as a relaxing lounge space as well. Here is the floorpan I devised from the measurements...
So a few things. Behind the diagonal wall is the furnace and water heater, so having the diagonal shape allowed me to build next to them, while also retaining enough space to make the inevitable repairs that they'll need. The small offshoot in the upper left hand corner is a pretty sizable closet. The bomb out on the right hand side is because of the basement wall support columns that jut into the room. the walls on either side are even with the inner face of the columns, but I decided to take advantage of the space between these two, because A) who doesn't want more space, and 2) it actually helps to visually define the two spaces a little. It breaks up the space from just being a giant tunnel. Basically, the lower half will be strictly music oriented, while the upper portion will be a living space that, if need be, we can spread out in to record. There are also tie lines and ethernet run between the closet and where my rack is (black rectangle in lower right hand corner) so that I can keep my amp in the closet and play guitar and record it from my desk. Because #RAWK.
This was my first time framing with aluminum studs, but I was definitely a fan! I decided to go with metal for a few reasons. Due to its moist history, I didn't want wood rotting unseen, so metal was a good choice. Also, according to Rod Gervais' Home recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros, metal studs would behave like resilient channel does when applied to wood studs. I'll take an extra added acoustic benefit where I can get it, no matter how small. Science! Metal is also flexible, which helped when encountering uneven 60 year old concrete floors. the best part about metal studs? THEY ARE SO LIGHT. I could fit a ton in my car before I ran out of room, and could carry 10 studs downstairs at a time. That would have been a much bigger task had I used wood. I think my final usage was somewhere around 40 10ft pieces of track, and about 100 8ft studs.
Starting the framing was hugely satisfying, as I could begin to see the room finally take shape. When I was done working each night, I would sit on this super comfortable giant chair (featured in the panorama above) that my dear friend Ben Robinson had bequeathed us when I was down at Full Sail, and I would stare at the room and picture how it was going to turn out and just get so excited. As if every night once I was done working was the night before Christmas and I would come down in the morning and *poof* a studio!
Here is a shot of some of the wiring. the lower run is all electrical, and the upper run is 2-pair snake cable for 2 XLR jacks going from the closet to the rack, as well as Cat6 cable for future headphone distribution possibilities. Always have to think ahead! Having pre-made pass throughs for the electrical really sped the process up. There are actually three circuits powering the studio: one for lighting, one for audio equipment electrical outlets, and one for electrical outlets that will power everything else.
Every good basement studio has to start some place.
So before the basement was cleared out of debris and what-have-you, it could be politely described as 'nightmare fuel'. It was extremely damp and musty, as it always had been, and all of the windows were broken and/or missing completely. After a few 'aviary concerns' lets say, the first thing that needed to happen was to replace all of the basement windows. Here are some before photos from July 2012, so you can get a clear picture of the space.
Now before any actual construction could take place, there were some pretty obvious moisture issues that had to be addressed (#becausebasement). We had some pretty bad grading issues around the entire house, so we encountered everything from small seepages through the walls, to a veritable waterfall coming through a window after the window well had flooded. Utter joy.
Those are just some of the greatest hits. No pictures from the waterfall, as I was too busy alternating between wet-vacuuming and looking like a crazy person bailing out the window well in the torrential downpour. Good times.
After re-grading the areas around the house, Kat and I enlisted the help of our good friends Dry-Lok and Dry-Lok Fast Plug, and got to work treating the inside of the beast. Oh yeah, and this was a whole year later, so now we are in July of 2014, for those keeping score at home. After cleaning off all the walls, the magic began. By the way, my wife is a champion. I will continue to point this out, but just wanted to throw that out there
I'm the kind of person who tends to be a bit obsessive when I get an interest in something. After studying recording for a few years, I soon started down the same road with studio building and acoustics. I consider myself to be a fairly handy person, and after several summers as my dad's personal construction crew throughout the years, I realized that I actually did enjoy all that manual labor. For me, I found that I had the same kind of satisfaction when I built a shed, or a table, as I did when I built a song from scratch.
When Kat and I moved back down to New Jersey, I knew the house we were moving into would allow me to realize a small dream of mine...to build a space dedicated to music and recording in my home from the ground up. Would it be the most perfect and elaborate studio build in history? Certainly not, but for me, it would be everything that I wanted.
I've been working on this project for almost a year now, and its finally its its finishing stages....and I couldn't be happier about it. Over the next few posts, I'll share some photos from the process beginning to end. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worth it.
Recordings of eVoco's Spring performance of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil are now available through the store. They did a wonderful job on a marathon piece of music, and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to record these amazing musicians.
This spring will see the debut of the eVoco Women's Ensemble, which will surely be fantastic. If you are in the area, be sure not to miss them on May 9th and 10th! For more information, visit eVoco.vc.
a man among men