Asbjoern Andersen


Ever thought about giving your studio a makeover - or perhaps you've simply outgrown your home studio? Here's the story on how Alex Gregson from 344 Audio did a major studio rebuild, complete with tips, lessons learned, and thoughts on whether you should go about such a huge project in the first place:
Written by Alex Gregson. Images courtesy of Alex Gregson
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Thinking about rebuilding your studio? Here are some questions to consider before you start: First of all, you need to ask yourself why building a dedicated studio space is right for your creative business. Will it help you accomplish a goal or work with new clients? Will it allow you to provide a better service?

You will then need to consider your budget. Is your budget realistic? Have you built an itemised breakdown? Where can you save money?

Next will come your plans for building soundproofing, acoustic treatment, interior design and equipment. Will these add value? Can you do the building yourself? Do you really need the best piece of equipment on the market?

The sitting area of the studio

Once you have figured out the basics and accepted that you want to go on this journey, you will need a marketing strategy to promote your studio in a way that attracts the clients you want to work with there.

You will have to ensure you are ready to take such a big step for your business, in terms of time and financial investment

The number of people working in your facility will also factor into your planning, does your premises have enough space?

With all this considered you will have to ensure you are ready to take such a big step for your business, in terms of time and financial investment.
   

Rebuilding The 344 Audio Studio: The Planning

An empty construction area with only a plastic-covered couch

The reason we wanted to rebuild our studio was to provide a better service to the clients we currently have and to the clients that we want. Previously, we worked from a home studio and rented facilities for larger projects, which was less comfortable for both us, Directors and other members of the sound team. Having your own studio allows you to choose the gear, workflow and look that is right for your business.

We had a budget of £20,000, which had to cover everything from rental deposits to equipment costs and soundproofing walls. We managed to save a lot of money by building soundproofing and acoustic treatment ourselves. We came in under budget, which left space for future investments in our second room. Every piece of equipment purchased was carefully planned to create an ecosystem that allows for a faster creative workflow and a high quality signal path throughout, while remaining cost conscious.

Having your own studio allows you to choose the gear, workflow and look that is right for your business

We hired a marketing agency to help us get into both local and national industry publications, which has already provided some excellent opportunities for the studio. We also have a list of current clients to invite to the new facility and a list of clients that we would like to work with in the future who we will be contacting.

With a view for expansion, we have an additional room which will house interns and freelancers to help when working on larger projects. We have a financial plan to allow for a return on investment and aim to get the most out of the equipment we have purchased and the room that we have built.
 

Rebuilding The 344 Audio Studio: The Execution

A GIF of the interior design process

The construction process was by far the most difficult and time consuming part of the project. Soundproofing involved first of all, four days of research to discover the right methods and materials to use. Once we had established our battle plan, it was time to begin.

We hired a builder to construct the wooden batons that lay the foundation for our soundproofing stud walls. They had to be built with an air gap between themselves and the original walls. We then added Rockwool acoustic insulation slabs, which aided in sound absorption and helped fill the gap between the batons. After this, we fitted resilient bars which separate the next layer from the wood batons, as well as allowing the wall to flex and absorb longer wavelengths provided by the LFE speaker in the room.

The wall was very successful in reducing disturbance to us and neighbouring businesses

Finally, two layers of acoustic plasterboard were fitted to the resilient bars and painted to match the room colours. The wall was very successful in reducing disturbance to us and neighbouring businesses. There was still a quite severe noise leakage problem from the entrance, which had to be alleviated by constructing a double door followed by a heavy acoustic curtain.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Destruction & Impact Fighting Game Play Track 2500 sounds included, 73 min mins total $96

    Fighting Game includes 2500 SFX & loops – After months of sonic conflict, 14 voice acting warriors, and countless source recording and editing sessions, we happily present you with Fighting Game – fight scene and close combat sound effects library. Never surrender or retreat from a sound design battle again. Now YOU get to become the ultimate fighter and master sensei to almost any type of game audio project where combat sound effects, aggressive voice articulations, are needed. It’s the most supercharged, conflict-generating sound FX library available. Strike now and get this highly versatile and wide-ranging production suite, a genuine knockout with Mortal Kombat & martial arts styled sounds effects, male and female karate voice vocalizations & royalty-free production music loops. All game-ready.

    Don’t get caught with your hands down to a client again or compromise on quality work – now it’s easier than ever to exchange blows to the face, create fight scenes with weight & emotion as well as inflict high levels of audio precision on your projects! With the Fighting Game, the battle has already been won. Kick off an action-packed adventure today! Hi-yah!

    Fighting Game Includes:

    • 2500 sound effects & loops
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    • 100+ royalty-free gameplay & menu music loops
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    Our Audio Craftsmen recorded performances of our in-house voice artists using mono and stereo microphones to give you maximum flexibility. We have captured various screams and shouts of a TV audience, crowds at parties, gigs, sports stadiums, armies fighting battles, teens being massacred, people burnt alive, a crowd being attacked by bees, a group falling to death, people being trampled by an elephant, couples fighting each other and much, much more. We have also included additional variations of long and short group screams and sequential screams.

    All of the sounds are meticulously edited, meta tagged and UCS compliant, so you can find the right sounds you need and drag them straight into your projects. In addition, all the files are available in 24 Bit 192 kHz (without reverb) for further sonic manipulation and design (you can pitch and time stretch to create monster voices or high pitched creatures).

    We have used a variety of male and female voices, capturing different variations of almost all types of group screams needed for your projects, which saves you from hiring expensive voice actors and loop groups.

  • “8bit Game Madness” by SpillAudio consists of 163 8bit music loops inspired by different video games and arcades, combined with a touch of modern melodic and harmonic concepts. These tracks will provide your projects with a sought-after authenticity, rhythmic stability, and melodic diversity which could elevate your track to the desired level. This pack includes 23 distinguishable melody tracks which add color and articulation with a specific sense of originality.


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:

 

Once the soundproofing steps had been completed, it was time to move on to interior design. From the beginning, we wanted to create an industrial revolution themed studio, which has cultural links to our home in Manchester, England. We went for neutral colours in the wall paint, absorbers / bass traps material and shelving to allow more specific elements to stand out. We also built our own studio furniture to save costs and create a more authentic industrial look. Using reclaimed wood boards, coach bolts and scaffolding poles, we constructed a fairly basic structure to build upon. Adding wood stain helped blend the furniture into the room a little better and bring out the natural wear of the desks.

We wanted to create an industrial revolution themed studio, which has cultural links to our home in Manchester, England

Next, we searched for various antiques to place in the room to finalise the look. These included a chest from the 1800s, various industrial cogs, classic British books to place on our bookshelves, and of course, a plant. It was finally time to install our equipment…

One huge workflow element we wanted to implement was the use of four screens. We fitted two identical monitors, one for the Pro Tools edit window, one for sound effects searching and miscellaneous tasks. We also fitted a 58-inch TV for client video playback. Finally, we decided to choose the Slate Raven MTi2 for our studio mix controller, as it had the most features and forward thinking workflow in its price range, allowing for custom macros and a touchscreen workflow.

We also had to create a 5.1 mixing environment, which meant that we would need a suitable interface and monitoring. We chose the Presonus Quantum for it’s low latency thunderbolt connectivity, ability to group outputs for up to 7.1 monitoring and it’s high quality digitally controlled preamps. We chose the HEDD Type 05 for satellites and ADAM Sub8 for our LFE. After testing one of our mixes on multiple systems, we found these to be the most transparent and comfortable to work with by far. They also have a phase and frequency linearization plugin for Pro Tools to help digitally align the speakers.

One of the other largely important tasks was to create a workstation PC that could handle our heavy Sound Design sessions. We got a custom 3XS system from Scan computers, which had all the bells and whistles needed to bring the studio build together. We spent most of our money on the key components, including the CPU and Motherboard, leaving room for future expansion on the 2 SSD drives and 32GB RAM.

An overview of the backside of the studio

The inclusion of a large MIDI keyboard, synthesizers and microphones were a crucial inclusion for creative purposes. We picked up a Korg Minilogue, mixer and guitar pedals for creating ominous drones and synthesized effects. Microphone-wise, we grabbed an NTG3 for Foley/ADR, an Aston Origin for Voice Overs and a Zoom H6 for recording sound effects, along with some contact mics and coil pickups. We also grabbed a dynamic mic for creating dialogue futz effects through the guitar pedals.

Finally, for acoustic treatment, we built 4 soffit bass traps to control low frequency build up in the room corners. These were made from thin timber wood uprights and particle board panels for the top and bottoms. The interiors were filled with acoustic rockwool. We then covered them with a breathable fabric. Our absorbers were a similar approach, with staples to attach the fabric tightly around the wood.
 

Rebuilding Your Studio: Tips and Shortcuts

Some of the lessons learned during the build process were invaluable, and we would love to share these with you. Most of all, the larger lesson here is that doing things yourself can garner much more worthwhile results, whereas hiring others can be overly expensive and may not save much time.

There has been no better time than now to build your own studio

Finding the right space from the beginning, in a good location with minimal traffic noise and disturbances will stand you in good stead for the future of your build and business operations.

Materials are cheap, and the internet is an unlimited resource for acoustic treatment advice, product reviews and the like. There has been no better time than now to build your own studio.

A crocodile head and a lightbulb full of nuts, bolts, and screws

Another piece of advice to readers would be to make your studio unique to your business. We included an industrial revolution theme as it’s something that we and many others are fascinated with in our local history. Use that as inspiration for how your studio could stand out from the crowd.

One element that we really underestimated was the soundproofing, which all in all took about 2 weeks to complete and was incredibly stressful. If we could go back and do it again with the knowledge gained, the process could likely have been reduced to less than a week. Do your research well in advance, and be realistic about the results you can achieve.

Please feel free to get in touch with us if you want any specific advice on materials or the build process. You can get in touch via 344audio.com.
A comfortable, professional workspace at 344 Audio.

A big thanks to Alex Gregson for giving us a tour of their new facilities over at 344 Audio!

 

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Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Destruction & Impact Fighting Game Play Track 2500 sounds included, 73 min mins total $96

    Fighting Game includes 2500 SFX & loops – After months of sonic conflict, 14 voice acting warriors, and countless source recording and editing sessions, we happily present you with Fighting Game – fight scene and close combat sound effects library. Never surrender or retreat from a sound design battle again. Now YOU get to become the ultimate fighter and master sensei to almost any type of game audio project where combat sound effects, aggressive voice articulations, are needed. It’s the most supercharged, conflict-generating sound FX library available. Strike now and get this highly versatile and wide-ranging production suite, a genuine knockout with Mortal Kombat & martial arts styled sounds effects, male and female karate voice vocalizations & royalty-free production music loops. All game-ready.

    Don’t get caught with your hands down to a client again or compromise on quality work – now it’s easier than ever to exchange blows to the face, create fight scenes with weight & emotion as well as inflict high levels of audio precision on your projects! With the Fighting Game, the battle has already been won. Kick off an action-packed adventure today! Hi-yah!

    Fighting Game Includes:

    • 2500 sound effects & loops
    • 600+ designed game ready – combat sound effects
    • 900+ source/organic sound effects – build your own combat sounds or sweeten
    • 800+ fighting voice sound effects (from 14 voice actors)
    • 100+ royalty-free gameplay & menu music loops
    • Over 2.5 GB of audio samples
    • Over 73 minutes of game audio & SFX
    • All in 96k/24bit .wav

  • Water & Oceans Flowing Water Play Track 90 sounds included, 135 mins total $80 $64

    Featuring;

    • Fast Flowing Rivers
    • Lightly Flowing Rivers
    • Moderately Flowing Rivers
    • Rivers Flowing Over Pebbles
    • Rivers Flowing Over Driftwood
    • Water Flowing into Plunge Pools
    • Raging Waterfalls
    • Small Waterfalls
    • White Water Rapids
    • Streams

    All sounds were recorded using the Schoeps CCM4/CCM8 MS and Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1623967199
  • The sounds of grinding, skidding, windscreen groaning, rumbling and hooting – a complete sound effects library of the UAZ-469.

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1624139999
  • Screaming Vol. 2 is a sequel to one of our most popular sound effect libraries to date. Unlike other libraries out there, we recorded small loop groups of voice actors covering situations where a single voice is not enough and a large crowd is too much for the scene. Furthermore, we captured extended performances in each file, giving sound editors the flexibility to use these effects in a large variety of situations. This collection contains group screams and shouts, covering everything from party and gig crowds all the way to battles and massacres making it a great addition for sound designers to their general audio collection and can be used in films, video games, TV productions and other projects.

    Our Audio Craftsmen recorded performances of our in-house voice artists using mono and stereo microphones to give you maximum flexibility. We have captured various screams and shouts of a TV audience, crowds at parties, gigs, sports stadiums, armies fighting battles, teens being massacred, people burnt alive, a crowd being attacked by bees, a group falling to death, people being trampled by an elephant, couples fighting each other and much, much more. We have also included additional variations of long and short group screams and sequential screams.

    All of the sounds are meticulously edited, meta tagged and UCS compliant, so you can find the right sounds you need and drag them straight into your projects. In addition, all the files are available in 24 Bit 192 kHz (without reverb) for further sonic manipulation and design (you can pitch and time stretch to create monster voices or high pitched creatures).

    We have used a variety of male and female voices, capturing different variations of almost all types of group screams needed for your projects, which saves you from hiring expensive voice actors and loop groups.

  • “8bit Game Madness” by SpillAudio consists of 163 8bit music loops inspired by different video games and arcades, combined with a touch of modern melodic and harmonic concepts. These tracks will provide your projects with a sought-after authenticity, rhythmic stability, and melodic diversity which could elevate your track to the desired level. This pack includes 23 distinguishable melody tracks which add color and articulation with a specific sense of originality.

 
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