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:  
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    124 recordings of various switches and buttons, flipped, pressed and clicked. This collection contains household light and lamp switches, radio buttons and a variety of other activate and click presses.

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    -Bush, savanna and forest soundscapes.
    -Hippopotamus grunt and vocals.
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    The library also contains many rhythmic elements, such as meat chopping, construction hammering, and ominous beeps. Not to mention the echoing Chinese announcements between two schools, and the cacophony of crying and construction in a forgotten alley. I hope this library will even meet your sound design needs, and ultimately show you a local and unique side of China.

    All recorded in 24 bit/96 kHz. Some recordings contain detail information above 20khz. The library is passionately described emotive words, and all the recordings are fully tagged with metadatas compatible with Soundminer, Basehead and Soundly.

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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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    Animal Hyperrealism Vol II is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 2000 individual sounds in 283 files.

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    A special section of the library features samples recorded at 384KHz. For these sounds an additional microphone was employed, specifically the CMPA by Avisoft-Bioacoustics which records up to 200 KHz. This microphone was actually used to record most of the library but the 384KHz format was preserved only where energy was found beyond 96KHz not to occupy unnecessary disk space.
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  • “Old Cars – Short Passby” is a library with a lot of classic cars: Ford, MG, Jaguar, Porsche, Triumph, Cobra, Austin, Alpha and more.
    You will find 45 files with single car Pass Bys. The files are not named after specific cars/manufacturers.

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Foley Switch Play Track 124 sounds included $20

    124 recordings of various switches and buttons, flipped, pressed and clicked. This collection contains household light and lamp switches, radio buttons and a variety of other activate and click presses.

    Recorded in 2018 and 2019 with a stereo shotgun microphone.

    All sounds were recorded and edited at 24-bit / 96Khz resolution and mastered to broadcast quality, with only the best final sounds selected for this collection. Each audio file includes embedded meta-data.

  • Whooshes Effective Trailer Risers Play Track 106 sounds included, 26 mins total $34.99

    Over 100 cinematic riser effects and epic buildups featuring distorted synths, eerie whispers, sci-fi glitches, hardcore guitars, dramatic reverses, drilling leads, and profoundly evolving textures. This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween – 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

  • Animals & Creatures Botswana Play Track 49+ sounds included, 136 mins total From: $60

    Botswana Faunethic sound library is a unique collection of 49 sounds recorded through several national parks of the country (Okavango, Chobe,…). All these sounds has been recorded and produced with high quality equipment in multichannel.

    This collection offers a wide diversity of soundscapes and animals sounds such as:

    -Bush, savanna and forest soundscapes.
    -Hippopotamus grunt and vocals.
    -Elephants vocals, showering and drinking.
    -Zebras and impalas fighting.
    -Lion chasing an elephant during one night.
    -Birds and insects at different perspectives.
    -Villages

    If you want to hear more about this field recording trip, feel free to check this post.
    The multichannel version contains 40 tracks in native 4.0 and 9 tracks recorded in stereo only.

    This library provides authentic and interesting sounds, recorded with DPA, MBHO and Neumann mics powered by an Aeta 4minX.
    All Faunethic tracks includes metadata carefully edited, compatible with Soundminer, Soundly and Basehead.

  • City Life Shenzhen Play Track 53 sounds included, 266 mins total $39.99 $19.99

    Shenzhen is the first ever sound library of the Silicon Valley of China. Jzoo Sound invites you on the first ever audiological journey to the unique locations in Shenzhen that only locals know.

    This is a unique collection of sounds captured of various atmospheres at different times of the day. From energetic local farmer’s market, to howling subway tubes, to local middle school performance day, to old alleyways of a forgotten part of town.

    The library also contains many rhythmic elements, such as meat chopping, construction hammering, and ominous beeps. Not to mention the echoing Chinese announcements between two schools, and the cacophony of crying and construction in a forgotten alley. I hope this library will even meet your sound design needs, and ultimately show you a local and unique side of China.

    All recorded in 24 bit/96 kHz. Some recordings contain detail information above 20khz. The library is passionately described emotive words, and all the recordings are fully tagged with metadatas compatible with Soundminer, Basehead and Soundly.

    Gear Used: Roland R26, four channel built-in microphones (OMNI and XY), four channels merged down to a stereo file.

    Shoot me an email if you have any questions: shiheng_xu@emerson.edu

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
  • Twisted Reality – Drones & Other Worlds, brings you 50 dark, twisted, ominous and magical drones / underscores for all your sound design needs. Perfect to create that unworldly atmosphere in your theatre show, film or game. Made from original field recordings and twisted into something quite different, the styles vary from monotone drone to full soundscape. All styles covered from, the condemned man's last walk, to the Snow Queen's, Ice Palace, and with most of the files over 3 mins, there should be plenty there to cover your scene.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
 
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