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.

 

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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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  • Ultra High-Res Binaural QuadCopter Drone Flight Sound FX Elements

    Quadcopter Drone Flight in Binaural shows off these buzzing electronics from near and far captured with a precision microphone as well as a binaural stereo microphone system. You’ll get that hair raising ASMR tingle on the back of your neck as you feel the wind from the drone pass-by from left to right in this very unique drone flight recording. Recorded in ultra-high resolution of 192kHz / 24-Bit, you’re sure to have the highest quality drone recordings ever captured.

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    Ends 1592517599
  • A boutique sound library of indoor tennis stadium crowds.

    The recordings include:
    – Crowd cheers with low, medium and high energy.
    – Clapping and vocal reactions to the match
    – Atmosphere/Backgrounds of the game

    Total duration of 52 minutes 18 seconds and all files are meta tagged.

  • Environments Nature & Weather Environments Play Track 60 sounds included, 173 mins total $149.99 $104.99

    Immerse your audience into realistic NATURE settings of the highest quality! This audio library offers you hours of different background ambiences, including:

    • Fields & Grasslands
    • Lakes, Rivers, & Waterfalls
    • Deserts & Wastelands
    • Jungles, Forests, & Swamps
    • Lightning, Thunder, Hurricanes, Typhoons & Rain Storms
    • Underwater
    • Beaches, Oceans, & Islands
    • Insects
    • Heavy Wind & Snow…

    …and much much more!

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    GET IT NOW to 100% immerse your users into perfect scenes and settings!

    EXPLORE the EARTH’S ENVIRONMENTS
    Whether your adventure takes place on in the GRASSLANDS, COUNTRYSIDE, FOREST, JUNGLE, BEACH, ISLAND, or DESERT WASTELAND, we’ve got you covered! Each ambience contains MULTIPLE VARIATIONS & WEATHER CONDITIONS, and MULTIPLE INTENSITIES to cover each and every setting. This sound effects library is perfect for any environment on Earth you can imagine.

    MULTIPLE CHOICES for a PERFECT FIT
    Our expert team of sound designers have meticulously crafted each ambience into CONTINUOUS, NON-REPETITIVE, DRAG AND DROP-READY LOOPS that will serve as perfect background audio for your game, film, animation, live event, or even as relaxing background audio! We have even included FULL and SIMPLIFIED MIXES, SHORT and LONG non-repetitive variants, multiple choices for INTENSITIES, and numerous other options for your convenience!

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1592431199
  • There is simple two step process to download this library.

    The following is a 17 foot Medium engine boat single license sound effects library with Metadata (6.4 GB compressed .zip file, 8.5 gb Uncompressed wave files).

    This boat has a 2004 Mercury 90 horse power, in line 3, 2 stroke motor. All 53 wave files were captured in 32 Bit, 96 kHz. External sounds are in stereo. Onboard sounds are in 4 separate mono wave files. drag & drop or import each of the files into your audio editing software, then align them for creative mixing. There are also stereo mix versions of the OnBoard recordings. The combined recorded time is 74 minutes long.

    Onboard Settings:

    Channel 1 – Helm Port Side
    Channel 2 – Helm Starboard Side
    Channel 3 – Stern Port Side (next to motor)
    Channel 4 – Stern Starboard Side (Next to Motor)

    Notes: If you need specific shots of this boat, Watson is available for hire to re- record this or similar sounding watercraft.

    Definitions

    OnBoard = Recording perspectives on and in the watercraft

    External = Recording perspective from bystander view

    Helm = where the captain operatives the watercraft
    Bow = front of the watercraft (more cutting through water and bounce sounds) stern = back of the watercraft (mixed of motor & water churning sounds)
    Port side = left side of the watercraft
    Starboard side = right side of the watercraft

    Special thanks to Captain Nelson Italiano!!

  • 6 men were recorded to create this unique sound library. With various breath emotion, speed, and intensity.

    Great malleable source material, recorded from up-close in 192KHz with high-end microphone in an acoustically controlled space.

    52 %
    OFF
    Ends 1591739999
 
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