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Building an Isolation Room
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 6:42 pm    Post subject: Building an Isolation Room Reply with quote

First off, hello there.

I'm new here, but I've been sifting through all the info I can, and I'm happy to have found this forum. It sounds like a fun group.

I spent a lot of time on stage in my younger years, but the VO work is new to me. I've been recording audiobooks for about 8 months, and I'm just about to start my 11th book. I need more time to record (suburban noises and 2 young kids have limited my time behind a mic), so I've hired a contractor, and we've designed a room that he will start building next week.

My main question is about ventilation, but I'll give you some info about the space itself, as I'm happy to have some feedback on any and all aspects.

It's in the basement. It will be decoupled from all the basement walls, so it's a "room-within-a-room" design. Double walls, both made with common wood studs, fiberglass insulation, and Quietrock drywall on the outside of the outer wall, and inside the studio room itself. Acoustic sealant throughout.
We will hang TWO pre-hung solid wood doors, with some acoustic foam in between (glued onto one of them).
No windows.
Interior dimensions should end up being about 10.5' x 9.5' x 7' ceiling height.
Not ideal, but I'm hoping the larger space will negate some of the "boxy" sound.
I'll mess around with treatments once it's all complete.

So, my question.
I had a consult with the incomparable George Whittam, who suggested that I run a serpentine duct from the HVAC system of the house, into the studio, then a return serpentine duct to the main return of the house. And of course, have a separate zone for the studio, as it will hold temps better than any other room in the house. My contractor thinks this will introduce sounds of the house through the ductwork, defeating the purpose of the room.
He suggested I don't ventilate, and just open the door from time to time, and run a fan.
I don't like this idea, as I like to breathe air.
And an extra zone will start costing a lot.

So I'm thinking of using a fan like this:
https://www.acinfinity.com/component-cooling/inline-duct-fan-systems/cloudline-s6-quiet-inline-duct-fan-system-with-speed-controller-6-inch/#product-description
... running it at the exhaust end, pulling the stale air out of the room, and just building a couple of baffle boxes for the intake and exhaust ducts to run through.
The basement stays very cool year-round, so I don't think I'll have an issue with temperature, only circulation.

Does this sound reasonable (loaded question, I know)?
If so, where is the ideal placement for the ducts entering and leaving the studio room? Both up high, but on opposite walls? As the return air will be the hotter air, and the colder air entering will fall to the floor?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

I'm looking forward to slowly making this a career for myself, and I can tell this is a fun group with a lot of experience.

Regards,
George
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Bruce
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Joined: 06 Jun 2005
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Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I say yes to breathing, yes to fresh air, and yes to listening to GW. That the fan youíre looking at has adjustable speed control is a big plus.


B
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todd ellis
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Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i would listen to george over your contractor - this is what he does & he's very good at it. the serpentine nature of the duct work will limit outside noise coming in ... unless you've got kids dropping hot wheels down a cold air return ... which happened to me once.
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. I would listen to anything George said to do, if I could afford it. The cost of adding a zone for the studio room is what's really dissuading me from that option.
I'm leaning towards the small fan to circulate the air, and hoping the baffle boxes will be enough to insulate the sounds in the basement.
I may not even run the fan while I'm recording.

I can always use the registers I install in the walls of the room to connect it to the HVAC system in the future, if I find it's necessary (and if I come across some extra funds).

I'm green on the design of the baffle boxes though, and was hoping someone that's used them (or made them) can give me some pointers.

I plan on constructing them with plywood, and then covering them with the same Quietrock that I'm using for the studio. Inside, the chambers will be covered in acoustic foam. Not sure if they should reside inside the room or outside.
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todd ellis
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think that will be a good compromise (boxes outside the room) --- remember --- if you have air coming in - you also need air going OUT. two baffle boxes - one pushing & one pulling with a switch on an inside wall to turn them on & off.
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes! Thanks, Todd.

I plan on having 2 registers in the room, and both intake and exhaust will be routed through a baffle box. The fan will likely be on the exhaust side, pulling out the stale air, as I've read that that would be quieter.

I'm thinking both registers will need to be high up on opposite walls. One to pull out the hot air near the ceiling, and one to pull in the cooler air from the basement.
The basement is cool all year round.
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todd ellis
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think i would put the intake low to pull cool air in.
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Bruce
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Joined: 06 Jun 2005
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Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If as you say your basement is usually cool, a separate AC controller sounds unnecessary. My understanding is ventilation in a booth takes care of three things in roughly this order: humidity, increased CO2, and temperature rise. Dry air feels much better (cooler) than wet air in an enclosed space.


Have fun!

B
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Lee Gordon
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I originally had my intake (the passive side) low and my exhaust side (the side with the fan pulling the air out) high, and I swapped them. I did this for two reasons. First, my high register was closer to the mic, so I wanted that to be the one without the fan. And second, I have a little equipment down at floor level, near the lower register. It doesn't generate all that much heat, but when that was the intake side, the air coming onto my booth was immediately pulled across it. So now, the air gets pulled across the equipment on its way out of the booth rather than on its way in.

These were my issues, due to the relatively small size of my booth. If you have more space, you may not have to deal with the same things I did.
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's good info, thank you.

I've been thinking about this even harder now (smell the burning?).

If the baffle boxes are going to be outside the room, I can have the intake end of the intake duct near the floor of the basement (which is cool air), then have it enter the studio at a higher point, so that the air will have room to fall (as colder air wants to move downward). Then I can have the exhaust duct leave the studio from a high point on the other side of the room, as that's where the warmer air will be. Again, the fan will likely be at the exhaust end.

I think the 9 feet it has to travel across the room before leaving will give the air a chance to fall down, otherwise I'll just be pulling fresh air out the exhaust.

Obviously, I want to avoid having to move the register locations on the walls of the studio, after the room is complete.
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Lee Gordon
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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2019 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

George Kastrinos wrote:

If the baffle boxes are going to be outside the room,


I have never heard of anybody putting them anywhere but outside the room.
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK!
Construction starts tomorrow!

I'm going ahead with the separate fan that just circulates the air, rather than connecting to the house's HVAC system.
The only questions I have left are:

1. Where should I place the intake and exhaust registers? High or low on the walls? Remember, the basement stay pretty cool year-round.

2. What material should I choose for the double pre-hung doors? Solid wood, or insulated steel?

Thanks in advance!
-George
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again!

The studio is complete, and I think it turned out quite well.
Not sure if this link will work, but here are some pictures of the build.


The last thing I need to do is build some baffle boxes for the ventilation system.
I have enough Soundbreak board left over to make the boxes out of that, but it's not easy to construct with, as it's really just drywall. I thought about using a thin MDF, and then covering it with the Soundbreak. Is that overkill?
Would it be better to just use a thicker MDF, and be done with it?

In any case, the inside of the box will be lined with acoustic foam (probably 1" Auralex type stuff).

The boxes will be located outside of the studio walls. They'll be connected to the registers with 6" insulated flexible ducting, and I have this inline 6" fan to do the pulling.


Any suggestions on materials would be very appreciated.

Thanks so much,
George
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Bruce
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great. Now letís see what youíre doing for sound treatment inside you pretty new box.

B
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George Kastrinos



Joined: 29 May 2019
Posts: 9
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce wrote:
Great. Now letís see what youíre doing for sound treatment inside you pretty new box.

B


Heh. It is kind of boxy. It's 10.3' x 9.3'.
I've got a rug I'm throwing down on the floor, and I've ordered six 4'x2' ATS acoustic panels (the 2" with the Roxul core).

I'm sure I'll need more than that, but I'll do some testing after I get the equipment and some furniture in there, and see what else I need.
Maybe some more panels, or bass traps.

Right now, I want to get these baffle boxes built, so I can start testing!
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