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Well, Now That THAT'S Done...

What a month!

I've been MIA on the content front (with the exception of two sneaky re-releases), despite having a bunch of unfinished stuff I had been planning to post. Shame on me. Those posts are still on their way, for the record! But I have some content to reshoot. There's a good reason for that, though.

Last month Patricia and I talked and it was decided that I would move the studio from the bunker (my loving term for our basement) to my commercial studio in Fishtown to give her more room at the house for her photography.

With the baby in tow, making her way to the Fishtown studio to work was looking like an increasingly less likely scenario. And with the increase in content-related output on my end, the Fishtown studio is a much more attractive location for filming. And so it was decided.

Granted, this comes with some major caveats. The biggest being that... well... I can't really make any noise there.

But, call me insane, because that wasn't going to stop me!

Thus began almost a month of teardown, relocation, and reconfiguration (though, to be fair, it was probably more like two weeks, since the holidays were factored in there, too).

We went from this:

To this:

I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to move all those things up three flights of stairs by myself, but I guess it was a case of "where there's a will, there's a way." Granted, that "will" apparently lead to some rather persistent physical issues that are taking several weeks to recover from, but hey, no pain no gain, right? Right....

And with all that work finally drawing to a close, I find myself in an interesting position to try to solve a rather delicate problem; how to produce reasonable sound levels in a commercial space where literally everything in the realm of audio bleeds.

I can hear everything in my studio. From the people chatting next door, to the tv/content streaming in the photography studio below me, to the facility manager's pet macaw squawking away in his apartment. And somehow, within all of this, I need to come up with a solution for dampening the sound from a sub-equipped monitoring system during a mix, or vocal takes for a track, or grinding amplifiers, to levels that can't be heard by anyone, ever.

So, what to do?

Well, in some way, shape, or form, those vibrations need to be isolated and attenuated. The question is, however, just how much? And how?

I knew I didn't want to attempt to modify the space or build a permanent structure of any kind, though that would potentially be the cheapest route. If it comes down to it, that option will still be up for consideration, but before I go there, I want to see what sorts of things might be able to travel with me to any other spaces I may occupy in the future.

So I researched, and in my research, I narrowed it down to one main company that interested me with their products, and that is VocalBooth. I like that they seem to be focused on accurate representation of statistics and specs of their booths to the point where they willingly show numbers that at first blush appear worse than their competition because they are accurately calculated. Also, the quality and craftsmanship of the booths appears much higher than similar products from other companies.

So, I got a quote... for a 14' x 14' custom isolation booth (if you consider those dimensions for a bit you might imagine where I'm going with this).

I was not shocked, therefore, to discover that the pricing winds up equivalent to a mid-grade car. But that presents a difficult scenario: how can I prove this is going to work before I drop that much cash?

The only solution I came up with is as close to a scientific one as I could manage:

  1. Take a similar booth to the one I had quoted

  2. Play a similar sound system to my monitoring setup inside said booth, and

  3. Measure the levels both inside and outside said booth, noting the degree of attenuation in various frequency ranges.

Then, after this is complete, do the same measurements in surrounding studios at my location and see what the problem frequencies are, and whether or not the attenuation measured from the booth will be enough to cover said frequencies.

The other thing that will need to be accounted for in this case is perceptual loudness. My monitoring setup in an open-air situation with no treatment will likely need to be turned up much louder to clearly reproduce sound then the same speakers inside a treated booth. So I will also be taking note of the SPL readings directly in front of the speakers in both situations.

As serendipity would have it (as is often the case) I have occasion to be traveling near the VocalBooth factory in Oregon this week, so they have been kind enough to offer to let me demo and measure a similar 11'x15' booth that is just completing production. I'm actually writing this from the sky en route to Redmond, OR (current destination -> SFO) as the first part in a series of posts to catalogue this little journey, since I'm hoping the findings will be useful to others, as well.

And on that note, I would say "Onward and upward!" except I kinda already did that part and now it's more of an "Onward and downward!" thing. Still a few hours until we land in SFO, and then another two to RDM, but I think I'll take advantage of that time to catch up on some synthesis-related reading.

More soon!


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