Building our own recording studio

Last summer my dad finally got rid of an old rally car he’d had sitting in the garage for ten years. Even though it’s a double garage and we have two cars, we decided that we prefer to park them on the drive in front of the house, rather than in the garage as my dad said they’re better off in the open. So this left us with an empty garage, bar a few loose tools and plenty of cobwebs.

As it happens, I’ve played drums in a band for the last three years. I have my own drum kit and, as it’s a lot easier to lug around guitars, keyboards etc. the other band members come to my house every weekend to practice and to write and record material. We live out in the sticks a bit – there are a few other houses around but they’re not near enough to be bothered by our music. My parents on the other hand, being in the same house, were definitely close enough to be bothered by us!

And so my dad agreed to let me take over the empty garage and move the band in there. So I had to come up with a conversion plan. There were also a couple of problems to deal with, for example the double door had developed a tendency to get stuck and was generally in poor condition. I initially wanted to get rid of the original door, brick up most of the front of the garage and put in a solid, upright door. This, however, wasn’t in my budget and so I decided to fit a new door. It kind of made sense anyway as we would be moving my drums, a desk, speakers and whatnot in there – a smaller door would have made that awkward. I found the most awesome door opener at http://www.garageautomatics.com/ to fit with the new door. When I get my own house I am going to use this on my own garage to impress the neighbors!

I did add extra insulation and caulking in order to sound proof the space as much as possible although it’s not fully soundproofed. In fact, there was no point in trying to soundproof the whole thing properly as I have to open a window at the back in order to keep air flowing – there was no way I could afford to fit air conditioning, but if you live in a highly urbanized area you might have to go down that road.

The control room takes up about one fourth of the area and is separated with a small screen from the main ‘stage’ area. Getting this set up and painted took two days. The more difficult part came straight after as I had to find a way to get rid of standing waves. You can tell if a space gives standing waves if you clap your hands and immediately hear an echo, albeit a millisecond after. You can just tell it’s there and it messes up your acoustics. So I put up foam panels on the all the wall and got a thick curtain to put over the window. Light isn’t an issue as the original garage lighting is still in place.

I put down a felt carpet for the same reason and also to make the room more comfortable and to avoid damage to instruments. I think it works pretty well.

The space is really great and has brought out a more creative side of our band, too. My drums are in there permanently along with a computer, desk and keyboard, studio monitors, guitar amps, studio mics and the other studio paraphernalia. But we’ve also chipped in to get other stuff like an old TV and DVD player (which we usually play on silent), a drinks cooler, a sofa and an armchair.

My dad is happy as we’re not rocking the house anymore and we’re close to finishing recording our first album!