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Up on the roof

Before my aside about the equipment I’ve been acquiring I was talking about the new walls. With the existing walls decoupled from the rest of the room and the struts for the new walls installed, the timber framework went up relatively quickly and

We filled the cavities between the joists with loft insulation, not so much as a barrier to sound itself but as a means of stopping sound waves from moving and resonating within the spaces. Something with considerably more mass is required to actually block sound and for this we used 2 layers of plasterboard. At last our walls were looking like walls!

Next it was time to consider the door. These are particularly prone to sound leakage as by simply hanging a door (even a dense, heavy fire door as in our case) there are, by necessity, small gaps all the way around. As such we installed cushioning strips on the frame which ensure an airtight seal when the door is closed. The difference to the sound that can get in and out of the room was immediate.













Until now we’d left the roof largely alone but this required sonic treatment, too. Due to the nature of the space (a free-standing, rectangular room within a basement complex) the clearance between the top of the roof of the space itself and the concrete basement ceiling is small and irregular – just about enough to get a fist into at some points, much less so at others. As such there is almost no access or line of sight. Luckily the roof of our room already consisted of plasterboard, MDF and polystyrene so we just wanted to add to the mass and seal any gaps.

Adding new layers of board to the roof in a conventional way (climbing up, laying it, securing and sealing it) was impossible, so our plan was to lay carpet across the roof to cover any gaps and put a layer of plasterboard on top to weigh it down and add mass. This was a challenge due to the aforementioned lack of clearance plus the fact that this limited access is via 2 sides of the room, at a height of around 8 feet. It’s also possible to clamber into a nook formed by an overhang in the space itself, which gives partial access via a third side.

After much head scratching our solution was to tie rope to the ends of the carpet and load the roll into the nook. Using long sticks the rope was coaxed out the opposite side (7m away). I grabbed the rope and hauled on it, thus gradually pulling the carpet across the roof, while Ross used his trusty stick to smooth out any ruffles and encourage the carpet over any obstacles. This process was repeated until the entire surface area was covered with carpet – very neatly and evenly we were pleased to note! It was an awkward method, but it worked.










The plasterboard panels were a tiny bit easier. We inserted them into the narrow gap like giant letters into a letterbox, then used the sticks (who needs proper tools) to coax them into place like giant Tetris. It was exhausting but again we achieved good, neat coverage given our limitations. The ceiling was now adequately sealed and massive, so we covered the access gaps between the tops of the walls and the basement ceiling with MDF, thus further increasing the sonic isolation of the studio itself.

To our relief this marked the last of the significant structural work. Before the room treatment can begin we need to build and install the ventilation system, and it’s this that I’ll talk about next time.

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