Maybe you’ve just moved to a new house or had recently done a renovation. One day, you find you have an extra room in the form of an old garage and decide to finally put together a studio to launch your music career.
With so many suggestions out there, you don’t even know where to start. To make it simple, we have run down here the basic things you need to work on. You can look for fancy stuff later.
There are two parts to converting your garage to a studio or music room. First, you need to make it habitable. Second, you have to soundproof it.
Making your garage habitable
Your car didn’t need to breathe while it was parked there. But subject to the same conditions, you won’t be comfortable staying there for a long time.
1. Insulate the room. It is possible that you already have an insulated garage. You like to do the mechanical work yourself, or you hang out with friends there. If you, however, have not, then this is your first step. See how you can insulate your walls and ceilings. Does it even have a ceiling? Or is it immediately the roof with just some pads? You will need a ceiling—and an air conditioning unit—for those hot summers. Extend your heating system and include your garage for the cold months.
2. Decide on the floor. The garage is usually lower than the rest of the house. It is not a must to raise it or even change it. There are nice industrial designs that just have bare cement as floors. Maybe you could put on a decorative rug instead to help insulate the room against the cold and, at the same time, help absorb the sound—which will be discussed in the second part of the article.
3. Ensure a well-ventilated room. Studios try to keep the sound in, that’s true. But you don’t want to suffocate either. The small windows in a garage are usually ideal for the acoustics of the room. So instead of adding windows, add and secure vents or install ventilation fans. The door of your garage is important, too. It is fantastic that you can raise an entire side of the room if you need to—like when you would want to have jamming sessions with friends, perform a bit during parties—so just build on what you already have. Maybe you can customize by having part of it swing open when you need to air the room.
Ensuring the proper acoustics
First of all, you don’t want to disturb your neighbors – or even the other people living with you – when you’re practicing. Second, you can’t get good quality music if the sound is ricocheting around the room.
1. Absorb reflected sound. We all know that left free, the sound goes everywhere, bouncing off surfaces, and thus you will get a reverberation.
To eliminate this, lessen the surfaces where soundwaves can bounce and instead install surfaces that will absorb them. The most effective but costly way to do this is to install studio foams on your walls. But if you’re not willing to shell out a lot and you’re not planning to record for distribution, you can just put up heavy curtains. Some even suggest to double it as a library and put shelves of books. They could also absorb sound.
2. Install a few diffusers. While you don’t want excessive reverberation, you also don’t want your music to sound dead. That would be like playing only staccato notes—you get the sound cut off immediately. For this, you might want to have an expert check your room and install them so that the sound is properly diffused and not just confined to some places.
3. Soundproof your room. So that you can freely practice, play music to satisfactory volumes without disturbing others, take this extra effort to ensure that the sound that is produced in your room stays in your room. Make sure that when you are playing music, the windows and doors are closed tight. As you are working with an old garage setup, check if the edges of your panes and sill are properly aligned. Doors that have a space between them and the floor can also be sealed with a weatherstrip.
If you want to produce a professional-sounding recording, it would be best if you have an expert sound technician install the appropriate equipment instead of just going for a DIY. But if it is just for your leisure and personal entertainment, go ahead and try to go through this list and see if you could become the next YouTube sensation. Just remember that talent is key and not your music room.