Live end dead end

April 21, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

As we move forward building the new Octave Recording studio we’re learning a great deal from both Gus Skinas and J.I. Agnew.

Most of you know Gus, the mastering engineer of some note (you name the artist and it’s likely Gus has mastered something of theirs), and Copper Magazine readers know of J.I. from his articles on the big move and tape machines.

In terms of isolation and sound quality, J.I. is the principal architect behind the design of the studio.

And, it’s a big challenge.

Have a look at the sketch of what’s being proposed.

For those of you not familiar with the in-crowd terminology of recording studios, a tracking room is the studio where the musicians play and the control room is where the engineers and equipment sit. The middle control room is a pure mixing room where the tracks laid down in the studios can later be mixed and mastered.

You can see the problem in terms of isolation. Imagine having simultaneous work going on: a rock band playing in Tracking Room One at the same time as a delicate piano piece is being recorded in Tracking Room Two and in the middle, we’re mixing something loud. Each room has to be completely isolated from the others. A tall challenge, indeed.

What’s interesting to me is how J.I. is making the wider part of the control live, while the narrow parallel wall behind where the engineer sits is as dead as night. There, more than three feet thick absorbers are built into the space in an effort to keep the front wall live and the back wall dead. And, all the while, no bleed.

I’ll keep you up to date as to our progress.

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13 comments on “Live end dead end”

  1. Well I think this project is definitely not gonna be a “dead end” in terms of bad results.
    The sketch looks great. I love undertakings and challenges like this. Keep us in the loop. 🙂

  2. Looks good. Is this going into an existing building or is it being built from the ground up? I assume all the walls will be built in a sound suppressing manner so that they do not transmit sound into the next room.

  3. This looks amazing. Have removable sliding walls been considered as a potential option for flexibility of room sizes, according to different scale recording project requirements. Perhaps it’s a moot point as these rooms look very substantial. All the best with this awesome and exciting project.

  4. The in-swinging restroom door can hit someone who is entering or exiting the smaller toilet stall. Maybe you could flip the restroom plan (have the handicap stall on the left and the smaller stall on the right) and let the restroom door swing out. Also, shift Control Room 2 entrance door slightly to the right to ease conflict with Control Room 2 entrance door, and/or swing Control Room 2 door inward, like the door on Control Room 1.

    1. Alternatively to solve the restroom door issue you could shave off the jutting corner of Control Room 1 so the restroom door can swing out into the resulting wider corridor.

  5. Nice. Since reading an article in Audio(?) many years ago and then nothing more, at least in the popular literature, I have been wondering about the live end dead end concept for listening rooms. I didn’t know if it was a valid concept, or just an interesting hypothesis that did not pan out in the material world. Looks like J. I. Agnew is a fan.

    Love the shape of the control rooms. To paraphrase Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

    Within the spreading symmetry
    The mixing console sits;
    . . .

  6. Great design, the sweet spot is right at the focus of the parabola formed by the room.
    Perhaps consider using cavity sliding doors for the restroom internal doors to give more useable space… Just ask anyone who’s tried to render assistance to an incapacitated or differently-abled person from behind an inwardly opening door ;o)

  7. In my last house in NJ, I refinished the basement using a special sheet rock that was incredibly good at sound insulation. It was heavier and more expensive but the ability to prevent sound from being heard upstairs was truly remarkable. I can’t remember the name of it, I’m sure you can find it. It made a huge difference. My teenage kids could be blasting music downstairs and I could barely hear it in the room just above it. There were other things I did to prevent “vibration” from moving, but I think this special sheetrock made the biggest difference.

  8. With my live recording studio shut down for the duration, that 45m2 of shoebox shaped raw space has me fantasizing about building a studio the right way.

    The loading doors will enter into a backstage area about 6m deep, with a couple of green rooms and a bathroom for performers. A 6m deep stage is next, raised about 75cm with hardwood faced walls to provide stage sound and early reflections. This is enough space for a concert grand and a large chamber orchestra, small symphony or a big band. It can be expanded with risers, and could possibly hold concert performances of full operas (my favorite way to enjoy vocal works!).

    With a flexible seating arrangement up to 18 rows of 14 seats it is a perfect tribal size, with space for aisles on both sides and diffusion on the side walls. This leaves 6m in the back for a party area/echo gallery coupled by archways. The dividing back wall would have variable acoustics, from dead to live. The production crew would sit against that wall, recording the multi-track audio for one speaker per track playback (OVOMOS) and the multi-camera video for one screen per camera playback (OFOCOS).

    Whole concerts can then be played back in the same hall, or one the same size and shape, with zero inter-modulation or spatial distortion and a megapixel per face, so you can really see the micro-expressions of the musicians – and the whole production is with no monitors, mixing or panning, except for possibly audio and video for a livestream.

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