Studio Build Out 2014

Overall Design

Room Layout

Build Phases

  • Phase 1: Get the room sound treated. Once that's complete, we can move the Mark 01) equipment into the studio on the tables in there, and begin using the studio either with the SM-58s, or the MXL-990s if they can handle the environment. I'd like to have this done in the beginning of season 16.
  • Phase 2: Build the table, including the control interface. Mid-summer would be great.
  • Phase 3: Acquire other furniture, microphones I'd like to do this before 2014 is out.
  • Phase 4: Buy Some Fish. Sometime in 2015? Or maybe in 2014.
  • Concurrent Phase: UI and Software design for studio system. The completion of the Mark 1 will give me a baseline to work from. I'd just need to adapt it for a touch UI.

Sound Treatment

The room has a slanting ceiling– only about half the room is tall enough to comfortably stand in. As a result, there's some nasty acoustics in there.

The current plan is to have rock wool adhered to the wall with burlap over it. The burlap is already purchased. There is soundproofing quality rock wool available at Lowes for about $42 a bale2). We probably don't need it three inches deep, so splitting it in half might be a possibility. We need it that deep.

Still to be determined is how much wool we need to buy, and how to affix it to the wall. Leading contender are stuffing the burlap sacks, or using some sort of backing for the wool and then using a removable adhesive on it, then covering it in burlap. Burlap sacks were unlaced to become burlap sheets. One per strip of Roxul for wall covering. Got some balls of twine and corseted up the back. Each burlap/rock wool log was then stapled to the wall/ceiling.

We also need to get a sheet of insulation board to fit covers for the entrance to the closet3), and the window. Closet entry is currently filled with quilted blanket and a burlap sheet. Another burlap sheet is hanging over the back of the door to the hallway. We'll never be able to fully purge hospital traffic noise, sadly, but we can cut down on it some.

Also considering some bass sinks. Possibly of the sand variety.

Studio Interface: The Mark 2

Current Board Idea

Close up of a single channel

The studio “console” will manage all mastering of content. It is entirely digital in design. It is driven by an 8-core AMD system with 12G of RAM. Disk storage is TBD. Audio into the system will be via an M-Audio Delta 1010LT, with a custom breakout cable to TRS/XLR ports on the back of the mixer. The sound card has built-in Mic preamps, so in this design, a preamp board isn't needed.

The PCI interface should be fast enough, in my experience, to allow “real-time” monitoring of the line, finished output to the studio and streaming servers. However, live monitoring will generally be of the uncompressed audio.

The interface will use a handful of MCUs4)– one to read all the pots and LEDs, and ten other to drive small LCD panels for metering. This will all speak USB to the computer, which will convert the signals into an OSC stream to be interpreted by a mixer written for Jack Audio, using “off-the-shelf” Linux audio toolchains to process audio where available.

The physical portion of the control system will be eight panels: four mics, two phones, and two carts. Each channel will have a volume pot5), a live and cue button6), an MCU-driven digital meter, and a label.

For other management, a touchscreen interface will sit next to the physical contol systems.

Also included will be main meters, and a headphone volume control.

Computer system, sound card, and many MCU components have already been sourced. Still required are the pots, LED backlit buttons, and custom knobs, which will most likely have to be 3-D printed.

FIXME explain PWM'd LED level feedback for pots, wireless cough buttons

Console and Guest Table

Table Sketch

I got the idea for the table from here.

The work table of the studio is a custom design made up of two smaller tables– a half circle for show guests to sit at, and a rectangle with the Mark 2 console built right into it. This way, everyone can look at each other, and the hosts have ample table space to work with.

The table is 4 feet wide, with the guest half being two feet deep, and the console half being made of a 20 inch deep wood piece, but angled slightly toward the operator.

When connected, the tables will be clamped together on the underside of the table to insure stability. If more room in the studio is required, the can be unclamped and moved toward the edge of the room farthest from the door. This is useful for musical acts, or video-oriented content.

We're hoping to construct the legs and frame of the table out of black iron piping. It's relatively inexpensive for its strength, and it's hollow, allowing cable to be routed through it.

Not included in the sketch is a roughly 10“ island on the guest table for clamping microphones. It will also include an integrated headphone amp and volume system.

Table Top

Parts and Sources

Description Quantity Price Source
20×48 Stainable Panel118.46Lowe's PN:72820
24×48 Stainable Panel122.97Lowe's PN:57787
48×96 Industrial Particle Board119.43Lowe's PN:12260
Spray Paint, Black Gloss19.15Lowe's PN: 396206
Wood Stainunk~12.00
Polyurethaneunk~10.00

Estimated Cost: 92.01

Black Iron Table Legs

Assembly Parts

Description Length Quantity
Pipe: Upper Table Leg48
Pipe: Lower Table Leg248
Pipe: Guest Table Bracers172
Pipe: Host Table Side Bracers74
Pipe: Host Central Bracer421
3/4” Black Iron Teen/a10
3/4“ Black Iron Capn/a8
3/4” Floor Flangen/a8

Parts and Sources

Description Quantity Price Source
3/4“ Black Iron Pipe, 10 feet segments315.22Lowe's PN:1513
3/4” Floor Flange1 10-Pack38.00eBay
3/4“ Black Iron Tee102.68Lowe's PN:22476
3/4” Black Iron Cap Fitting81.73Lowe's PN:20115

Estimated Cost: 124.30

Estimated Costs

PortionCost
Legs124.30
Top92.01
Total:216.31

Tax not included.

Ideas for saving money:

  • Go with cheaper wood
  • Find a pre-existing half-circle table to mate console to
  • Cheaper material for legs
  • Drop the whole table idea

Yet To Be Designed

The inside of the console, which will need to house a full size computer and a bunch of MCUs. Also, a way to get at it for repair.

Other Studio Equipment

Microphones

Three microphones will have to be acquired. The console microphone, an EV RE-20, is already acquired. I'm considering going with RE-320's for the other stations, after hearing some sound test from EV and on YouTube. Three RE-320's will have to be purchased. Cheapest I've been able to reliably see them is $199.00 new. That would be about $600.

RE-320

Microphone Stands

To help continue to keep costs down, I'm going to attempt to retrofit a lamp-stand into an articulated mic boom, as many other people have tried. I'm not holding out a lot of hope for this, so chances are we'll have to buy real articulated stands at some point. (Hahaha! Success!!!)

The ikea-lamp solution is $10 plus modding parts, the cheapest I can regularly find stands are $60-$70, albeit with integrated cables.

Works with this configuration. Will have to find stronger extension springs before attempting the RE-20.

Extension springs found for $4 a pair at Lowes. Two pair per lamp work with RE-20 weight. Add dryer sheet scraps under spring ends to silence sproinginess.

Metal washers JB Welded to eye bolts fit adapters for mic clips. Eye bolts attached to mic stands with existing hardware and rubber washers. Lock nuts and teflon tape hold adapters in place.

Audio cables zip tied down the back.

Price calculation: Tertial lamp: 8.99 Eye bolt metal washers (2) rubber washers (2) lock nut thread adapter springs (4)

Flooring

Using two indoor/outdoor recycled bottle rugs from Lowes. Doesn't stick well to the floor. Added Ikea stopp nonskid liner under guest rug. Grocery outlet rug stopper corners under all corners. Added benefit can run some cable underneath.

Pricing: Rugs: Stopp: 3.99 corners: 9.00ish

Cooling

Added Roxul and closed room becomes uncomfortably hot over duration of one hour show. Brainstorming cooling options.

Non-Essential Furniture

There is some furniture that I plan on having in the studio to give it a good feel, and for use in video projects, like streaming fundraisers.

Bookshelves

We have some bookshelves in there already, may need another one. Already have good enough books. If done properly, they might even help with the sound properties of the room.

Couch

Unless we find something on craigslist that fits the bill better, we're considering this Ikea sleeper couch for extra seating in the studio, and for use as a streamathon set.

Lighting

The CFL based lighting we have in there will probably do for a start, but once we really get going I'd like to install some LED lighting. It'll cost us less over the long run, and it'll make a lot less electrical noise compared to CFL, and a lot less heat compared to incandescent.

YES, I WANT FISH

I'd like to have a few GMO fish in the studio, because awesome. I'll need to work out how to keep them oxygenated and fed without creating a sound problem in the room.

1)
the 2013 tour equipment
2)
PN:305816
3)
now empty of servers
4)
read: Arduino
5)
not a slider
6)
cue will probably remain unused for the mics– might need to come up with something else