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Whats your recommendation for recording studio door construction?

Dennis Foley August 10, 2014 2 Comments

When we’re talking about recording studio door construction techniques we’re really taking about barrier technology. We want to keep the sounds made in the room, inside the room. We want to keep the sounds that are made by sources outside the room, outside where they belong. We don’t want them in the room. Stay out!

So how do we do that?

We construct a barrier between the source and the receiver. OK so we want to build a wall. The door is the wall but the door is a wall that moves, has openings, etc. You have to remember in barrier technology that the weakest link in the wall defines the total performance of the wall. So if you have a poured concrete wall and a little piece of aluminum for a door… well you see the problem?

You have all this density and then they have this opening for a door, that is let’s say, thirty by seven? So you have a twenty-two or twenty-three square feet opening in this big concrete wall. The whole concrete walls effectiveness is reduced seventy percent. See? That’s why barrier technology is so critical.

So then the opening, the door, has to have similar barrier technology qualities and performance. So we have multiple layers and sealing requirement so that it seals. You can’t have an eighth inch, a sixteenth inch hole, it all has to seal.

Air Test With High Pressure

Then you air test it with high pressure air to make sure there’s no leaks. You can do it with compressed air in a can. That’s how we do it. So you have to have sealed it. Then you walk a distance and then you have another door that’s a little bit different and that’s called a sound block. That’s a space between two barriers.

So what have you created? You’ve created an air space between two barriers. So now you have three barriers. Air is a barrier to certain frequencies. Door, door, air. So, that’s the best way to do doors.

This video I made on barrier technology is definitely worth your time if you’re interested in recording studio door construction.

What about a single door in the wall?

Just doing a door into a wall can be done and I’ve saved it for last because it’s the hardest and you’ve got to get your walls right first.

The wall has the most surface area so you need to focus all your energy on the wall. And a two by four frame wall… don’t ever build one! Barely, a two by six, but a two by eight that’s a great start. Because just using common construction methods and two by eight, that seven and eight inch depth you can get a lot of performance for just a little bit more material costs.

Remember your weights. Because all this material adds weight so make sure your structure can support it. But send any of that stuff to me, and I don’t know it off the top of my head through experience, then I’ll have the answers for you quickly. Call me on 520–392–9486 and I’ll be happy to help.

In Summary

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Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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2 thoughts on “Whats your recommendation for recording studio door construction?

  1. I have inherited a project of building video studio for a charitable organization on a small budget. Walls ceilings and floors have been looked after but the doors are a concern. I have to go with a one door entry for several reasons. I have looked for advise but there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. How can I built a good door a reasonable cost? I have had it suggested that I glue two sheets of 12mm mdf, one on each side of smaller sheets of acoustic gyproc (or 2 sheets) with wood inserts around the gyproc for attaching hinges etc. Would this produce a suitable door or is there a better reasonably priced way of making the door. Help!

    • Hi Mike,

      A door is a barrier between you and noise. You are dealing with air born noise that strikes your door and is then converted to vibration energy that must be managed at the vibration level. Barrier technology construction techniques must be employed.

      In order to answer your question, I would need to know the amplitude or strength of the noise and what frequency or frequencies the noise is at. Without these numbers to go by, you are just guessing and there is just too much of that going on in acoustics these days. The method you have suggested above will work for issues of lower amplitude or strength and frequencies above 125 Hz.

      An air lock is another good method that will work over a broad range of frequencies and strengths. This method employs two doors with an air space or distance between them. It is the same principle used in the space station. One leaves the space ship which is pressurized to support life and then seals that environment from the vacuum of space. Once sealed in the air lock, you are free to enter the vacuum of space without jeopardizing the ship. Standard solid doors can be employed at each end of the air or noise lock. The trick is calculating the distance between each door which is once again frequency and amplitude dependent.

      Constrained layered, mass damping is the technical name for the method of construction you are using in your example. Always use layers that have different thicknesses and densities. If a vibration sees the same material with the same thickness it will not ‘slow” down as it would if you varied the thickness of each layer and the density.

      Think of a road and your car as the vibration on that road. Your gas pedal has frozen to the floor and you need to stop the car. If the road is straight, your options are limited. If the road has many bends and turns, you can slow it down easier by using the road turns and brake. Barrier materials that are all the same are the straight road. Materials of different thickness and densities represent the turns and ability to slow energy down. Obviously, this example depends on how fast or how much noise you are dealing with. Sometimes the strength and frequency will cause everything to crash no matter what you do, so your only alternative is to find another location.


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