Mobile Recording Studio?

The Urbanrancher is off to build a studio he can wheel his piano in and asked for some input, but the suggestions he’s been getting usually involve “just don’t use that piano”, which kinda defeats the purpose. So here’s my whack at it.

People who’re telling you to get an e-piano are kinda missing the point. Also, I think you’re going about this the wrong way. French doors, no matter  how romantic, will never be made sufficiently sound proof and you run the risk of an animal running through the doors in a panic after hearing a ballad. Soothing to the human ear, I’m sure, but it may be abject terror for ye critter folk. I’ve seen deer run into cars blowing their horns.

I imagine the other equipment will be quite expensive and French doors don’t provide much security, provided someone has sticky fingers.

And you may still not fit the piano through.

Assuming a single-wide with double doors would never be made sufficiently soundproof and the doors will still be too narrow to fit the piano, you really only have one option :

Egg, then the Chicken

Rather than building a structure to house your piano, you could instead build it around the piano. If you build the floor first, tumbleweed style (this will need to be 16 on center joists with minimum 1 inch plywood to support the weight), you can roll the piano onto it and build the walls and roof after the fact.

Naturally, you’ll need to pad the heck out of the piano to make sure it’s safe during construction. You may even be able to use it as a makeshift step ladder to reach the ceiling if you’re really, really careful.

Of course, this means you’ll need to destroy the studio to get the piano out if you don’t want it in there anymore.

Making a studio will also mean it needs at least 6 inch studs (or 4 inch studs staggered) to allow for sufficient insulation which can double as soundproofing (Roxul mineral wool batts will do nicely) and maybe some extra space for sound isolation rails (Resilient Channel or similar product) so the drywall will be mostly “air-gapped” from the structure allowing further sound attenuation. The ceiling will have to undergo similar sound isolation.

In transit, you will need to screw down “anchors” into the baseboard around the wheels of the piano to keep it from moving around, plus any equipment will need to go inside lockable cabinets to prevent them from falling onto the piano or onto themselves.

You need to make sure there is still enough space on the walls to create sound dampening modules. These are usually wood frames, resembling picture frames, that usually follow a very similar recipie :

  1. A layer of thick canvas forming the outer envelope. Usually pulled taut from the front and stapled in the back (similar to a painting canvas).
  2. A free floating piece of  thick carpet. Only attached on top to let it move internally.
  3. A Roxul or similar product (I’ve seen fiberglass insulation used too, but they’re not as good at sound absorption).
  4. Wood under frame.

In profile, a sound absorbing panel would be arranged like this :

Typical sound dampening panel. Overall thickness is usually around 4 – 8 inches and 4 feet or so tall (any bigger and it gets cumbersome).

The nice thing about this is that the whole thing is fire resistant unlike a lot of the sound absorbing foam products out there. There are fire resistant variaties too, but those are expensive. This one can be built for less than $20 or so and you can make several and attach to the walls of the studio. If you get artistic on the canvases, they can be made to look just like ordinary paintings (modern art?) while still serving their purpose.

This won’t make your studio “soundproof”, but will attenuate a lot of the extra noise as well as keep your neighbors (human or not) happy. Put in a triple-glazed window or two and you can still enjoy nature while singing away.

2 thoughts on “Mobile Recording Studio?

  1. thanks for some great suggestions man, especially the wall mounted panels, they will really help keep the inside headache level down!

    thankfully the piano will fit through a standard 36″ door (although I will probably use a set of double glass doors to enjoy the views), I’m like a squirrel with my money so that’s not too big of a problem for this, thankfully my neighbors won’t hear much, (I own the entire mountain) and since you’ve never heard me play… (and trust me on this), animals love ragtime!

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