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.


Drug PSAs mostly fall on deaf ears

So instead, I’ll leave you with this as a small insight of what may come out as a result of being high. Especially on marijuana.


I realize that I may inadvertantly turn people on to drugs. In which case, just tell the cops you’ve never been to this blog… if you remember it at all.

Drugs are bad m’kay?

RIP Adam Yauch (aka MCA From the Beastie Boys)

MCA From the Beastie Boys, a band many of us defined our generation with, died today at age 47 after a battling cancer. He will be sorely missed.


Update 8:30PM

Now that I’ve collected my thoughts…

I was a 13 year old kid who had just moved up to New York after coming to America and, up until then, living in the South for a while. Nothing about Western culture — that I saw so much of on TV — had any discernable bearing on my real life. I felt let down by popular culture. At least TV culture.

Between my trips to Comedy Central to watch Dr. Katz, to Fox to watch the Simpsons and back to MTV, I grew into something of a cynic. High school was boring, my friends were stupid, enemies were evil, but at least I had entertainment to come home to. But then mere entertainment started to morph into something of a lifestyle. The Beastie Boys started to grow on me.

Once upon a time, believe it or not, the bane of civilization and all taste, MTV, used to be an OK place to visit for good music. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t really earth-shattering and most of it was incomprehensible. But the idea that it was all “fake” was hammered in to all of us all the time by the surreality of the content. Between Liquid TV, Aeon Flux, Beavis and Butthead and Daria, I thought I had a pretty good sense of the popular culture.

No one pretended that this was “real”. Even the Real World, which started the apocalypse, was stupid enough to be innocuous.

We all derived some pleasure from the trivial theater that is the Music Video. And since CDs were expensive (to us) and your mom couldn’t afford the latest albums, MTV and radio were your only sources of music entertainment. You could repeat the experience thanks to blank tapes, which were cheap, and I managed to scrounge up a recorder someone had thrown out and, viola… My taste in music was simmering with the times and the Boys were becoming a formative part of my life.

I think the first Beastie Boys music video I ever saw was No Sleep Till Booklyn and that was considered “old” even back then (the mid 90’s and the track was from the late 80’s). I didn’t care, I thouroughly enjoyed it. If they didn’t take it seriously, why should I? The collection snowballed as I finally could afford CDs.

The Beastie Boys… and I only saw those magnificiently absurd young men a few times before latching on to MTV… it occured to me, I think these guys really know how to have fun while not giving a damn. Entertainment was entertaining on its own merit. The music was good, the tune was catchy and rhymes were starting to stick. I think I could get into this.

And boy did I.

My first mixtapes always had the following :

  • Cooky Puss
  • The New Style
  • No Sleep Till Brooklyn
  • Paul Revere
  • Hold it now, Hit it
  • Brass Monkey
  • High Plains Drifter
  • Hey Ladies
  • Jimmy James
  • Pass the Mic
  • So What’cha want
  • Sure Shot
  • Root Down
  • Sabotage (the song and video are Immortal)
  • Three MC’s and one DJ
  • Body Movin
  • Intergalactic
  • Root Down

Suffice it to say that today, the same as to many others, a part of our childhood died. Nothing will really replace what Adam brought to the trio (quartet with the DJ) and a part of our reality has a gaping hole as a result.

Farewell, MCA.

Tomato update

I started playing hardcore heavy, goth, thrash and death metal music at my tomato plants purely as an experiment three months ago and it’s been going extremely well. I later switched to more intense music and it got even better. Last week, I tasted one of these and it turned out to be a bit sweeter than I expected. That and the size may be due to the variety of tomato rather than the music as Kelley pointed out.

Since the taste test, I actually didn’t have any time to play any music for them at all due to my schedule. I make it a point not to play the music when I’m not home in case the neighbors found it annoying and needed me to stop. But it looks like the harvest is going to continue well after since I found these…

There are three more flowering in the left background.

My windows are 54 inches from the bottom of the sill.

And here’s the full size of the plants.

Note the 12 inch ruler on the bottom right. Yes, it's growing on an easle ;)

I left two of the tomatoes from the first tree still on the tree to see how long they will last. If they fall on their own, I’m going to replant the seeds.

A small cross sample of the music I played :

  • Behemoth
  • Samael
  • Nile
  • Bolt Thrower
  • Sabaton
  • Rammstein
  • Vader (yes, that’s a real band)
  • Deathstars (no, seriously)
  • Meshuggah
  • Accept
  • Dir en Grey
  • Bluetengel
  • Angelspit
  • Terminal Choice (not exactly “hardcore”, but I just like them)
  • Suicide Commando (not “metal” so much, but again I like them)
  • Psyclon Nine
  • Gorgoroth
  • Kataklysm
  • Arsenius
  • Hipocrisy

A note on these bands : I would recommend browsing YouTube for a few of their videos in case you’re curious about the variety. That is unless you’re the religious type or a easily disturbed. ;)

Remember when music didn’t suck?

I was wafting through a job when I got bored and wandered onto YouTube (what end to a perfect day doesn’t start out like that these days?) From outside the window, far out on the street, I could vaguely hear a beat and the unmistakable sound of music that didn’t suck. Onward went the search terms “Ace of Base” and a bit more scrolling brought me here.

When I was a kid, Lady Gaga (thankfully) was still in Catholic school, MTV was still relevant to music and VJs were still on air (and their job fit the acronym). Reality TV was confined only to the Real World which gave people like me, who hate narcissistic douchebags, the option to browse away, reasonably confident that we won’t be confronted by more narcissistic douchebags on a different channel.

But that’s enough negativity. Here’s something uplifting…

Fun fact: I was 10 when this song came out.

…Well, back to work…