In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the existence and success of independent artists. As a result, more aspiring musicians have begun looking into “DIY” recording spaces, where they can enjoy more flexibility and freedom in their musical pursuits. Some have chosen to build their studios in their basements, but are basements good for recording?
Basements are generally good for recording. Many indie artists use their basements for recording music because basements are great at reducing noise intermissions no matter the frequencies involved.
While a basement makes a viable option for a recording studio, there are several things you need to consider to help you decide whether or not it’s the best place for you to record. Keep reading as I discuss 5 things to know about using a basement for recording.
Things To Know About Recording in a Basement
Using a basement to record music is an easy and convenient way to perfect your music without having to rent studio space. However, there are some things you should know before setting up your recording equipment and using the basement as a complete studio.
For example, the size and layout of the basement can affect the sound quality of your music. These are components you’ll need to take into account when recording and editing audio clips.
Let’s take a closer look at all the things you should be aware of when using your basement as a recording studio:
The Size of the Room Matters
The size and volume of the ideal recording studio must be based on the sound output levels and types of output. What many people may not know is that music recording rarely is a one size fits all situation.
If you’re searching for the greatest recording conditions in a basement, you must first determine the primary type of recording that will take place.
For example, a studio that primarily records percussion would typically be larger than one which focuses on vocals. Once you have determined that the size of the space is satisfactory, you can begin to direct their attention to transforming their basement space into a recording studio.
If your basement is divided into separate rooms, this can affect the overall sound quality of your basement recording studio. Knowing what type of recording you plan to do will help you determine what room size is the most effective for recording.
Recording in an inappropriately sized room can negatively alter the sounds. Therefore, make sure your basement is adequately sized for the type of recording you plan to do.
Basements Can Keep Out Unwanted Sound
Noise transmissibility is one of the primary requirements for a recording studio to thrive.
But what exactly is noise transmissibility?
Noise transmissibility is how well a sound can travel through a surface.
Basements are underground, so the majority of the walls are made with concrete and surrounded by earth. These materials excel at diminishing noise transmissibility, creating an ideal environment for sound recording. This is one of the primary advantages of recording in a basement.
For more information, check out my ultimate guide to whether a concrete floor recording studio is viable.
In an ideal basement recording space, the basement walls effectively contain sound and inhibit unwanted external noises. Keeping unwanted sound out is ideal for recording studio conditions, and basement spaces can offer this, making them ideal for building DIY recording studios.
Check out my article on how to reduce echo in a room with hardwood floor.
Basements Have Fewer Walls To Soundproof
Since basements are typically pre-constructed with materials that have a predisposition for sound insulation, building a recording studio in one’s basement may be more cost-effective. This is because less effort and resources must be devoted to suppressing sound transmissibility.
Generally, unfinished basements are devoid of rooms and have significantly fewer walls erected compared to the finished upstairs levels. These spaces are ideal, as they have less wall space to soundproof when setting up the recording studio.
However, sometimes an individual will only use a portion of the basement as a recording studio and not the entire space. In these cases, at least two surfaces will be less insulating than the external walls of the basement if they are in a constructed room within the basement.
You can further soundproof a basement by measuring and determining the levels and frequencies of the sounds you want to keep out and the sound that one wants to contain.
Figuring out how loud and what frequency the unwanted noises are will help determine the type of materials needed and how much is required.
It is crucial to ascertain if the sounds will be below 125 Hz, such as construction or bass-focused sounds, or above 125 Hz, such as human voices or treble-focused sounds.
If the frequencies are below 125 Hz, then the soundproofing materials will require substantially more mass and space. Meanwhile, if the frequencies are above 125 Hz, the mass and space required of the insulating materials will be significantly reduced.
Since basements are constructed with high-density materials in the external walls, many resources that would otherwise be devoted to soundproofing can be distributed to other areas of construction.
Check out my article on the best flooring for home recording studios.
The Basement’s Ceiling’s Low Density Can Affect Sound
The ceiling, as well as any internally constructed walls, cannot inhibit an equal level of sound transmissibility as the walls of a basement. Their thick concrete barrier surrounded by a vast quantity of earth cannot be matched by a standard ceiling.
As a result, measures must often be taken to mitigate the difference in the effectiveness of these materials surrounding the basement recording studio.
All basements are underground and surrounded by earth, so a basement recording studio is almost guaranteed to face issues with the inconsistency in surrounding matter.
Since basements can’t have equality of sound transmissibility on all surfaces, steps must be taken to equalize those surfaces, or sound quality will suffer.
If these mitigating and equalizing costs do not exceed the potential soundproofing costs of converting a non-basement area, building a studio in one’s basement may be a fantastic option.
As the DIY culture grows, a greater variety of sources continually become available, and building one’s recording studio has never been more possible.
There are a couple of things you can do to equalize the sound within your basement recording studio.
The first is absorbing the sound by covering the necessary walls with acoustic foam tiles or sound absorption tiles and bass traps. However, this can become expensive quickly. As a result, people may use more economically viable materials such as heavy blankets, curtains, and even mattresses.
These methods will generally be less effective and often challenging for ceiling insulation which is almost always required in a basement recording studio.
Another critical method to soundproofing is filling all surrounding gaps. These can be under doorways, small spaces in window frames, or even hollow areas inside the door. Door sweeps or spray insulation and caulking can be very effective means of filling such gaps.
Finally, simply using an additional layer of drywall to these surfaces can provide quite a bit of soundproofing as well, but it does require additional space as well.
Pressure Within the Room Can Affect Sound
Another main factor to consider concerns the pressure in the room. Since low-pressure frequencies will always travel the path of least resistance, it is important to consider the pressure equality of noise transmissibility of all surfaces in the room.
As such, modifications may be required to balance out the transmissibility of all surfaces in the room. To do this, you will need to pay attention to the travel pattern of low-pressure frequency levels.
Low-frequency pressure levels will exclusively travel the path of least resistance, which will always be the ceiling in a basement.
Upon considering this fact, diaphragmatic absorption used to absorb the sound must be built into susceptible surfaces. This can be done by providing extra insulation within your ceiling space. Creating a barrier between your studio and the ceiling can improve your recording’s sound quality.
You can build an efficient recording studio in your basements. That’s because basements can soundproof unwanted sounds effectively. However, it’s important to take note of the size of the recording room you want to build. You must base your recording studio’s size and volume on the levels of your sound and type outputs.
Also, consider the pressure equality of noise transmissibility of all surfaces in the recording room. You can provide your ceiling with additional insulation to create a barrier between your studio and the ceiling to achieve better sound quality.