3 weeks of rain

Three weeks since the last update, eh? That’ll learn me. In the ensuing three weeks since then, there has been LOTS of rain so I haven’t been able to work. Also my parents were in town, my daughter had a birthday and a dance recital (and associated parties)… lots of things going on socially.

But it finally stopped raining long enough for me to get more done today. I finished installing all the floorboards.


One thing I forgot to account for. All the subflooring, joists, and the beams are made of rough cut hemlock. Since they are rough cut, they are larger than the listed weight. The beams, and the front joist beam are both 16’3″ long. But, when I ordered the finished floorboards, I ordered 8′ boards. 2 together means the floorboards are 3″ short. No problem, I also have some 12′ floorboards for the treehouse, so I used one on the edge:


I thought about just waiting for the framing and putting the 2×4 right on the joists, but decided against it simply for consistency.

Also, you’ll notice in the first photo above that the floorboard closest to the garage door is at an angle. I had meant to leave it until I had the doorway cut in, but decided at the last minute to hammer it into place (tight fit between the garage) and fastened it down with screws. Exactly 800 screws later, they’re all in.


Next up: wall framing.

Deck nearly complete

Just a quick update. The concrete seems to have cured nicely. Over the weekend, I fastened the beams to the concrete, and build the deck on top of the beams. I still have to trim the spacer boards between the joists, to keep them from flexing down the road. It was very rainy today so I didn’t want to get the power saw out.

But, here is where we stand so far:

Deck Nearly Complete

Next step is to cut and install the spacer boards. Then, I need to order the floorboards and install those. Once the floorboards are in, it’s wall-framing time!

I’m also building a treehouse for my daughter, and it’s very nearly at the same stage as this (need to get floorboards). I’ll likely get all those floorboards at the same time.

Build Diary, Volume The First

OK, I want to keep a build diary of the studio I’m working on. I’ve learned a lot from various build diaries, mostly on the amazing John Sayers forum. So perhaps this diary will help someone. I will likely mirror the diary that I keep here on that forum, or possibly the TapeOp forum or maybe even Gearslutz.

I don’t have much to post just yet. Technically, I haven’t even started on the build proper yet; I’m building a shed adjacent to the garage (where the studio will ultimately be), so that I can store the stuff presently in the garage, leaving room for the studio.

My family and I have chosen a simple lifestyle, we don’t have a big house or a lot of space. Our garage is a separate building, a 12×19 single car garage. The studio will take up about 12×15 of that (actual inside dimensions will be closer to 11×15).

I also don’t have a huge budget for this build. I’ve already acquired 2 cases of Green Glue to get started. For those who don’t know, this stuff is not actually glue, but is rather a viscoelastic compound that, when applied between 2 sheets of drywall (or similar material), will dramatically cut down on sound transmittal. Green Glue, along with the HVAC machine down the road, will likely be the single largest expense of this build.

This build will happen as I get budget; I’ll pick up materials as I can. Also, I’m relying heavily on free/recycled materials for this build. The build will go slowly, both due to time and budget constraints, so I can afford to be patient.

I’ll save details of what the studio will be for a later post (since this will be down the road for me), but for now I’ll say that it will be a one-room design. I simply don’t have enough space for multiple rooms. This room will be enough for me to do mixing, recording overdubs or small ensembles, or even a drum kit with a tight fit. That will be more than enough for me; Crafted Recordings is still mobile so if I need a good room for a full band I have options nearby.

Objectives are that the room is soundproof, both so I don’t disturb my family if I’m cranking music at 1am, and so the logging trucks that rumble down my road at 50mph don’t get picked up by my microphones. Also, the room has to sound good both for listening/mixing/mastering and for recording said overdubs. I’m particularly interested in a good acoustic guitar sound, since that’s my main instrument.

The studio will also serve as my home office for my work with RealTraps.

So…. on to the pictures. Here’s the garage before construction begins:

Garage - before

The shed will be to the right, and will butt up against the garage.

Next, this is the area where the shed will be, with all the crap cleared away:

Shed area cleared out

I had to cut down a 5-trunked maple tree, you can see the stumps toward the right of the picture. I could have left it there for the build, however our garden beds are just to the right and now they get about 2-3 more hours of sun per day. Sunlight is a premium, our land is almost entirely forest with a lot of shade.

Interestingly, 2 of the trunks of the maple tree had grown into one another, leaving a log that is shaped like a harp:

Harp trunks

Very cool. I’d love to carve this down and actually make a harp out of it, although it would also make a very interesting table base.

In this shot, you can see the sonotubes (scored free from Craigslist… yay!) that have been placed, but not yet trimmed to length:

Sonotubes in Place

Note the pile of cinderblocks. Originally I was going to use those for the foundation of the shed, but since it will be attached to the garage, and since I live in Maine, I decided the last thing I need is a frost heave messing things up down the road. A friend of mine convinced me to use the Sonotube and concrete. Good call.

My daughter was helping me mix concrete today. She also took a bunch of pictures, including this one:

My beautiful daughter

Yep. Proud dad and his kiddo. :-D   She laid gravel down at the base of each Sonotube, and took a picture of it when I wasn’t looking:

gravel at bottom of sonotubes

She also took this shot of me mixing up the concrete:

mixing the concrete

I’ve never actually mixed concrete before today. A good friend of mine has been very helpful so far in the build (we’ve spent many hours building stuff over the years) and has experience with concrete. He was most helpful and reassuring: “Dood, you can cook. If you can follow a recipe, you can mix concrete.” 3 quarts of water per 80 lb. bag of concrete. Simple enough.


And finally, once all the concrete was poured, and the metal brackets submerged in the concrete (to attach the beams), I laid the beams in place. Everything is level! Score!

Concrete poured, beams in place

So that’s where things stand at the moment. Good progress today. I have a bit more digging/landscaping to do, to flatten the ground under the shed, and to put a bit more earth around the sonotubes so they are (more or less) completely buried. Once the concrete cures in a few days I’ll install the floor joists. And once that’s done, I’ll officially be out of materials and will need to order the floorboards. There is a great lumber mill around the corner from my house. They sell hemlock at great prices, this is what I’ll use for the entire build as it’s cheap and water resistant like cedar.

Construction is officially underway….

Exciting news. This week I’ve officially begun construction of the Crafted Recordings studio. Details on the studio build (including photos) will be posted soon (either here or somewhere else, I haven’t decided where).

The studio is a one-room design, suitable for small ensemble recording, overdubs, and of course mixing and mastering. It will be soundproofed, so I don’t bother neighbors and so I can’t hear logging truck rumbling by in my recordings. It will also (obviously) be treated to sound good.

This studio will also serve as my office for my RealTraps work.

On-Location Recording

This site has been quiet, but I’ve been doing a lot of recording lately. Much of this is for Freakwitch, where I’ve been recording guitars along with the basic tracks that Jon Wyman recorded at his place several weeks ago.

My approach to recording has been working well. I find interesting rooms (such as a big open room in an old mill, a church, a dance studio, etc) and record. I (of course) bring acoustic panels with me, and generally set up so that I can get nice dry close mics (with panels), as well as huge room mics with lots of reverb. This way I can dial in the exact amount of reverb (which I can of course “carve” with EQ and compression etc.) that I want. This approach sounds better than any reverb plugin, in my opinion.

You can hear a great example of this in a recording I did a few months ago for some friends. They are a hand-drumming duo, so we recorded in a big live room (this one was at the mill). I didn’t mix this, but just did the tracking for them.

It’s a very interesting approach to recording. It makes gearlust somewhat of a moot point; with good mic technique, acoustic panels, good rooms, and good performances, you don’t need hyper-expensive boutique gear. So, send all your expensive mics and preamps to me, since you don’t need them anymore. ;-)

Part time recording, sound samples

Well, Crafted Recordings is now (more or less) up and running, though it is clearly a part-time thing for me. When I began manifesting CR a while back, it was before I had a massive job shift in my family…. I am now working fulltime in acoustics and don’t have as much time for recording as I would like.

This is actually a blessing, as it allows me only to take on projects that I’m really interested in, or feel like I could do a very good job on. So keep contacting me if you are interesting in having me record you. We can work out details, and I am always happy to take on new gigs as time permits.

It’s been fun recording the people I have so far. We “test drove” my new, laptop-based mobile recording rig in making the Freakwitch album Interconnected for the RPM Challenge. For those who don’t know, the RPM challenge is the music equivalent of National Novel Writing Month. We had to complete the album, start-to-finish, in one month. So the final result is OK, they all are rough mixes (no more than 2-3 hours spent mixing each song), and I violated The Golden Rule Of Mastering (never master your own work).

As such, they are great songs, hastily recorded, with crude drum programming, rough mixes and hack mastering job. :-) But hey, it sounds decent, and it was a good warmup for the next round of recordings, in which we wait until they are really finished until we release them. The best recording, sound-wise, was The Rain Song which you can hear on the Freakwitch RPM challenge page.


I have officially retired one of the racks, the mixer rack with the preamps in it. It was a good design in some ways, but it was not even close to portable enough. I now have a laptop for mobile recording. I still have 16 track capability, the same as before. I can provide several custom headphone mixes, and I still have the same mics.  All is quite well.

I’m now working fulltime for RealTraps as well. So I spend a lot of time thinking about how to achieve good sound. :-)

Studio Design/Acoustics, and updates

I have added a Studio Design/Acoustics page to this site. It will talk about my Acoustics consultation services, and it will house educational articles as I write them. The first such article is Three First Steps Toward A Good-Sounding Room.

As of late, I have been learning Google Sketchup, which is a great tool for doing 3D drawings. It’s quite easy to draw studio plans with it, once you get the hang of it.

I know acoustics well enough, but adding this skill will help my Studio Design/Acoustics Consulting. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Additionally, it will help my work with Realtraps. I’m pleased to say that I’ve accepted a fulltime job with them.

I’m also rethinking the rack design, although they are built they are just huge. I will likely keep the computer rack and modify it some (I want to change the angle of the screens). I also decided to go with a laptop for more portability. I can go with some smaller cases and be much more portable than these 2 racks. I won’t even need a trailer. :-D

I didn’t announce it, but I have booked my first client, even though Crafted Recording’s doors aren’t yet “officially” open. He’s a singer/songwriter; I’m looking forward to recording him.

Acoustics consulting with Realtraps

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve entered into a part-time consulting relationship with Realtraps. Realtraps is run by Ethan Winer (and his partner Doug Ferrara, as well has a half-dozen-ish employees). Ethan wrote the single best introduction to listening room acoustics that I know of; this article was my point of departure in developing an understanding of how to make rooms sound good. In addition to this (and other) articles, Ethan is more than generous with his expertise on various forums online that I hang out on. We started communicating a while ago via these forums, and we became friends. As of now we haven’t met in person, but it is likely that this unfortunate situation will be remedied soon. :-)

I’ll mostly be working in a “tech support” and public-educational role for them to begin, and it could eventually grow into more hours and duties. Time will tell. Anyway, this is a good relationship for both of us; it results in some income and a good “foot in the door” with a growing company/industry opportunity for me, and for them it’s another knowledgeable person on board to help them with their workload.

So if you’ve seen my forum posts about acoustics on various forums online, you will likely be seeing more of these. And I’ve recommended Realtraps (along with GIK acoustics) products without hesitation in the past, this end of things will also step up ;-) although I will still be helping DIYers with their projects as well. One of the things I admire most about Ethan is his aforementioned intellectual generosity as opposed to forcing his company’s products down peoples’ throats; he above all wants to help people understand room acoustics and get their rooms sounding good. And luckily, one of the simplest and least-expensive ways to do this is to invest in Realtraps products, so of course he doesn’t mind getting his excellent products into more listening rooms and recording studios along the way.