"Acoustic tiles" and drop ceilings are both pretty much useless when it comes to trying to make a good sounding / well isolated room. You really need to check out some books by F. Alton Everestt on the subject of acoustics and / or consult with a professional such as Rives Audio. As far as i know, Rives offers free consultation and evaluation but their "suggestions & solutions" are what will cost you : )
Since you are going into this from scratch, i would HIGHLY recommend doing as much research and planning NOW as it will only save you trouble and expenses further down the road. It is soooo much nicer dealing with everything up front and doing it right the first time. This allows you to kick back and relax without having to think about "what if i would have done that" or "should i do this"...
Don't overlook your AC requirements as it is a LOT easier to run wire / conduit prior to putting up drywall or ceilings. Here's a good "basic" run-down on AC and what to expect out of a dedicated AC line(s)
. Hope this helps and keep us posted as to what you end up doing and the results that you achieve. It is always interesting to read about the decisions facing each of us in our own individual installatons, the choices made, why we made them, the results and if we would have taken that same path if we had it to do all over again. Sharing this type of info can really cut down on lessons learned the hard way for those that are working on similar set-ups further down the road. Sean
This is what I put up more than twenty years ago (yes time waits for no man). The space between the joists were filled with fiberglass insulation batts, resilient metal channels were installed, a first layer of gypsum board was installed to the resilient channels with drywall screws, the joints of this first layer were taped and filled with mud, a second layer of gypsum board was installed with the boards running opposite the first layer so that the joints would be overlapped, these joints were also taped and filled, I then put a rough textured stucco finish over the whole ceiling. The same was done for the wall dividing this room from the rest of the basement, save and except for the stucco finish. This works pretty well in that there is considerable mass, unlike a suspended ceiling, while it is also decoupled from the rest of the structure to a certain extent and there is some give owing to the resilient channels. Are there newer ways of doing it: maybe. Are there cheaper ways of doing it: surely. Are there much better ways accessible to a handyman: I don't think so. It worked for me.
Pbb, that sounds like a pretty solid design that you came up with. Did you think of that all by yourself or have some help ? At the time that you did that ( 20 years ago ), information like what you just posted was not commonly available or easily accessed. Sean
Pbb's design IS very solid because it creates great density and to some degree "uncouples" the basement ceiling from the floor above. The biggest challenge in a basement scenario is (usually) very limited ceiling height - creating the need to balance out many de-coupling and insulating layers, with the need to keep 6 1/2 feet or so of usable room height.
Certainly professional guidance is always great. Two products that we have used somewhat successfully are "Fibrex" fiberglass insulating bats - probably the same product that Pbb was referring to - and also a product that's sold under the trade name "Sheet Block".
Sheet Block is an 1/8" thick roll of what's generically called Mass Vinyl. It has the density of lead at about 1/10th the weight. Although still heavy and must be put up carefully/safely - it really helps to preserve ceiling height while providing the isloation of around three layers of dry wall.
Sean - your suggestion about F. Alton Everett's book is an excellent one. I would also reccommend Jeff Cooper's book "Building a Recording Studio". While geared for bigger budget studio facilities, it has many tried-and-true ideas about un-coupling floors, walls and ceilings, plus step by step guidelines and cross-section views for isolation and even finished room treatments.
Pbb's response was/is an excellent one --should one have/decide on drywall finishing. Your dropped ceiling works like the resilient channels that Pbb spoke of; Use batt insulation (R-12) between the floor joists (along with the dropped ceiling tiles). This is the most economical and effective technique available. De-coupling, spacing and mass is the only way to acheive more effective acoustic isolation (between floors/rooms). Higher density/heavier ceiling tiles (the acoustic-type) is far better than the lighter variety. Although there is some contoversy regarding the density of the insulation (and its effect on sound absorbtion) I would suspect the denser type (Roxall or equivalent) would be the better/more effective insulation.
Bear in mind that duct-work or any other opening between adjacent floors/rooms is a conduit for noise to travel. Practically speaking, adding batt insulation along with denser ceiling tiles provides the best solution for minimizing noise transmission between floors.
There wasn't as much information available twenty years ago that's for sure. Some of this I got from a French language audio magazine which is no longer published called "Son Hi-Fi Magazine". They, in fact, published a brief review I had written of Allison:One speakers a long time ago. I liked the work Roy Allison had done on integrating the speaker as part of the room it was operating in. So very early on I was convinced of one thing: the very considerable effect (good or bad) the room has on the speakers. Some information I also got from "Audio" magazine which printed a brief series on designing and building LEDE listening rooms. Some of it came from the manufacturers of the wallboard and channels and from construction and renovation books and magazines. I may have gotten info from Stereophile or TAS, but I think the point was pretty well moot at that time since, if memory serves, the room was built by then. The ceiling height problem was solved by not installing any sub floor and by installing a foam backed carpet directly on the concrete floor. The front of the room is covered with inch thick natural cork tiles. The room did smell like an audio shop of years gone by for about ten years, you may recall the smoky smell of cork, I understand the dark brown colour is achieved by applying a flame to the material and, in fact, burning it. In the front part of the room, in a random pattern, the odd square of cork tile is found creating a double layer and acting, somewhat, as a diffuser. Another cheap trick I found is the use of foam spacers that are wavy, these are used in attics under Fiberglas bats too allow for air circulation. I covered these with white glue and affixed corduroy fabric to the whole thing. I have a couple of these on either side wall (my room is narrow at 12 feet) near the speakers and two on the ceiling a bit to the rear of and between the speakers. Another thing I found at Home Depot is carpeting that has a very corduroy-like pattern. I have squares of this placed on walls and on the floor, over the wall to wall carpet. Again, the main effect is to absorb, but I find that the texture also creates some diffusion. In the corners I used Sonotubes and gave them the same white glue and corduroy fabric treatment and stuffed them with Fiberglas. Two small Oriental rugs and one large one are hung on the walls in the front part of the room. Another Oriental carpet is on top of the wall to wall between the speakers and the couch. There is no furniture of any kind between the couch and the speakers. The equipment is now on a stand I made last year with an aquarium base made of very heavy tubular steel. The tubes have been filled with fast setting cement of the type used for fence posts. The top is Corian about fourteen inches wide and six feet long screwed to the base. This narrow base is installed along the front wall of the room. The two small windows are covered with curtains in a linen-type material. The rear wall of the room is covered with shelves holding books, knick knacks and artwork from my three kids. The one thing I never got around to doing is replacing the cheap luaun door with something more substantial that would be equipped with a foam or rubber gasket of some type to prevent the sound from going right through the gap around it. So that's it, most are twenty year old ideas and fixes for building a listening room on a limited budget. My last tweak (and believe me I am not into tweaking) is to tilt back my speakers using four hockey pucks under the front spikes. Very Canadian, no? The image height problem was solved. I hope I don't find or imagine any side-effects to this. That's about it. As you can see, I tend to substitute research and handy-work for the outlay of cash.
I would recommend something a little different. It's called a "chicago ceiling", and uses WHR blocks that suspend a ceiling that is then sheetrocked. You need the sheetrock to keep the sound in and controlled. As has been previously mentioned suspended ceilings won't do this. In fact, they stop very little transmitted sound and usually make the room sound terrible. The WHR block is a spring loaded suspension ceiling. This give virtually complete isolation to the floor above. Not only will you hear very little from the audio room, you will very little in the way of footsteps from above.
Thanks for all of the input on this issue. I like the ideas that use drywall/sheetrock but the reality of that approach is that you no longer have access to areas of the ceiling. This may be necessary in case of repairs and in some areas access on a regular basis is a must (shutoff valves for the lawn sprinkler system, gas line, and water lines). I will likely end up with some of the ceiling drywalled but a drop ceiling will have to be part of this process in some areas.
Small removable panels are all you need to have access to shut-off valves and the like. Just build a frame around the portion of ceiling where access is required, the panel is just a piece of gypsum board cut maybe 1/8th of an inch smaller in all dimensions, you finish the edges of the small panel and the opening with J bead secured using contact cement, affix the panel with screws and that's it. If you have to reach what is underneath, run a craft knife in the gap to cut the paint, remove the screws and voilÃ ! The idea of having to gain access to all pipes and wires underneath is, to my mind, bogus. How many times in the course of owning your home will you have to gain access to properly installed services? The wiring should be good to start with. Same thing, even more so, for the plumbing. It should do its job without problems for a decade at least. If the plumbing starts leaking, you can always cut a portion of wall board out and patch it up after. Patching is easy enough. Cut the opening neat and square near to a resilient channel or nailer, depending on what was used, make a panel of the proper size, screw the panel in, tape using fibreglass tape, apply mud to the gap and blend the patch in by thinning the layer of mud out to nothing, far enough away from the gaps that it all blends in seamlessly. Prime and paint. Paint can be bought at any time in a matching colour, since all paint and home renovation stores have computers for paint matching. The worst case scenario is you paint the whole ceiling over again. Do yourself a favour, bite the bullet at the outset, a suspended ceiling will not do the trick. To my mind, the sound generated in the listening room should stay in that room, the sounds from outside, should not be allowed to enter, as much as that is feasible. The other benefit with a real plaster board ceiling (even better with double layers) is that there is less of a mismatch between the resilience of the concrete floor and that of a massive plaster board ceiling, than between a concrete floor and a flexing suspended ceiling. Short term pain for long term gain. May look daunting, but is within reach of a dedicated do-it-yourselfer. Good day.
I just completed a media room and work with people who had done recording studios. I found all of the professional acoustical companies to be grossly overpriced. PBB and others are essentially in line with my application. Double drywall with offsetting seams is a must. On the walls I would consider using a 1/4 to 1/2 inch exterior sheet insulating material from celotex in between the studs and glued in place. I would blow in your insulation with a mastic so that it provides solid coverage. On the floor consider two layers of subfloor with 1/2 to 1/2 cork in between the layers glued. Or cork on concret then subfloor.
Use a fibrous commercial pad under your carpet. I would go with a drywall ceiling the acoustic tiles aren't going to do what you want. I would run furing strips perpendicular to the joists about 8" apart and glue rubber strips to the furing strips. Put two layers of the drywall on this. The rubber strips will provide separation of the ceiling from the joists and floor above. Finally before doing all of the above get elastic concrete filler in the caulking tube and caulk everwhere wood meets wood or floor.
There are readily available access panels that can be installed directly into your drywall. These panels are made of molded plastic and come in various sizes. Drywall the ceiling and put one of these panels wherever necessary. Also, the make great access points for snaking cable in the future. Cover the hole with sound deadening insulation before reinstalling the panel. Not perfect, but a good compromise.