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Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
#2444809 07/27/15 07:45 AM
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I am planning to build a stand-alone piano practice studio in my back yard, and would like to solicit ideas about how to do it.

I've read the Piano Book and other sources, but am still a bit uncertain as to the best way to procede.

The purpose will be to house a 7' grand piano, with room for a small chamber group to rehearse (perhaps 3 or 4 other musicians, and maybe an onlooker or two).

I'm thinking of something on the order of 16' x 24', with a 10' ceiling and a basement with a small bathroom, a desk and storage. Of course I need good environmental control - heating and air conditioning, humidity control.

I live in the rural West U.S. (Idaho) where the winters are snowy, summers are moderate, humidity is relatively low.

This is not a "dream studio" with unlimited budget - keeping costs down is a primary concern. Sound isolation is not an issue, but interior acoustics are of primary importance.

I know non-parallel surfaces would be ideal, but I wonder about the practicalities from a construction standpoint. I will be hiring a contractor to build it, and the construction needs to be fairly simple.
My preference would be to have a regular rectangular construction with acoustic baffling as needed. It will have a regular peaked roof, and perhaps the ceiling could follow the roof line rather than be parallel to the floor.

Probably baseboard heat and a small air-conditioning unit would suffice, with a room humidifier (I have an Air-O-Swiss unit I've had good luck with).

This is what I have in mind so far; any suggestions would be appreciated, either in this thread or by PM.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2444822 07/27/15 09:11 AM
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Does it absolute have to be detached? I seems to me that providing utilities would be easier as an addition to a primary residence. And with people over, they will want to use the W. C.in the main house, anyway. 😀

Could you check into small, prefab units (if it must be detached)?


WhoDwaldi
Howard (by Kawai) 5' 10"
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2444871 07/27/15 12:45 PM
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Soundfold

This stuff consists of a metal bracket that goes at the top and bottom of your wall, and roll of fabric that you stretch between the brackets. The brackets are shaped to create the pleat.

It's not difficult to install as long as you get the brackets lined up properly at the start of the wall so your pleats won't be crooked. A plumb bob is your friend for this purpose. If your walls aren't exactly straight and square in the corners you can easily fake it a bit by bending the brackets slightly and it won't be noticeable at all.

This stuff does a wonderful job of creating a very "dead" room, it looks pretty, and you don't have to paint the wall behind it. It won't burn so it meets fire codes as well.

I used soundfold to line the auditorium in my theatre and it works really well. It's been on the wall for over twenty years now and it still looks just as nice and works just as well as it did the day that I installed it. I've vacuumed it once or twice over the years with a shop vac and a long handle since it gathers a bit of dust especially near the ceiling fans, but that's all of the maintenance that it requires. Soundfold

Last edited by FrankCox; 07/27/15 12:48 PM.

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Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2444900 07/27/15 02:15 PM
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Non- parallel walls are a minor consideration. In a practice room, their main function is to reduce flutter echos and you'll take care of most of those with room treatments anyway. You don't need 30 degrees of splay in a practice room and small amounts of splay (if you want it) doesn't overly complicate construction. In terms of construction, it's easier than vaulted ceilings or a rotunda style room. It shouldn't throw any competent contractor but it may add construction time. If I was you, I'd skip it and stick with angled (or rounded) diffusion on the walls. When *I* talk about parallel walls in piano rooms, it's always in the context of how reflective they are if not broken up with angles and facets.

Since you can choose your own dimensions you might as well choose dimensions that fit the accepted golden ratios for acoustics.The classic one is: H1.0:W1.6:L2.6. There are others that have been arrived at with math and empirical testing. They are listed in the articles I've linked to below.

I'm not engineering enough to explain it but the main idea is that at these ratios, the 3 main room modes null each other out instead of summing. Nulled, they create fewer hot and dead spots in the room and a create consistent RT60 which can then be modified with a pleasing mix of absorption and diffusion. Googling for "golden cuboid room ratio" will get you a lot of info including university studies.

The following link is a well presented, complete but not too technical, non-commercial, series of articles on room acoustics, problem areas and effective treatments:

Room Acoustics and Treatments

Do you have NO need for sound control? Boy, are you lucky. That tends to be the bigger issue and money soak.

There are lots of DIY articles on the web for broadband panel and tube style absorbers. As long as your carpenter is there with his nailer and glue he can probably knock them together for you pretty cheaply with materials sold at any lumberyard or Home Depot/Lowe's.

Kurt


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Co-owner (by marriage) and part time customer service rep at an electronic musical equipment repair shop.
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2444936 07/27/15 04:17 PM
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KurtZ,

Thanks for those very informative links! Yes, I'm very lucky - the neighbor squirrels actually like my playing - they sit in the trees and look in the window while I play.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2444971 07/27/15 06:06 PM
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I'd think a little bigger picture and consider resale too. Think of it as more than a studio, but as a guest house or cabana, because the next owner may not want/need a studio in the back yard. To that extent, include a full bath in lieu of the small one, and also a small kitchen and bedroom. Check the building code and be sure to leave room for a swimming pool between the two structures in case someone wants to add one in the future.



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Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807380 01/27/19 12:30 PM
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I never reported on my studio project.

Here are some recent pictures:

[Linked Image]

The backyard studio in January.

[Linked Image]

From the entrance, my Shigeru SK5L

[Linked Image]

From the other direction, with my Kawai CA78

[Linked Image]

The basement, with my office and ham radio station.

[Linked Image]

Another view of the basement, with my Yamaha P515, music system and security monitor.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807385 01/27/19 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by EP
I never reported on my studio project.

Here are some recent pictures:

Very nice! heart

Can I ask you how you heat it in winter and cool in summer? Any humidity issues in winter that affect your grand?


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807389 01/27/19 12:50 PM
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I have a gas furnace, air conditioner, and whole-house humidifier in the HVAC system.
There's also a bathroom in the basement (you can just see the edge of the door in one picture).
The piano stays extremely stable thanks to the environmental control system.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807390 01/27/19 12:51 PM
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How wonderful!

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807391 01/27/19 12:52 PM
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Nice pictures!

Maybe you could post a link on this thread. I'm sure there would be some mouths watering. wink


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
My other Yamaha is an XMAX 300.
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807394 01/27/19 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by EP
I have a gas furnace, air conditioner, and whole-house humidifier in the HVAC system.
There's also a bathroom in the basement (you can just see the edge of the door in one picture).
The piano stays extremely stable thanks to the environmental control system.

Aha! I didn't understand that from your first post. Your studio has a basement! I thought you were talking about the basement in your main house. What did you originally build this out-building for? Was it always intended to be your studio and office? Was by intentional that you didn't connect it to your main house?

EDIT: Never mind. I went back and read your first post! You did exactly as you planned. Very cool.


[Linked Image]
across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807396 01/27/19 01:05 PM
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Yes, it was as I planned, although of course there were some changes along the way. In the end it turned out nicer than I imagined it would. It was finished in Jan. 2016.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
patH #2807400 01/27/19 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by patH
I'm sure there would be some mouths watering. wink


Yes mine! Wow! That is amazing!


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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807418 01/27/19 02:04 PM
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Holy cow, that's amazing!!! What size is the room, it looks perfect for a studio! 😍😍😍


Lisa

Playing RCM 8 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP & CLP645

"I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Frederic Chopin
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807419 01/27/19 02:13 PM
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It's 16x24 with a full basement. The ceiling is 10' with acoustic ceiling tile.
It has central heating and air conditioning. The bathroom, utility room, and my office are in the basement.
Steel roof and steel siding. It's like a little house, really. A concrete parking pad in the back off the alley and a walkway from the street in front of the house.
Plenty of room upstairs to host a small group or a few listeners.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807453 01/27/19 03:51 PM
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It's just fantastic, well done! What a great size, it's huge and there's so much you can use it for! I love it! ❤️


Lisa

Playing RCM 8 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP & CLP645

"I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Frederic Chopin
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807458 01/27/19 04:07 PM
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I was asked a question about the monitors I have on top of the CA78 and thought others might be interested.

I don't play the CA78 through the monitors, just through its own speaker system.
The monitors are there primarily because they face me when I am playing the grand piano, so if I want to listen to something while I am playing I can play it through those speakers. They are nice because I can connect to them through bluetooth with my iPhone, etc. I do some accompanying and for practice it's handy to be able to play the other part through the speakers while I play my part.
I don't use vsts - I'm happy enough with the CA78 sound, and it's a lot easier. I do use vsts when I am playing back midi on my computer - I have Pianoteq and Ivory,
The monitors are Klipsch R-15PM. Very nice monitors for the price.

Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807508 01/27/19 06:57 PM
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What a fantastic set up! thumb



[Linked Image]
Re: Ideas for a stand-alone piano studio
EP #2807522 01/27/19 07:58 PM
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Hey EP,

Great studio, love the Shigeru. I have a RX3 that I’m happy with.

I’m a ham operator too! usually on 20 and 40m SSB, and some digital. What modes/bands are you on? I spot your amp, tuner, antenna analyzer.

73,
KI1SPK

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