So, in my iTravels I've spent a ton of time reading through acoustics threads on message boards like GearSlutz and TapeOp. The information on those sites really is top notch, and all the people seem more than willing to help. I now know how to identify all of the problem frequencies in my room, how many panels to hang and where, how deep my bass-traps need to be, &tc. The problem is that the thrust of the responses and advice always seems to suggest an emphasis on function over form.

Now, you may rightly accuse me of being shallow and superficial, but I just can't work in dank dark places with walls covered in ugly burlap and lit by hand-me-down lava lamps. The problem follows...

I am one of the many who at this point can only afford to work out of my apartment. Problema: it's a basement. So, it's cold and close. Natural light doesn't exist, the ceiling pots are horribly placed, and blah, blah, blah.

What I'm wondering is how you guys feel about this and how you've managed to fix up your spaces so your brain can focus on making fantastic sounding things. What have you done for aesthetics and light; ergonomics and comfort? I'm not an adherent to the mystical/pocket gouging side of Feng Shui, but there is definitely a sense of flow to well-designed rooms that mine totally lacks at the moment.

Any thoughts/advice/photos would be more than much appreciated.




Apropos to the question:

g.a.harry's old setup.

It makes me sad just looking at it. That's with the overhead lights on too. I don't know how I ever managed to get anything done.

5 Answers 5


Right now my home studio consists of a MacBook Pro running Protools, Sennheiser HD 465 headphones and a bunch of external hard drives. Sometimes I work in the living room, sometimes I work in bed. That is of course because my real studio is no longer at home.

When I started my studio 3 years ago, I had an iMac G5 with Protools LE and an Mbox 2. I found a cheap room with some friendly companies next door, who were also in the film business. So I didn't have to worry too much about sound levels.

The room was around 12 sq meters, I don't know how many square feet that is, but it was ok for a studio. There was a black wall to wall carpet on the floor, and no further acoustic treatment. But it was allright for working with tv in stereo. I bought a cheap Ikea desk and placed it roughly in the center of the room, I bought some used Behringer monitors and placed them on stands with at least 30 cm to the wall, so I didn't get too many reflections from the walls.

I bought some nice lamps from Ikea, some nice looking shelves (also Ikea), and I started buying old synths. I also bought a nice designer lamp and started buying some art for the walls.

I tried to surround myself with things I liked, and the place had a very nice and warm feeling.

These pictures are from after I had upgraded to Protools HD.

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(source: lydtilfilm.dk)

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After having this studio of my own for a year and a half, I joined forces with some friends and since then we have shared studios. We have moved and built 4 studios together, with a lot of the old equipment as well as some new.

This is what it looked like a couple of months ago, but now it has improved a bit, for instance the plasma screen is now hanging properly on the wall... and we have Adam P11 monitors instead of the old Behringer...

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(source: lydtilfilm.dk)


I'm a huge fan of

  1. high ceilings

  2. large dimensions (sub bass is limited by dimensions)

  3. bass traps

As far as form goes, no one can give you advice on that. It is intensely personal. Do your own research & assemble a stack of references that you like, then borrow elements from them....

Those wood coated expensive studios aesthetically repulse me (although with an unlimited budget I'd be prepared to put up with a certain amount of wood for acoustic reasons) But some of the visual/spatial minimalist environments I love the most acoustically would be a nightmare....

Follow your muse.

Then ask your muse to take the acoustics into account....

  • @Tim: As soon as I hit "Post" I did a google search and the first thing that come up was your Music/Sound Studio Design post as MOS. Good read. Are you still working out of that lovely apartment?
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 24, 2011 at 18:28
  • Apartment is my home & music studio... I have a larger work studio that is a little more utiliterian & where I can play with larger props & be a lot louder when its required ;)
    – user49
    Mar 27, 2011 at 4:33

You could make your basstraps look like paintings by printing artwork on the fabrics. Or at least select some colourful fabric for a less dark and depressing environment.

  • Or stencil-tag them. Mar 24, 2011 at 13:22
  • That is a cool idea! I remember a studio in lisbon where almost all acoustic treatment panels were painted in a 70's psychadelic kind of way and it does feel awesome to work there. Mar 24, 2011 at 13:53
  • @Daan I was thinking about this, it's a good idea, just have to find something aestheically pleasing. Maybe red and white stripes or something.
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 24, 2011 at 18:29

I'm currently in the process of building my own panel absorbers that I will hang on the wall with a little spacing between the wall and the panel. The plan is to add LED-strips on the back of the panels so that there is an indirect glow coming from behind them. As a little DIY project, I'm doing it the fancy way: RGB LED-strips that can be controlled from a central point so that I can change the mood on the fly. I haven't decided yet what to do with the fabric of the absorbers. The canvas print is nice, but quite expensive, especially for the surface area that I need to cover.

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I think balanced lighting is very important for everybody, the rest depends on personal preference. I like a degree of minimalism and brightness (white walls, little decoration), others might like cosiness and ornaments.

Regarding natural light in your basement: I heard from a fellow sound designer/musician that he has a very powerful lamp in his room/studio that he calls the sun. You could even make a fake window and put lots of lights behind matte white glass in a frame, or try out those 'daylight-bulbs' that are supposed to emit a light spectrum similar to the sun.

  • @EMV Yeah, I have a full-spectrum bulb in my reading lamp, it does actually make a bit of a difference. It's only 60 watts though, so not really bright enough to take care of the living room. I love your backlit panel idea, I've been trying to figure out a way of flooding the room without blowing out a particular corner or section. I had though of running rope light around the top corners, for some reinforcement to raise the baseline level. It's kind of weird actually, before now I've never really thought about light before.
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 24, 2011 at 22:34
  • How, out of interest, are you planning to mount your panels?
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 24, 2011 at 22:35
  • My walls are concrete and the panels have wooden frames, so I'll mount them with two metal brackets on the top and a third one in the middle at the bottom. The LED-strips will go around the mounting points so that there is no shadow cast onto the wall. The slots in the brackets go over screws I put in the wall. I quickly made a rather lame picture that I hope clarifies things a bit.
    – EMV
    Mar 25, 2011 at 21:29
  • @EMV Cool, that's very similar to what I was planning, though I'm a bit too lazy to build frames for 'em.
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 26, 2011 at 4:49

Owens and Corning board has done it for me, but I'd say, time and money! Try to float your floor, cloud your ceiling and do as much as possible to keep the pings down.

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