For those not following this story from the start a decision was made after some deliberation that the as it was primarily a writing space and mix room that the need for the build to be around a recording space was less necessary. Each design meant a smaller space and far less light, Building Regulations also meant that with a lot of smaller rooms there was a need for fire escape routes which also took up space.
It was at this point I made the decision than rather than carve up the space and make it dark to go the other way and make it open plan and let in as much natural light as possible.
The space is a converted garage so it seems natural to use the space where the garage door had been to put a feature window/door in. So I choose an aluminium bi-fold door with glazing that had both good energy and acoustic properties. I also decided to replace a basic UPVC window with the same system. This aluminium system also has high security properties - the windows and doors can't be removed from the outside and if I don't have key then I'm screwed too - I'd have to smash the glass to get in.
The first part of the job was to remove the roller shutter garage door - not as simple as it seems. They only stay coiled when fixed in place so when taking it down despite our best efforts to tie it shut as a coil it failed. I put it on a recycling web site for someone to collect flat, which someone did in about 4 hours of the advert going up.
To install the bi-fold door first we installed a damp proof course (DPC) to prevent any damp ingress around the aluminium frame, you can see it on the image above. The installation of the doors took around 3 hours.
The window came a few weeks later and although I'd like to tell a story of joy, that part of the installation by the 'specialist' supplier was anything but smooth. In fact they were so incompetent that I threw them off the site and my builder completed the job they started. I'm very happy with the quality of the windows and doors, these were supplied from a factory in the UK and not the installers, a local company who act as a middle man.
I am very pleased with the the performance of the glazing from both an acoustic isolation perspective, energy performance and their ability to let the light in.
Acoustic Performance - I live on a main road with heavy traffic passing constantly during the day. I've measured it at an average 72dB but peaking at around 80db. In the studio it measures anything between 14-22dB which I'm very pleased with. In fact there is no audible sound from the traffic and other external sound sources. I'm happily tracking vocals and acoustic guitar with no worries about sound from the outside world.
Light Performance - On a sunny day there's a fantastic amount of light coming into the room, but even on a grey day with cloud I can work without the need for any other lighting. This was one of my real design goals - I love natural light filling my creative space.
Energy Performance - I'll speak more about the other insulation in the next article but even in October in Ireland, the room has an average temperature of around 21 degrees without any other heat sources - apart of course from the equipment - which does a nice job of keeping the temperature up in the studio. The glass also helps to keep the heat out on hot days - but the best thing is on a really nice day I can push the doors right back and bring the outside into the studio.
Glass Are You Mad?
When one mentions the use of glass in a studio some people look at you as if you are mad - glass gets a bad rap from some sections of the audio community, often associated with lots of hard surface and reflections. Well the studio is set with the glass at 90 degrees from the mix position so has less influence. Does the room ring like a bell? Not at all and having tracked vocals and acoustic guitars I'm pleased with the sound of the room.
If I had to trade off light v sound then I think I'll take light for a writing/mix room rather than some dark cave that is less reflective. At the end of the day each one of us has to make our own decisions - having made mine I'm delighted with the results of using so much glass.