One of the first big studio design decisions I had to make was whether or not to install a trunking system for electrics and sockets. In my previous studios, electrics were buried behind stud walls and sockets cut into plasterboard. For this build, I chose to go with a trunking system. In this article, I share what I believe to be the benefits of electrical trunking systems in recording studio designs.
First, let's start with a small negative.
Trunking Protrudes - Positioning is Everything
Trunking will protrude into a room by about 10cm, get over it, it doesn't matter. You will most likely mount acoustic panels on the studio walls so these will typically protrude a fair bit as well. What does matter though is the height of the trunking. You need to ensure that the installed trunking isn't going to be in the way of other items that will be installed later on.
We had to make sure that my low wall mounted air conditioner unit (similar to a radiator) would fit under the trunking while also making sure that my CM Acoustics absorber panels (120cm heigh) would fit on top. This was most important down the lengths of the studio. The lowest pitch of the ceiling meets the highest point of the walls at 2.14m. We planned to position the trunking at a height that would ensure:
- My acoustic panels would have 1cm clearance where the walls meet the ceiling
- The air con unit would have roughly 20mm clearance from under the trunking.
If we had not considered the height of the trunking we could have easily installed it at the wrong height. To correct this we would have either had to take down the trunking and repositioned it or replaced my acoustic panels and/or air con unit for alternatives that would fit in the spaces above and below the trunking, both would be expensive workarounds.
With Planning It All Fits Perfectly
When we recently installed the majority of the electrics and trunking around the studio, our carefully considered plans worked perfectly. I offered up my acoustic panels and air con unit, and both systems have exactly the right amount of clearance to fit. It really pays dividends to plan every little detail. Let's move on to some benefits of electrical trunking in studios.
Retains The Integrity Of The Soundproof Construction
It has taken a considerable amount of time, planning, effort and money to build the "room within a room" studio. We didn't want to threaten the integrity of the soundproofed construction with 10 or 15 wall sockets punched into the two layers of plasterboard. There are acoustic putty pad products available that seal around wall sockets that stop sound leaking through the walls but we felt that Putty Pads wasn't the way to go. The trunking was going to be for the sockets.
We've designed the studio to meet my current work demands and requirements, but how about the future? At some point down the road, I may need extra wall sockets or even additional network points. To retrofit these points in the walls would be difficult and would again threaten the integrity of the soundproofing. The trunking system will enable me to easily add extra outlets anywhere in the room without punching holes in the walls.
The trunking acts like a central nervous system around the studio. We've included light switches and the main network (internet) points as well. We had to install the main consumer unit inside the studio for the electrics, commonly these are installed high up a wall but we chose to mount it under the trunking with a hole through the trunking into the box to again save us punching holes through the walls.
Acoustic Panel Placement Made Easy
Arranging studio acoustic treatment panels can be challenging as panels won't stick to the walls without some kind of bracket or fixture in place. The trunking acts like a shelf that my acoustic panels can sit on. I'm currently planning the layout of the acoustic panels, the trunking is helping me "offer up" and plan the acoustics with ease. I'm using some planks of timber to hold the panels in place while I try different layouts. This is a great way to test ideas without reaching for the drill. When the studio is complete I will place my monitors in the room and move the panels around on top of the trunking held in place with the timbre until I've found an optimal layout which will then be committed with fixtures.
HeaIth & Saftey alert!! I have discovered another small negative to trunking that I'll have to watch out for in future client attended sessions - coffee cups and spillages.