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Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby bishopdante on Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:02 pm

Pure L wrote:You simply need drywall. And depending on your volume to neighbor/wife ratio, you either need a shit ton or just a lot.


I would not disagree that the job can be done that way and is *much* more advisable than concrete block.

Pure L wrote:The outer leaf (layer) has 2 layers of 5/8" stuffed in the exposed stud bays. There is then about 12" or so of space (which has been filled with fluffy, pink insulation) and then the main room. This room has 3 layers of 5/8" drywall.


OK so just to illustrate my point about the unusual (and non-cheap) lead-lined version of drywall, the conventional wall offset specified above is approx 12 inches thick. It is *not* total isolation. The room gets 2ft smaller.

Another method would be to build a mineral wool filled 10 inch thick 2x8 heavy studwork shell skinned on both sides with double-drywall on the inside and double-chipboard on the outside skin. This forms a pretty heavy duty leaf with good stiffness. With a 18 inch mineral filled gap behind this leaf, that's 28 inches off each wall, so the room gets 5ft smaller.

Given an optimised high-mass BBC "heavy door" lead + mastic construction, lagged with various high-damping-ratio systems, similar or better performance can be achieved in about half an inch to an inch, Which is *very* skinny. Given that such a panel might well contain half an inch thick lead, it would also be *bloody* heavy.

Not saying that is necessarily the way to go... more illustrating there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and that the range of potential construction materials is immense. Mass-air-mass is one way of stopping sound, but the mass can introduce a variety of problems. Lead is seriously heavy stuff... but there are other considerations (including toxicity).

Soundproofing a garage, it could get quite small by being profligate with the panel thickness, so one might want thin panels, and lead-drywall is pretty much the thinnest possible mass produced material on the mainstream market designated for putting into buildings. It is pretty specialist, you won't find it at your local Home Despot.

Could also use extreme stiffness & high damping ratio, ie vectran+carbon fiber. There's problems with that, too. Namely the price tag.

Pure L wrote:You will also need ventilation of some sort. If you neglect this, you might have a hard time convincing friends to play with you. The only regret I have is that we're forced to go out back behind the garage to pee. So that's something you might want to think about too.


Have played in a sealed rehearsal room with no ventilation that somebody built in an industrial estate.

Got about 40 mins w/three people and then it gets medically dangerous & start getting dizzy. Getting out of the door to get real air, breathing real air is like drinking water after running five miles in arid heat. It is that pleasurable.

Was built by a drummer & sublet very cheap to a friend of mine. Might be some form of torture system equivalent to high altitude training.

A lack of oxygen could even kill somebody or cause brain damage if they passed out in there / took a nap. Totally not desirable.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:02 am

Every once in a while, I type up some shit in this forum about building, and then delete it, but here goes.

In the past handful of years, drywall has been "reformulated" (ha ha) to be (1) lighter [read: less mass] and (2) significantly more expensive. I'd venture that the whole Chinese supplier formaldehyde scandal created a tremendous opportunity for other suppliers to profit by pulling bullshit like this. Suffice it to say, sure, it's a little lighter, but drywall is still breakable garbage, and now, it's expensive, lower-mass breakable garbage.

This is to say, you may do well to add your mass that you want to be impactful at other points in the assembly, or using other materials.

Air-sealing: I'm big on this. People typically aren't as good at airsealing as they think they are. It's tough to do, and speaking in general terms that's the other main way, besides through insufficient mass, that sound leaks. There are a few different types of pressure tests for enclosure airtightness, and people who make it their livelihood to seal buildings well *still* never get them to the point where they will be dangerously sealed rather than merely stuffy, if a few people are hanging out in `em, breathing. Unless you're in a submarine or leaving solvent containers open in the garage, or the car running (please don't -- there is hope), I'd adjust your expectations towards comfort rather than danger. So, if you're really going to seal the shit out of this place, the single cheapest option is a home-built air exchanger of CPU fans on ball bearings (cheap and reliable) adhered to PVC, with a home-built backdraft preventer made of suit lining, running through massive walls and pointed away from your neighbors. The second-cheapest "real" option is the Panasonic ERV. Google it. I'd do the CPU fans (and I have). Figure out the cubic volume of the space for a full air exchange every two hours and you can divide down to the CFM you need.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby eliya on Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:18 am

Sort of hijacking the thread because like probably everyone here I hope to have a room like this sometime in the not too distant future.

Bubber wrote:...drywall is still breakable garbage, and now, it's expensive, lower-mass breakable garbage.

This is to say, you may do well to add your mass that you want to be impactful at other points in the assembly, or using other materials.


What would be a good replacement/addition to drywall? Plywood?

Bubber wrote:the single cheapest option is a home-built air exchanger of CPU fans on ball bearings (cheap and reliable) adhered to PVC


This sounds so crazy it's like it's out of a MacGyver episode! Does it actually work? Do you need a billion of them?

Bubber wrote:home-built backdraft preventer made of suit lining, running through massive walls and pointed away from your neighbors.


How does one go about making that?


How does a well ventilated room compared with a room that has AC? Is the ventilation enough to keep people wanting to play for more than 30 minutes? Why not go for AC other than cost?
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby 154 on Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:27 am

eliya wrote:Sort of hijacking the thread because like probably everyone here I hope to have a room like this sometime in the not too distant future.

Bubber wrote:...drywall is still breakable garbage, and now, it's expensive, lower-mass breakable garbage.

This is to say, you may do well to add your mass that you want to be impactful at other points in the assembly, or using other materials.


What would be a good replacement/addition to drywall? Plywood?


Was wondering this myself, not just for practice spaces but for construction period

(I sort of fantasize about having an 'all purpose' space, such as a condo that was dead quiet.)

How does a well ventilated room compared with a room that has AC? Is the ventilation enough to keep people wanting to play for more than 30 minutes? Why not go for AC other than cost?


Yeah. Why not just run an A/C on fan mode when you don't need the cooling?
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby benadrian on Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:20 pm

Please keep this thread going! I'm reading all the posts and it's been very helpful.

I was leaning heavily on a prefab room for a while because if and when we move, I can sell it or take it with me. AND, since I'm putting this in a garage, that space converts back to a potential parking space. I don't know if you guys know this, but when buying real-estate as a non-musician, most owner-made, soundproof home studios just kind of look like torture and kill rooms.

Now, i'm thinking of building something again. Perhaps concrete block with green-glued drywall and double doors?
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:28 pm

Hi again. Couple of things:

benadrian, what's the biggest you can actually make this practice spot? If you can make it big enough to be a space you all really want to be in, seems that would, well, be good. I partly mention this because the enclosure is the super expensive part, rather than the open space in side it, so for better and better ratio of square footage cost of enclosure vs. cubic footage inside, hopefully you can really push it. Also, sure, you don't want to be in a cube, but the closest you can get to a cube at your maximum size will generally be cheaper. Apologies if that all went totally without saying.

I think a/c is a perfectly good idea. It's a little louder! And, you'd want that hole in your wall to point in a direction that doesn't cause trouble. But a/c feels good. And it'd bring in air. Will write about CPU fan exchangers under a separate post if you guys are curious. And the backdraft preventer, sure.

I have idiosyncratic opinions on whether the total costs of drywall as a finish layer in a living space really make it worth it. I have come to love plywood more and more. But: in terms of this project, drywall to the interior ought to be totally fine, but I'd say the airsealing needs to happen at a layer (seam-taped primed sheathing) where nobody will fuck with it, heavy insulation between that gypsum interior and the plywood box layer, and then the whole thing can be decoupled between that sealed box and the outer enclosure (I'd consider resting it on mineral wool). e.g., Home Depot has pretty good price breaks on buying many bags of mineral wool batts, and they deliver `em on a pallet along with most of the other shit you want.

So, to clarify, I suppose I'd try to set it up like a fully decoupled double-stud wall, with the seam-taped sheathing layer somewhere in the middle.

Sooooo out to in—and to be amended depending upon how you tackle the a/c or air exchanger thing:

If you're filling up the inside of an existing garage, you could affix your plywood --prime the faces near the edges, under where you'd tape, so it'll stick well-- to the insides of the existing studs, and tape it to form a sealed box (there are some pretty rugged tapes from 3M and others that adhere to just about anything. 8067, I think) meaning tape to the slab, blah blah blah.
So there's your fully-sealed layer once you hit all the details (think five sides—you'll need to also tape it at the open end once the interior is built).
In from there: build a floating floor on top of mineral wool. Space its edges [the depth of the batts you buy] from those plywood faces you've put up. Build stud walls and ceiling which will not be load-bearing (except the eventual drywall).
Rough in your electric. Make sure to hit any penetrations you've had to make to that taped plywood layer with a can o' foam.
Put one layer of mineral wool to run continuously (uninterrupted by framing) *between* that plywood layer and those stud walls and that ceiling you've framed. This could, if your framing were super robust, instead be, y'know, sand. For mass. Not overhead though. That would be bad.
Put another layer of mineral wool within the stud layer.
Hang your drywall.

The wild card here is your fifth side of the cube, the wall to the interior of the garage where you've got a door and maybe a solid vent panel with a gasket (I'd do that; I have done that) to put your a/c or air exchanger. You will want to make that outer wall layer continuously sealed, you run plywood bucks to connect the inner wall and outer wall, you frame the door to the *inner* wall. You'd also want to do something to seal up the floor edge there, where the side of the mineral wool would be, so treated wood and foam or caulk and Grace Vycor rubberized asphalt flashing or something, which is durable and easy to get.

Hope this is neither too unclear nor seems too off-topic.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby bishopdante on Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:42 pm

There are a lot of options. Drywall is simply easily available and quick to put up, it is not really designed as a super-efficient soundproofing material.

While the lead-lined version is potent enough to build a fallout shelter, it is probably overkill, and not cheap. It will outperform normal drywall as a soundproofing material.

There are also quite a few "acoustic" forms of drywall, typically involving sandwiches of mass loaded vinyl. One can also make one's own sandwiches.

Finding out exactly what the mass bit of the vinyl mixture is... is usually impossible, and the performance can vary, but the stuff does have fairly enhanced performance, especially if the vinyl layer is half an inch thick. That board can compete with the thinner lead-lined board for shocking weight. Vinyl is also not entirely proven to be non-toxic. Best not throw that stuff on a bonfire, for sure.

MLV is usually the heavy bit of the quilted industrial lagging materials that I included earlier. Stuff is amazingly heavy and does work as advertised, -60dB is quite achievable. Not a normal curtain.

Plywood is a great material, especially if combined with caulk with a high damping ratio such as green glue, but it is a fire risk. It is also not cheap, and if it is cheap it is unlikely to be flat or dimensionally stable.

MDF is horrid to work with and horrible with damp, but it pretty dead and pretty dense.

OSB can be relatively fire retardant, is cheap, dimensionally stable and pretty stiff. It also looks quite cool.

Flooring chip is cheap, available in tongue-and-groove flavours, and fire retardant. It can be used for walls or ceilings.

Bitumen layers combined with wood can produce extremely heavy and dead panels.

Sandwich panels can be constructed from any of the above.

The various polyurethane thermal insulation foam panels, often branded as "kingspan" can also be used to produce tough panels by adding a foam core to a leaf, and bonding with green glue / mastic, improving stiffness/rigidity without adding too much mass.

Tarmac is highly soundproof and vibration resistant, which is why it's used for roads. Always wanted to have a slab of that as a drum room floor.

There are many modern board types designed for soundproof flooring for commercial and residential use, which are very good, usually of a multi-layer construction involving OSB/chip/bitumen/rubbery/rubbery-doped-chip/foam. These can be employed for walls and ceilings as well as floors, and usually comply with fire regs.

There are also some brilliant materials based on hydraulic lime concrete, quite often mixed with plant matter, particularly industrial hemp. This produces a flexible, heavy duty and slightly porous material, which handles damp incredibly well and also has superb acoustic properties, not just in terms of transmission loss but also in terms of reflection. It is often called "hempcrete", and the coolest part is that it can be applied as a render, cast in shuttering, cast into bricks/prefab elements, or even sprayed. Have often thought it'd be ideal for diffuser-shaped bricks or tiles of some sort, and did a bunch of research in collaboration with BSi with the stuff for a company that makes the stuff. Thermal & acoustic performance was most impressive, and looks something like bone under a scanning electron microscope.

I have also heard that some studios have employed adobe brick to great effect...

One of my favourite cheap and heavy methods of adding limp mass to a structure is *sand*. Fill any cavity with sand and it will weigh a lot, and sound will not travel through it happily.

Filling a panel with sand can add so much weight that it will start to bulge, so one does have to use strong materials. Plywood and studwork are good, as is reinforcing the panel with a grid / struts of angle-iron. A good way of handling sand is to put it in bags, and lob the bags in.

Also, there are various polyurea and polyurethane systems for lining truck beds and blast-proofing military structures, which can be sprayed onto most materials, including drywall and concrete, which can considerably improve the performance of the materials against vibration and/or resonance, although they can be prone to UV damage / ozone rot in the long term, some of them are extremely durable and will last decades.

As bubber has rightly said, getting a good seal is critical, so stuff that can be sprayed or painted on wholesale really makes life easy.

154 wrote:I sort of fantasize about having an 'all purpose' space, such as a condo that was dead quiet.


Really, one way to look at it is like this...

Ask an architect:

"Would you want to live in a house where all the walls were transparent, and your neighbours could see you?"

"OK... so now imagine that you could never look away and had 360° vision"

"Right... well... that is how it works for sound! You can't 'look away'. Why the hell are residential buildings not soundproof? It is pretty unhealthy and causes a lot of potential for stress and abuse, acoustic privacy should be mandatory, especially for new buildings".

It might be that an architect's drawing visually checks out, and looks like a private home... but the acoustics can leave you horribly exposed.

Some London flats I have lived in have had the proverbial cardboard walls, where people talking in the adjacent property could clearly be heard. I have *kid you not* received written demands asking me to not wear shoes or use the telephone?! I had to get a lawyer?! Mad.

New-build residential and office buildings in Holland often *are* soundproof, though. You might not be able to get away with a drum kit at 4am, but you can crank your hifi and nobody will hear a thing. Not sure if this is due to regs or just good architects, but I was amazed.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Pure L on Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:12 pm

AC (in the conventional sense...like a wall mounted unit) does not bring in fresh air. (Don't make me post the pics of my rat-maze air exchanger...again!)

phpBB [media]


But the more air tight your room is, the more fresh air you'll need.

You might not die without it but your desire to spend time in this room will be greatly diminished.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby bishopdante on Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:22 am

With a properly sealed room, getting the air supply inlets and outlets in the right places is very important.

If both inlets and outlets are at the bottom of the room, the result will be horribly stuffy. Just horrible.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby MatthewK on Fri Oct 28, 2016 7:02 am

For a high-mass, inert construction material could I just recommend formply? That stuff is ludicrously heavy, but otherwise easy to work with. Has a finished surface which would be suitable for airtight taping etc too.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby 154 on Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:19 am

benadrian wrote:I don't know if you guys know this, but when buying real-estate as a non-musician, most owner-made, soundproof home studios just kind of look like torture and kill rooms.


Completely true. Best case scenario, such as a basement or attic space, could be sold as a 'home theater', but home theaters are soooo '90s..

But if you plan it right you could probably do something that could be dis-assembled neatly, even recreated in another future space. Don't mud over screw ends, use insulating materials that won't be disgusting after a few years, etc.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby bishopdante on Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:05 am

There's no reason to make a soundproof space look like a torture space / featureless laboratory.

Lots of book shelves is a good idea. They work as diffusers & mass & just call it a study / personal library.

Lots of people could see the sense in a music room / study / games room. For the majority of people having an extra habitable room that's acoustically isolated from the main property is probably preferable to off-street parking.

DIY constructing a portable soundproof space... it's theoretically feasible. However, it will require considerable precision fabrication and some pretty expensive techniques, and panel weight will be the problem. It's about 3x as difficult as just installing it semi-permanently, so chances are the commercially available versions are better, cheaper and easier for almost everybody.

I'd certainly phone up a bunch of the people who do the industrial enclosures, and if I was building something removable I'd probably start with modules sourced from one of those companies, and modify them, rather than scratch-building a portable soundproof enclosure.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby eliya on Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:09 am

bishopdante wrote:There's no reason to make a soundproof space look like a torture space / featureless laboratory.



I agree with this. Think of all the nice studios you've been to or seen, they look nice. It doesn't have to be unfinished drywall, cracked concrete floors, and a bunch of grey and ugly "acoustic" foam on the walls.

The only problem with rooms like this is the lack of windows and natural sunlight. It seems to me that windows are usually the weak points of isolated rooms, so I bet that adding good, uncompromising windows would be expensive.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:43 am

On review, since you're building from scratch, if it were me, I'd probably sheath an exterior stud wall with the ZIP panel system, which gets taped at the seams and is pretty slick. You've probably seen it around by now--those green panels that get siding on top of `em eventually. I don't think they're expensive. That can be your air-sealed plywood layer. Then your interior of your interior stud set can be drywall, with basically 3-1/2" of mineral wool within each of the two stud walls and a continuous 3-1/2" of mineral wool between `em. Altogether that's 11-1/2" thick walls before your exterior siding, airsealed and packed with dense mineral wool. I'd think that'd be pretty damn good.

Air exchange: here's a fan with an AC cord that moves 23 CFM at 4W, 28dBa, $17ea. One inbound, one outbound, wire the circuit to a wall switch, caulk each to the inside faces of cut PVC running through walls & spray foamed at penetrations. Cheap to buy and run, quiet, easy to replace.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009OXTWZI/
By my calculations, a full air exchange every two hours, that's good for 2760 cf. Someone can check my math; you guys are nerds. But at 12'h x 230sf (16x14? 18x13? 20x12?) that's pretty much perfect.

bishopdante wrote:Plywood is a great material, especially if combined with caulk with a high damping ratio such as green glue, but it is a fire risk. It is also not cheap, and if it is cheap it is unlikely to be flat or dimensionally stable.


Fun fact: it is equivalently rated for fire to gypsum at I believe (nominal) 1/2" or thicker, i.e., 15/32. I think.

bishopdante wrote:MDF is horrid to work with and horrible with damp, but it pretty dead and pretty dense.

Agreed

bishopdante wrote:OSB can be relatively fire retardant, is cheap, dimensionally stable and pretty stiff. It also looks quite cool.

It's garbage, though: also horrible with damp (basically turns to oatmeal as it's heavily made of glue), has no minimum requirements for permeability, can off-gas significantly, would strongly not recommend.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby TylerSavage on Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:59 am

eliya wrote:
bishopdante wrote:There's no reason to make a soundproof space look like a torture space / featureless laboratory.



The only problem with rooms like this is the lack of windows and natural sunlight. It seems to me that windows are usually the weak points of isolated rooms, so I bet that adding good, uncompromising windows would be expensive.


Yes - that part does suck. One studio I was in used cottage-like lifting window shutter ( I really can't google this correctly) and put firm insulation on the back side, covered it with painted wood. It was very hefty looking and you had to mount it right to studs/frame, but it solved the problem, kept your windows functional, and kept up with the decor.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Pure L on Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:06 am

a full air exchange every two hours


If you were all alone in this room, sitting down and not moving a whole lot this might suffice but if you plan on having other bodies in this room this is not enough air circulation IMHO. Especially for a drummer.

The John L Sayers forum is really good place to get the cold, hard facts when it comes to this sort of thing. The cruel drawback is that dudes there will pretty much shit on every hackneyed/hairbrained solution someone has already tried (and most likely failed) to accomplish.

To stop sound from bothering other people you need mass and/or space. And to live (and have your brain functioning properly) you need oxygen. That's it. As with any construction project, you'll have to compromise on something so you just need to figure out what those things are (and the further you get, the more you will be forced to do so.)

If BA is serious about this (and it sounds like he is) all this talk of lead-lined whatever and $17 fans seems kinda silly. Don't skimp on the gravy here. Plan on going overboard and then the things you compromised on won't seem like such big deals.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:08 am

Glad to learn that the cost of a fan affects its CFM; will make a note of that
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Pure L on Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:59 am

Bubber wrote:Glad to learn that the cost of a fan affects its CFM; will make a note of that


And now I sound just like those dicks at the JLS forum. :cry:
My apologies. That's not my aim here.

Price is just usually associated with how rugged something is and how long it'll last. And that fan is for cooling other equipment, no? Air exchange for humans and the cooling of equipment are 2 separate issues.

He'll need to move much more air if he wants to feel comfortable in this room. Again, especially if there will be other people in there with him.

Truth be told, I used to know much more about this stuff when my head was 100% in it. But a cursory internet search revealed this:
http://contractingbusiness.com/service/ ... e-room-cfm

Seems like a good start.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:30 pm

Pure L wrote:
Bubber wrote:Glad to learn that the cost of a fan affects its CFM; will make a note of that


And now I sound just like those dicks at the JLS forum. :cry:
My apologies. That's not my aim here.

Price is just usually associated with how rugged something is and how long it'll last.


Undoubtedly, you know that this claim is *sometimes* true. And, sometimes not. A ball bearing is pretty smooth operation, and, it's non-proprietary easy-access replacement on possible failure.

One can buy louder fans built for homes that supposedly move 50cfm or 100cfm or whatever you like, but that won't make them (a) more durable; (b) more silent; (c) more efficient to run; (d) more correctly-sized for the cubic volume and number of occupants.

Pure L wrote:And that fan is for cooling other equipment, no? Air exchange for humans and the cooling of equipment are 2 separate issues.


They sure are two separate issues, yet "cubic feet per minute" is the very same.

Pure L wrote:He'll need to move much more air if he wants to feel comfortable in this room. Again, especially if there will be other people in there with him.


Now, though, *you're* describing two separate issues. Are you thinking of air moving across human skin to assist with evaporation? Because I'm literally talking about exchanging the equivalent of the entire volume of air enclosed in this space.

In any case, you're insisting that a specific-or-nonspecific percentage, greater or lesser than 100%, is the right amount, but what's your data? Even the amount I'm recommending is based on ASHRAE recommendations, but that, itself, is highly contested. Usually way, way, way overestimated.
Pure L wrote:Truth be told, I used to know much more about this stuff when my head was 100% in it. But a cursory internet search revealed this:
http://contractingbusiness.com/service/ ... e-room-cfm

Seems like a good start.

Does it? The President of the National Comfort Institute! I usually start with Joe Lstiburek at the Building Science Corporation, who knows his shit.
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Re: Building/Acquiring a "Noise-Tight" Room

Postby Bubber on Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:06 pm

Pure L wrote:Price is just usually associated with how rugged something is and how long it'll last.


Quick follow-up—just saw the specs on that $17 double ball bearing fan, and it's rated for 67,000 hours, or, running continuously, it'd last 7.6 years.
If you guys practice continuously for 7.6 years you are going to be so awesome
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