Proof: But No Roof.
Our latest shared rehearsal space adventure found us thinking outside the box, by thinking inside the box. Having found that our most viable commercial space options almost always include neighbors, and neighbors mean sound issues, Angel had an idea: what if we decoupled the space from the space? (Whoa. Did you feel that? Don’t be alarmed, it’s just our paradigm shifting.)
Now I know what you’re thinking (wait … wut?) — but hang tight for a minute while I ‘splain: turns out there are companies that construct portable soundproof rooms. And purchasing a room might mean we could put the space within a space, but without making a substantial permanent investment in a building we are merely leasing. Landlord decides they want us to clear out? No problem! We just take the room with us and put it back together somewhere else.
We got super excited about this idea for about 15 minutes, until Angel did some research and discovered that one of these rooms cost $26,000. Then we were crushed. But THEN: she found a company that makes them for a fraction of that cost — and it turned out that company was right here in Colorado! Less than an hour away. And they had one under construction, in house, that we could test. Right “now”.
As is the way with this quest, a series of misadventures followed — it’s not easy to coordinate the schedules of anyone these days, not to mention finding people with drum kits and bass amps and the ability to use them, who can then take a field trip during the work week to indulge our whims. But as is also the way with this quest, the musicians in our community were once again amiable and accommodating. Maybe somewhat disbelieving, but at least willing to give it a shot. When we put up the bat signal around here, the bands always answer the call.
- Scheduled Field Trip #1 resulted in a no-show by the guy who owns the company, and Angel sitting on a curb with a bass player and a drummer (we found out later the guy was in the hospital, and I had to rescind all my swears).
- Scheduled Field Trip #2 resulted in a snow storm, some van shenanigans and ultimately, a reschedule.
- Field Trip #3 was “the charm” – though a last-minute schedule switch by the company owner meant the bass player was out, and we would have to do our best to test with a drummer only. A drummer who was willing to load up a carload of gear, take the morning off work and drive down to be shoved into a freezing cold warehouse into an 8×8 room << the available test size.
Let’s skip to the results part of the experiment and let you see (and hear) for yourselves, shall we? Does this seem —> Soundproof?
Well … not so much. “Sound resistant”? Maybe. The whole test took about five minutes once our intrepid drummer got set up in the unheated warehouse. We used a little decibel reader app on his phone to test the sound reduction (about 10 decibels). Angel used an app called her eyes to make note of visible gaps in the construction. I used my mittened hands to clutch my coffee cup, while lamenting inwardly about the bands that are probably practicing in similar conditions every day. Still.
Bottom line? At a price of thousands of dollars and a noise level that is decidedly … audible, we think we’ll pass on the “soundproof” room idea. For what it’s worth, the rooms are generally used for studio voice-over recording and that sort of thing, and maybe aren’t a great solution for entire bands anyway. In the end though, we were left with cold hands AND cold feet, standing back at the drawing board. Eliminating options is a good thing, but it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed when your hopes get dashed. We’re trying to be scientists about this, but I bet even scientists get discouraged. But: the best ones keep thinking and acting. Boxes be damned.