Building Bad Racket Studios
You know when you look at something that’s a little broken, but wonderful, and think “there’s so much potential here, If only I had the time to fix this up”? That’s how we felt about half of our studio in December, no joke, It was pretty rough. A strange thing happened though, mid January we were burdened with the news of several weeks of back to back cancellations. It seemed so horrible for a moment, Then we looked around and said “Hey, we’ve got time to fix this.” So we did.
The warehouse that we call home, also the home and HQ of Go Media, is at 45th and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, OH. We started out with about 2,000 sq foot of open 18ft ceilings with a 14’ x 14’ nook and 20’ x 12’ enclosed kitchenette, which we assumed served as some sort of break room for the previous occupant.
Phase 1 build out was small. A couple baffles made by hand to use as room dividers and sound isolators. It wasn’t much, but experimenting with baffles is an essential step for any small recording outfit, even people in home studios should experiment with them.
Phase 2 build out was big, and took place just a few months after phase one. Lot’s more baffles, Over head acoustic treatment “SuperChunk” corner bass traps for the 14’ x 14’ nook, and a 12” raised stage in the center of the live room. Bill Beachy of Go Media even spearheaded part of the project by picking up a paintbrush and coating the aged concrete floor with lacquer, which completely changed the feeling of the room. The second phase gave us exactly what we needed to make some leaps in sonic quality: isolation and enough acoustic treatment to shape the sound of the room.
This leads us to Phase 3: Creating the isolated mixing and control room. As you would venture to guess this was the largest construction project we’ve undertaken at Bad Racket. It was in our plans all along to build out the old break room into a control room, every session and every video shoot we looked over at the end of the night and said… That’s going to be so great when we have that, but I don’t think any of us really thought about how we would do it.
In fact, the day we started construction it was sort of a surprise. We didn’t had a session going so we got the tools out and made a few extra panels, since it seemed like we couldn’t possibly have too many. We swept up, talked a bit about the work we’d done and were about to head out the door, then I looked up at the drop ceiling in the break room and began taking the hideous, white panels down from the wire framing.
Adam and James joined in, taking random stuff out of the room right away and we worked until we had an empty room with an open ceiling. We swept up, talked a bit about the work we’d done and were heading out the door, then I tapped a hammer into the break room wall.
It came off easier than I thought it would. Adam and James joined in without really saying anything and we ripped down all the layers of drywall and paneling until there was bare studs. About 3 in the morning, we swept up, talked a bit about the work we had done… and this time we went home.
Just like that Phase 3 construction started without us even knowing it had happened.
Amongst our conversations on previous days of audio experiments, It was decided we needed to make a new edition to our collection of custom built baffles. This new mobile panel needed to be larger and twice as thick as the previous models we had built, something that would absorb a huge frequency range. That item went on the list for construction next, and since we were at home depot, again, we got the materials to build some more regular baffles too.
We arrived back at the studio to build this new wonder baffle “BUT WAIT, we can’t build more stuff! The place is now torn apart like batman’s workshop and we’re hosting The Womack Family Band in a few days AND having like a hundred people over to hang out at the studio”, not good…. Back to Home Depot. (Home Depot, if you’d like to sponsor us that’d be cool… we’ll make some neat stuff for you)
We matched our biz card color, nice, got the perfect paint, bought some work lamps. We painted the walls, Hung the work lamps (we use them permanently with warm glow fluorescents), painted again, 3 am, swept up, talked a bit about the work we’d done and went on home.
We lived this pattern of finding materials, shifting priorities, designing, and building into the early morning for about three weeks. We built custom framing in the new control room, installed hundreds of pounds of mineral wool insulation (itchy and painful) into the walls, ceiling, and movable paneling and covered it with bike helmet material donated from zerolandfill, and a mixture of random red, blue and green fabrics that we just found cheerful. We framed and installed a 48” studio window, which had been transplanted from an old Tri-C studio. Tyler Owen of Closer Look Studios kept the glass in storage for over a decade waiting for it to find a home, I can’t thank Tyler enough for keeping it safe. At the end of our third phase of construction, Bad Racket is brand new, yet somehow it feels like it’s been around forever, with war stories and love letters to prove it.
So, you might be thinking right now, “what does any of this have to do with Power Slabs? What the what is a Power Slab?” One of my favorite moments from construction was when we discovered that Adam Wagnerism “Super Chunk” made the perfect names for our signature acoustic treatment. Learn more about our PowerSlab™, MegaChunk™, and ThunderChunk™ Baffles in our gear cabinet soon, and keep your ear to the ground about what might be in store for Phase 4.