Salem Oregon conference center studio

Document your build here: All about your walls, ceilings, doors, windows, HVAC, and (gasp!) floated floors...
Guit-picker
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Salem Oregon conference center studio

#1

Postby Guit-picker » Sat, 2021-May-01, 15:22

I was asked by our conference center to spearhead a recording studio for a Christian outreach. In 2014, we decided to build it in what was originally a “Potting shed” that serviced a large greenhouse in the past. It was built much like a garage, only with no garage door. I had already joined the John Sayers forum and had been learning how to REALLY build a studio after some false starts at home. Now I am glad to be on Soundman2020’s forum, as he has saved me several times from disaster. I am indebted to him and the Sayers forum for keeping me on the straight and narrow. Stuart suggested that I put a summary of the stages I’ve been through to bring everyone up to date. That’s no small task as the Control Room is nearly done and I am just beginning to dig into the 3 sound rooms that are pending acoustics. I am needing the most help with acoustics, since that’s where I am least confident and for me, it’s the scariest part.

This will be a very long post because I don’t see any other way to do it. Since they say “a picture’s worth a thousand words (except electrical engineers say “A word is worth a millipicture”), I decided to minimize text and post photos, reduced in size for storage space. So here goes…

Original building pics:
The room was a bit musty inside, with not much insulation. It had creepy indoor/outdoor carpeting and you could see light from underneath the double doors in the back! On September 27, 2014 we started the first physical work by gutting out the inside walls. The ceiling wasn’t figured out yet. The people were eager go get started, which made me uneasy, since there was so much research to do yet.
A1_External_Start.JPG

A2_Internal_Start.JPG

A3Gutted_Out.JPG

Outer Mass:
One thing was for sure - and that was we needed more mass on the inside of the outer walls. We glued & screwed two layers of 5/8”drywall between the studs against the outer plywood inner surface. ALL the edges were sealed with OSI SC-175 Acoustic Seal (each layer) – cases and cases! Also sealed all the seams and cracks we could find in the walls.
B1_Outer_Drywall & seal.JPG

Ceiling:
The original ceiling was built with ceiling trusses (fink style) to create an 8-foot ceiling. I was told by my construction partner that the ceiling couldn’t be raised. Here’s where Soundman2020 saved the day. He urged me to REPLACE the trusses and generously sent me (directly) some photos of a client’s ceiling of the same type. He convinced me that it isn’t that hard to “sister in” new trusses and cut out the lower part of the old. I was able to convince my leadership that this was the way to go (otherwise we would be recording midgets and children after putting in the second ceiling!).
Original trusses:
B4_Original_Trusses.JPG

Half of trusses “sistered in”:
B5_Half_of_trusses.JPG

Finished new trusses:
B6_Finished_Trusses.JPG

Roof insulation installed (vent holes also installed with screen to keep out nesting birds).
C1_Roof insulation.jpg

Hired in outside help to put in two layers of ceiling drywall. They weren’t as tight with their seams as I’d like, so I had to fill in more acoustic seal (both layers) than expected. Seam overlap was avoided wherever possible (one layer “vertical” and the other “horizontal”). Everything had to be sealed.
C2_Outer_ceiling_drywall.jpg

Outer layer of Rockwool insulation, 3”x16” batts (Roxul Safe-n-Sound).
C5_Outer insulation.jpg

Floor plan layout:
I labored over the inner floorplan for a long time and thought I had it nailed. The leadership was anxious about getting started framing. At my last minute sanity check on the forum before commencing, Soundman2020 once more came to the rescue. He hadn’t seen my HVAC plan to start out with and challenged me whether I had worked out the RFZ angles. I had forgotten! He also thought my side walls didn’t look right. It turned out that my side RFZ reflection spots were EXACTLY where my glass-windowed doors were going to be!!! This brought about layout changes, which moved the doors out of the way, gave us some extra elbow room in the control room and also served to provide a much better place for the ductless heat pump unit. So I got three solutions with 1 change. Thanks Stuart!!
First floorplan:
D1_First_floorplan.jpg

Corrected floorplan (Note that the door swings are not all correct):
D2_Corrected CR_floorplan.JPG

Framing commenced:
The four rooms (actually buildings) take advantage of the new vaulted ceiling line, except the control room is at 8’ to allow room for the fresh air system.
D3_Framing_CAD.jpg

D4_Framing_inner_walls.jpg

I did a power “budget” with the electrician and found that this old building didn’t have enough incoming power lines capable to power the HVAC and the expected equipment and lights, so we had to bring bigger service lines in from the source building 250 feet away. My electrician pulled the new wire and had us up with new power in an amazing 4 hours!
Studio on left, power sourced from building on right. Wiring pulled underground between buildings.
E1_Incoming_power.jpg

Moved breaker panel from old outer wall to the new inner wall. Had to put a small section of double-layer drywall (layers offset) for a place to mount the panel. This allowed me to be able to seal the holes on both inside (by reaching up behind) and outside the drywall and then get rockwool insulation in after mounting. (I did the same thing on the two heat pump units as well).
E2_circuit_brkr_box.jpg

Conduit installation for signal wiring (and some power & internet incoming to the control room):
E4A_Conduit routing.jpg

E4B_Conduit routing.jpg



Guit-picker
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Salem Oregon conference center studio

#2

Postby Guit-picker » Sat, 2021-May-01, 15:26

To be continued.... I wasn't able to upload any more photos. I think I have to wait for processing or approval to continue...



Guit-picker
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Salem Oregon conference center studio

#3

Postby Guit-picker » Sat, 2021-May-01, 15:42

Fresh air system installed above control room:
Working with our hired HVAC man, he understood fully the concept of quieting up the ducting as described in the forum, although he had never done it before. Incidentally, he pointed out that it is not code to build wooden ventilation boxes in Oregon. He did a marvelous job and I can’t quite hear any hint of the venting system from inside (like using my imagination)! I was very nervous about that, because as soon as it was installed, we could finish the framing of the walls and I wouldn’t know if it even works until the walls, doors and windows were finished. It works amazingly!
E5_HVAC_1.jpg

E6_HCAC_2.jpg

E7_HVAC_3.jpg

Two separate ductless heat pump systems: One for the large live room and one for the control room.
E8_HVAC_4.jpg

E9_HVAC_5.jpg

Remaining power wiring:
I was urged by the forum to minimize holes in the walls for incoming power to the rooms by having only one inlet per room if possible, then use surface-mount conduit and external switch and plug boxes. Eric, my electrician, really balked at that, especially working with the nasty “decorative” surface conduit. The conduit is expensive and very time consuming to work with and we were paying him by the hour. He came up with a unique hybrid way, which I believe is very effective, yet easier and more attractive. We used residential Romex for AC wiring , but put a short piece of conduit at each of the switch and plug boxes. I was able to later seal around the conduit when drywall was done as well as even seal the inside of the conduit and wire where it emerges into the room. I think this is a novel approach and haven’t seen it done anywhere else. I absolutely wanted to share this one for sure!
G1_AC_wiring_1.jpg

G3_AC_wiring_2.jpg
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G3_AC_wiring_2.jpg
G3_AC_wiring_2.jpg (40.51 KiB) Viewed 384 times

G5_AC_wiring_3.jpg

G6_AC_wiring_4.jpg
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G6_AC_wiring_4.jpg
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Insulated inner walls with two layers in ceiling :
H1_Inner_insulation_ceiling.jpg

H2_Inner_insulation_walls.jpg

Inner drywall – two layers of 5/8”, as usual:
Greg, my friend, spent many years doing drywall and moved on, hoping to never see a piece of drywall again. When he came by to help me on purchase estimates, he volunteered to do the installation, because he “wanted to see it done right”. He was accurate and efficient. Thanks Greg!
H3_Inner_drywall_1.jpg

H4_Inner_drywall_2.jpg

Texturing, paint, inner doors and overhead lighting next:
All six inner doors are solid, with birch veneer and all but one has glass (allowing sight between control room and the two isolation booths.
H7_Textured_Painted_Doors_installed.jpg

The outer door is steel clad, filled with a concrete & foam mixture and I think it is 150 pounds.
H8_Outer_door.jpg

Windows:
There are two double-pane windows - one between the Control Room and the large Live Room and the second between the small live room and the large live room. I learned from Rod Gervais’ book, how thick to make the laminated glass to match the density of the drywall on one side and to add a ¼” thicker glass on the other side to make sure their resonance didn’t match. The resonant frequency would otherwise pass through both panes. Fortunately, I was spared the math because his wall example he used was exactly like mine: one side of the window glass is 3/8” thick and the other is 5/8”. The same glass thicknesses were installed in each pair of windowed doors as well.
Before building the window cases, I made double sure that there was a very good seal between the two walls. I was deathly afraid that a spider would eventually make its way inside the window and make a big web and sit there laughing at me! Later, I put some mint extract in the gap between the glass because I learned that spiders can’t stand it and will leave. This may have been a silly extreme, but I wanted to be thorough. Besides, it smelled nice! :lol: :roll:
H9_Seal out spiders.jpg

H9A_Windows.jpg

Flooring - vinyl plank:
J1_Flooring.jpg

... To be continued - next post



Guit-picker
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Salem Oregon conference center studio

#4

Postby Guit-picker » Sat, 2021-May-01, 16:09

External painting of the building is done, except for the door and all the trim. A concrete sidewalk is recently completed and a door overhang has been started.
J2_paint_concrete_overhang.jpg

We pulled the signal wiring and designed our custom snake mic boxes, painted black by my son who paints cars.
K1_Mic_snake_LR2.jpg

K2_Mic_snake_LR1.jpg

One of the headphone jacks providing up to 3 separate cues around the studio.
K3_typical headphone cues.jpg

Control room:
First part was to build the front soffit for the farfield speaker design. The forum held my hand through this whole design, correcting me multiple times.
Starting point was the framing of the left and right speaker chambers and the middle section for bass traps.
L1_Front Soffit Frame_speakers.jpg

I also learned about suspending the monitors in Sorbothane, a space-age material (used in industry and even on the space shuttle) designed to absorb vibration from the top, bottom and sides of the speaker. Back side is good also, if you can find a way. I borrowed from another design and modified it so the correct compression can be dialed in using threaded rod and bolts.
L2_Speaker_suspention1.JPG

L3_Speaker_suspention2.jpg

Lined the inside of the speaker soffits with 3” Roxul and (not shown) the back wall of the middle section (used Knauf Ecose compressed fiberglass, 2” there)
L4_Soffit_insul_lining.jpg

Next came the bass trap hangers as learned from the forum. In this case, a friend of mine was able to acquire a cancelled order of 4’x4’x 1” Knauf Ecose insulation – a replacement for OC-703 that is always talked about. The best thing - it is brand new and was donated for FREE! The hangers each have 2” of knauf Ecose insulation on either side with Homosote sandwiched in between. They are suspended from eyelets via zip ties, spaced 1” apart with no touching walls or each other allowed. Air vents flow from below up behind the monitors to a vent at the top of the baffle front.
L5_Soffit_hangers.jpg

I had a tweeter go out on one of my Roland DS-90A speakers at this point. It was a good thing too, since even though I’m kind-of fond of these speakers, I learned that you can no longer get replacement parts and many people are looking for the tweeters out there! After all, these are 23 years old. I bought ADAM AX7 speakers and fortunately, I didn’t have to do much altering to the soffits nor the suspension assembly. Roxul insulation was stuffed on the sides of the speakers and a sort-of “gasket” was made out of a piece of 1 ½” OC-703 to seal around the space between the incoming baffle boards and the monitor speakers.
L6_Adam_spkrs_Insulated.jpg

I learned from Soundman2020 that two layers of ¾” plywood for a baffle board was actually “underkill” when I thought the opposite. I made mine out of ¾” birch plywood backed with ¾” of concrete backerboard glued on. They don’t make ¾” backerboard, so I installed two layers – ½” and ¼”.
L7_Baffles_front.jpg

L8_Baffles_back.jpg

Baffle boards installed and soffit grills too.
L9A_Soffit_Grills_trim1.jpg

Incidentally, I made hatches on each speaker enclosure on the window side in order to get limited access to the rear controls of the monitor speakers without having to remove the baffle and insulation! They are bolted on with 8 bolts. Access is gained by removing the grills next to the window and a piece of insulation then opening the hatch. It requires one of those camera/light devices on a flex cable to see the back of the speaker, but one can get his hand back there to make adjustments.
L9B_Soffit_Grills_trim2.jpg

We built a 10” high pedestal in back of the control room to put the rear loveseat couch on so the listeners won’t be staring at the shoulder blades of the sound engineer directly in front of them. We framed it in and lined it with plastic sheeting, filled with old concrete chunks, cinder block pieces and finally sand, level with the top to fill the cavity. Finished photos visible later on...
M1_Pedestal Frame.jpg

Rear bass trap:
I was originally going to put hangers in the back of the control room, but was having problems figuring out how I was going to hang them straight in my 45 degree room with a tapering ceiling in a different angle. That’s when John Sayers piped in and handed me a different design that took many of us on the forum by surprise. It is based on a Hemholtz resonator method. It solved most of my compound angle troubles. It took me 4 months to get it done. It is made of lumber and the exposed parts are covered with birch veneer - something I had experience with in the past from furniture building. It weighs about 700 pounds, so I had to build it in three sections and get help to get it in and lined up.
M2_Hemholtz_trap1.JPG

Some of the 40 vertical pieces, veneered:
M2_Hemholtz_trap2.jpg

One section after finish coats and in process of assembling with headers on either end:
M3_Hemholtz_trap3.jpg


To be continued next post...



Guit-picker
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Salem Oregon conference center studio

#5

Postby Guit-picker » Sat, 2021-May-01, 16:29

Here I’m paying the young help after delivery of the first section. I paid them for their trouble with very valuable currency at that time of COVID…. Toilet paper! :lol: :roll:
M4_Hemholtz_trap4.jpg

Started lining with Rockwool and filled the rest with fiberglass batts.
M5_Hemholtz_trap5.jpg

Finished Bass trap and pedestal and couch installed.
M6_Hemholtz_trap6.jpg

Cloud frame made from birch plywood and solid birch:
N1_cloud_frame1.jpg

Cloud installed along with overhead lighting built-in:
N2_cloud_frame2.jpg

Super-chunk-style corner bass traps installed in two corners – not covered yet. The two 4'x4' rockwool sections were part of an RFZ side panel test that I will have questions about soon...
O1_corner_trap_RFZ_test.jpg

Here’s the first (ugly) room ring waterfall graph with REW in the empty control room with only the soffit frame and speakers – done on Sep. 26, 2019 (just for a reference sample):
O2_26Sep2019_Ring.JPG

Here’s the most recent waterfall graph ring done on April 9, 2021 (again just for a reference). I will be posting out the complete REW mdat files after this update… with several questions! :
O3_9Apr2021_Ring.JPG

The desk arrived about 10 days ago and we are in the process of wiring things up.
A “naked” view of the desk without panels and drawers:
P1_Desk arrival.jpg

Two drawer assemblies (stacked) that will slide into space under the desk top.
P2_Drawers.jpg

Starting to look like a REAL studio! :
P3_Recent_Desk.jpg

My electrician partner doing his thing on the desk. Also, a nice close-up of my finger! ;) We’ve got a ways to go on that, yet…
P4_Current_wiring_status.jpg

What’s also left for the control room is to build up the two side RFZ panels (after figuring out what to put there) and any other acoustics that have to be added. Then it’s time to work on the small live room acoustics. When that it done, the “restless natives” can move in and begin recording vocals (on pre-recorded accompaniment) and that will appease them while we move on to complete the large live room and the entry way (which can also double for a 2nd vocal booth).
On my next post, I will pose my questions for sorely-needed advice, as I am under tremendous pressure right now. Thanks for reading these loooooong posts! I hope it is a help and maybe an inspiration for those just starting up... :)
-Ron



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Starlight
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#6

Postby Starlight » Sat, 2021-May-01, 17:32

Six and a half years, just like that. There a lot of blood, sweat and tears (hopefully without any blood) in your studio build so far. Well done for persevering and having a good team and a rota of capable friends and contacts to help out.



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#7

Postby Guit-picker » Tue, 2021-May-04, 22:17

Now that I have posted the whole process so far to date, I am desperate for some quick advice. I am under intense pressure to have the control room and the small live room ready to record by May 15th. This is because the leadership has run out of patience (which I can’t blame them) after 6 years and 8 months of waiting. This arbitrary deadline has come down the pipeline and, of course, I am having a tough time making them understand how “the devil is in the details”, but I am working long hours, doing everything humanly possible towards that goal. There is a saying: “A woman can produce a baby in 9 months, but 9 women can’t produce 1 baby in 1 month”. I have plenty of labor help, but no “partner” in learning the technical part. I am ALONE on that.

Besides wiring up the console desk, I need to finalize the acoustics in the control room and in the small live room (vocal isolation booth). Treating the live room is completely new to me. I don’t recall reading a lot about how to test/treat live rooms on the forum. It seems it has been mostly about treating control rooms, which is a completely different situation. Two days ago, three corner bass traps (super-chunk style, filled with Roxul) went in, since that is a given. Not surprisingly, I can already hear the difference. Here are a couple of drawings showing the shape, dimensions and the three bass traps.
Live_Room_A.JPG

Live_Room_B.JPG

Question #1- Isolation booth acoustics: Now that the corner bass traps are set in, how do I figure out what else to do with the walls & ceiling? I have heard things about it being somewhat a matter of taste of how “dead/live” we want the room to be. I consulted with a friend with significant experience in the pro studios in LA and in Motown. He was recommending that the small and large room lean more towards “dead”, and perhaps the third room a bit more “live”. How do you approach this?

Question #2- Finishing the control room acoustics: To recap, the control room desk just arrived and is being wired in; the front soffit and rear bass trap are complete; overhead cloud is complete; and the two corner bass traps (super chunk) are installed (no fabric yet). What’s NOT done yet are the left and right RFZ panels. I did the following tests, trying to determine the best material to use:
• I rang the room using REW a couple of days ago for current status data, with no RFZ panels
Present_status.jpg

• I re-rang with some temporary 4’x4’x3” Roxul (safe-n-sound) panels propped up against the wall.
RFZ_test_Roxul_desk.jpg

• I repeated again with 6” of Roxul.
• I then re-rang with some temporary 4’x4’x2” Knauf Ecose panels propped up against the wall.
RFZ_test_Ecose_desk.jpg

• I repeated again with 4” of Knauf Ecose panels.

I have all the data in one file, each variation is with the standard L, R, L+R rings according to Soundman2020’s famous instructions. Here is the file for the data. I am told I can now paste it directly into the post (which is cool!). I hope it loads OK for you.
RFZ_experiment_Roxul_Knauf_desk.mdat
(27.6 MiB) Downloaded 9 times
RFZ_experiment_Roxul_Knauf_desk.mdat
(27.6 MiB) Downloaded 9 times

Any help I can get would be GREATLY appreciated. I’m in a real desperate need here….
Thanks for this Forum!!!
-Ron



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Starlight
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#8

Postby Starlight » Wed, 2021-May-05, 04:48

Guit-picker wrote:Source of the postI am under intense pressure to have the control room and the small live room ready to record by May 15th. This is because the leadership has run out of patience (which I can’t blame them) after 6 years and 8 months of waiting.
Ron, take a step back, far enough, if you can, so that you can stand in your leaders' shoes. I see you are trying different panels at the first reflection points and checking with REW, working on Sorbothane pressure levels, etc. In the world of acoustics that is good but you are now in red alert mode - you have 10 days to get to where you can demonstrate to the leaders that the studio is up and running and works. There is no way you can get it all finished in 10 days so don't panic and don't try to.

If you were designing a bicycle I would want to see that the concept works and that you are well under way. For a bike that would mean it needs wheels, pedals, handlebar and a saddle. You can explain that there is still further work to do, such as adding brakes, mudguards, lights and more. For your studio I would say that if you can demonstrate that someone can perform in the live room and be recorded in the control room, without more details that is my guess at what the leadership will want to witness.

For the next 10 days I suggest you focus on things that will help the leadership see that the studio works, namely:
A, it doesn't matter which, just leave any of the panels in the control room so that they can hear that the control room has its own sound;
B, do nothing to the live room other than leaning the remaining panels against walls in there just to tame the wildest of reverb;
C, ignore all other rooms;
D, get the basic electrics working - lighting in the live and control rooms and power for the control room. Nothing needs to look finished, just demonstrate it in safe working order;
E, get someone in to perform on the day to show that the studio works. Maybe make it easier (less to go wrong) by having a singer record to a backing track. One mic, one track to record and play to the leadership.

After May 15th you can return to those things that are interesting to you and will improve the quality of the studio.



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#9

Postby endorka » Wed, 2021-May-05, 08:32

Excellent advice Starlight.



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#10

Postby Guit-picker » Wed, 2021-May-05, 13:39

Thanks for your replies. Which material do you think is more effective for the two RFZ panels: Roxul Safe-n-sound or Knauf Ecose (fiberglass)? Other? Same question for the small live room?
Anyone want to look at my present REW data and help me understand how to interpret? Is it Excellent, mediocre, or bad?
-Ron



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#11

Postby Starlight » Wed, 2021-May-05, 16:14

Guit-picker wrote:Source of the postI am under intense pressure to have the control room and the small live room ready to record by May 15th.
The control room and the small live room need to be ready to record by May 15th. Based on what you have told us you really need to focus on the bigger picture and forget the details for now.

My answers to your latest questions are that for the next 10 days any material will do for the panels and no, I have no interest in REW. On 16th May I will have different answers.



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#12

Postby Guit-picker » Tue, 2021-May-11, 14:47

For the next 10 days I suggest you focus on things that will help the leadership see that the studio works, namely:
A, it doesn't matter which, just leave any of the panels in the control room so that they can hear that the control room has its own sound;
B, do nothing to the live room other than leaning the remaining panels against walls in there just to tame the wildest of reverb;
C, ignore all other rooms;
D, get the basic electrics working - lighting in the live and control rooms and power for the control room. Nothing needs to look finished, just demonstrate it in safe working order;
E, get someone in to perform on the day to show that the studio works. Maybe make it easier (less to go wrong) by having a singer record to a backing track. One mic, one track to record and play to the leadership.

After May 15th you can return to those things that are interesting to you and will improve the quality of the studio.

This is where we’re at: The “due date” has been moved to May 31, which is interesting because we’ve done pretty much what you had in mind as well (had the same idea in mind) and are ready to demo if they want. A lot of pressure is off! The console desk is wired except for a few future enhancements.
20210508_Couch_view.jpg

I propped a large sheet of 1 ½” OC-703 on one wall and 4’x’4’x2” of Knauf Ecose (same kind of stuff) on two other walls in the vocal room. Actually, I’m thinking it sounds really good now!
20210510_LR1_current.jpg

I had the pleasure to be the very first person to be recorded in the studio (cool moment!) – just a quick 2-mic guitar/vocal – two takes and threw some hasty reverb onto it. We are ready to do a demo for the leadership if they want. So there’s a lot of pressure that has been released with this progress. We’re actually ahead of the original schedule as long as they understand there is more to do to enhance and complete the acoustics. We are confident they will be very happy with this situation. They aren't a "hard-nosed" as I may have implied.

We are planning on having a consultant come in to look at the live rooms. The understanding is we will leave the remaining of the acoustics in the control room to me. I’m planning to re-ring the control room today or tomorrow without the temporary RFZ panels to get a baseline of where it is right now (now that there are video monitors on the desk, etc. I am hoping to get some help with REW analysis.



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#13

Postby Starlight » Fri, 2021-May-14, 04:05

I must say how impressed I am that you got things into working order pretty quickly, given what you had previously shown us of the whole project being drawn out over many years.

You are on a roll, Ron, keep going!

What do you hope to achieve in the next two weeks so that the place works better or looks better by 31st May?



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#14

Postby Dr Space » Fri, 2021-May-14, 04:20

Wow.. super impressive.. You are a few months ahead of mine.. Looking great....




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