November 04, 2008
| by Steven Castle
It may look like a contemporary family room with a surround-sound system. But this “Texas industrial deco” space doubles as a recording studio for homeowner David Ronn’s rock band, Plastic Farm Animals. Oh, and there’s the plastic and fiberglass Silver Surfer hanging on the wall.
The Silver Surfer has always been one of David’s favorite comic book characters, so when the “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” came out, David went to eBay and got his hands on the item used to promote the movie in theaters.
As if that isn’t enough, the room is also very green. We’re talking bamboo floors, a recycled rubber floor in the adjacent control and equipment rooms, a control board table made from recycled sunflower seeds, recycled denim insulation, biodegradable acoustical panels, and solar panels on the roof to generate electricity. The house has been awarded Gold status as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Home program.
“We were building a house and looked around at how much energy was costing, so we built a green home,” David says. “I also wanted to build a studio and wanted to do it all in a green fashion.”
So the house was built with insulated concrete forms that are 10 inches thick, which helps the family save energy. A metal roof deflects heat from the attic, and blown-in insulation keeps that space only 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the house—a feat in Houston’s heat. Two high-efficiency cooling systems, one for the house and a separate one for the studio, curbs energy use as well.
The 3-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof provides about a third of the home’s electricity, David says. That’s certainly good news when it comes to powering up the home theater system or recording studio.
The 30-by-20-foot room has a commercial-grade Pioneer 50-inch plasma monitor—which David says is very efficient—on a track so it can be manually relocated when converting the room to a studio. The couches also roll out of the way when it’s time for the Plastic Farm Animals to jam.
On-wall Sunfire speakers and a center-channel speaker mounted below the plasma monitor provide the surround sound. There are two subwoofers as well: an 8-inch Sunfire and an in-wall NHT unit.
For live music, the band plays through two Bose systems with a single bass subwoofer, also located in the room. Sound reflections from the sustainable bamboo flooring would pose a problem for both the band and home theater sound, so Dallas-based custom studio design firm Suffolk Studio Design added a 1-inch-thick Auralex S-Core cotton-based acoustical wall system all around, with Auralex’s Elite fabric stretched over the panels for a smooth look. In addition, Suffolk’s custom-made 15-foot-long convex and concave acoustical “clouds” hang from the ceiling to help absorb, reflect and diffuse the sound. “We did this to make the room really sound like a professional studio,” says Bob Suffolk of Suffolk Studio Design. And all the acoustic treatments are recyclable, he adds.
In addition, Lutron’s Sivoia QED motorized shades darken the room when it’s TV time, while an electric glass system makes the control room window opaque.
David says he hasn’t done any recording in the studio yet, but it’s ready—along with the fully equipped control room.
Click here to view more pictures of this room.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates