Stage in the basement

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by vgbassman, May 5, 2019.

  1. EricMordus


    Aug 29, 2013
    Dude, I want to jam in that space!
  2. City

    City Supporting Member

    There is a local, dare I say, venue(?) in a local town nearby. The house basement is behind two soundproof doors and the basement is totally underground, ie no sound gets out. They bring in regional bluegrass bands and artists. BYOB, "donation" for the band at the door, like $20. Kinda have church tables and folding chairs. If you bring food you can avoid the "donation". It was interesting at first but it got to the point that it was like a concert, ie. no talking, shut up and listen. Wellbeing around friends, BYOB, and music, don't lead me to sit and listen "all the time". I stopped going, but saw a couple really good bluegrass acts. It's in a neighborhood so they do have parking issues, but the concert is done at 11pm, and everyone is out by 11:20 heading home or to their next destination. Don't know how long it will go before the party gets shut down but for the bluegrass enthusiast in the area, it is a fine event. Stage is on the floor though and the finished ceiling is low, but helps absorb sound.
  3. PDGood


    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I have a very similar setup - a 21' x 21' room. I use it as both rehearsal space and also for house parties entertaining an audience. You absolutely CAN do this! I've had multiple bands in there and volume was not a problem - it's not the gear, it's who is playing it that makes a difference and of course, the room acoustics.
    I put dorm rugs over the concrete floor and acoustic foam on the walls around the band. The 8' ceiling is wood sprayed with some ugly white stuff that is soft and absorbs some sound.

    The hardest thing to get quiet are the drums. One guy is a very heavy hitter and he plays with rods (aka hot rods) which are much quieter than regular sticks. Other drummers have not been a problem.

    I don't use a stage - there is no need in a room that small. Everyone can see everything and adding a stage makes acoustics more complex. It can muddy the bass and it also can limit how things are set up since the edge of the stage is always something that stands will have to avoid.

    I set the band up on one side and chairs and a sofa on the other side. Also have some stools that are easy to bring in and move around. There a few places to set down food as well. I can get about a dozen people seated and overflow into the adjacent kitchen (where the food is) and also there's a back patio as well. Limit is 25 people including the band.

    This is an indoor party like many people have in their homes. I've yet to meet one that had to deal with fire and electrical codes. It is possible that sound outside the house could be an issue for you and that parking on the lawn can be restricted in some places. I haven't had to worry about sound outside the house because I put a soft material between the sheetrock and the studs on the walls. This keeps the walls from transferring sound. If you stand outside when the band is playing, it sounds like someone has their radio on if you're close to the house. If you get 20-30 feet away you hardly hear anything. Zero neighbor complaints or even comments.
    For me, the parking is the bigger issue. In my neighborhood you're not supposed to park on the lawn. This is designed to keep people from leaving broken down cars there. No one has complained and all cars are gone by morning, but if complaints were to arise it would make things difficult. For now, I park as many cars as I can behind the house. The driveway holds five or six. If push came to shove I'd have them park at a nearby Kroger and shuttle them in.

    I encourage you to do this! We've had so much fun with house parties and because of the limited seating our guests feel like they are getting a very private, special show. And oh yeah, I cater in some very great BBQ.
    vgbassman and Misfit Wookiee like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    If you raise the stage, people will be banging their guitars/basses on the ceiling while putting them on and off. I like the idea, but I'd do it slow by slow. Start with what you have. Don't put the bass or the guitars into the PA, just vocals maybe the kick and whateve else you need to. You can get a small used analog mixer with effects send and return. Start with two powered speakes for the mains, maybe get one or two powered wedges later. Get a used digital rackmount reverb unit and, only the mics you need. Think about the lighting later.
  5. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    Here is a thread I did a few years ago when I did some sound isolation in my basement.

    Project Studio - Construction Under way

    If you want to block sound from getting out you can do as little as putting up Sheetrock with safe and sound insulation.

    When it comes to acoustic panels in the room. Most of the good companies will recommend treatment based on your budget, room dimensions and goals. I’d go with a 6” platform, maybe another 6” for the drum riser.

    Fun project you can take to any extreme based on your budget.
    vgbassman likes this.
  6. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Ok, this may be more self-indulgent for me, and less helpful for you, but we will see...
    The first band I ever played with practiced in a basement that was much smaller. I would say it was probably more like 14 x 9 with 7' ceiling. Concrete floor and walls up to about 4 1/2', and 4 x 4 wood floor supports above that. It was poorly waterproofed and had a cellar door entrance. - flat doorway hatch that was part of the floor of the back porch. Soundproofing was ab about as good as the waterproofing. The harder it rained, the greater the urgency to get to the practice space to get amps and such high and dry. If you called the house where this basement was located and there was no answer on the 4th ring, you would drop what you were doing to head that way.... And you can imagine how popular the noise level was with the neighbors....
    The setup was not fancy, but was very effective. Bass Amp was a 1x18" Hartke in a hard case with a 3000 Head. Don't recall the amps, but it was plenty.... The Guitar player had a Marshall stack. the drums were on a 12" riser and were on the floor. I feel like the PA, was some old Crate model with 2 10" monitor cabs that supported vocals only.
    We ran with that and no mixing board. Just turned the PA up or down, and adjusted the amps to match. It worked pretty well/got the job done. All the aforementioned gear was also the gear that went to gigs, so up and down the stairs it went. What a PITA. load in and out for gigs, load in and out for rain storms. Good times...
    Based on our experience, you could get by on as little as what I have typed, or could (do it more right and) run everything to a board and do direct DI for the vocals and instruments that make sense, or any combination of the above. There are no rules or anything. In a small basement space I don't think in-ears or wedges are going to be a thing. There won't be any lag between the speakers/cabs and your ears. Speaking of which. I am sure I lost some hearing in that basement. You should probably consider good quality hearing protection with the plan.

    Good luck on your project!!
  7. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Have done that one too. practice space was a 12 x 24 with lots of power outlets along the walls. Was actually pretty good. I'm guessing it was a wood shop at one time, hence all the outlets for power tools, saws and such... We put thick egg crate foam on the walls to try to help the neighbor-noise levels. It didn't do as much as we hoped. Overall it was pretty nice. Even had a little window-type A/C unit for the summertime.
  8. These are pictures of the venue we play that literally is in the basement of a restaurant and a similar sounding situation.
    That thing the purple rail on the left runs to is actually a little elevator :)
    0385547C-7BE7-4A2F-9DF3-12DEA7BF4F2B.jpeg 97C08D54-1D56-44DA-9412-CBA0BCD38C13.jpeg As you can see there is a small stage. It’s only about 6” tall. They had two subs and monitors and the tops were hung from the ceiling
  9. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Here's another source for acoustic panels. I bought some of the midrange absorbers and bass traps for the great room in my house, since my band sometimes did a medium-volume rehearsal there. The acoustics were a blurry, midrangy mess--and these helped quite a bit.

    High-Performance Acoustic Panels and Sound Panels - GIK Acoustics
    Medicine Man likes this.
  10. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    I know it can be done. My younger days were full of "basement shows" in 8' ceilings.
  11. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    Zoning and licensing ordinances are different for every city, but typically if you’re not planning on charging money, most of the licensing issues wouldn’t apply.
    You would essentially just be having a party in your house.

    From a safety perspective, the single most important thing is to have two exits with the doors swinging in the direction of egress.

    How many people are you talking about?

    But Phud is right, if you are thinking of having anything that is “polished and businesslike” then you definitely need to first check your zoning and see if it is allowed.
    Then you can start examining the actual space and your anticipated occupancy to evaluate code requirements.
  12. I used my garage as a practice space for years. I finished with 6 in of insulation and I carpeted the walls to deaden the sound. You need more width than depth for a stage. I would not build anything too high. You also want something above the drums to deaden the ceiling reflections.
  13. Remoman


    Mar 14, 2017
    • Is this even a reasonable idea?\
    Yeah, I think it would be great if done right.
    • What is the minimum stage size/area required for a 5 member band (including keys). I wanna have 3 vocal mics if possible.
    I'd say 16'x8' but that's not what I'd do. I'd carpet the entire floor to help with sound, but the last say 10' I'd carpet with low pile commercial grade carpet in a contrasting color to define the "stage" area. More on that below...
    • Rectangular or a semicircular stage?
    Rectangular, but again here, I'd just designate one end of the room the "stage".
    • Stage height? I was thinking 1 foot...
    I would not build any permanent stage fixture. At most I'd have two portable risers that can be brought out for a drummer or small trio and I would just have them stacked to one side most of the time. More on that below...
    Norwood Commercial Furniture Single-Height Portable Stage & Seated Riser Section w/ Hardboard Deck (8' L x 3' D x 8" H) at School Outfitters
    • Acoustics - DIY possible or get a pro to help? Where to find a "pro"?
    DIY is possible and the fewer pros you bring in, the more under the radar you'll be. Save the pro's for carpet installation and electrical.
    • Drum shield - is it necessary?
    Probably, but there's all sorts of options and that's an easy add on or change up down the road.
    • Lighting... options? reasonable possibilities (as in small investment that can give big results)?
    Keep the lighting pretty simple, as someone already mentioned, 3 LED cans mounted to the ceiling at the edge of the "stage" area should be sufficient.
    • Would speakers make a big difference? I am thinking of going with 2 self powered speakers like EV or JBL... or is it worth spending extra on QSC? Should I go with 12s instead?
    Keep it reasonably simple, 10" is likely fine for that space, and above all, keep it like a normal portable PA for a band. Don't mount anything permanent.
    • Things to avoid...
    • Other things that I may not even have thought of...?
    As a few folks have mentioned you can easily cross a line here that will get you into all sorts of issues with local government. I'd suggest your approach be that you are building a space to entertain friends and family, and that it will double as a space for you to rehearse your band. Never use the terms venue, commercial, performance, or public, and never ever think of anything that involves you charging anyone any fee. Do take into consideration all the recommendations about fire, exits, etc, but never officially as a "venue". Just as someone who cares deeply about the safety of his family and friends. And decorate the space, put in an older couch at one end, mount a TV on a wall. The link @Ewo listed had a great section on acoustic panels as wall art. I'd say invest heavily there and on a very pro, fully residential compliant, electrical review/upgrade to handle all that fully residential, UL approved equipment you'll be using for your many rehearsals, of your band; and whoever may be sitting in. And of course for the blenders for your parties. If the two happen to overlap, it just means you and your SO just need to get better with your calendars... :smug:
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    vgbassman likes this.
  14. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    I suggest
    Basically you want to build a club for $1,500.

    Probably not reasonable.
    vgbassman likes this.
  15. You must have very forgiving neighbors... or!
    vgbassman likes this.
  16. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    I agree with hanging the mains . . . In a low small space, running the PA into everyone's kneecaps will mud things up. Get a pair of older good non-powered caps and a separate amp, since you are not moving stuff, weight won't be an issue, and you can do far better without going with the current 'trend' . . . Don't have to run power into the ceiling that way either . . . Hard to get in trouble with electrical code for circuits that don't exist . . . and there is some damn nice older stuff out there crazy cheap these days . . .
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
    vgbassman likes this.
  17. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    Since you won’t need to mic the guitar/bass amps in a room that small, your PA will only need to run the vocals, maybe keys and maybe a kick mic. So I’d go very small and compact for the PA... Check out the Yamaha Stagepas 400BT. The powered mixer actually sits inside one of the main speakers (and is also detachable if you prefer). My band uses the 600BT, which has two 10” main speakers & 680 watts (as opposed to the 400BT’s two 8” mains & 400 watts). We’ve played lots of medium sized venues and even outdoors several times with our 600BT, and it does the job fine (as long as you aren’t trying to mic the whole band thru it). The vocals are surprisingly loud and it sounds killer... noticeably cleaner and better sound quality than my older Yamaha 400W powered mixer w/ two (heavy) 15” mains that are about 15 years old. We also have a 12” powered subwoofer which is there just to give the kick some punch. The Stagepas has a subwoofer out and a built-in crossover that automatically engages when you plug into the sub out, which is a nice feature too.

    You’ll need a couple of powered monitors, and as someone else suggested earlier, you can probably just use a couple Hot Spots and be fine. We use some Behringer 10” powered monitors. Only thing is you don’t get a separate monitor mix with the Stagepas, but we’ve never had a problem with that since the PA is mainly just for the vocals anyways (we just use the volume knobs on each monitor to control their levels). For a room as small as yours, a set up like this would be plenty IMO. And like others have said, if the drums are too loud, some shield panels may be necessary.
    vgbassman likes this.
  18. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 21, 2003
    Brooklyn via Austin and NOLA
    Guitar/Bass Builder and Social Media at Sadowsky
    Do it!
    vgbassman likes this.
  19. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 21, 2003
    Brooklyn via Austin and NOLA
    Guitar/Bass Builder and Social Media at Sadowsky
    We are redoing our tiny brooklyn basement and I'm just psyched to have room for a drum kit and a bass amp to get the kids involved. If I had that much space, I'd be thrilled.
  20. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    That, or considering the limited space, leave all the amps in storage and run everything DI and keep a clean deck . . .
    Remyd likes this.
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