We were recently informed everyone in our building has 90 days to move out. About six months ago inspections of all buildings above a new underground freeway tunnel being built through the center of Downtown Seattle included ours’. It seems that inspection turned up structural code issues, for a city like Seattle that’s prone to major earthquakes. The cost of the upgrades forced the building owners to sell it to a company that will convert it to a hotel (the building’s original use when it was built back in 1909).
It was a sad day to loose a place in a great building in the heart of Downtown Seattle, where we were our rent was near half of any other comparable building in the area. Our upstairs neighbor has lived in the building for 23 years…our across the hall neighbor for 18 years and myself for 8 years. I will greatly miss our bedroom view of the Seattle Space Needle, which I’ve spent several summers taking pictures during the summer sunsets.
All is not lost. I recently found a building in Downtown Bellevue, which though it lacks the same proximity to many of my favorite activities is actually a major step forward as a location to serve our local clients. This new place is in a brand new building, in a centralized location of our region, and just a few minutes off the freeway. We also have more floor space to work with in our listening area…it’s about 14×17′.
This new place presents two major challenges. First, the ambient noise level from the freeway a few blocks away measures a consistent 35dB on my sound meter. Ambient noise level is my first concern when searching for a new location (followed closely by a layout that allows placement of my equipment). Audiophiles often fail to realize how a room’s ambient noise level effects their sound…it’s huge. Getting away from outside noise in the downtown area of a large city is difficult. I looked at a number of places where the noise was just unacceptable. 35dB is tolerable, though I envy my friends who have rooms so quiet you can hear a pin drop (we’re talking 5-10dB). I’ll put some Dynamat squares on the window panes, but the only real solution for this issue would be to eventually move to a quieter part of the building.
The second challenge is a tremendous slap echo caused by the hard floors and 25 foot ceilings in this loft layout. Slap echo is a single echo you hear in an area with abundant hard surfaces and/or open spaces. If you find yourself in one of those public bathrooms with floor to ceiling tile, snap your fingers and you’ll hear what slap echo is. I can hear the echo from my snap travel up through the loft area, back down the stairs, through the kitchen and back into the listening area. My decibel meter ticks up about two dB as the echo kicks in. I’m clearly going to have to invest in more acoustic panels and work on my resonators and other room tuning devices.
It’ll be interesting to see how this new listening room looks and hear how it sounds by the end of the year. I’m expecting it’ll look very different and hopefully sound really cool.