26 Industry Experts Reveal the Best Soundproofing Materials & Techniques
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You don’t need to be an architect to or an acoustic consultant to learn how to soundproof a room. You can do it yourself at home. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of cheap soundproofing materials that you can use with good results.
Whether you want to isolate sounds in a room, prevent noise from entering or to absorb echos and reverberations, in today’s post we will explore ways in which you can achieve these tasks easily and cheaply.
Together with Minuca Elena, we reached out to 25 professionals that faced the same problems as you. They are musicians, acoustic consultants and home improvement experts.
In the first part of this article we asked them:
What’s the best soundproofing material or product to soundproof a room?
In the second part of the article we asked them:
What is your favorite technique for preventing noise from entering or leaving a room?
We received a variety of solutions, some are a bit more technical while others are things you can do yourself easily. We hope you can take from this post whatever fits best to your needs.
Best Soundproofing Materials Mentioned by the Experts:
What’s the best soundproofing material or product to soundproof a room?
John Lamb – Backbeat Music Academy
It’s complicated. There is no “best” material. Everything has a trade-off.
First, there is a difference between soundproofing, where the sound is prevented from traveling into another area (isolation) vs absorption, which strikes to make a room more pleasant to be in. Each has a different set of tools to deal with.
For soundproofing, the goal is to not allow the sound energy to pass into the next room. This is a pretty abstract concept to grasp, however. It may help to image the sound waves as ocean waves, and the air as water.
A very loud sound creates very large, powerful waves, like a tsunami. If there is an open channel for the water (air) to flow through, it will move into the next room at near full strength.
Therefore, creating an airtight barrier is very helpful because it seals the water (air) in the room and prevents it from moving to the next room.
However, the power of the wave will push on the walls and create an effect very much like a wave-generator at your local swim park. The wall itself will flex to push the air in the next room, in essence, become a giant speaker.
This is to start answering your question. The materials of the wall make a difference. The only feature that really makes a big difference is mass.
The heavier the wall, the harder it is for the sound wave to push, and therefore it moves less. Like trying to push a Volkswagen Beetle vs a Ford Explorer by yourself: the Beetle will get moving much faster for the same amount of force.
With this in mind, you can do things like heavy sheetrock, double layers of sheetrock, Roxul insulation, Insulation, Heavy blankets, anything really that adds mass to the wall.
However, each material has its own independent properties and will affect different frequencies. Some will be better at deadening high frequencies, but worse at lower ones. Others will be the reverse.
However, the very best material for soundproofing is air.
If you can create a layer of completely dead air within the wall, the wave-machine effect will push on that pocket of dead air, dissipating the sound energy before it then pushes on the outside of the wall and that then pushes on the air in the next room.
To do this, the traditional method is just to build two walls in a process called double studding. Basically, you build two walls with space – usually about an inch – in between them.
This creates a zone of dead air and mechanical separation that is the most effective. It is more effective to do this than to take a single wall and add on mass, or even pour a single concrete wall.
There is another type of product that accomplishes something very similar: acoustic glue (e.g. Greenglue). This is the glue that never solidifies.
Instead, it remains liquid. You’d use to glue, say, two layers of sheetrock together, and the layer of glue dissipates the energy the same way the dead air space does.
This is the principle behind soundproof glass – two layers of glass with the thin layer between it.
Just exactly how you construct it matters, however. The size of the pocket of air will act like a drum, resonating and amplifying a particular set of frequencies.
Generally speaking, the smaller the gap, the higher the affected frequencies are. Bigger spaces amplify lower frequencies. So considering the source of what you want to isolate matters.
You might build a vocal booth slightly different than you would for a bass booth, for example.
Price is also a major consideration. MLV costs a couple of bucks per square foot, and adding a second wall obviously comes with framing costs, etc.
The first question any studio needs to ask is “What degree of soundproofing do I need?” and “What is my budget?”.
For my music school, I went very simple: Double walls with a single layer of sheetrock, and Greenglue between the sheetrock and the studs caulked and sealed to make the middle airtight. I added Roxul insulation for extra mass inside.
My needs are light, though. I have a music school, but I control the sound at the source, using Remo Silentstroke drumheads, etc to control the problem.
This is to reduce the need for and therefore cost of soundproofing, but also the prevent hearing damage over time.
Adam Chase – Instrument Find
As a professional musician that is in the process of finishing out my own home recording studio, this is a question I have been exploring in depth myself.
Fortunately for me, I studied sound engineering in college and have recorded in several recording studios throughout my career as a professional musician.
In my experience, I have seen a wide variety of soundproofing solutions, ranging from easy and cheap do it yourself techniques to more expensive solutions that require some construction and time.
The cheap soundproofing options tend to be seen in the sweatshop style practice spaces found in big cities around the country. This entails lining the walls and ceiling with sound absorption materials.
The cheapest route would be to take foam mattress toppers, also known as “bed egg crates” and glue or staple them around the room and ceiling.
Since the foam material absorbs sound well, this solution is a viable option for keeping sound from escaping your space without spending too much money.
I would recommend going with the thicker mattress toppers for better results.
Do know, that this is not going to create a dead room or full isolation, this will simply dampen the sound and help from quiet your space a little as foam absorbs sound.
If someone is telling you that bed padding is going to create full isolation and stop all the sound in a room from coming or going, they are full of something and it’s not called truth.
Similar to the foam of bed padding are sound panels that are intentionally made for sound dampening that will work a little better than mattress toppers and there are some options that aren’t too expensive.
While it’s not quite as cheap as the bed egg crate option, these are typically designed for having properties that serve the natural acoustics of a room without allow sound to bounce or escape the room.
If your goal is not only keeping the sound from escaping your space but also preventing sound from getting into your space, you have a few options.
Ideally, you are working with an unfinished space and are contemplating soundproofing before drywall goes up. If this is the case, you have a couple options.
The best option would be to use soundproof insulation. With the use of soundproof insulation, you can prevent sound from coming in or out of your space without having to cover your walls in mattress toppers.
If this is the route you take, I would still consider adding sound panels to specific areas of your room after the drywall goes up.
While sound won’t be coming in from the outside or escaping your room, depending on your floors and drywall, sound can bounce inside of your room.
By mounting sound panels behind areas like where drums or amps would be, you can minimize the bouncing of frequencies within your room.
With the combination of sound panels and soundproof insulation, you will have a great sounding room.
The most expensive option, which is appropriate in certain situations, would be to build a room within a room. This option is typically for creating isolation booths.
Depending on what kind of recording you are doing, this can be appropriate for drums or vocals.
Sometimes it is better to record in a large room to get natural reverb and sometimes it is good to have a completely dry (dead) room so that you can add all of your verb is post-production and have a flat tone as your starting point.
An isolation booth is also good for drummers that want to practice but want to make sure that they won’t disturb neighbors or family members.
I have also put guitar amps in isolation booths and mic’d the amp in the isolation booth to prevent the amp from bleeding into live mics, i.e. drum mics or vocal mics, when recording live takes with a full band.
To create an isolation booth, you will want to work with a qualified contractor or construction worker.
It is possible to create DIY isolation booths, but with the goal of creating a truly soundproof room, it is better to not mess up or else your work with be in vain.
Creating an isolation booth is essentially building a room within a room. You do this to create space between walls and the ceiling to prevent even subtle vibrations from entering the isolated space, known as airspace.
When creating this space you will use soundproof insolation or stonewool in between the double sides of sheetrock, as well as making sure all sides (ceiling and floor included) are padded.
I’ve seen great engineers use moving blankets, but it is not the only way. The doors and any windows should be doubled to prevent the escape of sound and ideally, the walls will not be perfectly parallel to prevent sound waves from bouncing.
The isolation booth is a highly debated topic as far as best practices for building or whether to do it yourself, buy a pre-made booth or to hire professional help.
To walk you through the step by step in this article would turn this long article into a small book, so I’ll leave you with the advice I’ve written thus far, but I will say, I would always suggest having someone help that has experience in building and in sound design.
If you are looking to keep sound from leaving or entering a room, there’s nothing better than an isolation booth.
True soundproofing takes something like a foot of steel-reinforced concrete on all sides; basically a bunker.
When I went to make my booth that wasn’t exactly going to be an option, but I got good results with a double-walled build.
Industrial insulation, MDF / gypsum, green glue. In my experience, it’s about the combination of materials rather than any single material.
Creating a solid recording space for things like vocals takes mass all around. The walls, floor, ceiling, and the door should all be thick and heavy construction, and tightly sealed. That gives you isolation.
Additionally, lining them with the right material is needed, such as fabric and acoustic foam.
Getting a good sound requires creating a sufficiently “dead” space that doesn’t sound too boxy or reflective, so the interior treatment is what gives you absorption.
Artem Volos – Clutch Prep
In our office, we have four video and audio recording studios. As a video content company, it is very important for us to have the best sound insulation to provide the best sound quality in our videos.
We’ve tested many insulation materials such as acoustic foam, blankets, and fiberglass.
The best one that worked out for us was actually mineral wool. Mineral wool works great as sound insulation inside the walls, since its easy to cut, it is lightweight and fire resistant.
Installing them inside the walls may sound like a tedious process and it is, but once you do that you’ll definitely notice a huge difference. We used Johns Manville Mineral Wool Attenuation Fire Batts, 4″ for this insulation task.
The same material works well outside the walls for sound absorption, especially for acoustic panels and the so-called “Bass traps,” which helped get rid of low-frequency sounds.
Just keep in mind that these have to be built carefully since the mineral wool can irritate skin easily and you also don’t want to breathe it in. So make sure to use proper protection while handling this material at all times.
Mella Barnes – Mella Music
I am a full-time session singer at a company called Tunedly, so soundproofing is very important to me. I live on a busy street and found that things like blankets and foam were not doing the trick.
I ended up building my own booth using heavy plywood and Roxul Rockboard insulation. Roxul Rockboard is typically known as a “bass trap” in many studios, meaning that it is primarily used to dampen low-frequency sound. Although it typically isn’t used by itself in soundproofing,
I found that building a whole booth out of it was a great decision as it cuts nearly all semi truck noise and most motorcycle or loud engine noise.
It removes almost all of the street noise entirely and serves as a great vocal booth at a fraction of the cost of professional ones.
I had, of course, explored cheaper options such as foam and egg cartons but found that this was the best option for me.
Peter King – Begin Your Drumming
As a drummer, I’ve tried many ways to soundproof different rooms, as you can imagine it’s very hard to not create a lot of noise when playing the drums especially with your bass drum which is 24” in diameter!
I usually start with the basics so if you have an empty room the first thing I’d do is look to get some thick curtains or soundproof curtains; this will help eliminate some sound.
Next, I’d fill the room with some dense furniture around the walls. Bookshelves filled with books are surprisingly good.
Finally, if you want to go the full hog acoustic panels can completely minimize the levels of noise pollution. Acoustic panels are dense rectangles filled with noise canceling materials.
I personally prefer the fabrics as these can be hung on the walls and look better than the boards.
If you take all the steps above your room’s noise emission should be way lower!
Angelo Frisina – Groove Drummer
In my opinion, the best way to soundproof a room is to build a room within a room.
There should be a small gap between the interior wall and exterior wall with moisture absorbing crystals at the base of the small gap.
This will help isolate the sound within the interior room and any sounds passing through the room gap will be partially absorbed by the crystals.
It’s extremely difficult to get 100% soundproofing, but this technique can have almost perfect results.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the room is not perfectly square. Angular rooms with angled walls and ceilings generally have better acoustic characteristics than square rooms.
Not only does this help isolate the sound, but it also produces better quality recorded material. Interior materials such as acoustic wedges and mute-x are also good for interior walls.
I have used mute-x on my home studio walls and they help dampen the sound and improve overall sound quality, especially for live drums and loud instruments such as an amplified guitar.
Mick Owar – Stomp Studios
As a home music recording dude, I’ve been searching ages for a great budget soundproofing material, and the best things I’ve found that has come up is R3.6 to R4 grade Rockwool insulation batts and old thick towels, as they absorb sound the best, in some cases better than expensive cutely cut acoustic foam which costs an arm and a leg.
Simply making a timber frame from Rockwool and covering the frame in towels is probably the best albeit not so pretty, DIY cheap approach to deadening sound for professional recordings.
Make up the frame to completely go around 2 loose bits of Rockwool, enclosing it within, then close it off, by stapling your spare towels to the wood housing.
If you feel it needs to be prettier, feel free to let your creativity shine, either way, this is one solid sound deadening block you can throw all around your room, you could even stack them on top of each other if you want.
Just make sure you wear gloves when dealing with Rockwool, some of the cheaper batts can get itchy!
Dominic DeStefano – City Strings & Piano
If a person has the need for noise dampening on a budget, then the only real option I’d recommend is Foam Factory acoustic foam.
What’s nice about these foam products is that they’re specifically designed for sound dampening without sacrificing acoustic clarity.
They come in a variety of patterns to suit not only personal tastes but different types of needs.
They sell complimentary ceiling tiles, which can really round out a home theater, music studio, gaming room (video games or arcade games), kids playroom, office, etc.
Even better, they’re economical, so it’s a nice option as opposed to some DIY route that might work, but be a little janky in appearance, quality or effectiveness.
Adam Clairmont – Overit Studios
One idea that I really love, especially for someone who just needs to quiet a working space, is books!
You need a lot, as well as a lot of shelving, but using books in various sizes and scattered in a random way (tall next to short, deep next to shallow, etc.) along a back wall can go a long way in creating cheap, effective soundproofing. A thick rug along the floor would help nicely.
Rockwool is very useful and is common in many recording studios.
The cool thing about it is it can be stuffed into custom-made boxes and shapes that can be affordably-made and then you can cover them with whatever color cloth matches your decor.
I’ve even seen websites where you can order custom screen printed designs that you then stretch over the boxes. Dual purpose art/noise reducer. No one is the wiser.
Jim – Soundproof Expert
In my opinion, nothing beats proper soundproofing foam. Note that I said proper, as a lot of soundproofing foam is fairly worthless.
I found this out the hard way when soundproofing my home office and baby room. Some foam didn’t make a difference at all. But when I invested in proper foam, the impact was impressive.
Unfortunately, good soundproofing foam in quantity isn’t cheap. It was worth every penny for me but I understand that some people just don’t have a big budget. If you don’t have much to spend, there are some more affordable options that can make a difference.
One thing to do is just be thoughtful about how you arrange your furniture. Furniture and other things with mass help absorb sound.
When sound is free to bounce around off of unobstructed flat surfaces, the sound is amplified. If your room isn’t carpeted, get a rug or a few rugs.
Another good option that is fairly affordable is a moving blanket. This is what I used in my nursery until I was able to install good foam.
It might not look great but these heavy blankets can be hung over doors or windows or just anywhere along the wall. This will help absorb sound rather than amplifying it.
Bennett Brooks – Brooks Acoustics
To answer your one question, the best soundproofing material is to bury the sound source mile underground.
The next best soundproofing material is 3 independent walls made of concrete each 20 feet thick, separated by 4 feet of airspace fill with mineral wool.
Obviously, that was a facetious answer, which may not be practical in all situations, but you get the idea. The heavier and larger the material, the better.
The trick is to design the wall or other enclosure to get the job done with the minimum adequate material and at a reasonable cost. So the answer really depends on the situation.
The material assembly could be concrete or masonry or could be built from layers of gypsum drywall.
Again, if you mean by soundproofing, that is, isolating the sounds in one space or room from adjacent rooms, then the heavier the better.
If the sound source is outside, then some type of enclosure or barrier system can be devised to block the sound from getting the receiver which we desire to protect.
If you mean absorbing the sound inside a room, then that is a different matter. In that case, we need something light a fluffy to trap the air movement caused by the sound waves in tiny cracks and crevices.
Think about fiberglass or mineral wool or thick blanket material. In this case, thicker is better, with a limit on the performance as you go thicker.
The best way to soundproof any room or set of rooms is to do it when it is constructed. Then all your choices of materials can work together to achieve the exact sound reduction your application requires.
QuietRock is a brand name of drywall product that can be used in place of regular drywall to cut sound transmission between rooms as a wall or ceiling surface.
Mass loaded vinyl is a product that can be applied to ceiling joists, wall studs, or flooring and it too reduces sound transmission between rooms in residential and light commercial applications.
Double layers of drywall with metal channels between layers so there is no solid connection creates a dead air space between layers deadening sound very well.
All these should be done during construction or remodeling.
One excellent option for offices and studios is Alphasorb acoustical panels which come in an array of thickness and overall sizes and ABSORB sound deadening echo and reverberation.
This is an after-the-fact way to sound deaden a room or area.
Derek Hales – Modern Castle
In my opinion, the best soundproofing material is acoustic foam.
There are so many advantages to foam soundproofing/sound dampening that I think it makes the most sense for the majority of use cases, but especially for everyday people.
Why use soundproof foam?
1. It’s inexpensive – you can cover a 12′ x 12′ foot wall for around $20.
2. It’s easy to install – they are lightweight and you don’t need to be a professional to install. You can install with staples, finishing nails, double-sided tape, command strips, and other adhesives.
3. Easy to remove – because they are so easy to install, they are also incredibly easy to remove. So if you want an upgrade, change rooms, or its time to move, you don’t have to worry about a huge uninstall ordeal.
4. Aesthetically pleasing – these types of foam panels come in lots of colors and look extremely sharp, despite the fact they are also incredibly functional.
Dmitri Kara – Fantastic Services
Good soundproofing can be rather difficult and it really comes down to the specifications of the property. If you want to soundproof an apartment in a busy urban area, it will differ from isolating a suburban house.
What materials and techniques you use will also depend on fluctuations of the day-night average sound level, known as Ldn, and the day-evening-night average sound amount, known as Lden.
If you want to soundproof a property that is exposed to heavy sound pollution during the day, you won’t have to worry of excess decibels during the night. This will define how complex home improvements should be.
Let me put it like this – if you live next to a busy road, you’ll get up to 80 dB’s in noise pollution, where if there’s a garbage collection truck point near your property, sound levels can reach up to 100 dB’s and above, which is quite a lot.
So what can you do?
High-end soundproofing requires a lot of tradesmen work but there are also other, less effort and budget consuming options.
The most lightweight and easy-to-execute solution are uPVC windows. The “worst” I’ve seen is a double installation.
If you can afford it, two sets of windows will surely dampen the amount of noise entering your home but if your walls are rather thin, then that won’t be enough.
One way to “repel” sound as it gets in contact with the exterior of your house or apartment is to modify the surface itself. If you can afford it, anything for wooden lath to plastic slats could help you reduce noise coming in, to some extent.
What’s important here is to install these at an angle different from 0 and 90 degrees, of course. If you can’t cover the entire property to reflect sound, you should at least try to roughen your exterior surfaces.
The technical argumentation lays in the increase of sound intensity as the wave approaches a hard surface. If the surface is absolutely flat, the early reflections add up to the rest of the wave, which only makes noise pollution worse.
That’s why having an uneven exterior wall will help you soundproof to some extent.
Soundproofing your home is a messy and time-consuming job, there is no second opinion about that.
A lot of issues can pop up, but one of the biggest is your landlord. If he isn’t OK with you installing any type of insulation you’ll have a tough time living with your neighbor’s music taste.
What if I told you that there is a solution for you noise problems that don’t involve turning your home into a construction site?
On top of that, the option that I’m about to give you is also a lot cheaper compared to other soundproofing methods.
Yes, carpets and other types of floor covering are an actual way to soundproof your property. Generally, your goal is to block or slow sound waves so they can’t enter your home.
Carpets and rugs do exactly that by absorbing the waves. The formula is very simple – the thicker that carpet, the quieter the room. Truth be told, this method of sound insulation looks a bit primitive but is quite effective.
Plus, carpets and rugs retain warmth very well, so you get to enjoy a cozy and comfy winter.
By the way, you can get away with insulating your walls also by using the same method. Switch on to a more creative mindset and let your inner interior designer do his magic.
Decorate your walls with big and intricate rugs. By doing this you put another layer of noise protection while having awesome looking art pieces.
To sum it up, carpets are a good weapon in the war against noise pollution. They are cheap to buy, easy to place, beautiful to look at and keep you warm.
Dean Signori – Homesdirect365.co.uk
Nobody likes constant loud noise, especially if you can’t control the volume!
If you are like many that have lost their Sunday mornings to pesky outside noises such as escalated volumes of traffic, machinery, and road work then finding a practical solution to preventing or at least dimming outside noise levels are hard to come by.
Virtually every room in your home has a window, so an excellent and very practical way to dampen sound entering any room is by looking at adding or upgrading your curtains. Sounds simple enough right?
But how do sound damping curtains actually work and what do you have to take into consideration.
Sound damping curtains are made from a very tightly woven and heavyweight material that often consists of multiple layers.
The density of tightly woven thick curtain fibers provides a strong damping effect and absorbs noise. You can also go an extra step by having layered curtains which in essence adds more ‘barriers’ that sound has to travel through providing greater sound blocking capabilities.
Simply put, the more weight to the curtains the greater the sound blocking capabilities.
Another factor to strongly bear in mind is the height and width of the curtains.
To achieve the best results it’s strongly advisable to get longer and wider curtains than your window, preferably curtains that just about touch the floor.
When the curtains are wider and longer, this ensures that the folds in the curtains can sufficiently cover the windows and block all entrance to incoming sounds.
Unlike the more common soundproofing methods such as acoustic panels and fiberglass boards, curtains can be a beautiful room enhancing addition providing practicality and aesthetics in abundance.
Opting for a quality set of curtains can significantly reduce all outside noise levels, finally, you can now have your Sunday mornings back!
James Frazer – London Flow Screed
Soundproofing your property is a rather complex task, to be completely honest. It all comes down to what kind of living space are you looking to insulate.
There is a big difference between soundproofing an apartment and a house and how big are the Ldn (day-night average sound level) and the Lden (day-evening-night average sound amount) amplitudes.
The materials and methods that you’ll need depend on the amount of noise pollution your abode gets.
Basically, depending on the specific of the property, you might want to soundproof your apartment from noise occurring during the day and forget about worrying for the sound pollution during the nighttime, or soundproof it 24/7, which will obviously cost you more.
One of the best (and simplest) ways to soundproof your home is to install noise reduction underlayment. It is a great solution because one, it is affordable, and two – you can go into a full DIY mode and place it yourself.
The actual underlayment is a kind of thin material that you place underneath the carpet. It acts as a sound-deadening barrier. It is always best to install it over a bare vinyl floor or a hardwood one.
The placement procedure is fairly easy – you unroll the material, cover the how surface from wall to wall and secure it by the help of nails. That’s about all you need to do.
The next, slightly more complicated, and fund-consuming would be good liquid screed flowing floors. Such flooring sets rapidly and can be foot trafficked within 36 hours.
It has excellent thermal conductivity and superior acoustic performance.
James Allan – Stonemasons Glasgow
We’ve once built a custom compartment, as part of a garage renovation for a music studio.
We built 4”+ brick walls, a layer of sand, plus cement render but you could use plaster finish too, also soundproof mats with resilient insulation, all sealed up with 12.5mm thick plasterboard.
Add on top external studio insulation and our client was absolutely happy with the results.
If you live in a crowded neighborhood or a busy road, and you’re not willing to undertake hefty renovations, consider the Bay & Bow type of windows, for they could better reflect and disperse incoming noise.
Depending on budget and DIY enthusiasm, you could also improve your exterior walls.
How To Block The Sound From Entering Or Leaving A Room
Jennifer Johnson – Fine Metal Roof Tech
Soundproofing a room is one idea. And insulation is a key to that – on both the exterior and interior walls, as well as the ceiling.
However, a better solution? The idea of passive-house construction, wherein you leverage the properties of insulation, roofing, and exterior walls/”rain screen” to ensure not just quiet, but energy efficiency for the building.
We want buildings to not only be quiet for us inside but for the environment outside.
Craig Krawczyk - Live Design Group
One of the essential ways to prevent sound from entering or leaving a room is to simply eliminate holes in the wall.
All the effort placed in reducing sound leaks by adding mass, providing sound insulation and sound dampening can quickly be undone through penetrations in the partition.
Doors, air vents, electrical outlets, light switches, and in-wall audio/video equipment is the first place overlooked when sealing up a room.
Providing doors with sound seals or weather stripping; and caulking around electrical outlets, light switches, and audio/video equipment penetrations will ensure the other sound isolation efforts will be worth it.
Another weakness in the construction of a sound isolation wall is found in the joints of gypsum wallboard. This is a common place for transfer of sound.
By providing two layers of gypsum board on each side of the wall, staggering the joints so none of them line up, is another easy way to prevent unwanted sound from finding its way to the other side.
Dan Green – Growella
We built a TV studio in our office from which we broadcast live shows on YouTube weekly, and news shows 3x per week.
Here are some soundbites:
1. In an office environment, it’s tough to cancel ambient noise. The room-within-a-room technique is an excellent way to go.
2. Hire a sound engineer to fine-tune your room because professionals with great tools solve problems more quickly than amateurs armed with Google.
Shan Dhami – Voices.com
There is a difference between ‘sound proofing’ and ‘sound Treating’ a room.
Decoupling a space is the most effective way of insulating a recording space, but is usually out of the budget for a home recording studio.
Some simple sound treatment on a room will make a big difference in the quality of a recording. One common issue with a recording space is dealing with reverb.
Putting up absorptive material on any hard surfaces – and diffusing reflections away from the recording area – will allow the direct sound to be recorded without reverberation.
Things like foam mattress toppers or heavy blankets can be cost-effective alternatives to expensive acoustic foam.
Bill McIntosh – BrightTree STUDIOS
In every acoustical situation where sound needs to be controlled, we refer back to our ABCs of acoustics.
They represent the order and process to consider in the containment alternatives for noise and speech.
A is for “absorb.” Simply put, if an unwanted sound is appropriately absorbed before it reaches the listener’s ears, then the issue is resolved.
This can be a very simple or complicated solution depending upon the sound and the results desired.
B is for “block,” which we can do using passive construction practices. In commercial situations, this can mean extra layers of drywall – not the same thickness – with staggered seams.
It could mean walls that are constructed to meet at the slab and the deck, with correct glue and calking procedures applied to the joints.
Gaskets around doors and proper compressed thresholds at the base of the door are superb blocking solutions that are often overlooked.
Solid or other acoustic doors rather than utility doors are also proven means of sound blocking. Similarly, appropriate ceiling material is crucial.
Drywall ceilings with fiberglass in the plenum or high-grade fiber ceiling tiles with foil backing are both very good options for blocking sound transmission via passive building solutions.
Additionally, proper isolation and/or sealing of electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and other penetrations into space can be of great importance.
Proper space planning (before construction) to ensure sound-sensitive suites are not located near noise-producing areas is key.
C stands for “condition” or “cover” and is an active sound control solution.
“Privacy masking” is more accurately the term to be used over the more common “noise masking,” as the sound introduced into any space via a speaker solution is expressly shaped to cover the “ear-brain” from searching and then identifying words.
It’s all about reducing our ability to gather intelligible word fragments so the brain can focus on work rather than being distracted by understandable conversations.
It is part of our ancient hereditary protection system that our omnidirectional ears are always scanning our surroundings for clues that could help us in fight or flight.
Following the ABCs of acoustics will always be the best solution for understanding and resolving acoustical issues in any space, large or small.
Jon Rhodes- HypnoBusters
Aim to make your room as airtight as possible. Just like air, sound passes through the tiniest of cracks. So get some filler and scrutinize your room for cracks, and fill them in.
Doors and windows are usually the worst culprits for allowing sound to enter and leave a room.
Use some sort of draught excluder under your door. Or even fill with used newspaper. You could also tape the crack down the side of the door.
Tape around windows and close the curtains. Also, try and pick times of the day to record when things are quieter around you.
There’s no point fighting noise when you don’t have to!
Acoustic treatment, unlike soundproofing, will not prevent sound from coming in and out of your studio. Your neighbors will still hate you.
But, it’s extremely crucial to control sonic reflections for achieving a great mix, and in order to record useful sources that will allow you to manipulate them however you like.
First, treat the corners of your room with bass traps. Since low frequencies travel the longest, they accumulate in the corners of your room and will create acoustic clutters.
Unlike what many people think, bass traps are also helpful with midrange and high frequencies as well. So if you can only afford one thing for your rooms, definitely go for bass traps.
The next step would be acoustic panels for treating reflections. The most important area to treat when it comes to mixing is behind your console/computer station.
Also important are the sides, left and right of the recording/mixing engineer.
Diffusors – instead of trapping the sound like bass traps and acoustic panels, bounce back reflections and allow a few reflections to remain which some people look for.
Generally speaking, they are the last priority when one is looking to treat a home studio.
Since you want to treat your sources that you record differently (when it comes to space design, reverbs and delay mostly) try to dry up your room as much as possible, especially if you are working with one small room.
Thank you so much to all the experts that participated in this roundup!
We hope you found this roundup useful. After reading this post you should be able to soundproof your room easily.
If you have any questions or need an advice, let us know in the comments below.
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