Thanks to the advancement in technology, everyone can now own a home-theater or recording studio.
I mean, why spend hundreds of dollars renting a recording studio or on movie tickets when you can rather buy some decent sound-proofing materials for the same price and set up your own personal studio/theater in the confines of your home?
Ever since last year, there has been a gradual increase in the number of people searching for sound-proofing materials so they can get their work done from home. These cheap options can help cut down external noises allowing you to have an immersive experience and gives you the ability to record music without any disturbance.
Over this guide, I will take you through how you can soundproof a room for music.
How To Soundproof A Room For Music
Soundproofing a room means you’re tired of external noises and you’re finally ready to quieten up your room for whatever reason it may be. The best part of soundproofing your room is that the music you record and playback will sound clear, detailed and will have less recorded disturbance than a room with no soundproofing.
Knowing that it’s an expensive ordeal especially if there’s a handyman involved, can be one of the main reasons why not many people move forward with soundproofing their rooms or homes.
What I’m going to do today is break it down for you so you can cut out the middlemen and treat this task as a DIY endeavor.
So on that note, let me break it down here and start by taking you through what soundproofing actually does.
What Soundproofing Does?
Unlike Acoustic Treatment, Soundproofing is the art of reducing or completely blocking external noises (sounds from outside the room). The process of soundproofing helps in two ways:
- Stops external sounds/noises from entering the room and disrupting your experience or recording session.
- Stops internal sounds from moving through walls and driving your family/neighbors crazy.
Materials Required for Soundproofing
To soundproof a room you’d need something dense, something that will limit the amount of noise entering and exiting the room. Using thick curtains and mounting the speakers are some DIY’s you can carry out without thinking twice.
But the issue is that since it’s not a professional job there will definitely be some amount of noise entering the room.
You can use any of these materials to successfully soundproof a room.
- Dampeners and Acoustic Foam
- Door Seals and Door Sweeps
- Floor Underlayment
- Insulation Products
- Soundproofing Barriers
These products have been specifically designed to limit the amount of external sound/noise entering a room.
They may be expensive if you’re going through a contractor but these items don’t cost much in the market and I’ll take you through the systems of soundproofing so you can have it done by yourself.
The Five Systems of Soundproofing
In total, there are 5 methods you can follow to successfully soundproof your room for music. They are:
- Loading Dense Mass
- Decoupling Structures
- Damping Vibrations
- Closing Air Gaps
- Applying the Acoustic Treatment
So, let’s get into these steps one at a time.
Loading Dense Mass
Loading Dense Mass is basically the process of increasing the amount of material within the boundaries of a room. Loading dense mass is done to reduce the sound’s ability to penetrate the walls and also makes it possible for you to increase the amount of sound-wave energy required for the walls to vibrate.
The main thing to remember here is that the materials you use must be both dense and have mass in order to work.
Loading Dense Mass is great especially if you’re working on the room from scratch. If you’re unable to get through the walls then you can use an acoustic barrier called a “sheetblock” on the top of the wall and layer that with a thin drywall to hide it.
Apart from using a mass loaded vinyl barrier or a sheetblock, you can also have sheets of rigid fiberglass placed behind the drywall for optimal noise reduction. The only issue with using fiberglass is that it tends to keep out heat and cool air, so you’d have to invest in an air-conditioning unit for the room.
Adding dense mass can be done to the walls, ceilings and floors. This works well for most noises in the mid/high frequency range, if you’re still facing issues with specific frequency ranges such as 3kHz to 5kHz then you can add more mass that performs well in that range.
Decoupling structures is a familiar concept for many which involves isolating sounds from each other and reducing the transmission of vibrations. This process can be done in one of three ways:
- Separating Structural Layers – This is the process of using items like “whisper clips” to create small air gaps between the structure so no bass vibrations can travel from the frame and drywall into the room.
- Creating a Floating Floor – A floating floor uses the same concept as double walls and double ceilings, but on the ground. Having a raised platform for your music instruments and speakers will drastically reduce the vibrations transferred to the floor. A floating floor is more effective than a double wall or double ceiling put together.
- Building Double Walls – Building double walls is similar to laying dense mass around the boundaries of the room. The main idea here is that by having a second wall which is separated by an air gap from the primary wall, you will be able to have a better reduction in sounds and vibrations and double up on how much noise is absorbed.
Regardless of how much dense mass you use or the number of rigid fiberglass sheets you place, you’ll still have to deal with the transmission of bass vibrations. Bass vibrations are capable of traveling through wooden frames and walls/drywall’s and can disrupt your music as well as your neighbor’s sanity.
So, in order to slow down these vibrations, you will have to convert them to heat. This is basically what we mean by damping vibrations, the best way to do so is by using a specially designed caulk glue when you’re building the frames of the walls and while installing the drywall’s.
Brands such as Green Glue’s Noise-proofing compound acts not only to hold the structure together but even to dissipate vibrations. You can use this caulk glue on various materials like gypsum board, plywood, concrete, MDF or drywall’s to suck out the excess bass vibrations.
With products like Green Glue, you have to be generous with the amount you use on a single drywall. It’s best to use around 2 tubes for a single 4 x 8 foot drywall for the best results.
Another thing about Green Glue is that you can apply it in two different ways:
- To attach the drywall to the wooden frame with Green Glue and screws.
- To apply the glue between two sheets of drywall to form one large sheet.
The main goal here is to dissipate as many vibrations as possible without having to deal with distortion in the recordings.
Closing Air Gaps
This step is considered one of the most important steps to be carried out while soundproofing your room for music, if it’s not done then consider everything else you did pointless.
This involves going over everything till now and checking if there are any unwanted air gaps in between the drywall’s. For this process you’d have to use another form of acoustical caulking glue and not the one used in damping vibrations.
This glue will remain flexible so no cracks will form, making it better at dissipating vibrations. It does not hold two structures together so don’t use it for gluing two drywall sheets together. It has the same sound insulation properties without getting hard.
There are numerous places you may not have thought about that may need to be air-sealed such as your electrical lines and A/C ducts, the gaps around the windows, door frames and more. In fact there are a lot of small places in the room that would need to be sealed.
Other items like a door sweep can be used to seal the gap between the door and the floor. These are cheap acoustic foam that can be laid out to prevent sounds from entering/exiting the room.
Applying the Acoustic Treatment
If you’re looking to soundproof your room for music, you’ll definitely want to check out some forms of acoustic treatment for the room. They are not expensive and are sold as packs which make them cheap and ideal in any situation, such as these acoustic panels.
Their main purpose is to absorb extra sound that typically bounce off the walls and result in sound quality problems either in the music you’re listening to or recording.
In terms of those concerned with limiting the amount of sound getting out of the room, this adds as another layer of protection. They’re made up of the same high-density insulation that’s used within drywall’s.
They look good, come in a range of sizes and designs making them aesthetically pleasing.
Now that you know the system to follow, you can expect your room to be as soundproof as possible. As you’ve seen, it might take a bit of construction work, but there’s so much you can do without having to hire a handyman or carpenter.
As a professional, it’s key to have a quiet environment especially if you’re in the music industry. A good acoustic treatment goes a long way in that line of work and it never hurts to learn how to soundproof a room.
If not today, I’m certain you’d use this system or at least a portion of it at some other time.