If you have a home studio, soundproofing is important.
You don’t want to be known as the resident on the block who makes lots of noise late at night, nor do you want background noise to get in the way of your music production.
Is soundproofing the same thing as an acoustic treatment?
No, but both are important. Soundproofing your studio blocks out unwanted noise, while acoustic treatment absorbs sounds so that your recordings will be of better quality.
The good news is that you can do both yourself. Let’s start by taking a closer look at soundproofing your studio.
The Benefits Of A Soundproof Studio
When your studio is perfectly soundproofed, you’ll find that outside noises don’t interfere with your work and the sounds you make don’t annoy your neighbors.
There are some important benefits to having a soundproof studio, so let’s take a look at them.
- You’ll boost your productivity. As with any workspace, you want your studio to be quiet so that you can think clearly and get your tasks done. If you’re constantly interrupted by external noises, this will interfere with your creativity and productivity.
- You’ll have better results. You spend time and energy – as well as money – working on your music. The last thing you want is for your sound recording to be filled with noise. This will produce recordings that don’t sound professional or clear, which is problematic whether you’re making music as a hobby or on a more serious level.
- You are in better control of the noise level by shutting out some of the noise that you don’t want in your studio. This means that you don’t have to let soundproofing problems get in the way of your music production. You’re definitely not stuck with them!
Although you might never be able to completely soundproof a room (more on that later), there are different ways in which you can block out sounds.
Here are some solutions you can try in your home studio.
Fill Up Any Gaps
You might be surprised to discover how much noise can get into your studio through the walls and windows.
Basically, if air’s getting in, then noise will be too!
It’s important to seal any cracks with the use of acoustic caulk. This can be used for cracks or holes that are all over your studio.
The benefit of this caulk is that it stays soft so that you don’t have to worry about gaps reforming in the future. You can buy acoustic caulk on Amazon.
It might also be a good idea to block the gaps under doors with automatic door blockers. Also available on Amazon, these work with the use of springs.
When the door is closed, the automatic door blocker has a plunger that is pushed against the door frame and which activates a spring mechanism, as explained by Trademark Soundproofing.
This drops the seal and ensures that the door will be pressed tightly against the floor. Then, it retracts when the door gets opened again.
Apply Some Damping Solutions
Damping is a technique that scatters the vibrational energy in a room before it builds up and circulates in the form of sound.
This effect can be achieved with the use of materials such as Green Glue.
Available on Amazon, this glue is an effective damping product because it can be applied between two panels of drywall or MDF.
Best of all, you can use Green Glue over an existing wall in your studio, as well as on a ceiling or floors.
You just need to add a second layer of material so that you’ll increase the insulation and block out the sound.
Add More Mass
To prevent the entry and exit of noise, you need to add more mass to your walls so that you prevent sound from making them vibrate.
The use of vinyl can be effective, so you should get your hands on Mass Loaded Vinyl.
This comes in a roll and can be used in various ways to increase your studio’s soundproofing. Basically, Mass Loaded Vinyl is a limp but heavy sheeting material that contains metal particles.
It’s an effective sound-absorber that’s very versatile because you can put it on floors, ceilings, and walls.
You can get it in black, grey, and transparent. Best of all, you can also paint it with latex paint so that it will match your studio décor.
There are different types of Mass Loaded Vinyl, but one that’s worth considering is Mass Loaded Vinyl that’s reinforced.
It has strong poly fabric so that it can be hung as an acoustic curtain panel. As mentioned earlier, acoustic treatments work to absorb sound in your studio.
Reduce The Bounce
Sound has a way of bouncing off surfaces so that it can be carried further distances.
To reduce sound bouncing, you need padding in your studio.
Basically, this means using various textiles to consume those sounds, such as covering the floor with thick carpets and hanging heavy materials from the walls to create a buffer-like effect.
These will also work to soundproof your studio so that sounds from outside won’t enter.
How To Eliminate Computer Noise
When soundproofing your studio, bear in mind that this isn’t limited to what’s going on outside.
What you have in your studio should sometimes be soundproofed, and an example is your computer.
If you need your computer to produce music, you might worry that sounds from it will interfere with the music you’re recording.
You’ll be surprised at how many sounds you’ll notice when you want to be quiet! Luckily, you can prevent computer noise in the following ways.
- Use SSD drives. These boost your computer’s speed but they don’t make noise because they don’t have parts that move inside.
- Set up your computer so that it’s far from where you record music, if possible.
- Put noisy gadgets in an Icebox. This is a rack that has a soundproof enclosure, so it’s perfect for storing your computer if it has a noisy CPU. It also has a cooling fan to prevent your gadgets from overheating, which is a nice bonus. If you don’t have the space in which to position your computer away from where you record music, then an Isobox is a good choice.
Make Your Own Soundproof Curtains
This is a DIY solution that can be very effective at blocking out the sound in your studio.
You want your curtains to be as thick as possible as this will help them to reduce sound.
A good idea is to look for blackout curtains or drapes that have many layers of material attached to them.
On the other hand, you can make your own soundproof curtains. The heaviest fabrics you should use are velour or velvet curtains, which can be a bit costly but they’ll be most effective at reducing noise.
To make these curtains even more useful, sew heavy cotton layers onto them, as Soundproof Central reports.
Don’t Forget To Mount Some Items
Have you ever seen items on a surface start to vibrate when sounds are really loud?
This can cause a buzzing or rattling sound to be produced, which you don’t want on your crystal-clear sound recordings (and which you don’t want to bug your neighbors with!).
To prevent vibrations from happening in your studio, you should mount speakers with the use of insulation pads.
These will prevent them from moving around, and can also prevent them from getting damaged by falling off a desk or shelf.
Avoid Going OTT With Soundproofing
When you want to create a soundproof room, you might want to use a lot of different soundproofing strategies to get the job done.
However, this can backfire. The important thing to remember when soundproofing your studio is that you should avoid putting up too many panels or insulation.
This can actually give you more problems when it comes to recording music because it will prevent high-quality sound from being heard.
In fact, what might happen is that your sound ends up being dull.
For example, having too many fabric panels can remove sounds such as those related to your bass.
Make sure to leave a bit of space between soundproof panels when attaching them to your walls, and never completely cover up your space.
Not only will doing so block out sound from outside, but it will diminish the quality of the sound you’re producing inside.
How To Test A Soundproof Room
While you will be able to tell if your room is soundproof by checking how your efforts to reduce and eliminate sound work once you’ve tried them, doing an acoustic sound test is important to do.
This will show you if you have successfully prevented noise and interference from ending up on your sound recordings.
This can also help you to see how much of the external and environmental sounds need to be reduced further so that they don’t make their way onto your recordings in the future.
An easy way to conduct a room acoustics test is in the following way. You’ll need a measurement microphone, such as the ECM 8000 by Biddinger or the Dayton Audio EMM-6.
These types of microphones are designed to test the acoustics of a room.
You’ll also need a microphone stand and the right software: the Room EQ Wizard is a good choice, and it can be downloaded for free.
To do the test, you want to place the microphone on its stand in front of your computer and then use the software to conduct the test.
The software will play white noise on the computer that the mic will be able to pick up.
The software will be able to compare the internal vs. external sound, so you’ll be able to see what the sound recording quality is like in your studio.
The Room EQ Wizard will show you the results of the test on your computer, such as by displaying them in graphs.
This software will also check if there are any extreme peaks or valleys in the sound spectrum that can then be dealt with, with the use of acoustic treatments.
How do you know if your room is treated effectively against external noise?
You want the difference between the peaks and valleys of the spectrum to be under 10dB, as MusicRadar reports.
Myths About Soundproofing Your Studio
The topic of soundproofing a studio is a popular one, but there are some myths surrounding it that you shouldn’t fall for.
These include the use of certain products and items to reduce echoes and improve the quality of your sound by blocking out external noise, but they’re a waste of your time and money.
Let’s take a look at some common soundproofing myths.
Using Egg Crates As Acoustic Panels
It’s often said that acoustic panels can help to absorb sounds in your studio, but some people might use egg crates to do this.
The thinking behind this idea is that egg crates look like acoustic panels, but they’re simply not made with the right materials to effectively block sound.
Sounds can easily get through the cardboard because it’s so thin.
Painting Your Walls In A Dark Color
While a dark paint color on the walls might look stylish, it’s not going to do much in terms of soundproofing your room.
In fact, it won’t do anything!
The only reason why this appears to work for some people is that the darker colors make the room seem smaller, while lighter colors make it seem larger and brighter.
This fools one into thinking that the darker colors are making the room more soundproof.
Using Bales Of Hay
Believe it or not, some people put bales of hay into the room they want to be soundproofed.
Now, the funny thing about this is that hay bales can help to block out sound, but the problem with using them is that they can pose some risks.
These include being a fire danger and they can also attract insects or rodents that you really don’t want to have to deal with in your studio.
They also look strange, so give these a miss for something more professional.
What’s The World’s Quietest Room?
The quietest room in the world is an anechoic chamber located at the Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota.
The room is so silent that its background noise is in negative decibels: -9.4dBA! The founder of the lab, Steven Orfield, told Hearing Aid Know, “The quieter the room, the more things you hear.
You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.”
Interestingly, a lack of sound can produce some strange effects. For example, in this anechoic chamber, it’s so quiet that it becomes disorienting for people to stand and move around.
The reason for this is because we rely on sound to give us cues when we need to maintain our balance. If we don’t have those cues, this affects our balance.
It’s said that if you stay in this quiet room for longer than half an hour, you’ll have to sit in a chair. The longest time that a person could stay in this silent room was 45 minutes!
While this story is obviously interesting, it also goes to show that complete silence is never a good thing!
Can You Completely Soundproof A Room?
A room can never be completely soundproofed unless you build a smaller room within its walls.
This will create dead air between the interior and exterior walls, and this serves the purpose of blocking out sound, as Soundproof Central states.
How Can I Soundproof Windows While Still Having Light In My Studio?
You’ll benefit from applying a sheet of acoustic glass to the windows and making sure it’s correctly sealed.
This type of glass is made up of two sheets of glass with a thin sheet that’s glued between them, to provide greater soundproofing and insulation properties.
If you’re recording music, you need to ensure that your sound doesn’t escape the room where it can become a nuisance for people outside.
However, you also need to be sure that you absorb any sounds that you don’t want to interfere with your recording, such as sounds from your computer.
By following the soundproofing and acoustic treatment advice in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making your recording studio much more professional.