Having a home setup for rehearsing music, recording it, or just jamming for fun can be one of the best elements of any musician’s home.
Unfortunately, part of the ‘rockstar’ lifestyle also includes other people living in your house and neighbors!
Not only can loud, live music be annoying for the people who live next door to you, but if you’re recording music in a badly soundproofed room, some of the sound quality will be lost and your listeners will tell.
As well as keeping all the noise contained in your studio to appease your neighbors, you also want to keep any unwanted background noise out of your studio, to make your recordings sound cleaner.
That’s why it’s so important to have a studio room with proper soundproofing and the appropriate audio environment, so you can really get the most out of your equipment.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the best ways to soundproof a room that you want to play or record music in and we’ll explain exactly how you can do it. With these tips, anyone’s home can be turned into a world class recording studio!
How Does Soundproofing Work?
Ok, let’s go over a quick science lesson to explain why soundproofing is important. When you play music in your room, it creates sound waves that travel through the air in all directions around you.
When these sound waves come into contact with the walls and ceiling, they vibrate through them and continue to travel into the rest of your house.
The same is true for sounds outside your room. For example, if you have a busy road next to your house, the traffic noises create their own sound waves that will vibrate through your walls and into the room.
Naturally, this creates a lot of unwanted noise, so the point of soundproofing is to make it more difficult for these sound waves to travel through the walls of your room.
This stops your music sound waves from escaping out of your room, and the unwanted outside sound waves from seeping into your room and ruining a recording. There are plenty of different ways you can do this:
Adding Mass To The Walls
The most common method of soundproofing a room is to add more moass to the walls so the sound waves will have a harder time getting through them.
If you’ve seen a professional recording studio before, it’s likely that the walls were covered in weirdly shaped foam pieces for this purpose.
The material and shape of this foam padding is specially designed to evenly dissipate sound waves, without stopping them completely. What this means is that your music won’t sound completely deadened by the acoustic environment.
Applying this foam wall padding is really easy and can be done to any shape or size of room, meaning you won’t have to worry about restructuring everything. They’re also available in plenty of different music stores, as well as online.
However, if you’re building a studio from scratch and you have the option of building the walls how you want, there are even more options for you.
Adding mass to the walls can be done by simply building thicker walls. A material like concrete is great for studio walls because it’s dense and doesn’t allow sound to travel through it easily.
A really thick, concrete wall, combined with some additional foam padding is the perfect combination for a soundproof studio.
This method is similar to adding mass to your surroundings, but is aimed more at getting rid of the vibrations that are also caused by sound waves. Let’s say you have a whole rock band in your studio, playing at the same time.
The drummer in your band will create a lot of heavy vibration that will travel through the floor and into a microphone stand, a keyboard or any other equipment that’s connected to the floor.
The best way to avoid this is to create vibration dissipating barriers using acoustic glue.
This substance is similar to caulk that you might use to plug a gap in a wall with, but it can be sandwiched between two panels to reduce the transmission of vibrations through your studio.
For example, you can squish some of this stuff between two MDF boards or any other rigid panel, put your drum kit on top of them, and you’ll have created a platform that significantly reduces the amount of vibrations that will travel through your room.
Sound waves can also transfer vibrations very easily through two objects that are touching. The process of decoupling basically means reducing the number of vibrating objects in your studio that are touching.
One effective way of doing this is to build a double wall around your setup with a gap in between each wall.
This means that the vibrations will be mostly absorbed by the inner wall of your studio and won’t be nearly as strong by the time they get to the second wall, at which point they’ll be pretty much extinguished.
However, this can also be done by placing some kind of vibration dampening rubber isolators between the points where your equipment touches the wall or floor.
Filling Air Gaps
Finally, and perhaps the simplest soundproofing method is creating a more air tight room for your studio.
As we’ve established, sound waves travel through the air to escape from your room. This means it’s even easier for them to escape when there are gaps in the walls or ceiling of your room, allowing better access to other parts of your house.
Filling in gaps with caulk is a good way to cover up small holes in the walls that can let sound escape through.
You can also purchase foam gaskets from plenty of online stores which can be used to cover up unused electrical outlets. They might seem small and insignificant, but these outlets are another way sound can escape from your room, or seep into it.
Another common method of filling gaps is to cover the gaps on any doors and windows in the room. The gap under your door is probably a lot bigger than you think and a lot of sound waves can travel through it.
That’s why installing an automatic door bottom or having some kind of fabric to plug up the gap when recording can make a huge difference.