No matter how much you spend on audio equipment for your home studio, you should never overlook investing in good-quality soundproofing. Knowing how to soundproof a room properly can significantly improve your home studio experience without you having to spend an astronomical amount of money.
Soundproofing is the process of insulating a room from noise by increasing the mass of the surrounding walls, dampening noise using sound-absorbing materials, and filling gaps where sound waves can pass through. You can apply these soundproofing methods to a room post-construction.
This article will cover everything you need to know about soundproofing your home studio. And don’t worry, you stand to gain more from this than simply getting rid of your annoying neighbors who constantly complain about the noise.
Table of Contents
- Soundproofing Explained
- The Benefits of Soundproofing
- How To Soundproof Your Home Studio
- Final Thoughts
Soundproofing aims to prevent sound waves from traveling through a room’s perimeter. Soundproofing will keep external noise from entering a room and internal noise from leaking out.
It may not block a hundred percent of the sound, but soundproofing should significantly reduce the amount of noise that makes it through.
Sound is essentially made of audible vibrations that travel through mechanical waves, better known as sound waves. These sound waves can travel through the air, water, or solid matter, causing other particles to vibrate until the sound reaches your ears.
The sound vibrations weaken as they travel farther away from their source and eventually die down.
Even if four walls surround your home studio, certain sound waves will still be able to make it through, depending on the sound’s intensity and frequency. If the walls are not dense enough, they can vibrate and cause the air on the other side of the wall to vibrate and transmit the sound wave.
Furthermore, sound can seep through gaps in the room’s doors, windows, or ventilation.
A heavily soundproofed room will prevent soundwaves from breaching the room’s perimeter.
The Benefits of Soundproofing
The purpose of soundproofing your home studio goes beyond being courteous to your neighbors. There are many benefits of soundproofing your home studio that can enhance the outcome of your compositions and save you time in the process.
Keeping the Sound Within the Room
Soundproofing keeps the audio you’re recording confined within the room. Not having to worry about bothering your neighbors is one thing, but soundproofing can also enhance the quality of your recording by eliminating unwanted echoes and excessive reverb.
Working from a soundproofed room allows the musical performance to stand out, so you can spend the mixing and remastering stage tweaking the sounds you like instead of eradicating the sounds you don’t.
Blocking External Noise
Many recording studios use condenser microphones since they generally have a broader frequency response and capture sound more accurately due to their high sensitivity. The drawback of condenser mics is that they are also more sensitive to background noise.
A condenser microphone is quite sensitive to noise and can pick it up from different directions. So, if your studio isn’t soundproofed, ambient noise or any sudden sound from your surroundings, such as traffic noise, can ruin your production.
The last thing you want to hear while monitoring is your plumbing or traffic passing by. How to Stop Your Mic from Picking Up Traffic Noise
You can technically omit unwanted sounds on a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), but applying filters or using noise-reducing plugins can also impact the finer details of your composition, which compromises the authenticity of the recording.
Aside from spending more time trying to eliminate the noise, there are instances when you may have to record from the top. Having a soundproofed room removes the possibility of any interference caused by external noise, which can save you time and help you maintain the quality of your production.
Masking Internal Noise
Noise can originate from within the studio just as much as it can from the outside.
Luckily, soundproofing your studio can also help you absorb noise made from equipment or appliances within the studio, such as the air conditioner, computer keyboard, and fans.
How To Soundproof Your Home Studio
Now that you’re convinced that soundproofing is an excellent idea, let’s discuss how to do it. You don’t need to worry if you’ve repurposed a room in your house to be a studio because soundproofing doesn’t have to be done while you’re building from the ground up.
There are four main ways to soundproof a room.
- Deflect sound or Increase absorption by adding mass
- Minimize vibration through damping
- Create space by decoupling
- Block airways by filling gaps
One way to keep a sound from penetrating a wall would be to increase the wall’s thickness or density. If your walls are thick enough, they can act as a sound barrier between your studio and its surroundings.
However, even walls that are pretty thick can still allow sound to pass through. According to soundproofcentral.com, a solid concrete wall has to be at least a foot wide (30.5 cm) to block sound effectively.
So, simply building a thick wall may not always be a viable option, especially if you’re working with an existing room and space is a priority.
Fortunately, you increase a wall’s ability to absorb sound by adding more mass to the wall using sound-deadening mats. Most sound-deadening materials are made of dense foam, which effectively dissipates acoustic energy or sound waves to reduce noise significantly.
The foam has to be thicker than 1 inch if you want to get any effective soundproofing.
I’ve written about this in a complete guide, where I also discuss what you should expect from acoustic foam in general. Is 1 Inch Acoustic Foam Enough for Soundproofing?
To check how effectively different materials reduce noise, look for their STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings. Most sound-deadening materials will have an STC rating which signifies how much of a decibel reduction you can expect. So, the higher the STC rating, the better.
The Focusound Soundproofing panels (available on Amazon.com) are made of non-toxic, fireproof material with triangular grooves for effective noise reduction. This high-quality material absorbs echoes, reverb, and sound waves, giving your studio better production quality.
Each foam panel also comes with double-sided adhesive tape for easy installation.
Aside from wall treatment, you should also pay attention to hard floors. Using a rug or carpet on your studio floor can also help absorb a lot of noise.
Sound absorption cushions airborne sound waves, while sound damping involves reinforcing structures to minimize vibration. The less a structure vibrates, the better it will be at muffling sound.
Wall padding usually blocks mid to high-frequency sounds, but damping can effectively reduce lower-frequency sounds.
You can effectively reduce impact noise by using acoustic sealants to minimize the structural vibrations within your studio.
If your studio is still under construction, you can use acoustic sealants for the wall frames and drywall to lessen their tendency to vibrate. However, if you’re using an existing room, you can add another layer of material to your floor, wall, or ceiling using the sealant.
Applying the sealant to floor gaps, cracks, and seams helps reinforce existing walls against vibrations.
The Trademark Soundproofing Green Glue Soundproofing Acoustical Caulk Set (available on Amazon.com) comes with a soundproofing glue and sealant that can be used between layers of wood and drywall. You can also use it on existing ceilings, walls, and flooring to seal any sound leaks.
This product adds up to 9 STC points to walls and ceilings, making it perfect for insulating your studio from noise.
If you’re working with an existing room and tearing down the walls isn’t a viable option, you can contain vibrations and suppress noise by decoupling. Decoupling is the process of separating the sides of a wall so that any vibration on one side has no impact on the other.
Since the sound vibrations are kept to one side of the wall, it becomes harder for sound to penetrate the room’s perimeter.
There are three methods of decoupling a wall.
- Double Stud Wall: This method involves building a wall with a gap between two studs attached to separate sill plates. Known as a “room within a room,” you’ll essentially have two walls due to the separation between the studs, which means this method will take up a significant amount of space.
- Staggered Stud Wall: Similar to the double stud wall, this decoupling method uses separate studs for each side of the wall, but all the studs are attached to the same sill plate in a staggered alignment. Each stud is placed alternately on a different side of the wall.
- Resilient Clips and Hat Channel: This method involves installing an additional wall layer using flexible sound-absorbing clips attached to bars on one side of the wall.
Although some decoupling techniques are done during construction, you can create the same effect by adding another layer of material to existing walls. By adding another layer to an existing wall, you can shoot two birds with one stone by adding mass and decoupling to reduce noise.
Below are some decoupling instructions using the Reducto Clip Independent Wall System.
- Apply a self-adhesive isolation strip around the wall’s perimeter and make sure to leave a 0.4 inches or 10mm space between the strip and structure.
- Build the stud frame using timber or metal stud work. The space between each vertical frame should be approximately 24 inches or 600mm.
- For additional sound insulation, fill the depths of the frame with acoustic mineral wool.
- Screw Reducto clips to the front of the stud frame. The maximum space between clips should be 47 inches or 1200mm.
- You can now mount the Furring bars on the clips without screwing them on. The maximum space between each bar should be 16 inches or 400mm.
- Screw 0.6 inches or 15mm Acoustic-grade Plasterboard to the furring bars and leave a 5mm gap around the perimeter of each board.
- Apply a layer of self-adhesive Tecsound to the plasterboard to increase mass and help dampen more vibrations.
- Add another layer of 0.6 inches or 15mm Acoustic-grade Plasterboard by screwing on onto the furring bars.
- Fill the 0.2 inches or 5mm gap around the board’s perimeter with an acoustic sealant.
Watch the video below for some visual aid on how to complete the instructions.
Decoupling is a process that isn’t only applicable to walls; you can also reduce noise by decoupling your floors and ceilings.
Even after adding mass, damping, and decoupling, the sound will still be able to breach the perimeter of your studio through gaps around windows, doors, and electrical outlets.
Look for gaps around the window frames where sound waves can pass through. Electrical outlets and light switches are often overlooked as a means for sound to pass through, but sealing the gaps behind their covers can make a significant difference despite how small they are.
Using a caulk gun, you can seal these gaps with Green Glue caulk sealant. Use the sealant to cover gaps between the floor and baseboards to seal the room completely.
If the door to your studio is hollow, it will be more prone to vibration and may not have the mass needed to block sound. Ideally, you should use a solid core door for your studio, but there are alternative solutions if replacing the door isn’t feasible.
Add weatherstripping to the door’s perimeter to form a tighter seal between the door and door frame. The Fowong White Door Weather Stripping (available on Amazon.com) comes with a strong adhesive in various sizes for easy installation.
This product absorbs shock, dampens sound, and insulates doors for effective noise suppression.
You can close the air gap between the door and the floor by installing a door sweep on both sides of the door. Use a door sweep that’s made of thick rubber.
For additional sound absorption, you can also install a soundproof blanket on your door. The Ouutmee Sound Dampening Blanket (available on Amazon.com) is made of cellulose fiber and two layers of cotton, giving it excellent sound absorption and sound-blocking properties.
It also comes with quick hanging knobs and screws for easy installation. Will a Weighted Blanket Block Sound for Recording?
If you’re converting one of your rooms into a recording studio, soundproofing is essential. It may cost some money and effort, but background noise is the last thing you want to hear on your recording.
Aside from not having to worry about disturbing your neighbors, a soundproofed studio can enhance the quality of your compositions and allow you to work in a more conducive space for recording.
The good news is that even if you’re working with an existing room, there are effective ways to isolate noise without having to tear the walls down.
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