There are many reasons why you may want to soundproof your music studio.
Your recordings may be picking up lots of unwanted distortions from equipment, or possibly even from outside noises.
Your neighbours and family members may be fed up of hearing endless chords and symbols until the early hours of the morning.
You can buy the most expensive and effective recording equipment on the market, but unless you have a quiet, noise-free playing environment, your music recordings are never going to sound as professional as they can be.
Soundproofing your music studio can also benefit your neighbours and family members as much as yourself.
Soundproofing VS Acoustical Treatment
First of all you need to establish the difference between soundproofing and acoustical treatment.
Whereas soundproofing will affect the amount of sound travelling in and out of the studio, acoustic treatments will affect the actual quality of the studio sound.
The two often go hand-in-hand when trying to create a professional sound, however if you’re just trying to limit the amount of unwanted noise picked up in recordings, then soundproofing is the way to go.
This may seem like a lot of effort. After all the best way to soundproof a studio would be to build a room within a room; but not everyone has the time, money or resources to carry out this operation.
However with the right approach and guidance, it is possible to soundproof your music studio easily and effectively. Not only will you reap the rewards of a clean, crisp sound for your music production, your neighbours and housemates won’t be able to hear a peep either.
This post is written by Callum, soundproofing expert at Soundproofing R US
So let me take you through my 7 simple steps to soundproofing a music studio:
1. Think about the location
If you are making a soundproof music studio from scratch, it’s definitely worth thinking about where exactly your music studio is going to be.
By this I mean, if you have an outhouse or garage you are able to use, this could be more suitable than a room inside a building.
Simply because, the more connecting walls you have attached to other rooms with people on the other side of, the more you may need to think about soundproofing for their benefit.
If however you already have a music studio and you’re simply looking to soundproof it rather than relocate, there are a number of methods in which we can do this.
2. Look at the doors and windows
The thinner your doors and windows, the more likely sound is to pass through. Although you can’t install one super-thick pane of glass, one solution is to install triple glazed windows.
This may seem uncommon and excessive, however the more panes of window, the more effective. Thick curtains will also help drown some of the sound out.
Having a thicker, heavier and denser door, such as a fire door will also drastically reduce sound passing through.
3. Fill in the gaps
Sound can travel through even the smallest gaps, whether it’s through a door, window or ventilation.
There are many ways you can plug these, in order to reduce the amount of sound travelling through.
First of all, a couple door sweeps (I recommend these soundproofing door sweeps available on Amazon) are useful.
Just like they can reduce a draught, they are also effective at blocking sound going through.
Also have a look if there are any gaps in the door and window frames. These can easily be filled with a sealant.
There are acoustical sealants available on the market made especially for blocking sound, however inexpensive weather stripping sealants also do the job pretty well.
Also, as these sealants are so soft and pliable, this makes them durable, meaning they will last a very long time.
In terms of any ventilation grills you may have in the room, covering the inside of these with duct liner is a very simple and effective way to absorb sound and reduce noise passing through.
4. Increase Mass and Density
Increasing mass is vital when it comes to soundproofing. This includes the walls, ceilings and door.
The higher the mass and density of these, the less they will vibrate and reflect sound.
Thicker, denser materials are very effective, however it isn’t feasible to simply knock down a wall and simply surround your studio with slabs of concrete.
The easier option is to install another sheet of dry wall, which is effective due to its high density, next to your existing one. If you were to seal these together with a sealant reducing the gap between, this would reduce sound even further. This is a very effective method as well as being straight-forward to do.
Alternatively you can purchase mass loaded vinyl to wrap around your walls yourself. It can also be used on ducts, pipes and ceilings. It is very effective for soundproofing and acoustics, as well as being simple to install.
5. Add another surface to the floor and the ceiling
Surrounding surfaces can amplify sound vibrations onto other surfaces and objects.
If you were to reduce the amount of contact between your walls, floors and the ceiling from the sound vibrations coming from the studio, this will radically reduce the amount of sound passing through.
If you have neighbours upstairs or below your studio, it may be worth installing another surface above the floor and underneath the ceiling. Another layer of dry wall on the ceiling would suffice.
For example, if you had a drum kit, if you were to place a layer or two of thick rug or carpet along with a soundproof rubber mat, underneath the kit separating this from the floor, this would significantly decrease the amount of sound which would pass through below.
6. Reduce Equipment Interference
I’ve covered ways you can limit the amount of sound passing into and out of your music studio.
However, there could still be many unwanted sounds coming from inside the room interfering with your production, which we need to address.
If you’re using a laptop to produce or record your music, simply using a laptop stand can pay dividends. This is because when a laptop begins to get too hot, the cooling fan kicks in and prevents it from overheating.
This is obviously good; however the cooling fan can often make a very loud humming noise, which can be picked up in recordings. If your laptop is on a stand however, this allows more air into the laptop keeping it at a lower temperature, reducing the need for the fan to kick in so aggressively.
Ideally you’d be able to keep your microphone and computer in different rooms to one another, cancelling out interference.
However this isn’t always possible, or necessary. If you can keep them far away from each other, on different sides of the room and point the microphone away from the computer to further reduce any interference, this will suffice.
7. Acoustical Treatment
It’s now time to discuss acoustical treatment. Not only will this make your recordings sound more professional, but it can also have the added benefit of decreasing the amount of sound escaping from the studio.
Sound reflects and bounces of surfaces, just like light does. However the flatter, harder and smoother the surface, the more the sound will reverberate.
There is an urban myth which states egg cartons and mattresses are effective soundproofing and acoustical treatment materials.
Although they are useful for absorbing sound waves and stopping them bouncing around the room, they simply aren’t dense enough to be effective means of soundproofing.
A much more effective way would be to install acoustic panels on the walls and perhaps even the ceiling of your studio.
This is also less time-consuming and easier than sticking dozens of egg cartons together to cover the flat surfaces.
They are readily available in stores or online, and most importantly they can be installed at home by the user. They also come in a range of styles and finishes, meaning you can tailor your studio to your own aesthetic needs.
So there you have it, my full guide on how to easily and effectively soundproof your music studio.
The important things to remember are to consider the location and the people surrounding your studio, whether they are around, above or below you.
There are many professional and expensive soundproofing methods for soundproofing music studios, however, if like me and you value your time, and like to be inventive, it can be done simply to a very high-standard.