How to soundproof a room for music recording?
The attitude to noise changes considerably after you start recording. The person suddenly realizes that what seemed to be silence for him, isn’t silence at all and the room is full of background noises clearly heard on the recording. We just don’t notice the insignificant sound. People get used to white noise and it becomes a part of their ‘silence’. But condenser picks up any sound we usually don’t pay attention to. Therefore, it’s necessary to soundproof a room for music recording.
Is soundproofing really necessary?
One should have enough funds, skill and time to soundproof home studio, therefore, some people just refuse from it for this or that reason. It can be a solution in case the noise is not constant and the person just finds a time when everything is quiet around to make a recording.
However, it can be hard to deal with internal noise such as computer humming. The recommendations below will probably be useful for you in this case.
What soundproofing doesn’t do
It’s necessary to see how soundproofing differs from acoustic treatment. Soundproofing just blocks exterior noise, and acoustic treatment improves recording conditions thus making the process more effortless. It’s great if person is able to combine these methods. It would create ideal conditions for recording.
However, it doesn’t solve all your problems because not all noise is external. There are many things in your house creating noise as well. And it also causes problems during recording. Air conditioner, fridge, computer and other gear – all these devices are the sources of unwanted sounds. People also make noise as they move, slam the door, sneeze and breathe. Some sensitive mics capture a person’s breath well.
You should understand that soundproofing doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of sound in contrast to acoustic treatment.
What soundproofing does do
It’s clear from the passage above: if people soundproof space, they just block out external noise. The procedure enhances the recording making it clear from buzzing and humming.
Usually, the windows are sources of noise. Make them as quiet as your walls before adding some changes to the walls. The person can hear different kinds of sound on the recording such as neighbor’s dog barking, noise of trains and freeway traffic miles away from the house. It’s important to stop the window noise to prevent such a situation. And only then if the situation doesn’t improve and it’s clear from the result that the room needs to be soundproofed, work over walls soundproofing.
After the soundproof procedure is over, nothing bothers the person inside the room as street sounds can’t enter it. This is advantageous for people who live next door to you. They won’t be mad about the loud music coming from studio mics. In this way, this is convenient for all.
4 proven ways of soundproofing
There are diverse ways to provide sound proofing described below. The person can resort to one of the methods or several of them for better efficacy.
Sound damping is a very effective method to reduce noise. It dissipates vibrations and doesn’t allow energy coming from it accumulate to create sound. A perfect demonstration of the method is observed when a drummer grabs onto a cymbal to prevent its vibrations. Or when the one taps a wine glass with a fork to make it ring and then clamps it with fingers in order to stop it. There is a special product developed for this goal. This is a damping compound named Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound that works converting kinetic energy into heat. The consumers are surprised over its efficacy taking into account the affordability of the product. It diminishes the transfer of sound considerably. It’s easily dispensed and applied on the surface to make the room noticeably quieter than before. Damping is necessary for a home studio as it deals with low-frequency noise perfectly, consequently, bass beats won’t bother people in your house.
2. Addition of mass and density
It’s another way to dampen sound dramatically. When walls are massive they are less prone to vibrate. Larger mass added to the wall will make it thick to soundproof the room. It’s also important to select material with a higher density for it. The sound wave is either reflected when it hits the wall or absorbed by the dense surface of the wall. Sometimes both processes are involved. The user needs thick drywall (more than 1.6 cm) to provide conditions for the absorption of sound. The extra layer is often used for a better result – the sheet block is added. Then it’s covered with a layer of drywall. The damping compound should be applied between 2 panels to function properly.
It’s necessary to understand STC parameters to understand how soundproofing is determined. The abbreviation stands for ‘sound transmission class’. The hardness of material determines the STC parameter. The higher the figure the better is STC. For instance, being hard material concrete has high STC. When soft materials are used their STC is low. If it’s between 20 and 30, that means that it’s rather poor. The figure should be 40 or more to be considered good.
Adding mass methods is very effective to remove airborne sound – the human voice, for example. It works not so effectively with footsteps as the structure transmits these vibrations.
3. Filling gaps of air
It’s interesting to observe people who don’t realize fully the noisiness of this world. But then they start organizing own studio and are amazed to find out what was hidden for them before. They suddenly notice how much noise comes from outside. And even small air gaps help it to get inside. The room should not include microcracks to avoid such a situation. All gaps including holes and cracks should be sealed and filled with foam gaskets. The foam filters are effective and inexpensive at the same time.
With cracks left, the noise will get inside even when you take other measures listed in the article. The gaps are closed with special sealants known for softness and flexibility.
- AcousticalCaulk is used anywhere the sound can pass through. It’s an excellent way to reduce sound
- Use foam gaskets sealing up gaps.
- Automatic door bottoms are very helpful when there’s some space under the door.
There are different ways of sound transmission. When building structure is involved, then decoupling is needed to get rid of vibration. It’s performed either on the stage of construction or introduced later when a person decides to arrange a home studio at his place. When structures contact each other directly causing vibration the person should isolate them with certain material. A dense rubber works best of all for it. For instance, one can decouple the vocal booth from the hard surface floor. It’s possible to eliminate the resonance caused by different sources by:
- Making a floating floor;
- Making double walls leaving the gap of air between them;
- Isolation of layers with special appliances such as resilient sound clips and resilient channels;
- Isolation of studs from different surfaces with noise proofing tape.
Isolation of structural layers is needed to protect the room from external noise and simultaneously people beside it from bass vibrations. The floating effect is achieved due to special appliances such as whisper clips, channels mentioned above.
How to keep computer noise off your recordings
We often encounter this problem when it comes to budget or home studio. Especially, if the person lives in a small apartment and many electrical appliances are close to the place where you record the sound with microphone. The person may not even notice computer noise working beside the microphone, but the mic picks it up easily. It’s still possible to take measures under such conditions. The measures include the small hacks such as the installation of mechanical keyboard sound dampeners along with general recommendations presented to you below.
1. Make the most of acoustic separation
If something causes the problem and creates noise, it’s necessary to place the source of noise as far as possible from the microphone. It won’t soundproof mic completely but it will make it less noticeable on the recording. Noise separation limits the transmission of source noise. The space between the mics and the computer should be big enough.
Also, the placement of microphones at different angles can help a little. The use of unidirectional mics will provide better effects.
The consumers using dynamic microphones are less subjected to this problem as their sense of these mics is not that high. They don’t react to high-frequency sound.
The acoustic treatment can be a good solution. It’s effective to place it behind the person making a recording as mic reacts to noise from that direction. The quality of sound will be higher with absorption thanks to treatment and reflection filters.
2. Build a DIY isobox
What is Isobox? This is a soundproof box that functions as a rack. It solves a range of problems that can’t be solved by usual rack such as computer noise issues. Those who are not ready to spend money on this sound damper, can do it on their own trying DIY techniques. People use the acoustic foam and plywood for such boxes. Take into account that the person has to be careful when locking the noisy equipment such as a computer is the isolated sealed enclosure. There can be problems with venting when the gear is boxed and this can entail overheating.
3. Get an Isobox
High-end studios prefer to purchase such devices for such gear. If you can afford soundproof box for microphone recording, this is a very useful acquisition. The manufactured items have temperature control, venting, and fans. It’s one of the best methods to soundproof microphone recording room.
For example: Procraft 6U 12
4. Use a laptop stand
The computer noise is caused by its fans for the most part. They start functioning when the laptop is hot. What should one do to prevent it? The laptop stand is one of the methods to keep the computer cooler. Keeping it up enables free airflow under it.
5. Use multiple rooms
Those who have a big apartment with many rooms in it can place their computer to the other room to avoid the noise problem. The professional studios use this approach as well. There can be problems with the extension of computer cables but the result is worth the effort. Those who can’t afford that can place the computer into a closet. In case the cable is short, it’s possible to drill a hole to run cables from one room to another.
How to keep A/C noise off your recordings
1. Remove those vents
Looking for the cause of the noise, pay attention to vents. Rattling caused by the airflow can be avoided if vents are removed. Resonation of sound can spoil the recording. If you do, it can improve the cooling procedure that enables running A/C on a lower setting.
2. Build a sound dampener
People want to feel free to make a recording at any time, even at night. The dream of any musician is to have a studio that is able to record microphones and provide professional sound quality along with privacy and convenience. A/C sound dampener can help the person who thinks about the acoustics of the room. It’s easy to make the one. The procedure resembles Isobox DIY.
3. Seal up those cracks
The recording studio facility includes many rooms as a rule, so one should care about minimal leakage from room to room. Acoustical isolation won’t work properly with cracks that enable A/C sound leakage. Make the appliance airtight with necessary materials. It’s also possible to apply to professional for it in case you are not able to perform this on your own.
The 4 types of A/C’s
A/C sound dampeners can be of 4 kinds: portable, central, split ductless, and window. Each variety has its pros and cons and we will regard their positive and negative features below.
1. Split ductless A/C’s
This type of A/C is actually a combination of windows and central A/C. The items are made for inside and outside cooling. This is considered a perfect choice because:
- It’s easily installed.
- The device is suitable for cooling single rooms, therefore, it’s not that expensive to use the device in comparison with the central air option.
The noise is excluded due to the construction of the appliance. The A/C compressor is an exterior component, therefore, it doesn’t produce noise in the room.
Some models seem to be ideal for this purpose. For instance, the devices from MSZ-GE Series. The site of Mitsubishi Electric calls these models ultra-quiet. Looking at its parameter – noise level 19 dB(A), the consumers can be sure that these devices are really quiet. Compare it with ambient noise in the library – it reaches 30 dB(A). So it’s a very nice result for this appliance. The units of this series look pretty inside and outside, run incredibly quietly. Besides, it cools the space faster saving energy at the same time.
2. Window A/C’s
In comparison with the variety described above, window air conditioner can deliver better performance:
- It provides dehumidification.
- It’s not expensive.
- The noise is not that loud.
Though the level is noise is lower in this model, it’s still heard well on the recording. The modern models work better in this respect. The engineers tried their best to develop less loud devices.
3. Portable A/C’s
- One of the benefits of this appliance is its convenience.
- It’s easily transferred from one place to another.
- There is no need to invite the pro to install the device.
Isn’t it the best option for recording performance with microphones?
As it turned out, it’s not so because it has several flaws.
- It’s doesn’t make the space cooler.
- The device is rather costly.
- The appliance doesn’t perform dehumidification in comparison with other devices.
- The level of noise is too high.
4. Central A/C’s
This is a comprehensive solution as it solves the problem of the whole house, not one room only. A huge advantage of this choice is that the unit is placed far away from the microphones, consequently, theoretically, there is no much noise from the compressor of the central A/C and the person can make recordings without effort. This would be impossible with regular air vents. Also, it’s necessary to have good air ducts for proper airflow without much noise.
Noise reduction plugins
The problem is rather complicated and requires a thorough approach. Some users decide to refuse from the stages described above and apply them to noise reduction plugins. Though these tools are great, they are not super-powerful and are not able to remove all issues that might arise because of noise. Still the popularity of this software in undisputable. Consumers understand with the time that the plugin is not capable to eliminate bad sound. Applying these tools, the person only deteriorates the whole recording. It means that reducing noise, the person spoils the result as well. Thus, taking this into consideration we can conclude that the person should take measures to get an ideal sound prior to the process of recording. Otherwise, it becomes too late to correct the performance.
How to soundproof a room for podcasting?
People soundproof the home studio pursuing different goals. When the person wants to enhance the acoustics, this is not the same as soundproofing creating conditions for podcasting. The scheme of actions differs in this case. When you soundproof the room, it means you do everything to prevent the sound enter it. When the acoustic is enhanced, the person takes action to change the sound of the voice.
Soundproof the podcasting room
1. Select directional microphone
It’s essential for podcasters to be heard by their audience otherwise they won’t be successful and will lose their fans. The purchase of a directional microphone is the task of primary importance when you want to reach perfect sound during podcasting. The mics differ by the pickup pattern. If omni mics capture everything around, directional microphones are sensitive to the area where the speaker is. This is an excellent option for podcasters as they hold mic right in front of their mouths. So we can clearly hear what they say.
2. Cover the cracks and gaps in doors and windows
Plugging holes is a necessary step you should do to soundproof the room for podcasting. All cracks and gaps should be covered. It refers to doors and windows. Make a soundproofing experiment and check it up when the door or window is closed. Do you hear the people speaking behind it? Then open it just a little. This is proof of the fact that even a small crack can undermine all your efforts. If you fulfill all steps but then leave a gap or crack, all efforts will be futile. Space should be sound proofed for quality podcasting. Close the crack under the door using special appliances we described already. Find the sound deadening door jam on sale. It can be tricky to install it but the outstanding quality of the recording is guaranteed.
Ready-made options may seem too costly for you. There’s always the opportunity to choose a DIY solution and fill the gaps with appliances created on your own. Record high-quality audio after deadening noise.
3. Thicken door and walls
The door and walls should be dense. This factor plays a big role when one needs to soundproof space for podcasting. When it’s too dense the sound can’t travel via them. Consider acoustics issue using acoustic foam, which performs this task but doesn’t soundproof anything.
It’s not hard to stop higher-pitched sounds when the foam is used. However, only a dense wall is able to stop lower-pitched sounds. Sound-Proof drywall is very efficient when one needs to deaden the sounds. Consider it when you start organizing the studio and soundproof it.
Use sound board that is rather affordable.
4. Use noise-reducing curtains for windows
The rule of adding mass applies not to walls only but to windows as well. The sound absorption can be easily achieved with heavy curtains that also deliver a layer of sound insulation. People usually underestimate this tool in their soundproofing activity. Meanwhile, curtains can be very helpful while we are looking for a peaceful, quiet atmosphere. It’s the easiest thing we can do fighting against noise. Heavy soundproof have a range of benefits:
- Diminish noise amount
- Blocking undesirable light
- Preserve heat in the room
With the help of triple-weave design, curtains protect us from the brightness of light, cold, and noise.
It’s recommended to buy a larger curtain to make it pleated and increase the noise-reducing effect. Add mass to create barriers for soundwaves.
One can also find soundproof curtains on sale. They are very heavy, rolled up similar to blind removing gaps that happen with usual curtains. The specialists assure noise is reduced up to 90% in comparison with usual curtains.
Use special material for curtains, for instance, suede and the like.
5. Soundproof the floor
No matter what sound you create in your apartment, it won’t cause issues after soundproof procedure. If you do everything properly, it will absorb all vibrations and block out external noise. Available methods:
Also, there shouldn’t be any gap between soundproof flooring and wall.
If your budget is sufficient you can apply to the specialist to perform soundproofing professionally. This method has a range of benefits:
- No worries over materials purchase
- No bothering about correct performance
- It helps to economize time
There are some basic principles you should follow to enhance acoustics. The concept of the right positioning is the major one. In accordance with it, absorbing materials are placed on one end and the reflective ones on the other end.
The excellent optimization method is a thick carpet on the floor. This is how dead-end is treated. It absorbs sound reflections in high frequencies. The number of reflections should be reduced. Purchase broadband absorbers or do them on your own using special materials for that. It’s not a problem to find a DIY guide and follow its steps.
Optimization of a live end located in the rear half of the studio has to do with the installation of reflective surfaces and some acoustic elements that would diffuse the sound. Wood is often used for diffusers.
The person also needs bass traps because there should be bass resonances in the home studio. Place them in the corners of the room – there’s much bass energy there. Those who can’t afford professional items can just place an old bulky couch that will absorb bass energy.
One should be very careful in making a mixer of different means to deliver a favorable environment for the creation of excellent sound.
As you see from the article, there are numerous ways to soundproof home studio. The efficacy of some ideas is higher than in others. Much depends upon the conditions, consequences, and instruments played in the studio. Each situation has its specifics and should be regarded separately. One musician needs an acrylic drum shield for his studio while the other buys Isobox to get rid of the noise. Implementing our suggestions, you can easily cope even with the most challenging task. Study the science of noise reduction with us and practice the soundproofing tips to tackle the noise issues.