It’s interesting that you never realize how loud the world actually is. Until you set up your own recording studio. All the background noise you never noticed before. Suddenly become painfully obvious when you hear them through a high quality condenser microphone. That’s why first questions newcomers ask are: How do I protect my studio space from sound? Is DIY Soundproofing Possible?
- What sound insulation CANNOT do
- What soundproofing CAN do
- What room to set up home studio?
- How do soundproofing and noise insulation succeed in the recording studio?
- How can you improve the acoustics in the recording studio with sound insulation?
- The 4 methods of soundproofing
- Add density/mass
- Fill airspaces
- What should be considered when soundproofing a drum kit in a recording studio or rehearsal room?
- Mini isolated vocal booth
What sound insulation CANNOT do
Often, beginners mistakenly talk about soundproofing when they actually mean acoustic treatment.
So very briefly, to clarify:
Soundproofing makes your room quieter by blocking sound from the outside, while acoustic treatment makes your room sound better when recording by absorbing excessive background noise. And ideally, every recording studio should use a combination of BOTH.
What soundproofing CAN do
When a room is perfectly soundproofed:
- Noise from outside stays outside and doesn’t interfere with your sessions.
- Sound from inside stays inside and doesn’t disturb your neighbors.
But until you’ve recorded in a room that is NOT soundproofed, you probably don’t realize how much noise is actually present. For example:
- Typical outside noise sources: People, traffic, weather, water pipes.
- Typical equipment noise sources: computer vents, hardware racks, and air conditioners.
- Typical impact noise sources are: Footsteps and anything else that comes in contact with the floor.
All have the potential to ruin your recording. Later in this post, I’ll show you how to avoid this internal noise.
What room to set up home studio?
This is where it starts. Most of the time you don’t have the possibility to choose an extra room for the home studio, so it has to be the room where there is still space. If you can choose between several rooms, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration.
Generally speaking, large rooms are better than small ones, long rooms are better than square ones, symmetrical ones are better than asymmetrical ones and high ceilings are better than low ones.
Many external factors also influence the selection of the room. For example, there may be a lot of noise coming from outside the room, which is very likely to become part of the recording. Or it would not be advantageous if the volume-sensitive neighbor lives in the next room and comes over every five minutes to complain.
Then there is the issue of the notorious room sound. Every room can have a different room sound due to its construction, texture or even the objects in it. This, of course, is crucial to the quality of the vocal or instrument recording and should definitely be part of your preliminary considerations.
How do soundproofing and noise insulation succeed in the recording studio?
Soundproofing or sound insulation of recording studios and rehearsal rooms is about keeping noise from entering the room from the outside and disturbing the sensitive sound recordings. In addition, noises from the studio should not travel outside and thus become a nuisance for the neighbors.
How can you improve the acoustics in the recording studio with sound insulation?
To improve the sound in a recording studio or rehearsal room, the sound in the room must be specifically attenuated. Sound absorbers made of acoustic foam are particularly suitable for this purpose. The open-pored foam allows sound to penetrate deep into the material and absorb it. This reduces unwanted reverberation and prevents the overlapping of frequencies.
The stronger (thicker) the material of the absorber or sound insulation panel is chosen, the lower frequencies can be attenuated. Therefore, bass absorbers or bass traps are usually particularly thick.
The 4 methods of soundproofing
The process of soundproofing a room involves 4 tactics:
- Adding mass
- Filling air spaces
To prevent noise from entering or leaving a room. The walls need a lot of mass … so that the sound energy can not make them vibrate. In a new building, walls can be made more massive by building them thicker, with a dense material like cement.
To measure how effective materials are at soundproofing, a value called Sound Transmission Class (STC) is used. Hard materials like concrete have a higher STC value, while softer materials like insulation have lower ones.
Here are general guidelines:
- 20-30 is bad
- 30-40 is average
- 40-50 is good
Similar to adding mass, damping is a soundproofing method that dissipates the kinetic energy of sound waves by converting them into heat. You can very easily improvise a soundproofing that you can apply anywhere in the room, on the floor, the ceiling, the walls and even the door.
When two structures in a room are in direct contact. Sound vibrations can propagate from one to the other, exacerbating the original problem.
Decoupling blocks this transfer by isolating the contact points, usually with a dense, moldable rubber.
Other common examples of decoupling include:
- Floating floors
- Double walls
- Insulating layers
- Insulate wood battens in the walls/floors/ceilings
With a combination of these techniques, any resonance created in a room can be confined to the original source, rather than amplified by the surrounding surfaces.
The final step to soundproofing is to make sure that all the small cracks and holes in the room are sealed airtight. This is because even if the first three tasks are done, sound can still penetrate through small holes and gaps.
The 3 most common ways to seal these holes are:
- Acoustic Sealant
- Foam sealants
- Automatic door bottom edges
These are the basics of soundproofing.
What should be considered when soundproofing a drum kit in a recording studio or rehearsal room?
Soundproofing drums in a rehearsal room or recording studio is a challenge because a particularly large amount of structure-borne sound is generated during playing, which is transmitted to the floor. It is therefore advisable to decouple the drum kit from the floor. The best way to do this is to place the drum kit on a small pedestal. Like walls and ceilings, the pedestal should be filled with acoustic foam or acoustic heavy foil and covered with a “floating” wooden panel. This blocks sound transmission. In addition, we recommend floating acoustic elements above the drum kit.
Mini isolated vocal booth
If the room acoustics for vocal recordings do not meet your requirements, the reflection screen is not sufficient as an absorber and you do not have the space to build a separate isolated vocal booth, you have the possibility to buy an isolated mini vocal booth. Such a mini vocal booth is so compact that only the head and the microphone fit inside the booth, and with a sound attenuation of -35 dB it provides optimal protection against unwanted room sound and sound coloration. Another advantage is that these mini vocal booths, which are manufactured by Isovox, among others, can be transported on the move.