Soundproofing a Music Room on a Budget

Soundproofing a Music Room on a Budget

📖 Reading time: 5 min and 27 sec

We frequently receive a common inquiry for our engineering team: "Whenever I start a jam session at my place, a neighbour complains about the noise, interrupting my flow."

If you live in an apartment and want to practice without disturbing those around you, soundproofing your music room is the solution. And you don’t have to rob a bank. Let’s look at a real-life example of how to effectively and affordably soundproof a music room, creating a private space for creativity and peaceful practice.

Understanding the Basics of Soundproofing

What is Soundproofing?

Soundproofing is the process of reducing or eliminating the transmission of sound from one area to another. This involves adding special soundproofing materials such as acoustic foam, mass-loaded vinyl, or products like sound insulation panels for walls, floors, and ceilings to create a barrier that prevents sound from entering or exiting a space. Soundproofing is crucial for musicians and recording studios who want to practice or work without disturbing others, as well as for homeowners who want to reduce outside noise from entering their living spaces.

 

sound leakage thought the walls of a bedroom at home
Sound waves travel through walls, ceilings, and floors, exploiting even the smallest cracks and gaps. These openings allow sound to escape or enter, impacting the acoustic quality of your space.

 

How Effective is Soundproofing?

Achieving complete soundproofing is a challenging task, and it is often unnecessary to aim for 100% soundproofing. The primary objective is to reduce noise levels to a point where it no longer causes disturbance. Effective soundproofing can significantly minimise the transmission of sound and lower overall noise levels within a specific space.

 

Real-Life Soundproofing Example: An Apartment Music Room

Scenario: You are a musician living in an apartment and need a soundproof practice room. You want to know how to soundproof a room for music cheaply, using readily available materials.

 

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Assess the Room: Identify the weak spots where sound can escape, such as windows, doors, and thin walls.

  2. Seal Gaps and Cracks: Use weatherstripping tape to seal gaps around doors and windows. Acoustic caulk can fill in cracks and crevices in walls and floors.

  3. Install Soundproof Panels: You should consider purchasing soundproof panels which are affordable and available both online and at local stores. These panels can be installed on walls and the ceiling to reduce sound. However, please be cautious when considering very cheap solutions. Always check the noise reduction index to understand the level of noise reduction you can expect.

  4. Use Heavy Curtains: Heavy, dense curtains can help block sound from escaping through windows. These curtains also reduce echo within the room.
  5. Add Carpets and Rugs: Placing thick carpets or rugs on the floor can significantly reduce sound transmission. You should consider adding a layer of soundproof underlay for extra effectiveness.

  6. Create a Door Sweep: Install a door sweep to seal the gap at the bottom of the door. This is a simple and cost-effective way to prevent sound leakage.

  7. DIY Soundproof Booth: For an extra layer of soundproofing, consider creating a small soundproof booth within your room using soundproof blankets and foam.

 

DECIBOARD sound insulating wall panel with a diagram about the noise leakage
This is an example of an innovative soundproofing panel that effectively prevents noise leakage. Standard soundproofing panels leak noise through their joints. DECIBOARD's unique shape has been designed and tested with long overlapping joints, that block out noise and assure no noise leakage between the panels.

 

Busting 5 Soundproofing Myths

When it comes to soundproofing, there are many myths and misconceptions. Let’s debunk these myths and provide you with accurate information to help you make informed decisions.

Myth 1: Soundproofing Paint is Effective

  • Reality: Soundproofing paint is often advertised as a quick fix, but it's not very effective. It may slightly reduce sound, but usually only by about 2-3 dB. For substantial sound reduction, it's better to invest in dedicated soundproofing panels.

Myth 2: Egg Cartons will Do the Work

  • Reality: Contrary to old popular belief, egg cartons can not soundproof a room. They might slightly diffuse sound, but they don’t block or absorb sound effectively. Instead, use professional acoustic foam or panels designed for sound absorption.

Myth 3: Thick Carpets are Enough to Soundproof Floors

  • Reality: While thick carpets can help reduce noise, they alone aren’t sufficient for complete soundproofing. To effectively block sound transmission through floors, consider adding a layer of soundproof underlay or using interlocking foam mats, which can reduce noise by an additional 10-20 dB.

Myth 4: Double Glazing Windows Fully Soundproof a Room

  • Reality: Double glazing windows do reduce outside noise, but they aren’t a complete solution. Combining double glazing with other measures like heavy curtains and sealing gaps around the windows can improve sound reduction by up to 30 dB.

Myth 5: Soundproofing is Always Expensive

  • Reality: While high-end soundproofing solutions may be expensive, there are affordable options that are still effective. Weatherstripping, door sweeps, and DIY soundproof booths using blankets and foam can significantly reduce noise without critically disballance your budget. Additionally, consider using soundproofing panels for walls, floors, or ceilings that are easy to install. This way, you can save both time and money by doing the installation yourself and avoid hiring expensive professionals.

 

 A DIY soundproofing solution for every type of wall that will also save you the cost of hiring installers. 

 

Additional Soundproofing Tips and Tricks

Small Changes, Big Impact

While the major steps we mentioned earlier are crucial, here are some minor yet effective tips that can enhance your soundproofing efforts:

  1. Welcome Back Your Fav Books on the Shelves: Bookshelves filled with books can act as a sound barrier. They absorb and diffuse sound waves, reducing echo and noise transmission. A well-stocked bookshelf can reduce noise by up to 6 dB.
  2. Invite Soundproofing Plants at Home: Certain plants, like Ficus, Song-of-India, Sansevieria/Snake, Begonia rex, and others, have dense leaves that can help absorb sound. In a small room, these plants can reduce noise by around 3-5 dB. If you have the space, consider planting a mix of evergreen trees such as arborvitaes, spruces, pines, and hollies for even more noise reduction.
  3. Hang Wall Art and Tapestries: Thick wall hangings, tapestries, and framed art with fabric can help dampen sound. They add mass to the walls and can reduce reverberation, enhancing the overall acoustic quality of the room. No more blank walls.

 

chart with specific noise reduction capabilities of plants
 Disclaimer: The noise reduction capabilities listed above are approximate values and may vary depending on specific environmental conditions, room size, and plant care. Factors such as the number of plants, their size, and placement within the room can influence their effectiveness in reducing noise. For optimal noise reduction, it is recommended to combine verified soundproofing and acoustic treatment methods.

 

The Impact of Complete Silence

If you have already soundproofed your room you may be wondering how long can someone stay in there? Are there completely silent rooms?

Yes.

They are called anechoic chambers and are designed to absorb all sound reflections, creating an environment empty of external noise.

If you read the records you will find that the longest anyone has been able to stay inside an anechoic chamber is about 45 minutes. This extreme silence can lead to various auditory hallucinations and psychological effects.

However, there was an experiment recently with a guy filming himself in an anechoic chamber. This experiment lasted for about an hour. You can watch the full hour of silence below. 

And no, he didn't go mad. But let's get back to the researches.

 

 

What Happens in a Completely Silent Room?

  1. Auditory Hallucinations: In the absence of external sounds, the brain starts amplifying internal noises. You may begin to hear your heartbeat, the sound of your blood circulation, and even the faint noise of your bones grinding (even when it's not raining).These sounds are usually inaudible but become evident in complete silence.

  2. Loss of Balance and Orientation: Our sense of balance relies partly on auditory signals. In an anechoic chamber, the lack of sound can cause disorientation and loss of balance. This is because the absence of reflected sound waves can make it difficult for the brain to determine spatial awareness. Think about the bats.

  3. Psychological Discomfort: Prolonged exposure to complete silence can be mentally challenging. The silence can become oppressive and cause feelings of anxiety, discomfort, and even panic. The absence of sound can also lead to a heightened awareness of one's thoughts, which can be distressing for some individuals.

 

Chambers? What Chambers?

Microsoft built the quietest place on earth in 2015, achieving a record-breaking -20.3 dB. Test subjects reported difficulty staying in the room for extended periods due to the overwhelming silence.

Home to another famous anechoic chamber, Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota, holds a Guinness World Record for its chamber at -9.4 dB. People typically can’t stay inside for more than 30 minutes. 

On the image below you can see two more of the world popular anechoic chambers - South Bank University and National Physical Laboratory. 

two of the most famous anechoic chambers in England with a map
Some of the most famous anechoic chambers in the world. They are used for various purposes including product testing, scientific research, and acoustic measurements.

 

However, there’s no need to worry about facing such extreme silence in your own soundproofed music room. Achieving a completely soundproof space is practically impossible due to the realities of everyday environments and the materials used in soundproofing. So, you can enjoy a quieter, more controlled sound environment without the creepy experience of absolute silence.

Now, get back to your jam session and make it count!

 

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