Tips for Soundproofing Your Home Studio
Before you can begin soundproofing your home studio, make sure you know and understand the differences between soundproofing and acoustic treatments. While soundproofing keeps the sound from escaping your studio and blocks external noise from entering your space, acoustic treatments affect the quality of sounds and the way sounds are recorded based on the acoustical responses in the room. While a studio can benefit from both soundproofing and acoustic treatments, before you can begin focusing on how the sound is recorded in your studio, you first have to focus on making sure you’re only recording the sounds you want – without disturbing your neighbors.
As a rule, successfully soundproofing a studio includes four basic principles:
1. Adding mass – To prevent vibrations. The thicker the walls and floor, the more soundproof your studio will be!
2. Damping – Dissipates energy created by sound to dampen sound so that it cannot escape or enter your studio.
3. Decoupling – Ensuring two solid structures are not in direct contact. When walls, ceilings, and floors are in direct contact without anything to separate them, it creates vibrations. Decrease vibrations by leaving air gaps or rubber isolators between surfaces.
4. Filling air gaps – If there are areas where air escapes from your studio, sound can escape as well. Air can escape underneath doors and through any small holes you have in your studio, so these should be sealed as tightly as possible – but don’t forget to leave yourself a ventilation system so you can breathe!
You should keep these in mind throughout the design and building process, and these principles will inform many of the building tips we have to offer.
The following tips for soundproofing a home studio will help you create a studio that you can use to begin a professional career in music!
1. Stick to the “room within a room” principleThe ideal home studio will involve creating a “room within a room,” which involves building new walls and flooring. This will help to cut vibrations and significantly decrease the amount of sound that enters and escapes your studio.
2. Build new, thick wallsUsing concrete blocks for the walls is preferable, as they have a great deal of mass, though they should be placed on neoprene or some other material that will keep the walls from vibrating with the floor.
3. Install new flooring that will cut vibrationsThe same principles that apply to building new walls should be used when building the flooring of your studio. The goal is to create a “floating floor” to cut vibrations, which often involves, using neoprene strips or another rubber material between floor boards, eliminating the direct contact of hard surfaces.
4. Choose a room that’s large enough to create a decent “room within a room”If you choose a room that’s too small, your studio will end up feeling more like a box within a room than a comfortable studio. Choose your room carefully, though – you may be limited in the number of rooms you have available, and you should also consider whether building a studio in any particular room could affect your neighbors. It’s up to you to decide whether the location or size of your room is more important.
5. Don’t forget about the doors and windows!Doors and windows are two of the main culprits of letting sound escape and allowing sound to penetrate your studio. These issues can be fixed by enhancing the quality of your doors and windows. Consider installing a heavy door and making sure that it seals tightly when closed. If you have no windows in your studio, that’s preferable, but many people prefer the natural lighting, in which case the windows should be thicker – possibly double-glazed – and should be sealed tightly.
6. Keep technology and instruments from making direct contact with the floorJust as hard surfaces in your floor, walls and ceiling can create vibrations, anything resting directly on the floor can and will create vibrations. Keep everything on a separate surface – perhaps a rubber mat or carpet.
For more information about designing and building your own soundproof home studio, check out these resources:
• How to Soundproof a Room for Music Recording – Provides an understanding of the four basic principles we mentioned as well as tips for decreasing the amount of unwanted noise that’s being made inside your studio, such as computer noise and A/C noise.
• How to Soundproof Your Home Studio or Rehearsal Space Like a Pro – Addresses what to do if you’re renting your space or can’t make some of the more permanent additions to your space that we’ve suggested.
At The Los Angeles Film School, our degree programs in Audio Production and Music Production are designed to prepare students for successful careers, whether they’re moving on to a professional studio or building their own!