This is by far the most asked question at Soundproofing America Inc.: “How do I soundproof my bathroom, bedroom, or basement in my single family house or condo so my 4 piece rock band can practice and record and not bother the neighbors?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would be in the Bahamas right now, instead of writing this narrative.
Many factors need to be considered prior to beginning your studio or practice room soundproofing project. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself are: what type of amplification will the band be using, are the drums going to be acoustic and mic’d or are they digital. Are we going to be recording live late at night or are we going to be doing “line in” recording only? These questions and many more need to be considered before the actual construction begins.
If live recording and rehearsal are the plan, then maximum soundproofing will be needed. The most effective way to soundproof a garage, basement, or bedroom is to actually construct a room within a room (see www.auralex.com) and download the booklet “Acoustics 101”, this is a wonderful resource for the home studio builder. Their ideas are solid and pertinent to any studio soundproofing project.
The room within a room concept utilizes the sealed dead air space that is captured between the inner walls and the outer walls to help greatly with the soundproofing endeavor. It is probably easiest to frame the walls on the floor and then tilt them up into place thus making dry walling the outside of the walls much easier. It is also highly recommended that another ceiling be joisted out for the room within a room, however, this is oft times impossible due to space constraints. In this case, the existing ceiling and ceiling joists may be used as the ultimate ceiling for the studio, provide that it is adequately soundproofed with materials such as the Luxury Liner Mass Loaded Vinyl or a combination of American mat and American vinyl. I will elaborate on these materials, as we get further into this study.
Once the walls are framed out and the right amount of “Dead air space” is determined, then it is time to install the soundproofing
The first order of business is to consider what needs to be done to the wall cavities prior to installing a barrier and finally the wallboard. I like to line the inside cavities with a closed cell vinyl nitrile foam mat such as American Mat. This mat (generally 1/4″ thickness) is adhered to the inside cavity walls as well as the studs and joists (if these areas are opened up) Keep in mind that the American Mat is used to line the cavities only, not to fill them up. If thermal insulation is needed, use products such as rock wool, mineral wool, cut wool fibers, or my favorite, Roxul.
Roxul is a great thermal rock wool based bat type insulation that has great soundproofing qualities. If thermal insulation is a requirement for the practice room or studio, then Roxul is the way to go.
Now we come to a crossroads, it is time to determine if decoupling the walls using resilient channels or RSIC clips is a necessity. De coupling is used when impact transmission or low frequency noise is a factor. Impact would come primarily from the drums (acoustic type) or the bass amplifier. However, if the band is using Marshall high powered amps (50 watt Plexies with 4 X 12 cabinets for example) along with miked acoustic drums and an Ampeg bass system, then decoupling is most likely necessary. These methods and procedures will be explained in later narratives or can found by calling Soundproofing America on our toll free line.
If decoupling were determined to be unnecessary, then the next step would be to find a good barrier material such as American vinyl (which is a high grade mass loaded vinyl barrier). This barrier could be stapled directly to the studwork on a wall assembly or directly to the joists. This is a method that is used if cost or space constraints are factors. If the barrier material is to be stapled directly to the stud or joist framing then it is essential that the seams be over lapped, caulked (using OSI acoustical caulking compound) and taped with either a lead tape or a heavy-duty seam tape. These can also be had from American Soundproofing Inc.
Once these areas are treated with the Mass Loaded vinyl (MLV) then it time to decide whether or not it is necessary to float the walls and ceiling to prevent the impact and heavy bass sounds from passing through the solidly barriered walls and ceiling. For more information on ceiling and wall floats, please call the toll free number.
The last step for your home studio is to layer over the mass loaded vinyl barrier with a fresh layer of 5/8″ fire code drywall or sheet rock. It is always advisable to butter the edges of the last layer of drywall with the acoustical caulk. You’ll want to gain every STC (sound transmission class) point you can when trying to make your new studio as quiet as possible. Finally you will tape mud and paint the new drywall. We here at Soundproofing America Inc. are also musicians and we understand the plight of our fellow players. Please feel free to call us anytime for free studio soundproofing advice. We’re here to help; it’s not about making money off our fellow musician friends.