When you have one child learning an instrument, it’s simple to just let them practice in their bedroom. Add another child (or adult) into the mix, and you’re going to want to think about setting up a dedicated music room.
That said, one of the key concerns with a music room is keeping your burgeoning musicians from disturbing the neighbors. Nobody wants to come home from work and listen to the tinny sound of a guitar amplified, or the monotonous thud of drums from the house next door.
Today we’ll talk about how to soundproof a music room so that you can minimize the complaints and let everyone practice in peace. Let’s talk about some soundproofing strategies that you need to know about!
Consider the classics
When it comes to soundproofing there are some tried-and-true basics that can make an enormous difference. These are some of the first things to consider when you are planning your music room, so let’s take a look at these options and what they do. Here are some basic soundproofing mediums that you should consider:
- Acoustic blankets – One of the most common soundproofing methods, acoustic blankets are large and thick fabric swathes that you can put in place to good effect. Generally, it requires nailing some boards in place and clipping the blankets on. They absorb a lot of sound and you can add rubber to really lower the decibel level if you need it.
- Acoustic foam – Great for mid to high frequencies like you’d get with violins, these foam panels incorporate wedge-shapes that insulate sound and look good in the process – as you can get them in many different colors and sizes.
- Acoustic panels – Another paneling option, acoustic soundproofing panels use fiberglass, foam, or mineral wool to effectively dampen sound and best of all, you can space them rather than fill the wall with them and still get some serious dampening to the overall sound in the room.
- Latex liners – A fairly recent innovation, latex liners are designed to catch and move the sound from the center of the liner to the edge and then back, degrading the sound wave on the way so that less sound exits the room.
- Soundboard – Basically an extra layer of wall, soundboards have a laminate design incorporating plaster, foam, and/or vinyl and you can install it on the walls and the ceiling to appreciable effect. It’s effective, but you’ll need to have a little DIY inclination and skill to install it.
Different sounds, different strategies
When you are selecting your soundproofing materials, you need to keep in mind the kinds of sounds that you are looking to minimize or ‘trap’. Bass sounds are a good example of this. These ‘wide and low’ sound waves can often pass through some materials before the sound wave is fully formed, and so a bass trap in the corners is a good idea.
Consider the types of sounds that you want to mute and check so that you can better rate your selected options in advance.
Aim to turn it down, not off
The goal is to reduce the sound, not to completely hide it. Even a 10 decibel reduction in sound can make an enormous difference, reducing the outside impact of the music by as much as 50% for anyone listening outside.
To track your progress as you are soundproofing and to get a baseline of your decibels, check the app store for your iPhone or Android phone and look for decibel rating apps. There are a number of free ones available and you can test how much sound is getting out by standing only 6 feet away from where you practice and getting a reading.
Be sure to play at your loudest so that you get an accurate baseline to determine ‘before and after’ results.
Set a budget and stick to it
You’ll want to set a realistic budget with the intention to stick to it. This gives you a base amount so that you can measure the square footage of the room and create estimates for how much your soundproofing strategy will realistically cost.
While this will probably mean that you have to start with more basic strategies such as acoustic blankets, that should be fine. Remember, you just need to dampen the sound enough to be manageable, and that can often take less insulation than you think.
Setting a budget also helps to make sure that you do things the right way. Avoid flimsy makeshift options like egg cartons and packing foam, as these have poor effect at best and may also present a fire hazard. Set an actual budget and use commercial soundproofing options and that way you’ll know that they are going to WORK.
Don’t expect complete silence
When we imagine the end-result of our soundproofing, we tend to have unrealistic expectations. So, let’s get this out of the way now and just say what you need to hear. Your music room is probably NOT going to completely mute all of the music.
Sound is an amazing thing and you ‘can’t stop the beat’.
Well, you CAN, but it would be extremely expensive. That’s because soundwaves have to be directed and absorbed in order to effectively mute a room and this can be quite difficult.
They tend to travel along different building materials in different ways, so it can be next to impossible to completely mute then as an assortment of instruments being played are going to produce different frequencies of sounds.
The best thing to do is to make a note of the types of instruments being played so that you can then create a strategy, employing soundproofing materials as-needed to target the most noticeable sounds from your band.
Protip: Add carpeting to hardwood floors and use foam or rubber on doors and windows – this can help really help to minimize sounds if your current efforts seem to be lacking.
Some final words on soundproofing your music room
In this article we’ve talked about some tips and tricks that you can use to help in soundproofing your music room. As you can see, it’s all about the strategies, so your best bet is to start with the classics and accessorize for specific sounds involved.
Keep your expectations realistic and go in with the goal of turning it down, rather than off. Finally, set an actual budget and stick to it. Sure, you could cobble together something makeshift, but these have a minimal effect and are often a fire hazard. You’re better off using quality materials that actually work.
With a little planning you can lower that sound to acceptable levels and your neighbors will love you once again. Just use these tips to create your sound-reduction strategy so that you can get your soundproofing out of the way and get busy with that sweet, sweet practice!