A person doesn’t realize how noisy the world can be until they want to create a studio. Suddenly it becomes apparent how many background sounds exist that you never really heard before. But when these intrusive noises come through and compromise the quality of your sound, you know it’s time to soundproof your studio.
What Will Soundproofing Your Studio Accomplish?
Soundproofing a studio will make the room quieter as it blocks out external noises. This process also keeps sounds made inside the room, trapped inside the room, so they do not disturb others in the building or neighborhood. Once you have had a room soundproofed, you will notice sounds are missing that you never paid attention to before:
- Impact Noise
The sound made by people walking or any other noise made from objects coming into contact with the flooring
- Outside Noise
The noise made outside by traffic driving past, people walking and talking with each other on the sidewalk, weather elements such as rain or thunder
- Inside Noise
The sounds made from inside plumbing, TVs, fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, or any other common appliance
Any of these noises are capable of ruining your recordings in a studio without soundproofing.
Why Soundproofing a Studio is Important
Soundproofing is also known as isolation and is intended to stop sound from bothering others in your building but more importantly preventing the noise outside of the studio from interfering with your work inside the room. It is critical to stop sounds from contaminating what you are creating or recording. In the studio, listening room, or home theater, you want to keep the noise floor to its absolute minimum, so it doesn’t mask details or limit the dynamic range of the room’s equipment system.
In a typical room, noises from the floor are usually at 50dB. Your HVAC fans, people walking, washing machines, dishwashers, and outside sounds all contribute to this number. So if you are attempting to put out 100db, you can only accomplish 50db since the rooms noise level will take away from or mask your output. When you soundproof this studio, and achieve a 20-30 dB noise level or less, you can enjoy a more dynamic range without having to turn things up to hear the small details.
Sound travels between a room in two different ways. It moves through the air and the structure. When it goes through the air, it is easy to understand. If there are any holes in the room, the sound can leak out. Leaks can happen through gaps in the floor, HVAC ducts, outlets, switches or any other type of hole in the walls, ceiling, or floor. This leakage is why insulating your studio is so important.
When sound moves through your structure, it is understood less. It will vibrate off your walls, floor, tin ducting, and ceiling. All of these areas are connected to other areas in your building. When these areas vibrate by the sound you create, what they are connected to also vibrates and recreates a sound in other areas of your building. Even if you have a solid concrete floor in your basement, it is a flanking path for sound to reach other areas in your structure. (The term ‘flanking’ describes a path which sound travels on within the boundary of a particular space.)
Dealing with soundproofing depends on your budget and your situation. If the room is already built and what level of performance you are looking for will affect the type of soundproofing you will require. There are several levels of soundproofing depending on your personal requirements.
- Level One
You can insulate the walls which will not be overly expensive and will provide you with an excellent performance gain. The walls will become absorbers in the bass and will not transmit mid to high frequencies in either direction. Your walls will also not ring like a big drum.
You should also replace the door to the room with one of solid core wood and then seal it well. An entry can have a significant impact on the amount of sound leak in any place. Hollow doors make horrible blockers of bass energy.
- Level Two
Level two is like a level one- plus. You will need to remove the existing outlets and build an MDF ‘backer box’ behind each outlet. Check how many holes are in your room between switches and outlets, and if you cannot take down the drywall to build the boxes, use putty pads on the rear and sides of the plastic boxes to add mass and then seal them tightly.
If possible, you should replace any tin ducts with flex tubing and isolate the MDF box with bends of ninety degrees. This replacement will stop sound from escaping and make your studio much quieter. The HVAC is often forgotten when creating a studio, but it is vital as it runs through your entire structure.
- Level Three
Level three is a combination of levels one and two- plus. At this level, you will need a second layer of drywall in the room. This level will allow you to gain in isolation across the spectrum and into the deep bass range. By adding the additional mass of the drywall, you will stop a fair amount of sound by itself.
If there are any windows in your studio, you should consider plugging them. Put a front in them with a mass material and fill behind it with insulation. Recessed windows should have a plug that fits into them, and then you want to seal them off with foam weatherstripping. As an added option, you could build a frame around the window trim and plug them from the outside.
- Level Four
Level four is a combination of the other three levels- plus. This level has you working on the floor. You have the choice of building a floor float or a specially designed rubber dampening layer and adding another layer of the subfloor. If you are not making the studio in the basement, remember the floor joists under the studio are likely shared with the rest of your structure.
Some people consider installing a separate HVAC system into their studio. Mini split systems are relatively affordable and have running noise levels of 25dB. You could also consider adding a third layer of drywall. It will cost you some footage of the total room area but will improve the soundproofing effect.
There are other steps you can incorporate with each of these levels. If you are considering the insulation of a studio to create a soundproof area, talk to the experts at Pure Eco Inc. They have the experience needed to build an insulated, soundproof studio that will match any level of requirement you have in mind.
How to Soundproof a Studio
When you decide you want to soundproof a studio or any other room, you want to prevent the sound from exiting or entering the area. This prevention of sound movement means the walls will require a lot of mass to prevent them from vibrating when sound is created. If the room is part of new construction, the mass can be added by building the walls with a dense material such as concrete.
If the room already exists in a structure, you want to add to the existing walls with materials such as mass loaded vinyl or sheetrock. Check how effective the materials will be at soundproofing the studio, by using the measuring metric known as the STC (Sound Transmission Class). Materials such as concrete that are hard have higher STC’s and the softer materials such as insulation tend to have lower STC’s.
A guideline to understanding the numbers of the STCs is; 20-30 is poor, 30-40 is average, and 40-50 is good. Another metric used to measure is the STL (Sound Transmission Loss). This system is often referred to as the better measurement as it measures isolation in dB at specific frequency bands.
Insulation Used for Soundproofing a Studio
There are a lot of construction materials advertised as having noise reduction characteristics. Some of these materials are very effective for providing soundproofing and have data obtained by testing to prove it. Others are not as good as they advertise and will only give you a slight effect. These are some of the effective soundproofing materials that will work on soundproofing your studio.
- Damped Drywall
Damped drywall is drywall that uses a sound damping layer. It comes in panels and will provide superb soundproofing properties.
Drywall is also called wallboard, gypsum board, plasterboard, and Sheetrock. This product is an excellent and more affordable source of mass. Mass is the key element in soundproofing.
Fiberboard is also called acoustical board or soundboard. This material as low mass, so it is not the perfect choice for soundproofing walls. This product can be useful as floor spacing if you are looking for additional mass. This material will not provide damping, absorption, or decoupling.
- Mass-Loaded Vinyl
MLV (Mass-Loaded Vinyl) is a flexible, highly dense membrane and is an excellent source of mass but is not as affordable as other choices. It will work well for filling gaps and wrapping around ducts, metal columns, and pipes where a sound barrier is needed.
If you use this material as a layer in soundproofing ceilings, floors, and walls, it will cost more, so you may want to go with a more affordable choice such as the drywall.
- Sound Curtains
Ordinary curtains or blankets will not work for soundproofing, but there are noise control curtains. These curtains are industrial products that use a dense layer of mass-loaded vinyl.
- Damping Compound
A damping compound can be used in between layers of subflooring, plywood, and drywall. This material is a practical and affordable noise reducer and one of many ways to address low-frequency noise from your home theaters, music, machinery, and other sources.
- Acoustical Sealant
The acoustical sealant is a vital material to seal seams and prevent sound from leaking. This material dramatically enhances the effectiveness of all other soundproofing components as it fills the cracks so no noise can escape.
Insulation is loosely packed fiber and will give you an excellent sound absorption. Absorption of sound is the main factor in soundproofing. The standard form of fiberglass insulation will work as well as mineral wool, and it costs less. Foam insulations will provide you great thermal insulation, but does not work as well for soundproofing.
- Roxul Soundproof Insulation
Roxul Soundproof Insulation is one of the best soundproofing materials on the market. This product is also good for the environment as it is made from recycled metal slag and basalt rock. These materials are a byproduct of copper and steel production. The basalt rock and recycled metal slag are mixed and melted and then spun into a fibrous material. The result is a dense product with a reasonable weight.
Roxul Soundproof Insulation is an excellent choice if you want to create a studio or media room where outside noises cannot interfere, and the sounds produced inside the studio cannot escape disturbing others.
Roxul is dense soundproof insulation that will absorb and severely reduce air-borne and impact sounds. It is also resistant to fire, insects, and mold. This insulation resists everything imaginable and has an incredibly long life-span. With Roxul’s superb R-Value, Roxul is not only incredible soundproofing insulation; it may be the best insulation in almost every area of a structure.
The cost of Roxul is a bit higher than other insulation products, so often its primary use is for soundproofing and filling in small areas. Some use this insulation to fill in small spaces where conventional insulation batts cannot reach. This product is available only in batt form and cannot be blown.
Find a Studio Soundproofing Service Near Me
Pure Eco Inc is your soundproofing expert, and we are ready to help you with soundproofing your studio. Call our insulation contractor at 877-778-2551 and find out about the soundproofing services we have available in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Pure Eco Inc has full knowledge of the soundproofing market and will find the best quality and affordable solution for your needs.