How to Soundproof a Room
The main thing standing between a very good recording and a studio-level recording is often the lack of a soundproof room. Even with all the digital tricks at your disposal, you’ll still hear the echo and distortion that comes from playing in a small room that hasn’t been soundproofed. Our goal is to teach the most common tricks for how to soundproof a room in order to help you record better tracks in your home studio.
Temporary soundproofing solutions
First, let’s explore some temporary options. This might make sense if you’re not looking for a perfect solution, just something better than what you’ve got now. If you’re just recording demos or are a lo-fi artist, you can probably live with a little distortion.
When we talk soundproofing, we’re talking about a few different things: preventing sound from leaking in from outside the room, preventing sound from leaking out of the room, and preventing sound from echoing within the room.
A good rule of thumb is this: an empty room echoes. You want curtains on the windows, rugs on the floor, bulky furniture in the room (especially well-stuffed and fabric-covered furniture), and so on.
If you need additional sound dampening, there are a few more simple options. First, add weather stripping to the room’s door, trying to fill the gaps on all four sides of the door. Your door is a big culprit of sound leakage. Second, anything additional you hang from the walls will add layers of sound dampening. Studios use multiple layers of walling, and then additional arrays of foam sound-dampening panels. The foam allows the sound to enter but never leave—sort of like Hotel California. Since it can’t go anywhere it dissipates, silently, into heat. While you probably can’t get the total soundproofing studios get, you can add layer upon layer of sound dampening by hanging foam egg crates and heavy blankets on your walls.
How to soundproof a room, the next level
Perhaps you’re after something a little more, like a real home studio. The more clarity you have when you record, the more control you have over your final recordings. Lo-fi sensibility isn’t for every genre of music, that’s for sure. And even if you’ve got a lo-fi aesthetic, there are plenty of reasons you might want to keep that distortion minimal. Maybe you like crunching things up in production, enjoy figuring out your sound by constant tweaking, or maybe you just want the vocals to sound good.
It can be a challenge to get a clean sound when you’re recording a non-electric instrument, like drums, the acoustic guitar, the oboe. Even when it sounds good in the room, things end up distorted.
If you’re wondering how to soundproof a room the way today’s indie recording artists do, here are some tips.
Every home studio should have the following:
Soundproofing panels on the walls
If you can’t afford to buy readymade panels––and not everyone can, at $500 a piece––or don’t have the skill to buy the materials and frame them yourself, it’s perfectly fine to simply hang soundproof foam directly on the wall. It’s worth spending more for a better product, but you can find decent soundproof material cut for wall hanging for as little as $35 per piece.
Hardwood flooring is good when it’s on a concrete foundation. You should also have a thick layer of insulation in between. Again, putting rugs down can further dampen sound.
To soundproof your walls, make sure they’re well-insulated. It’s a good idea to add double-thick sheetrock, or even to add a layer of plaster or plaster skim coat atop your old sheetrock walls. Every layer works to stop sound. And the spaces in between the layers where there is air or insulation help trap whatever sound penetrates the walls.
Build a vocal booth
It’s also advisable to build a “booth” with even more sound proofing for when you’re recording vocals, drums, and guitar. It doesn’t have to be a real “booth”—if you could make a recording cubicle out of three soundproof panels, it would still make a world of difference in your recording quality. And with the cubicle, you can just put it up and take it down, meaning it’s not always taking up studio space.
We hope this guide on how to soundproof a room has been helpful. Just think about the songs you’ll write and record in your studio space when it’s all soundproofed.
Whether you’re podcasting, making lo-fi beats for SoundCloud kids, or releasing a folk-punk concept masterpiece, your soundproofed studio will serve you well, and be a den of creativity for many years to come.
If you need a soundproof place to record today, the studio world is different these days, and more accessible than ever before. It’s easy to rent equipment, computers, and soundproof space by the day, even by the hour. It used to be you’d pay some dude a bunch of money, and you and your band would record, and he’d be at the controls behind the glass. And at the end of the day, he’d give you a CD, “the master,” and that was it. It’s not like that anymore. With sites like ours and others, you can find the right space and have total control over your recording, even bringing your own equipment. And it’s easy—easy enough that you could probably do it today.
Now you know how to soundproof a room, and how to easily find an affordable soundproof room should you need one. Now make some beautiful music for us to live our lives to, if you don’t mind.