How To Soundproof A Home Music Studio?

If you are a podcaster, musician, or actor working during the pandemic, having an in-home recording studio of some kind could be essential to your business. Most recording work has moved into our homes this year but often still demands professional-grade sound. Unfortunately, creating a home studio is not the most intuitive DIY project. You may feel completely lost without a professional to guide you. But with a little investment and ingenuity, you can produce studio-quality sound from your home. Here are some steps to follow to get the best sound quality from your makeshift space.

Stop noise specialise in the soundproofing of existing glazed windows and doors in the home and commercial recording studios. It can be a very costly exercise to build a home recording studio, and the need to keep the cost down can be obtained by using our secondary glazing retrofit system. The Stop Noise adds on double glazed windows that can be easily added to your existing windows and doors. The system is fully operable for cleaning purposes and for getting fresh air. The retrofit secondary glazed windows effectively reduce noise going in and out by their ability to create large airspace of between 70-100mm.

The Stop Noise windows are made from a thick 6.38mm laminated glass, heavy aluminium extrusions and double acoustic seals fitted to the sliding sashes. The glass thickness is a minimum thickness of 6.38mm laminated safety glass. For greater noise reduction, we have a 10.38mm laminated glass used in our commercial system. The noise reduction that can be achieved will be a minimum of 10 decibels which equates to halving the perceived noise level. Higher noise reduction can be achieved by creating wider airspace between the two sheets of glass and using thicker glass.

How To Create A Podcast Or Recording Studio In Your Own Home?

how to soundproof a home music studio (2)While there’s no lid on the amount of money you could spend on kitting it out with the most expensive gear or doing major renovations to the room, you don’t need that much to get started. If you’ve got the passion for creating and knowing the essentials, you’re off to a great start.

Choose The Right Space

The first step for any home recording studio should be choosing the right space to set up in. Granted, you might only have one room that you can set up in, but if you have a choice, you should consider your options carefully. After all, you’re probably going to be spending a decent amount of time there. Therefore, it should be a convenient, quiet and enjoyable space. 

If you can, choose the quietest area in your home to set up. Consider what noises might disrupt your recordings, such as street traffic, neighbours or members of your family. There are ways to combat noise, but more on that later (Step 3).

Give yourself more room than you think you’ll need in case you want to expand later on with more equipment. Plus, bigger rooms sound better.

High ceilings, asymmetrical walls and irregular surfaces are the best for getting nice acoustics. You might not be able to tick all these boxes, but when you have an option, choose the one that has the best natural acoustics.

FAQs About Soundproof A Home Music Studio

Before we get into exactly how to improve the acoustics of your room, a basic understanding of the science behind acoustics is important. When you make a sound inside a room, sound waves project outwards in all directions until they hit different room surfaces. So while your microphone might pick up some direct sound waves from the sound you made, it will also pick up the reflected sounds bouncing off different surfaces in the room. The direct sound is great, but the reflected sounds can cause issues with your sound quality. To combat sounds reflecting off different surfaces, you can install sound-absorbing materials in your home studio. Instead of reflecting sounds, these materials absorb them and help create a quieter environment.

A soundproofed room will keep noises from outside out of your studio, and it will help noises from inside your studio stay in so they won’t disturb your neighbours. One important step is to seal up any gaps as sound is notoriously good at travelling through any space it can find. A simple DIY job will do the trick.

Specialised interior acoustic insulation and acoustic panels such as Autex Quietspace effectively minimise reverberated noise and background echo. Not only do they help keep unwanted sounds out, but they also play a key role in making important sounds have better quality.

Acoustic insulation batts are installed inside the wall cavity during building or renovation. However, if you want a solution that doesn’t require opening up your walls, interior acoustic panels and tiles are a great choice that helps create good acoustics and look good at the same time.

Use Sound Absorption Foam.

The quickest way to set up your home studio is with sound absorption foam if you have a budget to work with. The material resembles egg crate foam, is thick, and comes in a limited range of colours like black, red, or blue (if you want to incorporate a colour scheme.) It is fairly cheap — anywhere from $30 – $60 for a pack of 12’x12′ panels, enough to cover as much as four sq km of space. The good news is you don’t need to coat your walls from top to bottom in foam. “You don’t need to do the whole room. You want to nail the front back and [walls] that align with the microphone,” Bolick says. The best way to make sure you are covering your bases is to draw an X on the wall across from the microphone, both in front of and behind you. The Xs mark areas where the sound will hit the wall and bounce directly back into the microphone, so that’s where you most need to install your foam.

A great soundproofing hack when you are short on big closets or spare bedrooms is to use a small storage box. Make sure the box is big enough to fit your microphone first, line it with sound absorption foam and place the mic inside. This setup works for voiceover gigs, poetry recordings, or emceeing — any recording in which one person is speaking directly into the microphone. Here is the further attached foam to a tri-fold presentation board that covers a larger space, allowing me to record while standing. (A trifold board also allows space for two people to record at once.)

As with any equipment purchase, you get what you pay for. “Unfortunately, the more expensive, the better the foam,” Bolick says. So if you are investing in your business, getting better foam will offer better results. Cheaper foams will work, but more expensive ones can make a noticeable difference when paired with other quality equipment upgrades. Personally, when listening to podcasts, I’ve noticed tit’s harder to enjoy the subject matter when it is difficult to hear, or there is a lot of interference in the audio mix. The better sound quality, the more engaged your listeners will be (especially since there is nothing for them to engage with visually). Higher-quality materials are more important for pro musicians and voiceover actors, as your career will hinge on your ability to produce high-quality recordings.

Invest In The Right Microphone

As with the soundproofing materials, the more money you spend on your recording equipment, the better your end product will be — and you’ll want to start by getting a microphone. You don’t need to break the bank; make sure you get the right microphone for your space, needs, and budget. Try use AKG XLR Condenser microphones to record the voiceover gigs and an entertainment podcast. Condenser mics are easy to find, relatively cheap (as microphones go — $130), and provide great quality sound for the price.

However, condenser mics are very sensitive and require a well-soundproofed room to avoid capturing unwanted noises. For this reason, Bolick suggests investing in a dynamic microphone. Dynamic microphones are less sensitive and will not pick up as much background sound as a condenser microphone. However, if you want an excellent dynamic mic, it will cost you significantly more (anywhere from $500 to $650). You can find some for as little as $130, but you’ll want to do your research beforehand to ensure the quality is up to par.

Noise

We sometimes forget how much noise is around us every day, but once you hear it through a microphone, all that noise is magnified one hundred times and more in some situations. Here are some sources to look for and avoid: cars, neighbours, plumbing, birds, crickets, wind, rain, and even room air conditioners and generators. All of these common sources of noise can ruin your recordings easily, so pay close attention to which rooms are the worst noise offenders and choose the quietest one with the fewest neighbours. Furthermore, you will want a silent space where you can make as much noise as you want, any time of the day or night. Although some soundproofing may be required for you to create a useable workspace, the process of soundproofing a room is accomplished using a combination of four tactics such as adding mass, damping, decoupling, and filling air gaps. When a room is perfectly soundproofed, outside noises stay outside and don’t disturb your sessions, and inside noises stay inside and don’t disturb your neighbours.

Flooring

Hard flooring, such as concrete, tile, or hardwood, is ideal for your recording room. Carpeted rooms often cause problems down the road because studios usually get a lot of foot traffic, and carpet wears out quickly. In addition, carpet absorbs high frequencies but not low ones, which negatively affects room acoustics. You can always lay down a small carpet or area rug for your drum kit to prevent it from sliding. The other issue to look out for is excessive foot noise, especially from the upstairs floors. If possible, choose a downstairs room instead.

Poor Acoustics

A bedroom in a typical family home has poor acoustics for a studio—in the worst way. Bedrooms are small, with a low ceiling, and parallel walls are drywall. A large room with high ceilings, asymmetrical walls, and lots of irregular surfaces is the best, but chances are you will not find a room like that in a typical home. The pro studios have them only because they spend thousands of dollars to design them, so you will have to make a compromise and choose your best option. Then don’t look back.

Transforming The Room

Before we can start adding new things into the room, it is best to take everything that we don’t need out of the room. If the room doubles as a bedroom, living room, etc., you may not be able to clear it out completely. Anything that can be removed should be removed.

The fact is that without acoustic treatment, good recordings are virtually impossible, and many beginners skip this part either out of ignorance or a lack of money and regret it later. So the first things to purchase are your bass traps. There are two types to choose from: either porous or resonant absorbers.

Porous absorbers are like the first defence line when tackling general problems with room acoustics. They can be made from acoustic foam, fibreglass, or Rockwool and are extremely effective at taming common problems such as room modes, standing waves, flutter echo, and speaker-boundary interference response. They are very effective because they offer excellent broadband absorption, meaning they work well across the entire frequency spectrum. Yet despite their versatility, porous absorbers have one big flaw. They can’t absorb the lowest bass frequencies unless they’re built super-thick or spaced far off the wall. The reason is that they can only work effectively where a sound wave is at maximum velocity, which in your room is 1/4-wavelength from the wall. For example, a 100 Hz wave is 11.3’ long, so its point of maximum velocity is 2.8’ off the wall.

Resonant absorbers are like tuned traps and do the opposite by zeroing in on specific problems with bass frequencies and ignoring everything in the mid/upper range. Resonant absorbers work best up against the wall where the sound waves collide because that’s where the pressure is highest. This works great because they occupy far less space in the room. There are two types you should get to know: Helmholtz resonators, which absorb bass frequencies through a small port in an air-tight cavity, and Diaphragmatic absorbers, which neutralise bass frequencies with a vibrating panel or membrane.

In most pro studios, porous and diaphragmatic absorbers work as a team and adjust the ratio, so you can control the type of acoustics you want. For example, a drier “studio sound” can be achieved with lots of porous absorption, or an ambient “live sound” can be achieved with less porous absorption and more diaphragmatic absorbers.

The next step is to purchase some acoustic panels and diffusers. Several manufacturers also offer packages that come with everything you would need. For example, bass traps usually go in the corners of the room because this is where those long-bass waves usually hang out. Acoustic panels and diffusers can be purchased to help balance the reflections from surfaces, too. Diffusers usually break the sound wave up, so it doesn’t reflect from a flat-wall surface.

Get The Essential Gear

While it’s easy to go overboard and spend a lot of money on gear, you can create a decent home studio with a limited budget. Focus on investing in the essential gear that suits your needs best. Here are our top picks for the most important gear in a home recording studio:

  • A Computer – essentially, the more power, the better, but if you’re hoping to stick to a budget, chances are you already have a computer that will get you started. Mac or PC doesn’t matter – choose what you’re familiar with.
  • DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is the software you will use to record, edit, and mix music on your computer. Get something compatible with your computer.
  • Audio Interface – this is the hardware you’ll use to connect your computer to the rest of your gear. You can buy your audio interface and DAW as a combo or separately.
  • Headphones – invest in a good pair of headphones so that you can hear what you’re making. Closed-back studio headphones are essential.
  • Studio Monitor Speakers – you may be ok just sticking with headphones, but mixing can also be done using studio monitors. They provide a neutral sound, which helps make better judgements when you mix.
  • Microphones – There are different mics for different purposes, but you only need 1 or 2 to get started depending on the instruments you want to record. Condenser mics are best for getting high-frequency detail, and dynamic mics are great for more isolation on the vocals, such as for podcasts.
  • Pop Filter – to cut out the unpleasant sounds caused by saying “p” and “b” sounds, a pop filter can help. While it might not be essential, they’re pretty cheap and can make a big difference, especially for podcasts with a lot of talking.

Optimise The Acoustics

how to soundproof a home music studio (3)Whether you’re recording voices or instruments, the sound is your medium of choice, so optimising the acoustics in your home studio should be a top priority. Good acoustics will do more for sound quality than perhaps anything else, so it pays to get it right.

Conclusion:

Once you have decided on how to implement the steps outlined above, you’re finished. How you arrange your gear is almost entirely up to you. Experiment and develop a workflow, and over time it will evolve into a setup that feels comfortable to you. The most important thing is that your studio will sound great from the beginning. So start cranking out those tunes.

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