The acoustic treatment of your recording studio is crucial to the success of your recordings. If you’re mixing or mastering in an untreated room, the results could be off because the room influences the sound. The first time I heard the world through a quality condenser microphone, I was blown away by how much noise it was picking up. Tiny sounds I never noticed were now ruining my audio! I had some soundproofing, but not enough. If you are dealing with this issue, don’t worry because you will learn how to soundproof a home recording studio in just a few minutes. But how do you acoustic treat a home recording studio?
Soundproofing vs. acoustic treatment
Before we continue, it’s important to note that soundproofing is not the same as acoustic treatment. Soundproofing is the means of creating an environment to reduce sound from entering or exiting. Acoustic treatment improves the sound quality and absorption of ambient noise. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. However, every recording studio should have a healthy combination of both.
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Why should you treat your room’s acoustics?
You don’t need much convincing to soundproof your room properly if you are a professional. But if you do, here are three reasons why you should.
- Neighbors: You must consider your neighbors if you live in an apartment like mine. You don’t want to get on their bad side as they could make noise complaints a habit, or even worse, call the cops. And suppose your neighbors are regularly interrupting your recording sessions due to noise. In that case, you might lose credibility with your clients staying on their good side by doing everything you can to reduce the sound you transmit from your studio.
- Clients: If you are running a business from your home or apartment, you are already losing some credibility with clients. Put them at ease by presenting them with a top-notch, fully functioning recording studio with soundproof panels, windows, and doors.
- Recordings: If you work in your apartment, you probably have neighbors. And let me tell you, a good mic can pick up footsteps easily. You don’t want to have a good session go to waste because of the lady upstairs who doesn’t want to take off her heels or the occasional fire truck. I’ve been there; it’s not fun. Soundproofing your room or studio will also improve your recording quality by eliminating unwanted noises like humming and buzzing.
Five methods to acoustically treat a home recording studio
The acoustic treatment in your music studio is one of the most important parts. It lets you trust your ears. If your room isn’t treated, the sound from your speakers will be changed in different ways. Here’s how to treat the acoustics in your room.
Add mass and density to your walls
One way to dampen your home recording studio is to add mass and density to your walls. Large, thick walls are less prone to vibration. However, walls in apartment buildings are usually thinner than in houses. So consider adding mass to your walls to make them thicker. Your material of choice should be dense enough to prevent sound from passing through but not dense enough to allow sound to bounce off.
If you want to go all out and start replacing walls, I recommend a 1.6 cm or thicker drywall. For even better results, consider adding a sheet block. And make sure to apply a damping compound between the two panels. Walls require a lot of mass from vibrating. To add some bulk to an existing room, you can apply mass-loaded vinyl, also known as sheet block.
Damping is an effective method to soundproof your home studio. Dampening dissipates kinetic energy in the form of vibrations from sound waves and turns it into heat through intermolecular friction. One of the advantages of damping is that it reduces low-frequency noise. So, you can use your home recording studio and turn up the bass without bothering your neighbors! Or not as much.
One damping method is to sandwich a dampening compound between two sheets of plywood, drywall, or medium-density fiberboard. You apply this method to walls, ceilings, and doors. For best results, use two tubes for every 4×8 ft. You don’t have to break the bank to add some bulk. Some everyday items you can use to dampen your room include rugs, bookshelves, and blankets.
Filling-in air gaps and cracks
It should be no surprise that air gaps allow sound to enter and escape a room, so you must seal them tight. Take a close look around the room and locate every hole or crack. You can use foam sealant for the large holes or gaps in your baseboards. Shrink-free spackling is excellent for filling cracks on your wall. For things like windows and doors, you will need special gaskets, allowing flexibility while remaining soundproof.
Decoupling refers to separating two objects to make it harder for sound to pass between them. Decoupling is excellent for reducing vibrations from your amplifiers or speakers. You might have noticed that most amplifiers and speakers usually have dense rubber contact points. These contact points decouple the amp or speaker from the floor or surface, preventing excess vibrations. video
Build a floating floor by placing multiple floor floaters between your wooden panels.
You can also use floaters on anything from your amps to your isolation booth.
How can you measure acoustic dampening capabilities?
Sound Transmission Class (STC) is the classification of a material’s soundproofing capabilities. STC is measured in decibels (dB). Say we have a room blasting music at 100 dB. And we measured the sound on the other side of the wall. If the decibel reading is 75 dB, we can say there was a transmission loss of 25 dB.
In this scenario, the STC would be 25. The STC rating goes from low to high, lower being less soundproof and high being more soundproof. Here is a reference to help illustrate this point.
|25 dB||Normal speech can be heard and understood through the walls|
|30 dB||Loud voices are understood through walls|
|35 dB||Speech is harder to understand|
|40 dB||Speech is not transmitted|
|42 dB||Loud voices sound very quiet|
|45 dB||Loud voices are no longer herd|
|50 dB||Very loud sounds like and stereos can be faintly heard|
|60+ dB||Very soundproof. Almost nothing is heard through the walls|
But there’s a big problem with measuring a material’s soundproofing capabilities exclusively by its STC rating. STC only takes into account the dB transmission loss.
A more accurate method used to measure sound transmission is Sound Transmission Loss (STL). STL refers to the sound isolated by a material at a particular frequency in a 13-octave frequency band. Drywall, for instance, has an STL at 125 HZ of 15 dB. STL is considered a better metric when considering soundproofing materials because it considers decibels and Hz. But enough science. Let’s get back to soundproofing your room.
Tips for soundproofing your setup
There are four main areas to focus on that produce the majority of unwanted noises but worry not; we have solutions for them. So without further due, let’s get right into it as we break down our tips for soundproofing your setup.
- Windows: Windows are the main source of sound leakage; while some may prefer to remove them, it’s much easier to throw soundproof curtains to drown out noises from the outside. Not only will it reduce sounds, but it also absorbs sunlight and keeps out cold weather, perfect in the winter.
- Walls/Ceiling: Walls and ceilings make up most of the real estate and will likely require the most work/materials. The good news is that adding sound-dampening foam throughout will help greatly with noise reduction. While you can fit them everywhere, strategic placement will help save money and time.
We recommend Foamily products that give you the best bang for your buck and come in various styles. Lando27Music also does a great job of highlighting how he was able to reduce and control sound waves in and around the room.
- Floors: This could be easily overlooked, but similar to walls and ceilings, floors also produce noise, especially if you have people living on a floor below. So again, we have some options here – sound-deadening mats are a very cheap alternative and are incredibly easy to install. However, if you’re looking for a heavier option, thick moving blankets are a great alternative—the thicker and heavier, the better.
- Doors: Don’t forget about the doors. Depending on whether the door is solid or hollow, the sound getting in/out will vary greatly. The rule of thumb here is solid doors are ideal. Another thing to remember is the cracks/gaps around the doors, which can be managed with high-density foam tape. The worst experience is creating your masterpiece only to have an external factor tarnish it.
Soundproofing your recording studio will take some work, but it’s worthwhile if you’re serious about your art.
If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called How To Acoustically Treat A Room | Studio Hacks | Universal Acoustics from the Rabea Massaad YouTube Channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about dampening echoes in a recording studio.
Does foam absorb sound?
Foam does a great job of blocking out noises. Like earplugs, acoustic foam allows people like you to block out the noise they want. These pieces from heaven absorb sound, so any noise you make inside stays inside, and noise from outside stays outside.
How can I treat a room’s sound for the least amount of money?
Putting thick blankets and quilts on a wall is the cheapest way to block noise. Put blankets over walls, doors, or windows to block it out, depending on where the noise comes from. Hang blankets on both sides of doors or inside walls to keep the sound inside.
How do I start treating a room’s sound?
The most important places to treat with acoustic treatment are the early reflection points close to where you listen. So right at your left, right, top, back, and front ears.
Sound can enter your room in many ways. But with a little know-how, you can soundproof a home recording studio. By now, you should be able to soundproof your home recording studio and maybe, just maybe, turn your speakers up to 11. This article covered the reasons you should treat your room’s acoustics, tips, and steps on how to treat your room’s acoustics effectively. So, how to reduce the echos in your room? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on niche. Thanks for reading, and keep making music.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Soundproofing is the means of creating an environment to reduce sound from entering or exiting.
- Acoustic treatment improves the sound quality and absorption of ambient noise.
- If you are running a business from your home or apartment, you are already losing some credibility with clients.
- Windows are the main source of sound leakage; while some may prefer to remove them, it’s much easier to throw soundproof curtains to drown out noises from the outside.
- Foam does a great job of blocking out noises.