What exactly is soundproofing?
Ever sat down to record some video or audio content, and found your microphone has picked up masses of background noise you never usually notice? Or do you lay awake in bed at night disturbed by noisy neighbours or traffic sounds? Soundproofing is what you need. Whether it be for ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ noise, DIY soundproofing for recording spaces and acoustic panels for the home can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing noise.
Soundproofing is a method to reduce or completely eliminate unwanted noise in a given space – your home, a recording studio, an office, and more. Soundproofing comes in various forms, depending on the type of noise you would like to eliminate. Whether it is professionally installed, or you’d like a DIY soundproofing solution, there are a range of products you can use. Different types of foam insulation are available to manipulate the shape, intensity and direction of sound waves – absorbing sound vibrations or blocking them entirely.
What are the 4 methods of soundproofing?
When it comes to soundproofing a room, there are four key methods that are most common. Each of these methods individually determine the type of soundproofing materials that are used, right down to their individual placement within a space. One of the most common methods to soundproof a room is via absorption. This involves adding appropriate materials to a wall, a doorframe, or corner space to absorb and trap sound waves in their entirety.
Alternatively, you may be familiar with sound dampening. Dampening is a method of soundproofing that looks to remove all energy from the sound wave – the vibrations – before they build up and subsequently emit noise. Specialist sound dampening acoustic foams are placed over surfaces (i.e. hard walls) that naturally amplify vibrations. What this means is that dampening foam reduces the frequency of the sound wave, and minimises the impact of the vibration overall.
Two additional methods of soundproofing include sound decoupling and filling any open gaps within a space. Filling any gaps in a structure, such as between the door and doorframe, and in window frames, can be enough to ensure that soundwaves do not enter a space. On the other hand, sound decoupling helps to block the transmission of sound between two structures, such as adjoining walls. Decoupling, which involves installing foam acoustic panels, can be the perfect solution for shared boundary walls found between terraced and semi-detached houses.
Soundproofing vs. acoustic treatment
When searching for the perfect home studio foam, general sound insulation foam, or general DIY soundproofing for recording, you may come across both soundproofing and acoustic treatment. You may be asking, ‘What’s the difference between the two?’. In principle, they are two very different things.
Whereas soundproofing focuses on blocking out all sound from a space, acoustic treatment differs in that it focuses on controlling sound. This includes echoes within a room or a recording studio, ultimately producing a better sound quality in recordings. You may consider specialist acoustic panels for home studios if you are looking to better control sound. These are made from sound absorbing foam, which is open-celled and works to draw energy out of the soundwave to ensure a reduced amount of sound is reflected back into a space. Acoustic treatment looks to rebuff sound waves to control the quality of the noise.
Studio soundproofing – or general home soundproofing – on the other hand requires acoustic foam that is of a closed-cell structure. This type of soundproofing foam is typically denser and thicker in order to prevent the travel of sound waves, and in certain circumstances, may need to be installed inside the wall cavity.
Why do I need to be soundproof?
Not only is soundproofing essential for high quality audio recordings and to achieve quiet spaces in the home, but it is also vital to ensure that any loud noises from your own space do not impact your neighbours. Full acoustic solutions use specialist materials like Pyrosorb-S foams which have highly dense, cellular properties that can help keep sound contained within a space. These are suitable for walls and ceilings, and are typically placed on top of the surface rather than embedded within the wall cavity.
Despite there being various reasons for deciding to soundproof a studio, home or outbuilding, one of the most common reasons for soundproofing a home is to increase the value of a property. Nobody wants to deal with listening to noisy neighbours!
Steps on how to soundproofing a recording space
To best soundproof your space – whether for home recording or to generally reduce intrusive sounds – you can follow these simple steps to create a setup that is suitable for both your needs and budget.
It may seem obvious, but begin by choosing a space that is the least disturbed in the home. Not all of us have spare bedrooms, so a space that is tucked away in the corner of a quiet room can work just as well. It’s best to avoid a space where one of the walls is backing onto a ‘busy’ room – if the room next door has running appliances, any sounds or vibrations generated will need to be dealt with. If your designated space has a window, this will need to be sealed with an acoustic foam strip or similar material.
There are a range of components available to best soundproof the space. For example, acoustic foam tiles and bass traps can be added to walls, ceilings and inner corners. However, ensuring a space is filled with soft furnishings – cushions, sofas, beanbags, curtains and more – can be a great DIY soundproofing solution in itself. Some voiceover artists take recordings within a cupboard-like space or an open wardrobe with a blanket over their head. It works for this same reason!
For a more permanent solution, acoustic foam can be added to existing partition walls. Stud walls are relatively easy to soundproof, as the outer board can be removed for the inner cavity to be filled with sheets of a desired acoustic foam. Alternatively, solid and supporting walls can be also appropriately insulated via the addition of a drywall layer. Similar to a stud wall, the hollow space between the drywall layer and the brick wall can be made to a tailored width and filled with the appropriate foam. The greater density the acoustic foam, and the thicker the wall, the better sound insulated a room will be.
How much does it cost to soundproof your recording studio?
The cost to soundproof a room or home recording studio largely depends on the size of the space. Home studio foam and other acoustic foams are available cut to size by various suppliers who are on hand to deal with a range of soundproofing enquiries. For a permanent soundproofing solution (including labour), prices can range from £3,000 upwards for a small box room.
If you’re unsure on the most appropriate sound insulation for your needs, it’s best to contact a foam insulation specialist to ensure that you invest in the correct solution. A range of high-quality DIY soundproofing solutions can be found at a range of accessible price points, and an expert can best advise you.
Managing Director, Simply Foam Products Ltd
UK’s largest online foam supplier. Buy high-quality foam cut to size online for upholstery, acoustics, packaging etc.
(eFoam.co.uk & Phoenix Foam Products are trading names of Simply Foam Products Ltd.)