“How do I soundproof my garage, basement, or a bedroom in my single family house or condo so my 4 piece rock band can practice and record and not bother the neighbors?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would be in the Bahamas right now, instead of writing this article. Many factors need to be considered prior to beginning your studio or practice room-soundproofing project. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself are: What type of amplification will the band be using, are the drums going to be acoustic and miked or are they digital. Are you going to be recording live late at night or are we going to be doing “line in” recording only? These questions and many more need to be considered before the actual construction begins. If live recording and rehearsal are the plan, then maximum soundproofing will be needed. The most effective way to soundproof a garage, basement, or bedroom is to actually construct a room within a room (go to http://www.auralex.com) and download the free booklet “Acoustics 101″, this is a wonderful resource for the home studio builder.
Their ideas are solid and applicable to any studio-soundproofing project. The room within a room concept utilizes the sealed dead air space that is captured between the inner walls and the outer walls to help greatly with the soundproofing endeavor. It is probably easiest to frame the walls on the floor and then tilt them up into place thus making dry walling the outside of the walls much easier. It is also highly recommended that another ceiling be joisted out for the room within a room, however, this is often times not possible due to space constraints.
In this case, the existing ceiling and ceiling joists may be used as the ultimate ceiling for the studio, provided that it is adequately soundproofed with materials such as the mass loaded vinyl or a combination of closed cell foam mat and MLV. I will elaborate on these materials, as we get further into this article. Once the walls are framed out and the right amount of “Dead air space” is determined, then it is time to install the soundproofing. The first order of business is to consider what needs to be done to the wall cavities prior to installing a barrier and finally the wallboard. I like to line the inside cavities with a closed cell vinyl nitrile foam mat such as American Mat. This mat (generally 1/4″ thickness) is adhered to the inside cavity walls as well as the studs and joists using a contact cement to adhere the mat. Keep in mind that the American Mat is used to line the cavities only, not to fill the cavity. If thermal insulation is needed, use products such as rock wool, mineral wool, cut wool fibers, or my favorite, Roxul. Roxul is a great thermal rock wool based batt type insulation that has great soundproofing qualities. If thermal insulation is a requirement for the practice room or studio, then Roxul is the way to go.
Now we come to a crossroads, it is time to determine if decoupling the walls using resilient channels or American Sound clips is a necessity. De coupling is used when impact transmission or low frequency noise is a factor. Impact would come primarily from the drums (acoustic type) or the bass amplifier. However, if the band is using Marshall high powered amps (50 watt amps with 4 X 12 cabinets for example) along with miked acoustic drums and an Ampeg bass system, then decoupling will most likely be necessary. These methods and procedures will be explained in later articles. If decoupling were determined to be unnecessary, then the next step would be to find a good barrier material such as American mass loaded vinyl (which is a high grade mass loaded vinyl barrier). This barrier could be stapled directly to the studwork on a wall assembly or directly to the joists. This is a method that is used if cost or space constraints are factors. If the barrier material is to be stapled directly to the stud or joist framing then it is best that the seams be over lapped, caulked (using OSI acoustical caulking compound) and then taped with either a lead tape or a heavy-duty PVC seam tape.
Once the Mass Loaded vinyl (MLV) is installed and sealed, it is time to install the final layer of drywall. I always recommend using 5/8″ drywall as the final layer because of its mass and its sound blocking abilities. . It is always advisable to butter the edges of the last layer of drywall with acoustical caulk. You want to grab every STC (sound transmission class) point you can when trying to make your new studio as soundproof as possible. Finally you will tape mud and paint your final layer of drywall. Now you have a great soundproof home recording studio. We will discuss acoustical treatments for your studio in subsequent articles, but for now you are well on your way to having a professional grade-recording studio in your home.
Dr. Bob O.
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