This is a guest post by Peter from King’s Audio.
Whether you’re a budding musician or you just love recording and playing with sound, recording can be an expensive hobby. Of course, when you start out in anything, your main concern is money, so it’s nice when you can get started without paying over the odds.
One option of course is to hire a professional studio (if there happens to be one in your vicinity) but have you considered creating your own studio at home instead? This can of course be an equally expensive option, but there are ways to save money if you are willing to give it a go.
Traditionally, one of the biggest and most expensive jobs in any studio build is the soundproofing, but it is unfortunately essential if you don’t want to get in trouble for creating too much noise!
Choosing A Room
Before you start getting to work, you will need to consider which room you will use. This is important because although your sound proofing will trap a lot of the sound, it will be tough to block out all of it.
Avoid putting your studio next to a bedroom and try to keep it wherever the sound will travel the least. If you have a garage that is ideal, but if not, consider a back bedroom or dining room. If you happen to know which rooms your direct neighbours sleep in that’s handy too.
What About Light?
Letting light into your studio will be tricky, since any windows will let sound through more easily. If you don’t mind working under artificial light then that’s ideal, but if you do want some natural light you will need to use an acoustic sheet over the window to trap what sound you can.
Doors Are Closed
Another area of this room sound could leak through is the door. Of course, you need a way to get in and out, but if you have a heavy door, this will be highly advantageous. If not, it might be worth investing in one, although this can prove costly.
If you can’t afford to invest in a new door, try to make your current door heavier and sound proof the edges. One way sound can leak through a door is via the seals. If the door doesn’t shut tightly, purchase some regular sealing strips, which are available cheaply at most DIY stores. Installing these new seals will prevent the majority of the sound leakage.
You will need to breathe in your home-made studio, so adding a vent will improve airflow and will make it feel less stuffy. Of course air vents have the potential to let out sound too. The simplest option is to create an MDF acoustic box containing an ‘S’ shaped duct, then line the box with acoustic foam (or old carpet in a pinch) and then place over the vent. Simple!
Room Within A Room
The next step is a big one, but unfortunately it is more or less essential to reduce vibration and sound escape. You need to build new walls:
You will need to construct a separate room within the room you have chosen to use. If the space allows, you will need to run a new wall of high density concrete blocks internally, mounted on thin neoprene so the blocks do not touch the floor directly.
An alternative if space and money are very tight is using thick MDF mounted on 2 by 4s. This isn’t ideal since MDF can vibrate a lot more than concrete blocks, but it is better than nothing. Try to mount the MDF walls and ceiling together without them being attached to the actual walls.
If possible use an acoustic insulation (such as mineral wool) behind the MDF walls and above the new ceiling. Any additional padding you can include will help to trap vibrations and sound.
Sound proofing the floor is perhaps the most essential part as you will likely have speakers on the floor and bass can travel very effectively. Using the same technique as you did for the walls you should create a floating floor to prevent any vibration.
Make the floor float by running wooden beams along the floor with neoprene strips in between them again. A simple chipboard floor can be placed on top of this to finish it off.
Of course you will need power in your room, so don’t forget to allow a hole for cables. Plan in advance for how many outlets you will need, it is often easiest to wire in a suitably high spec extension lead (or two).
Gaps will let sound out though, so the best option is to take the plug off the extension lead and drill a hole just big enough to thread the cable through. Then once it is all set up you can seal the hole for an air tight fit.
Once you have your inner walls in place you should be careful to fill any gaps using a suitable sealant before adding acoustic baffling. The best option if you are on a budget is to use some old carpet. This will help to further reduce sound escaping and will also give the inside of your studio better acoustic qualities by reducing wall reflection.
In a pinch you can use almost any suitable material for this task, cardboard can help, or old curtains or otherwise any type of fabric that is sufficiently cheap. And then you can always aim to upgrade to acoustic padding later.
Just Take Your Time
If you are dedicated enough to build your own studio then it’s safe to assume that you are going to be using it a lot, so it is really worth taking plenty of time making it perfect. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Once you have followed all of the above steps on how to soundproof your home studio, you will be well on your way to making music without disturbing your neighbours or the rest of the household.
One final tip though, test your studio from plenty of different places to see how much sound escapes and use judgement regarding what times you use it. A few decibels during the day might not be a problem, but if you want to play into the night you will need a much higher level of soundproofing.
About The Author
This guest post was written by Peter from King’s Audio. Peter loves sound and music and enjoys writing about everything from recording to producing films and publishing media. Check out their latest blog post about choosing the right Mic for your studio!