Musicians’ guide to home soundproofing Jump to main content

Musicians’ guide to home soundproofing

It is possible to create a soundproofed area within a property but as it is a complex area, you may prefer to contact a firm who specialise in soundproofing. However, if you decide to build it yourself, this guide details how to do it and which products should be used.

A common misconception about soundproofing is to use sound deadening panels without any other noise reduction measures. These foam panels are used in professional recording studios to temper certain frequencies and help stop standing waves which can give unwanted ringing notes. They are not for noise reduction but can be used as a finishing effect once a decent soundproofed wall has been built. The following information explains how you can achieve this.

1. Build a traditional stud wall next to the party wall with the neighbouring property. Points to note:
- place the stud wall as close to the party wall without allowing it to touch so that there is an air gap between the walls
- do not fix the stud wall directly to the party wall. Instead, fix each end to internal walls and to the floor and ceiling. Ideally, the stud wall should extend below floor level and above the ceiling but this may not be practical.
- use decent timbers which can span from floor to ceiling

2. Affix gasket tape to the back of your new wall where it is to be butted up to the party wall. This will stop any vibrations within your new wall being transferred into the dividing wall.

3. Ensure the back of the stud wall is made from 18mm MDF.

4. Use specialist sound proofing wool insulation (Rockwool RWA45) in-between the timbers of the new stud wall construction. This should be inserted between the timbers, to fill the gap inside the wall, sandwiched between the front and rear faces of MDF. It is available in rectangular slabs normally measuring 600mm x 1200mm and in different thicknesses starting from 30mm up to 120mm.

5. Place another layer of 18mm MDF over the timbers for the front of the stud wall.

6. Affix the front face of the wall with specialist sound block plasterboard, which has a blue papered finish rather than pink, green or white.

7. The completed soundproofed wall should be stiff and dense to avoid it to flex and act as a sound-board.

Finally, you can add sound deadening panels to minimise unwanted sound reflections on the inside of a soundproofed wall or walls. The panels are available in different foam densities and colours. When using sound treatment, the general principle is that the lower the frequency the thicker the sound treatment needs to be. Therefore, if you are trying to dampen lower frequencies, thick foam in the corners of the room will work.

However, if you play an instrument which is not big, low or booming, you may not see any benefit from big dense bass traps. In this case, thinner foam affixed to opposite walls may be sufficient. In professional recording studios, rugs are often used on the floor in order to add or take away the sound dampening of higher frequencies. Alternatively, for an inexpensive treatment, carpet can be used on walls and ceilings for higher frequency treatment.

Alternative solutions

Consider purchasing a readymade ‘room within a room’ which can be bought off the shelf. Although they are expensive, they are the most effective way of minimising the effects of noise into neighbouring properties and are ideal for apartments or flats where noise transmission is greater.

If you have outside space, consider creating a studio or office outside. The processes described above for soundproofing are relevant if this is an option. However, remember to check your home and specialist instrument insurance cover.

Finally:

  • Be careful to use the correct products ie sound block plasterboard and Rockwool RWA45.
  • Do not rely on a few pieces of foam strategically stuck on your spare bedroom wall. Think isolation, you are trying to stop sound reaching dividing walls to avoid it transferring through.
  • Sound deadening panels should not be relied upon solely for soundproofing.

With thanks to Simon Burchell, freelance sound engineer, who provided valuable information for this article.

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