What is soundproofing?A lot of people use the word soundproofing but it is important to note right from the start, that making something totally soundproof is virtually impossible. Even out in space! The best that can be done is to dramatically reduce the actual sound leakage to a tolerant or almost negligible degree. For ease, we use the terms 'soundproof' and 'soundproofing' throughout our site, but this fact must be borne in mind.
The level of noise reduction required depends on the level of noise you intend to produce. Something to consider however, is that good soundproofing is not normally successful on a shoestring or by using inferior or inadequate products. One has to remember that one person's music is another person's noise, and if there is going to be a lot of it, the problem needs to be addressed before this turns into a matter of significant annoyance to all concerned. It is always best to research thoroughly before embarking on your new room, and get it right the first time.
Understanding soundproofingObviously a lot of people are wishing to, and are capable of constructing their own studio as a DIY project, and they will save money and together with the right information, skills and materials, have the satisfaction of creating their dream room for themselves. What seems to be the case however, is people have a misconception of soundproofing, and spent an awful lot of money and waste a lot of time and effort producing something which simply does not work. The main area of confusion is the difference between "Soundproofing", "Sound Reduction" "Sound Absorption" and the "Acoustics" of a room. All of these are quite separate issues and need to be fully understood.
A common example of this is when people stick egg boxes to every square inch of wall and ceiling and can still hear absolutely every single thing outside, or next door. Yes, it is a crude way of marginally altering the acoustics of a room, but it is by no stretch of the imagination a method of soundproofing. Sound travels in waves, and at different frequencies. Unlike light, which can be blocked out by a sheet of thin cardboard, sound can travel through, and around almost anything in its path. Even a solid brick wall will transmit sound from one side to the other to a certain degree. This is because whatever a sound comes into contact with, will vibrate and transfer through the object. Therefore the vibration needs to be dramatically reduced or stopped. The main defence against sound and vibration are air and mass and detachment (or de-coupling). The more the better.
As stated, there are different degrees of soundproofing, all depending on what the room is to be used for, how much noise is going to be produced and how much of it needs to be contained, and also how much it is all going to cost!
For example, a home cinema or gaming/play room at the bottom of the garden, away from neighbours, may merely require special sound deadening insulation, thicker walls, and enhanced glazing units where required in the doors to muffle the sound to an acceptable degree outside, whereas a room within which electric guitars and a full drum kit (which due to its full range of frequencies, not to mention volume is one of the hardest things to deaden!) are to be used at high volume, will require considerably more work. If the sound in the latter will need to be reduced to an acceptable 'muffle', a separate "de-coupled and sound controlled room within a room" will need to be constructed.
Obviously, these examples are at either end of the spectrum. In the first instance, we would have established exactly what level of sound reduction you require, whether it is possible in your situation, and how much it will all cost.
One thing to consider is, although it may be possible to 'add to' the level of sound reduction at a later date, it can be absolutely non cost effective, and indeed as the methods used for each level are quite different, it may be necessary to remove a lot of the original work/materials, and start again. It is wise therefore to over-estimate the level of noise you may be producing in the future. Particularly if it is 'live' music you will be playing.
Typically we offer two levels of soundproofing or sound control. We have tried to indicate what levels of sound could be controlled, and what it may be possible to use these rooms for, but these are for rough guidance only. Obviously, additional mediums can possibly be added to improve the levels of soundproofing. Every little helps, but it also attracts additional costings for both materials and labour.
Also, it all depends what type of structure we are installing into, where it is situated, what it is actually built of, and how much noise needs to be reduced etc. The walls, floor and ceiling need to be all treated as effectively as possible, and as far as site conditions (and the purse) will allow.
Two levels of soundproofing:
LEVEL ONEFor this level, we would do the minimum of work required to reduce loud music or noise such as a loud television or stereo player (for example as in the Cinema rooms) to a lesser level.
It usually involves the installation of one or two layers of acoustic plasterboard, and a de-coupled ceiling and floor, (using special resilient bars and clips if necessary) as site conditions determine. Obviously layers of sound reducing quilting or insulation may be required in the roof space in addition to this.
It initially depends on the structure of the internal face of the wall. For example it may be bare brick or stone, or plastered finish, smooth or very rough. A very rough and uneven finish, may require us to 'step in' from the surface, and install substantial studwork to create a more workable surface.
We have assumed that the walls are an unfinished brickwork, yet plumb and level at the same time.
LEVEL TWOThis is for the serious noise maker! Drumming, guitars, band practise etc. At this stage we install a complete inner wall within the structure, creating a de-coupled 'room-within-a-room'.
We apply an initial deadening medium to the existing wall surface, similar to Level 1.
From that point, we then build in with walls, floor and ceiling. It is a multi layered construction comprising of dense heave materials such as barrier mat, plasterboards, acoustic insulation and quilting, ultimately forming a 'decoupled' room within a room. Everything needs to be sealed as it is constructed, in effect we try and make the room 'airtight', and totally 'detached' (as site conditions allow) from the outer structure.
The ideal scenario for a room requiring this much sound control, would be if a separate wall with sound controlled doorway could be constructed within the building, i.e. you will open your main door and then go into the music room through another doorway inside. This doorway ideally comprises of a double baffle door system. ie. two heavy soundproof doors back to back.
This wall could even incorporate an acoustically glazed unit, so whoever was in the room could be seen but hardly heard!
Additional layers can be added, but if all of the above works were carried out, the results would be quite remarkable.
If music was being played very loudly within the soundproof room, it would be possible to hold a normal conversation within the reception area, and once you stepped outside and shut the main door, the sound would be reduced to a distant muffle. Ten steps away from the room, and the sound heard would be negligible, and definitely not a level which would be deemed a nuisance or disturbance. Remember, at this point we are talking about live music which could potentially damage hearing after a while, (but admittedly is a very real and exciting thing to create!) reduced to a negligible muffled sound, less than ten feet from the building!
Basically, it is difficult to determine what works are required until we have actually visited the site and had a look. We can often give general costings following phone conversations, and sight of a few images, which helps determine if the project is going to be viable to yourselves.