It’s no secret that a good jam session can get very loud and the sound will easily carry!
If you’re busy getting the most out of your afternoon of practice, then the extra volume might serve to help you get in the groove and feel the music better.
However, your neighbors or housemates might not find it so enjoyable and soundproofing your music room may be the best way to keep everyone happy.
Whether you practice in your guest room or want to set up a whole home studio, it pays to know the ins and outs of soundproofing. Take a look at these great tips on how to keep the music contained in your room of choice!
10 Tips on How To Soundproof a Room on a Budget
1. Get some great acoustic panels.
Acoustic panels are what many people think of first in terms of soundproofing. These panels are usually made of dense foam or mineral wool and they come in a variety of shapes that strike different balances between efficacy and pleasing aesthetics.
One important thing to consider while you’re looking through acoustic paneling is the type of sound you’re hoping to muffle. High-end and low-end sound absorption are both important, depending on the type of music you love to create!
Many people are just fine sticking with high-end sound absorption that cuts back on higher sound frequencies such as those created by vocals or acoustic instruments such as classical guitars. These higher frequencies are known to affect brain activity according to the National Institutes of Health.
However: If you play bass or like to accompany bass-heavy tracks, then you’ll need to specifically seek out some acoustic panels that are formulated for low-end soundproofing. These panels will help trap the low-frequency sound waves that you create and prevent that pervasive rumble that would otherwise shake the building.
If you want a quick fix to get started on soundproofing a room right away, then you can always look into larger panels of soundproofing foam to tack on over problem areas until you can work up to a renovation project.
Many people opt for the smaller panels of acoustic foam that come in square-foot chunks because they can alternate the direction of the grooves in the foam for greater effectiveness. However, if you need to quickly cover up features such as large vents or crawl spaces with something that’s easy to remove when needed, then larger panels of acoustic foam might be a better bet.
2. Reduce sound reflection with rugs or sound-dampening floor mats.
Changing out your rug for a thicker one is an easy way to reduce echo and muffle the sound in your music room. It’s also a great option for anyone who is currently renting their home and cannot make any permanent alterations to the building they’re in.
If you have an old rug that isn’t exactly plush but that you don’t want to part with, you can always get some thick rug pads to dampen sound, too. These are hefty and dense and they slide right underneath your rug to provide some added sound absorption without dramatically changing the look of the room.
For extra good measure, stick some thick foam padding underneath a plush, new rug, and enjoy the best of both worlds!
If your home studio is set up more like an office space than a living room or den, you can still take advantage of dense foam padding by slipping it under a plastic floor protector in key areas. This is an especially helpful tip if you have hard flooring or chairs that roll. If you can’t stand the look or feel of them in high-traffic areas, you can always slip some sound-dampening floor mats under your furniture where they’ll stay out of the way! You don’t have to let it take center stage in order for it to get the job done.
3. Cover your windows with some heavy soundproofing curtains.
A lot of the time, people who claim that soundproofing curtains don’t work do not fully understand their intended purpose. As is the case with rugs, padded couches, and plush tapestries, soundproofing curtains absorb sound rather than blocking it. Acoustic curtains are sound-dampening rather than sound-blocking the way door sweeps are.
If you choose to install soundproofing curtains, rest assured that you’ll be getting a nice level of multi-functionality for your money: Those thick curtains that are designed to dampen sound do a great job of providing temperature insulation as well, which cuts down on air conditioning costs.
The thickness of acoustic curtains also blacks out sun quite effectively for good light control. You may not need to make use of the blackout feature if you’re combining your soundproofing curtains with features such as window plugs that are already opaque. However, the added layer of fabric will still further improve sound absorption. And, while blankets can serve a similar purpose in a pinch, curtains look way, way better!
4. Improve the weather stripping on your door.
A lot of people tend to underestimate how much sound can seep through the cracks around your door, but don’t be fooled: Improving the seal around your door can make a huge difference in terms of how much sound is allowed to escape the room.
The great part is that refreshing the seal on your door is generally a quick and affordable improvement to make!
While you shop around, bear in mind that you’ll need to get two separate components to really muffle your music: soundproofing door seals to wrap around the top and sides, as well as a good door sweep to seal off the bottom. Both parts contribute to your soundproofing efforts in some measure on an individual basis, but you’ll see the best results when you install both and seal off every last crack in your doorway.
If you want a makeshift substitute to pull things through until you get a good door sweep, an old towel stuffed under the door is a decent bet that’s better than nothing.
It’s understandable to want to save a bit of cash wherever possible but your door is a major weak point in terms of containing sound waves so it pays to get quality seals. Plenty of people who are eager for a bargain will claim that basic weather stripping gets the job done as well as acoustic door seals do, but this simply isn’t true.
If you really want to contain your sound as effectively as possible, make sure you get quality acoustic stripping and door sweeps that are designed for soundproofing and will form a good, firm seal that actually blocks the noise.
Here’s a video of what weather stripping looks like. Keep in mind that you can use it on your windows as well as your door.
5. Look into some soundproofing duct liners.
When most people think about soundproofing, vents and ducts aren’t always the first things to come to mind. However, a lot of sound waves can escape into your ducts and amplify themselves by bouncing off the ductwork as they travel throughout the building.
In order to minimize these effects, you can install some duct liners that are specifically designed for soundproofing.
As is the case with door seals, not all duct insulation materials are created equal! Make sure you’re getting duct insulation that sports double-sided liners to prevent debris from blowing into your room and make sure it’s good quality stuff that’s made to reduce noise.
If you don’t want to deal with duct liners, then an alternative option is to simply cover up the vents whenever you gear up for a good jam session. If you have the ability to renovate, you can always install a more permanent vent barrier. If not, then you can tape a thick, soundproofing rubber or foam pad over the vent for some pretty passable results without making any permanent changes.
6. Look for opportunities to swap furniture.
Another great way to cut down on sound reflection is to utilize padded furniture. Fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to knock a chunk out of your wallet by going furniture shopping! Start by checking around your house or apartment and seeing if you have any chairs, couches, or other fabric-covered pieces that you could move into your music room.
Other decorative elements that utilize a lot of fabric or cushioning in their design will help as well. Don’t hesitate to bring in a few extra pillows or hang some decorative tapestries on your walls! Some people also use blankets for a quick fix, and, while these aren’t the best option, they can do a decent job of reducing the echo in the room.
With all that being said: If you were thinking of splurging on a new furniture piece for your home anyway, then go ahead and take the opportunity to get something padded or plush! Not only will you have a wonderful new furniture element to enjoy but you’ll reduce noise reflection even further as well.
7. Try out some soundproofing caulk or window plugs.
Just as you want to maintain a good seal on your door for effective soundproofing, you’ll want to check on those windows as well. Since sound vibrations travel through the air, a better seal means better soundproofing. Do your windows have old, worn seals or strips of caulk that have separated from the frame over time, leaving cracks that invite sound to escape? If so, then refreshing the seals on your windows could be just what you need to boost the soundproofing qualities of the room–and you might save a bit on air conditioning bills, too!
Along with caulking the sides of the window frame, you’d do well to get some high-quality foam weather stripping as well. For added measure, fill in any cracks you see and caulk around wall outlets as well while you have the materials out anyway. Every little bit helps!
In addition to sealing around your windows with caulk, you can get some removable window plugs as well. These are often made with a framed section of sturdy, closed-cell foam that muffles sound like you wouldn’t believe and fits conveniently into your window. For added convenience, seek out window plugs with just the right set of handles to make them easy to put up and take down. It will cost a bit more to get quality window plugs that fit your windows properly, especially if you have frames in a non-standard shape or size, but the results and convenience are worth it.
8. If you can, look into some soundproof carpets.
Obviously, this idea won’t work for everyone: If you rent or can’t find it within your budget to drop the necessary cash on new carpets, then you might be better off sticking with padded rugs! However, if you have the means and are looking to get serious about your music room, you’re bound to be delighted by the results that soundproof carpets can provide.
The important thing to take note of here is that, although people refer to the whole flooring setup as “soundproof carpets,” the soundproofing qualities are found in the padding beneath the carpets rather than the carpets themselves.
Your run-of-the-mill floor padding is designed for the simple purpose of cushioning your feet while you walk so you’ll want to invest in something extra: Soundproof carpet padding is designed to reduce the thudding sounds that you create while talking and walking across the second floor. However, this product works great for decking out your music room, too!
Soundproof carpet underlay is made from dense foam that does a much better job of muffling sound than basic carpet padding does. Another added perk of this stuff is that it’s durable enough to potentially outlast your carpets, assuming that you get high-quality padding. This makes soundproof underlay a good long-term investment.
9. Consider installing a false ceiling.
If you own your home or are otherwise able to renovate and want a long-term solution to your soundproofing woes, then a false ceiling might be the way to go. You’ve probably glanced over countless false ceilings without even recognizing them since they’re commonly utilized in offices, hotels, and other venues that accommodate lots of people who need peace and quiet.
The interesting thing about false ceilings is that they’re suspended from the structural framing of your existing ceiling instead of being affixed to the studs that provide structural support for the rest of the building. This seemingly minor detail makes a world of difference in soundproofing because it greatly reduces the direct pathways that soundwaves could use to travel throughout your home.
By trapping sound waves with a false ceiling, you can cut way back on the amount of noise that escapes your room without dramatically changing the look of the interior. As always, the key thing to remember here is that quality is of the utmost importance. If you fill your false ceiling with cheap, lackluster insulation, then you won’t be able to bring out the best in its soundproofing potential.
Plaster of Paris and gypsum drywall are good material choices, with the former being especially handy if you want to embrace your false ceiling as a creatively-textured design feature. Wood is also good for reducing sound and is usually nice and affordable. Materials like PVC often seem promising since they’re so easy and cheap to install, but they encourage sound waves to bounce around and are less than ideal as a result.
10. Bring in a bookcase and fill it up.
A far easier and more accessible addition to your music room that serves a similar purpose to a false ceiling is a bookcase pushed up against the wall. If the idea of spending the money, time, and energy on finding reputable contractors or learning how to take the DIY approach feels daunting, then a bookcase could provide the final bit of soundproofing that you need.
For starters, keep in mind that you’ll have to utilize your bookcase deliberately. You can’t just shove a cheap, particle-board bookcase against the wall, chuck in a few magazines, and call it a day. In order to really make this idea work, you should get a bookcase that’s on the heavier side and crafted from solid wood. The bookcase should also be positioned against a wall that divides two rooms in order to best prevent sound from traveling throughout the building.
Additionally, the items you place in your bookcase matter. The denser your display items, the less prone they are to vibration. This means that display pieces made from materials like metal and stone can actually perform far better than books!
Lastly, don’t let that space between the bookcase and the wall go to waste! That commonly under-utilized space is the perfect spot to tuck some sound-dampening mats. You won’t see the mats while they’re concealed behind the bookcase and they’ll perform beautifully without compromising your decor.
While you prepare to soundproof your ideal practice room, keep in mind that a combination of various approaches is bound to work best. You’ll want to find a good option for both blocking and absorbing sound waves when you’re decking out the room in order to truly get the job done well.
If you’re ready to renovate, then false ceilings and soundproof carpet padding will take things to the next level. If you’re eager to start soundproofing immediately, then caulk, weather stripping, sound-dampening mats, acoustic foam, and acoustic curtains are all obtainable without much fuss. Take a look at your room, think about the type of music you create and what kind of design elements you value the most, and give them a try!
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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.