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Old 04-26-2021, 11:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How do I soundproof my room to avoid annoying my neighbors (Any advice helps!)

I currently record out of my hot ass car to avoid noise complaints from my roommates and neighbors. Constantly hauling all my gear to and from (and sometimes back again to re-record takes) my apartment as well as all the post-processing needed to compensate for the TERRIBLE car acoustics and outside noise has been a bit of a hassle.

I live in the U.S. and will be relocating to a new apartment at the end of the year (living alone) and am looking to set up a mini recording studio at my new place.

Does anyone have any advice on general soundproofing methods that can muffle most of the loud noises from vocals and speakers? Also I do understand blocking out all sounds would be impossible of course. But ideally I just want to be able to sing at the top of my lungs without fear of a broomstick thump under my feet or police knocking down my front door every other day.

ANY tips or resources on how to approach this situation would be very appreciated!

Thanks in advance!!
And stay safe out there, guys.
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Old 04-27-2021, 04:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nail a dead cat to their door.
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Old 04-27-2021, 07:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have built a couple of home studios now using mostly cheap solutions, so I may have some tips.

To do things cheaply, I think the goal should be to make your studio a dead space in terms of sound. Don't aim for "good" acoustics, just try to deaden everything. It's relatively easy and cheap. If you want reverb or good acoustics, you have software/hardware for that.

The general idea is of course just to cover hard surfaces with something soft that will absorb the energy from the sound waves. In my first home studio, I used heavy blankets and duvets and got them up on the walls. I had a gigantic, thick bed cover blanket that I folded double and draped across the walls on one side of the room and had duvets on other walls. It looked like ****, but it worked.

I also had thick carpeting on the floor and some home-made, free standing acoustic panels. Basically, they are wooden frames with something soft in the middle. I had made a couple that I had hinged together so I could move them around. I had another free standing one that I mostly just left in the corner. I had filled these with foam rubber, mostly, though today I would've put something else in them. Got some old towels? Perhaps an old sleeping bag? Some materials, like layers of towels, works great. Some work less great, but it all works to some extent and since it's cheap and you're just aiming to kill any reverberations, just go overboard. Use different materials in the hope that you might catch more frequencies.


Today, I'm on my second studio and it's not as cheap-ass as my first, though I've still tried to be frugal. I got some really thick and quite expensive rubber mats on the floor (talking close to 2000 USD) covered with second hand woolen carpets. Because I have sloped roof/walls reflecting everything into the floor, that was the most important thing so I spent some cash on that.

In addition, I have a lot of acoustic panels. I've now made them out of these watchamacallit.. industrial ceiling tiles made of compressed insulation. They're made to quiet down industrial locales and usually come in bulk. I had to buy a bunch, but they were really cheap compared to the stuff that is marketed more towards studios. On paper, they're not that different from the expensive stuff in terms of what they do to sound.

I have them in three sorts of places:
  • On the walls, usually framed, where they optimally should have an air gap between themselves and the wall. In the most important places (where the mics are), the air gap is 5 cm, though it could've been 20 if I had the space.
  • Free standing ones in wooden frames that I can move around
  • In wooden frames that fit inside my window frames, covering the windows. These are fitted with cupboard handles so that they're easy to take out. It's like a cozy cave in there when they're all up, but sunlight is supposedly good for us.

At first, I put everything inside wooden frames. After a while, I got tired of how time consuming that was, so I just secured them directly to the walls in the less important areas.. like this. As you can see, I have put some egg-cardboard-style foam rubber on top of this. You can buy that cheap from stores like wish or aliexpress if you don't mind the carbon footprint. They're not essential, though.. the acoustic plate beneath is what's important. Also note the "bass trap" pillows in the corner.

When you're in the room and you clap loudly and you don't hear much of a resonance (if any), you're probably done. If you do hear resonance, it might come from objects that could/should be removed before recording, like acoustic guitars, perhaps metal lamps, etc.

So that's my wild rant
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Last edited by tore; 04-27-2021 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 04-27-2021, 09:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Dude I cannot thank you enough for the in-depth explanation as well as the visuals! This is exactly what I needed, brother. Super appreciate the time and detail that went into your response man. Thank you!!! I will certainly be using this as a reference.

Quick question. Would you be willing to provide an image or two of the movable wooden frames you spoke of (I'm not much of a craftsman so it's a little hard for me to visualize this particular example) and maybe an image of your full set up. I'm just curious what your final product looks like!

Thanks again my friend!
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Old 04-27-2021, 09:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
Nail a dead cat to their door.
Real helpful...
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Old 04-28-2021, 01:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToshPoken View Post
Dude I cannot thank you enough for the in-depth explanation as well as the visuals! This is exactly what I needed, brother. Super appreciate the time and detail that went into your response man. Thank you!!! I will certainly be using this as a reference.

Quick question. Would you be willing to provide an image or two of the movable wooden frames you spoke of (I'm not much of a craftsman so it's a little hard for me to visualize this particular example) and maybe an image of your full set up. I'm just curious what your final product looks like!

Thanks again my friend!
Sure thing, I'm happy to help

Here are the various panels I currently have:

Hinged panel - This has rotted in the garage for a few years and is garbage at this point. However, you get the idea.. I just made two wodden frames, filled them with foam rubber from an old mattress and then dressed them in some cheap black fabric from the closest IKEA. It looks raggedy, especially now, but it's handy in that it could stand on its own. I would put this next to whoever I was recording, typically guitar while sitting on a stool.

Professional acoustic panel - This is more or less store bought and quite expensive. Luckily, I got it for free as it was a leftover from where I work. Currently, it's just sitting in this corner, but I plan to use it to cover a door when recording.

Box with acoustic panels - This is a bigger "box" that I can slot 3 acoustic panels into (each 60 x 120 cm). What I wanted here is a little air gap behind them which is a meagre 5 cm here, but better than nothing.

Window panel - Here you can see one of the wooden frames that goes inside one of my windows. Note the handles in the corners so its easy to take out. It has that compressed insulation as a sound absorbant. The material's pretty stiff, so it's basically just cut to size with an insulation knife, slot it into the frame and it stays there. You can put some long screws through the frame and into it if you want to make it more stable, but it seems good enough. I just made the fit a bit tight.

Studio pic 1 / Studio pic 2 - This is currently how my studio looks like. It's above our garage, hence the sloped walls/ceiling. I'm not quite done with it, so it's a little messy. I'm currently building storage and it needs some paint etc. I'm happy with it, though. There is actually space for a drum set, but I only record vocals and smaller instruments (mostly acoustic guitar) and overdubbing everything and so this is enough. I do mixing / mastering in the same space and do fine without a dedicated vocal booth. There's a slight chance of getting some hum from the computer into the recording, but not really because I can make it quiet.

Because the room is a little too "dead" for optimal mixing conditions, there's a slight chance I'll slather things in more reverb than I should, but awareness of this potential issue and thorough checking of mixes in other places should eliminate that risk.

So that's it.. Feel free to ask questions and I'll answer to the best of my ability
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Last edited by tore; 04-28-2021 at 01:51 AM.
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