Advice on Soundproofing?

I’m not entirely sure there is a 100% factual answer to this so if it needs to be moved that’s fine (as if I have any say in whether it would be moved or not). Since I’m going home for the summer soon, my high school band is reforming. We used to practice in a small barn that my friend has, about 10’ x 15’ and 8’ walls with an angled ceiling (measurements are rough estimates from my year-old memory). The sound was absolutely atrocious in that room though. Before we practiced in his barn we would practice in my bedroom (very small!), which I had placed sheets hanging from the ceiling a few inches from the walls. It sounded great in that room. I’m just looking for some Doper advice to make it sound a little better in my friend’s barn on an extremely limited budget; wood floor, walls, and ceilings. Would sheets on these walls be good? Carpet the floor/ceiling?

The important thing is that you can hear each other. You are not playing for an audience. Try setting up so that you are playing to a wall that will bounce the sound right back to you with minimal travel and place your sheets behind you to absorb the reflected sound from behind you. In other words, simulate the smaller room in the larger one.

I think experimenting with how you set up will be more fruitful than trying to fix the acoustics of the entire room.

IANAM but it seems to me that you do want to deaden the room. I know my movies and music sounded lousy when I had the stereo in a room with bare walls, little furniture and bare wood floors. All echoey and just too “bright”. Now that I’ve moved stuff, got lots of crap in the room and done something about the floor it’s more palatable.

I’d think that a trip to the local carpet remnant dealer would be fruitful. Get some cheap scraps, cover the floor and see what you can do about the walls. Hanging carpet on the walls might be a bit much but at the local Home Despot I think that you can buy big sheets of sound-deadening material that you can probably just nail to the existing walls. It looks like very thick, fuzzy hardboard and comes in 4x8 sheets. Assuming that “cheap” is the watchword, hit the Salvation Army and buy some really cheap blankets, hang those on the walls (I have a feeling that sheets are too thin to deaden the place). Lean old mattresses up against the walls, get random “soft” stuff (pillows or big stuffed animals or whatever) and put 'em in the corners, etc.

What are you trying to do, soundproof the room, or make it sound better inside? They are completely different animals.

To soundproof the room to prevent the transfer of sound through the walls, you need mass. Lead sheets, double-drywall, etc. And you need to eliminate the mechanical connection between the inner and outer wall surfaces. So you build with staggered studs or a ‘room within a room’.

But you can do a decent job of soundproofing by changing the hollow door to a solid door, and adding another layer of drywall.

If you’re talking about improving the acoustics in the room, what you want is something like Johns-Manville Linacoustic - it’s a fiberglass board product which absorbs sound. You can buy it in 2 x 4 sheets which you can nail to the walls. There are guidelines for the amount of reverberation you want in a room for various uses.

Another problem you may have, especially in low frequencies, is room modes. Is your room perfectly square, or do the dimensions form even multiples? If so, you may have standing waves in the room. If you put on a test tone and walk around, if the volume sounds markedly different as you walk around, you may have standing waves.

One very simple fix is to move sound sources away from the center of a wall and offset it. If you’ve got a drum kit that’s causing problems, try moving it to a different location.

Your room may also have substantially more absorption in higher frequencies than low, leading to a room that sounds ‘boomy’. In that case, you want to build or buy some bass traps.

Here’s a very good resource that should help you: Acoustic Treatment and Design for
Recording Studios and Listening Rooms


try it!

We built a sound room for audio recordings. We used a lot of carpet on the walls, nailed on not flat but bunched up irregularly. It worked very well.

      • The problem with pretty much all forms of cheap sound absorbtion material is that the materials involved are rather flammable. real commercial-grade noise absorbing material is highly flame-retardant. But expensive.
  • Also, I would point out that there’s nowhere you can get lots and lots of egg crates for free (at least, nowhere I know of), and [from the results that I have heard myself] carpet is a big hassle to hang, and doesn’t really help all that much. Furthermore, even carpet remnants cost money where I live.
  • What does help a LOT is matresses, and you can get them for FREE. Go to a big bed or furniture store that accepts/disposes of customers’ old bedding when they buy new (many big furniture stores in the US do this, I dunno about other countries), and ask them if you can have some discarded mattresses. For free! --don’t pay for them. You are after all taking trash off their hands that would have cost them money to get rid of–they would have had to spend money to get them hauled off anyway. Then you stand these up on-edge around the room, particularly in the corners of the room. …Of course, it is true that mattresses are flammable as well–but not overly so (like egg crates) and they are simple to lug around and set up and store, and they absorb a LOT of sound of all frequencies.

An additional idea: make some movable panels. Something simple like sheets of plywood covered in old carpet. Add some sturdy feet so you can stand them on end.

They’d be multi-purpose. You could keep them near the walls for general dampening, bring them closer to “shrink” your acoustic space, or place them between musicians to help isolate the sound (if you’re recording with multiple microphones).