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What are the best materials for sound absorption/soundproofing?

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  • What are the best materials for sound absorption/soundproofing?

    In terms of containing noise inside a room, which materials are best for putting externally on walls, e.g as a panel? And How thick and big?

  • #2


    • #3
      There's a big difference between sound proofing and sound treatment. Sound treatment is simply designed to make what's in the room sound natural. Sound proofing is designed to prevent sound from escaping that room.

      I converted my garage to be sound proofed so the music would bother the neighbors. Did a pretty darn good job too.

      The first thing I did was have a truck come in and blow insulation into all the walls between the studs and about 18" in the ceiling. This filled the air between the two walls with celluloid paper which is an excellent sound absorber.

      Next I used wood strips from floor to ceiling along each stud and put a second layer of sheetrock. Same thing on the ceiling. This made an air barrier between the inner wall and original wall, a room within a room.

      On top of that I used pressed fiberglass ceiling tiles which were 2'X4' long on every wall.

      To top it off I bought soft foam, the stuff used for rug under-matting which was about 1/2" thick.

      I also had to build a double sided wall between the old garage doors which I packed with insulation.

      I'm able to crank up a full band using 100W amps and you don't hear anything outside unless you put your ear to the wall.
      I should mention the outside wall is brick so that played a big role too.

      In all it was a totally dead sounding room, like being in a coffin. It was actually an annoying feeling being in there because there was no reflection at all.
      Many studios back in the 70's/80's used very dead rooms and they did very well getting high quality recordings.

      I eventually added reflective panels in the room around the drums and other key areas to get rid of some of the deadness and now I use it for all kinds of recordings. You still cant tell how big the room actually is when you mic things up because the sound is all line of sight and is quickly absorbed. No big deal because I simply use artificial reverbs and echoes for that. There's simply no room reverb to fight with.

      So the answer to your question is a matter of multiple layers of soft and hard materials, and if possible a room within a room, with an air barrier to prevent one solid from passing sound to a second solid by direct contact. How may layers you need depends on how loud the sound inside will be and how much bass content there will be. The bass guitar and kick are the hardest to contain. Something like electric guitar and vocals is mostly midrange so its relatively easy to block.

      If I were to build it today I'd simply get rid of the acoustic drum set and buy an electric set then have everyone use headphones recording. Could have saved allot on construction costs. The room was built for liver rehearsals and recording and over the past 25 years its sure seen allot of both.


      • #4
        Decades ago, I worked for a company that made anechoic chambers, which were lined with anechoic foam. I used specially treated foam [fire retardant] rejects [did not absorb enough radio frequency signal] which were cut in pyramid or wedge forms. These went into the walls between the studs, on the door into the house, on the ceiling and on the garage door [which was no longer open-able]. The walls were then paneled with thin pressboard panelling [to return some of the reflection lost due to breaking up the VSWR on the ceiling]. My neighbors were thrilled! You could set a bomb off in that room and no one would know.
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        • #5


          • #6
            If you want to block sound - especially at low frequencies - mass is your friend.

            OP, what are the current walls made of?


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