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Soundproofing on the cheap?


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I have about 900 sq ft of wall that needs soundproofing. I don’t want to spend the several hunge it would cost to put up professional sound absorption squares. The good ones are expensive and the cheap ones are useless. 
I bought 4 thick material moving blankets that I hope will help. This is a home studio for rehearsal and some basic recording. I’m old and not looking to be discovered. So it need not be pro stuff 

have you all used anything else that worked for you?

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Posted (edited)

I built about a half dozen DIY sound absorption panels for my home studio. I used 1 x 4 lumber to make rectangular frames 48" tall by 16" wide, just the right size to go around batts of 3 inch thick "Roxul" mineral wool insulation. Then I covered the exposed surface of the mineral wool with a layer of polyester quilt batting, then covered the whole mess with gray open weave burlap fabric from a craft store. 

The individual materials aren't  too expensive, but with all the materials needed, it adds up quick. I also bought a cheap pneumatic stapler for attaching the fabric to the frame, which was worth the $25 cost. 

The best stuff to use is rigid mineral wool or fiberglass insulation board, but it's mostly a commercial product so it isn't sold in home improvement stores. You can order it and have it shipped to you, but because it's so bulky, the freight adds a lot to the cost.  

By the way, it's almost impossible to "soundproof" a room so that a band playing inside can't be heard outside. What you want is to deaden the flutter echoes, ringing and resonances inside to minimize the weird effects especially on bass frequencies. 

Edited by Mr.Grumpy
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There's a difference between sound treatment and soundproofing. In order to do legit soundproofing (isolating sound) on an existing room is very difficult. You would need to tear down the walls and insulate the insides. You can do some makeshift soundproofing like sealing windows and doors, thick curtains for windows, replacing doors with more solid ones, which might help somewhat. 

Sound treatment, aka sound absorption, which is placing acoustic materials inside the room, isn't exactly soundproofing, but it might help reduce the loudness of a room, which in turn may make things somewhat quieter. A room with a lot of hard surfaces will reflect sound more and may be perceived as louder. Reduce these hard surfaces and the room will naturally get quieter. Just a simple thing like a floor rug might reduce the reverbation/echo by a lot.

Making do-it-yourself acoustic panels using Roxul (safe and sound) is a pretty cheap solution. I've made 8 acoustic panels (4' x 2' size) myself and they helped a lot. Will probably cost around $100-150 in materials/supplies to make a set of 8. This is very affordable considering that acoustic panels retail for like $80-100 each. Moving blankets are sometimes commonly used too (I occasionally use them), but too many blankets will absorb mostly high frequencies and make the room sound dull. Acoustic panels made from materials like Roxul will absorb frequencies more evenly throughout the spectrum, resulting in a more balanced room sound. This is what people call broadband absorption.

What are the dimensions of your room?

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The other thing to consider is the flat ceilings in most rooms. They tend to worsen the Vertical Standing Wave Ratio [VSWR], so consider treating the ceiling as well as the walls.

A former bandmate tried the packing blankets approach, and it was marginally successful for rehearsal, but terrible for recording.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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So I bought some wedge cut sound absorbtion foam tiles from the giant "A" mail order place. Surprisingly cheap, about $24 for twelve 1' x 1' (30 cm x 30 cm) tiles that are alledgedly 2" thick (about 50mm). A rather small box arrived, this can't be them, can it? I can hear stuff shaking inside the box loose. Open it up, and it looks like two thick jumbo sized mouse pads that have been shrink-wrapped in clear plastic film.  Two bundles less than two inches thick. I'm a little confused at this point, but get out my pocket knife and begin cutting away the shrink wrap... 

OH!! The foam tiles have been tightly compressed and then shrink wrapped. Each bundle is 12 tiles. Unfortunately, one half of one dozen tiles were apparently shrink-wrapped too quickly after coming out of the foam-making machine; those tiles did not "un-compress" to their normal size. I was able to get some of these prematurely-squished tiles to "fluff up" by using my fingers to lift up the peaks of the wedges, but they're still not at their full thickness. I don't want to deal with returns, so I'll probably just slap these thin ones up in less critical places. 

Getting "normal" foam tiles like Auralex shipped is expensive because the product is very bulky. 

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