How to Practice without Bothering Anyone? Learn how to Soundproof Your Room

Whether you are a novice violinist who is trying to minimize the scratchy, airy and squeaky sound or you are a more advanced violin player trying to work on your legato technique by annoying constant repetitive exercises, a soundproofed rehearsal room is a godsend for musicians who don’t want to disturb their housemates and neighbors. Let us be reminded that a stringed instrument is designed with acoustics that can project sound up to the back of the concert hall. You may want to mute it or soften the tone, but that will not produce the sound that you are looking for. Of course, you want to play it to its maximum voice to master your technique in performance level.

We have five tips for you to help you develop a soundproof space to avoid disturbing your family, friends and of course the aggrieved neighbors.

  1. Count the cost

Soundproofing materials will cost much. Don’t settle for cheap materials like Styrofoam peanuts or egg cartoons. Aside from being ineffective, these materials are fire hazards and messy. You can check at Acoustical Solutions and AudiMute for commercial grade materials. These are one of the excellent companies you can find online. You can find the right materials for your needs with the help of their customer service departments. However, make sure that your plans and budget is realistic.

  1. Don’t expect too much

According to professional sound designers, complete isolation of sound in a room is next to impossible. That is because the walls, the ceiling, and the floor can absorb the sound waves and transmit it outside through building materials. You can quickly mitigate the impact of the sound waves through sufficiently insulating the walls with foam, fiberglass, or cotton insulation. Then you place a thick sheet of rubber barrier between the wood framing of the room and the wallboard. However, this can be very costly, unless you are doing this procedure to an unfinished room, for example, a garage. But if not, you have to strip down to studs your existing practice room so you can add these foundational materials for soundproofing.  However, you can use other options available, such as the laminated soundboard. Also, sound can move in and out of your practice room if air can remember that always. Look for cracks and in any door or window and apply foam insulation or rubber to seal it and keep the sound inside.

  1. Less can sometimes be enough

Getting the results you want does not necessarily mean that you have to eliminate all the sound. The outside listeners will perceive a 50 percent reduction by just reducing 10 decibels (DBS) of the sound emitted in a room. A 75 percent reduction of sound level perception if you cut it by 20-dB. You can find a range of 60–65 dB in a normal conversation compared to 85 dB of traffic noise from inside the car. You can download an inexpensive or even a free decibel-meter app for your smartphone. Then, you can ask a family member or a friend to help you measure the sound level of your practice room. Ask them to stand six feet away from your practice room while you play. Don’t forget to close the door and perform at your loudest volume. The results of the decibel reading will be the baseline to measure the success of your endeavor. The violin’s typical sound level is at 70–90 dB while the cello is about 110 dB.

  1. All sounds are not created equal

Violins and violas produce midrange and high-frequency tones in which short sound waves is the character of their unique signature sound. Bass instruments like cello and double bass have a much broader sound wave. Their wave is so extensive that it can go through a cylinder block before it’s entirely formed. The bass wave will then be trapped inside the room, so before it moves outside, it is tamped down. Therefore, the soundproofing that you should buy would individually treat your instrument’s frequency. So if you are a violinist or a violist, you do not need to install a bass trap in the corners of the room to hamper bass waves. On the other hand, cellists and double bassist should utilize this particular option.

  1. The best options to choose

Always remember that your goal is to create a room that is acoustically dry. The place must not produce a lot of echoing and you can listen to your instrument without the effects of the ambiance. For you to achieve this particular goal, reflective surfaces must be eliminated so that sounds waves could not bounce around. For example, you would need to lay down some sound absorbing material such as carpets on your floor because they are made out of hard material.

Familiarize yourself with the NRC or the noise reduction coefficient rating of these five soundproofing treatments which are very popular today. Mastering the NRC will help you determine the sound absorption quality of the material. So to find the most useful material, it must have the highest NRC rate.

Soundboard: this material is a large panel with the resemblance of the drywall sheets. However, it’s a composition’s are acoustic grade plasterboard, closed cell foam, mass loaded vinyl and more mass loaded vinyl stacked in several layers. To create an effective sound barrier, you can cut to size and screw sandwiched panels over your existing drywall. This method can be applied to the ceiling too. Some construction skills are required on this.

Latex wall liners: This new technology material can be attached to ceilings and walls using rolls of latex. This science is simple. Behind this new development: a sound wave will strike the center of the latex covered area. The sound wave will then travel to the edge and returns to the center which will cancel the next incoming sound wave.

Acoustic Foam: these panels are lightweight, which had wedge shape rows perfect for echo reduction. They come with a variety of colors and sizes. This material is ideal for violins and violas because they can highly absorb the mid and high – range frequencies that these instruments produce. You can add as many panels as you want to experiment with the results.

Acoustic Panels: This material is often made of mineral wool, fiberglass or foam, wrapped with decorative fabric. To reduce reflection and absorb sound waves, you can spread these panels along the ceilings or walls. What is good is that you do not need to cover an entire wall to get the results. (Commonly used in restaurants to minimize unpleasant and loud conversations)

Acoustic Blankets: It may look like large moving blankets, but its fabric is fire retardant with acoustic grade insulation sewn into it. Aside from their effectiveness in absorbing sound, it is relatively easy to install. You can use 1×2-inch boards and nail it along the top of the wall then hang the blankets by attaching it with heavy plastic clips.