Bobby Nathan's

Keyboard Magazine "In The Studio"

Article # 24

Tips on Soundproofing

by Bobby Nathan

Tired of working with headphones? Well this month's article should help you to understand some basic soundproofing principles.

The best measure that you can take to insure your freedom of expression is choosing the right location for your music room. If you live at home, the basement is a good start or basically farthest away from your dad's favorite relaxation room. When choosing an apartment be sure to find out what kind of neighbors you have. If you are going to move in next an elderly couple that is home all day, you're just looking for trouble. The best location are using where there is the most space between your music and others. Lofts and apartments in commercial buildings usually have advantages. Commercial tenants usually go home at 5 p.m., usually around the time that most musicians get creative. Try to anticipate conflicts. This can save you thousands of dollars in soundproofing right from the start.

Structure requirements - look for space with concrete floors and ceilings. If you plan to go first class with your soundproofing, look for high ceilings and few columns. You are also going to require a heavy floor load capacity. Ample electric ampres are also a must. The fewer the windows also will also save you money.

The first rule is off the floor. Whether you plan to have acoustic piano or synthesizers that are amplified, sound sources have to be isolated from the structure of the building. A simple way to float a sound source is to use machinery isolators under a acoustic piano's legs. Getting your speakers off the floor also helps. Resting speakers of closed cell foam also helps.

The next step would be to construct a floating floor. The simplest of which is made up of two layers of 5'8" plywood with oak planking or carpeting on top resting on neopreme doughnuts every square foot. The next level of a floating floor is first a layer of 5/8" plywood, then two layers 5/8" sheetrock, then another layer of 5/8" plywood then oak planking or parquet rest on neopreme doughnuts. The next level of an elaborate expensive floating floor is a 4" poured concrete floor on a steel grid with isolation jacks every 18" square. After the concrete sets the jacks are used to raise the floor 1.5" off the existing floor. Note a extremely high maximum floor weight load is required for a floating concrete floor. In all three examples above the floor will not touch any existing walls. It will rest on 2" felt., thus isolating the floor from the walls.

I many cases a floating floor will do wonders. Especially in the case with live drum. Having the drummers kit on a drum platform on a floating floor really helps. I`ll explain a drum platform later. Unfortunately a floating floor is not enough to do the job right. A floating room needs to be constructed. To float a room, first new walls need to be constructed. Walls can and should be built off the existing floor not the floating floor. leave at least 2" from the existing walls for air space. Air is one of the best soundproofing materials. Metal studs can be used. Two to three layers of 5/8" sheet rock make great floated walls. The walls should rest on a 2" layer of felt and should not touch the ceiling. Instead a 2" felt strip can be glued to the ceiling and the wall butts up against the felt, thus when the walls vibrate they do not vibrate the ceiling. For extra support isolators can be used to support the walls off the existing walls. After the walls are done, you can then build your floating floor as mention above. The last step to a floated room is the ceiling. The ceiling must be suspended of building isolators. Black iron is used for strength. Then a frame of metal studs is attached to the black iron. Two or three layers of 5/8" sheetrock is attached to the metal studs and where ever the ceiling would touch the walls, 2" felt is used to isolate the ceiling from the walls. Then as a final precaution, wherever a wall meets a floor or ceiling, that area is caulked. Remember if air can get in or out, so can sound!

As you can see from my diagram, a floated room is a room within a room. Now of course there are other things to consider. Air conditioning vents and electric work. All that has to be planned before hand. Now a drum platform is a basic floated floor. only more. I usually recommend building a drum platform with 5/8" plywood on the top and bottom, 2"X 8" word studs on 16" center and then fill the entire box with sand for mass. The drums will sound better and only mass absorbs sound. The whole platform should be floated of neopreme doughnuts. Now I mentioned neopreme doughnuts before. You don't buy 'em at Dunkin'' Doughnuts, you get them at a acoustical building supply centers. Rubber bottle stoppers from chemistry lab work great too! The kind with two holes in them. Bottle stoppers are also cheaper.

Now for some of the myths .... A word on carpeting. Carpet will not stop sound from vibrating your neighbors. You'd be better off buying your neighbor a walkman and a good set of headphones! Carpeting only deadens high frequency sounds from resounding off the internal walls of your sound room. A room with all carpet on the floors walls and ceiling makes my ears ring. It's too dead! Same thing with sonex on the walls or egg crates or acoustic tile. All those materials do is make the room dead.

As I mentioned earlier, if you plan where your sound room is, you may not even have to spend a dime on soundproofing if your neighbors don't mind or better yet if you have no neighbors at all!

Until next month .... SSSSH Mums the word ! see ya...

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