How To Soundproof Studio Apartment Like a Pro?

How To Soundproof Studio Apartment Like a Pro? | integraudio.com

Studio apartments are decent choices for putting up a recording space. They’re bare and give you enough freedom to make modifications when setting up your studio.  

Unfortunately, studio apartments don’t provide soundproofing to record conveniently. Since these places are designed to be living spaces, they would only come with features that make them conducive spots to seek shelter. 

But, having a blank slate like a studio apartment gives you a free hand in how you can set up the space. You can have a dedicated vocal booth, control room, and even a tiny spot that you can use for lounging.

However, not all apartments buildings will allow you to make significant modifications, especially when renting. But that should not stop you from having that dream recording space. At the minimum, you should at least set up some form of soundproofing to prevent your neighbors from being disturbed.

When soundproofing a studio apartment, there are different considerations. Sound travels all over the room and can exit through various points. These points include the floor, walls, windows, ceiling, and door.

How to soundproof a studio apartment? 

To help you get started in soundproofing, you must identify the weak spots or where the sound escapes a lot. Most likely, the sound that exits your room is also where sound enters the room. Identifying these weak spots is essential as you need to focus on them to significantly reduce the amount of noise that generates or enters the room.

You can go all-out, soundproofing your studio apartment if you have the budget. But if your landlord or owner of the property won’t allow major renovations to the studio unit you leased, you can still do something to make it soundproof.

To help you get started, let’s go over the different surfaces where sound can enter or exit and identify what you can do to soundproof these, using home remedies and more professional remedies.

Soundproofing Walls

Soundproofing walls are probably one of the first things you need to consider. The first thing you need to do is check the material used for the wall. You’re lucky if the wall is made of concrete or brick, as these have better sound absorption due to their thickness. 

Hollow walls made of wood or drywall won’t be able to absorb sound like a thick concrete wall. If you’re renting the place, the property owner won’t allow you to take down the walls to fill the gap, especially if there’s another tenant beside your studio apartment. In this case, you’ll need a thick layer to absorb the sound without breaking the walls.

  • Professional Sound Proofing:
    For a professional approach, you can add layers of Rockwool to ensure that the walls absorb sound. Rockwool is sold in rolls, so you can order them in the exact quantities you need. Installing Rockwool on an existing wall will entail you putting them on the wall the cover them with another layer that will serve as your new wall.
    If you want a more professional look without making too many modifications, you can go for sound baffles and hang them on the wall. You can have them made for you, or you can make one from scratch using wood planks and thick towels or blankets.
  • Home Sound Proofing:
    If your landlord won’t allow you to create an inner wall to install Rockwool, what you can do is develop thicker layers using home furniture. You can take advantage of cabinets and bookshelves and store blankets or curtains to help absorb the sound. You may also take advantage of tapestries and paintings and hide thick cloth behind them.
    As mentioned previously, you can also go for making sound baffles with folded blankets or towels and wooden planks.

Soundproofing Wall Corners

Wall corners also need special attention and use a different approach from the usual walls. Because corners are where two walls meet, it’s not enough that you just later both sides with baffles. As bass frequencies have longer wavelengths when traveling, you need thicker materials to absorb these frequencies, particularly in wall corners. 

  • Professional Sound Proofing
    The professional approach in treating wall corners is to use bass traps. Bass traps were designed to fit in the corners of your recording or mixing space using more significant amounts of foam to absorb the bass. Bass traps are often lined from top to bottom, but the priority should be where sound passes the most.
  • Home Sound Proofing   
    The same principles apply here. You need to have larger quantities of dense material to absorb these frequencies. You can probably buy a lot of thick blankets here, but getting premade bass traps will still be a practical choice. You don’t need to make any significant modifications to your walls, as this acoustic foam will have some form of quick installation.

Soundproofing Windows

Window openings are one of the weakest points when reducing sound. Sound can still travel through the gaps between the window and the pane even when closed. The window surface, likewise, contributes to the transmission of sound when window glass vibrates. 

Ideally, it would be best to seal the gaps on your windows with acoustic caulk to prevent sound from entering or escaping. But that would render your window useless and may cost you more should you need to return it to its previous state. Here’s what you can do instead.

  • Professional Soundproofing
    For professional-grade soundproofing, you may install window inserts to prevent sound from escaping. These inserts are placed five inches away from the interior side of the window, creating an air gap to prevent vibrations of sound from running through the exterior side of the window. If you choose this route, look for laminated glass inserts for the best results.
    Another solution would be to install double-pane windows with two layers of gas sandwiching an air gap. Like window inserts, double-pane windows can also reduce sound vibrations traveling through the surfaces of your window. Due to the gap between them, the sound won’t be able to travel in or out of your studio apartment.
  • Home Sound Proofing
    With home soundproofing, you’ll need to address two things: the gaps in the window and preventing sound vibrations from passing through.
    You can try blocking the gaps with removable rubber foam pads, which you can stick with hook and loop fasteners. While they may not look nice when removed, they still do the trick in blocking the gaps in your windows.
    For a neater look, you can try using heavy blackout curtains that can dampen the sound penetrating through your windows. While they don’t dampen much, they still provide a good amount of sound isolation at a low price.
    Consider buying cellular shades with double cells if you can spend more. Unlike heavy blackout curtains, these hexagon tubes are stacked and retain temperatures but are best used in places with low noise levels (e.g., birds chirping, dried leaves)

Soundproofing Doors

Doors are another critical point when it comes to soundproofing. Like windows, doors have a large gap that you need to fill to prevent sound from entering or escaping. On top of that, many modern doors are made of hollow and thin materials, making sound pass through easily. 

  • Professional Sound Proofing
    Professional studios employ soundproofing rubber for the perimeter of the door. There would be some gaps here, so you need to add acoustic caulk as a finishing touch.
    Another option would be to use weatherstripping, a strip of rubber designed to close gaps between the door and the frame. You can resort to door gaskets if you want something of higher quality.
    Lastly, consider adding a door sweep at the bottom of the door to shut any gaps below it. Since that small gap is needed to prevent the door from scratching the floor, a door sweep lets you lock the opening while the door is closed.
    As a supplement, you can also add sound baffles to the door if they can support its weight.
  • Home Sound Proofing
    At the bare minimum, you should employ at least the weatherstripping and the door sweep. These modifications won’t alter much of the door, so it’s easy to remove when you need to transfer your studio elsewhere.

Soundproofing Floors and Ceilings

Let’s discuss floors and ceilings together since they’re often connected in an apartment.

One of the most common issues with the floor and ceiling is how they transmit bass frequencies. It can be annoying for your neighbors below if they hear some kick drums while they try to enjoy the day. The solution here is simple and should work for professional and home soundproofing. 

Add thick carpets to the floor surfaces of the studio apartment to act as a sound absorber. Like how bass frequencies are minimized with acoustic baffles, a thick rug can significantly reduce bass frequencies that travel below. Your mileage may vary here also, especially if the floor is made of wood with a hollow space under it.

Should you have the luxury of making significant modifications to your studio unit, you may want to consider having a double floor and putting Rockwool in between.

You may want to consider also elevating your amplifier cabinets or combo amps. Lifting them off the floor prevents unwanted frequencies from traveling below.

You need to add more mass above to absorb the sound for ceilings. You can hang baffles or heavy drapes to add a group.

Why should you soundproof your apartment for recording?

Especially for people who converted their studio apartments into recording space, soundproofing is essential.

For one, you soundproof the place to prevent sounds from entering or exiting the space. You wouldn’t want the loud noise from buses or heavy equipment to ruin your recording. Neither do you want to disturb your neighbors when recording guitars through a 100-watt tube amp through a 4 x 12 speaker cabinet. 

Another reason to consider soundproofing is to reduce echoes and reverbs in a recording space. While echo and reverb add some depth to your recording, these are best done with effects processors and plugins. Remember that any excess echoes and reverbs in the room are hard to treat in post-processing, which often results in a re-recording of a track.

Lastly, soundproofing your room allows you to capture sound in its most natural state. Recording the actual tones from the instrument without any external noise or reverbs provides you with a clean slate to work on. You get more professional results because the recordings you get are an excellent foundation to build.

How does soundproofing differ from acoustic treatment?

Soundproofing and acoustic treatment are often interchanged terms. But the truth is, you need to understand these two are different terminologies. While both are used to produce better recording quality, they have other purposes.

Soundproofing ensures that sound is minimized from entering or exiting the recording space. You employ soundproofing when you want to control the recording environment to ensure that you don’t pick up sound from outside, especially when using condenser microphones. 

Acoustic treatment, meanwhile, entails treating the room to correct sound reflections, as well as correcting any frequencies that travel within the room. This is best used to ensure that bass frequencies are under control and minimize room reflections.

Both soundproofing and acoustic treatment are best used together. In an ideal scenario, you’d use soundproofing to ensure that the recording space will have no external interference from sound sources. At the same time, acoustic treatment will make your mixing space ideal for mixing and master in.

Should I go for soundproofing or acoustic treatment?

As mentioned, both have different purposes and function differently. But they have the same goal: to make you sound good.

It would be best to consider soundproofing when fixing sound issues in your tracking area or your vocal booth. Acoustic treatment, while it also works for tracking and vocal booths, is critical when creating a mixing environment.

You want the frequencies as accurate as possible, but at the same time, you still want to hear the outside world in case you’re expecting people to come over.

Conclusion:

Soundproofing need not be complicated, as there are plenty of options available. You can use many everyday household items, but there are some you need to spend on.

If there’s anything you need to invest in, choose those critical points that don’t have many home alternatives, such as windows and doors.

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