Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video What won't work, part of Music Studio Setup and Acoustics.
Before we look at some accepted ways to improve your isolation, let's look at all the things that won't work. Here are some materials that you'll often see attached to the walls of a space in hopes of increasing the isolation. Mattresses, it's true that mattresses are made up of a lot of soft material, but they won't affect the low frequencies at all, which is what causes most of the isolation problems. They accumulate mold and moisture, and they make nice homes for rodents and unwanted critters. Plus it's pretty difficult to get enough of them to cover a room.
Worst of all they take up so much space for so little benefit in return. Egg crates, egg crates are light, porous cardboard and do absolutely nothing for sound-proofing. They can act as a sound diffuser at high frequencies. But the bandwidth is so limited that they're virtually useless there as well. Plus, they're highly flammable. It's difficult to find enough of them to cover a room, but frankly, even using one is too many. Carpet, carpet attached to the wall is another product that will affect the sound of the room, yet do nothing in the way of soundproofing since it doesn't affect the low frequencies.
Which are the ones that you've got to control for good isolation. Carpet has exactly the same problem as mattresses in that it will begin to smell over time. Foam rubber, foam rubber does have some acoustical absorption properties, but once again, will do very little for the low frequencies that will cause all of your problems with your neighbors. It can be as expensive as materials with real acoustic control properties, degrades over time, and will burn like crazy if given a chance. Rubber, floor mats, mouse pads, neoprene, or any other variation of rubber will do very little to stop sound from coming or going from your room.
Once again, it's much cheaper to buy proper acoustic materials that are easier to work with, but they won't help your isolation problem either. Wall cellulose, pumping cellulose insulation into walls can make a slight difference, but it is marginal since there are many more effective ways to improve the isolation that are much cheaper. It can be helpful if you use along with some other techniques that we'll cover soon, but it isn't particularly effective by itself. Fiberglass insulation, common fiberglass insulation, once again, has little ability to stop enough of the low frequencies that bug your neighbors.
Although, like with blown cellulose, it can be useful in conjunction with other techniques. Just pinning it to the wall won't help though, but it will affect the acoustics of the room. It's also a skin and eye irritant, takes up a lot of space, and the dust can be hazardous to your lungs when left exposed. As you'll soon see, there's a much better way to use fiberglass for acoutsic control, although it still won't help your isolation much. Plywood panels or particle board. It's true that plywood panels provide mass, and mass is what's needed to stop sound transmission, but the problem is that wood transfers sound too well, so the construction technique used is crucial.
Not only that, if the panels are too thin, they'll resonate and vibrate, causing an even bigger problem. Bales of hay, unless you live out in the country, it's unlikely that hay bales are much of an option, but they actually do work. The problem is that they take up a lot of usable space, make a nice home for critters, and are once again a major fire hazard. Acoustic Foam, acoustic foam is helpful in controlling the acoustics within a room, but it does nothing to stop sound transmission, and is expensive to boot.
Acoustic foam doesn't even begin to effect the offending low frequency's, and using too much just makes the room seem dead and uncomfortable. There are much cheaper ways to achieve a better result. Understand that all of these materials will have at least some affect on the sound of the room. But will do almost nothing by themselves to help improve your isolation.
- Design ideas for your studio setup
- Understanding what soundproofing materials don't work
- Increasing isolation in your space
- Timing a room's reverb
- Purchasing acoustic materials: what and where
- Making your own soundproofing elements
- Do-it-yourself acoustic panel construction
- Creating a reflection-free zone (RFZ)
- Buying pre-made acoustic treatments