Top 5 Soundproofing Mistakes
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When we start to design a soundproof home recording studio there is always a deep fear in the back of our minds. What if I spend all this money and then it is not soundproof enough? In this article I will talk about the 5 biggest soundproofing mistakes you can make and how to avoid them.
5) Use The Wrong Glass In Your Windows
It is so tempting to buy a pre-hung window from a window supplier when building your studio. It is cheaper and easier than building your own windows or buying expensive soundproof windows. However, this is a corner you don't want to cut!
I have heard of many people buying casement windows, double glazed windows, tripple glazed windows and all sort of designs to try and save money thinking it will be good enough. The problem is that most windows use float glass and float glass is not a good sound insulator.
For soundproof windows we want to use tempered glass and/or laminate glass and we need a large airgap of at least 4" and two differing, but thick pieces of glass. Below is a simplified diagram of the windows in my recording studio.
4) Only Putting In One Door
In my studio I used a design by the studio designer, Rod Gervais. He recommends that you can build a single soundproof door rather than having two communicating doors. Having built the single door I do not agree with him. I now believe that all soundproof doors, especially to the outside must be double communicating doors. See the diagram below.
By using two doors we can maintain the mass, air gap and decoupling needed to properly maintain the STC rating of our wall where the door is placed.
3) Think You Must Use MLV or Green Glue
There is so much talk on the internet arguing over should you use mass loaded vinyl, Green Glue or even carpet glue between you two layers of 5/8" drywall. I have taken the stance that MLV and Green Glue are nice to have and may increase the isolation of your wall, but they are not critical to the isolation of your wall. This is important to understand, because many people come to me and think they must use Green Glue. My response is always, well what is your budget. If they cannot afford Green Glue then I recommend not using it and simply doing two layers of 5/8" drywall on each side of their walls or even 3-4 layers if that is cheaper.
MLV and Green Glue provide damping. Damping is a form of friction that turns sound into heat. This added physical phenomenon in your walls is a good thing, but as I said before a double wall without Green Glue or MLV will still give you an STC of 63, which is plenty good for a home recording studio.
2) Don't Know Your Budget Before You Build
We all think we know a person who has a great deal on materials. Everyone has a brother-in-law who is really handy with construction and everyone underestimates how much their soundproof studio will cost. Before you begin building it is extremely wise to open a spreadsheet and input all the materials and labor costs for your studio to see if you can afford to build one. Most people look up a couple costs, try and estimate and don't really know how much their studio will cost in the end. Then half way through the project they are already over budget. At that point it is too late to find places to cut costs and they are stuck footing the bill for something they cannot afford.
Don't be this person. Get accurate estimates and costs before you build and then add 20% on top of that estimate and that will be a healthy budget for your studio. Yes, it will be more than you expected, but it will be more accurate in the long run. Plus, wouldn't it be nice to finish under budget for once?
1) Forget To Install Ventilation
The number one thing I see home studio enthusiasts do is forget to design and install a ventilation system in their studio. You can have the most soundproof studio in the world, but if it does provide fresh air and circulate out stale air then it is not going to be a good space to work in.
Ventilation means fresh air exchange. It does not mean heating and cooling. Those are usually two seperate systems in a build. They can be combined, but they don't have to. Your air handler in your house will take the internal air and heat and cool it. It does not take outside air and condition it unless you have a system to do so. In a soundproof room the room is airtight. Unlike our houses where there are cracks and windows, and small openings where air can get in and out, our studio does not have those. We need a way to bring in fresh air and remove C02 laden stale air.
To do this I recommend using and ERV or HRV. Both units will pull in fresh air from outside and pump into your studio, while removing stale air and pumping it back outside. The catch is we also need to silence the ducts and air flow in and out of our studio. To do that we add in a baffle box system so sound and the air flow do not create unwanted noise in our studio.
I hope this article was helpful in addressing some of the major mistakes people make when trying to soundproof a room. Now that you are aware of them you can dive deeper into how to create solutions to avoid these soundproofing pitfalls.