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Sound Proofing Room Question

Hi all,

I live in an apartment with pretty thin walls so I'm pretty conscious when doing the exercises and singing. I don't want to be bothering my neighbors so have looked online and saw that you can sound proof your room and there are a bunch of foams and materials you can buy.

Would love to get some feedback from people who have tried this. What have you guys found to be effective ways of soundproofing a room and any recommended brands/products?

Much appreciated!


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,174

    There are some companies that sell soundproof booths, but they are very expensive.  Putting acoustical foam up doesn't usually help that much, when it comes to cutting down the noise for family and neighbors. 

    I went to an upholstery shop and saw that you could get sheets of "eggcrate" foam in different thicknesses for about $80 to a hundred dollars per sheet, in 4 foot wide by 6 or 8 feet tall sheets. You can also get similar material for less from stores that sell egg-crate foam for king-size beds.  That's probably even less expensive than what the upholstery shop had.  Still, unless you are in some kind of enclosure that is lined with the egg-crate material, others will still be able to hear you. 

    Ken tells stories about having to sing into a pillow in hotel rooms when he was doing concerts on the road.   

    We've talked about this a lot here, but there aren't very many inexpensive solutions, other than finding a practice-room at a school, office, or church where they aren't using the room when you want to borrow it.  Finding a place that is vacant when you want to practice is best.

    Some sit in their car with the windows rolled-up in an empty parking lot.  That's not ideal, because you should be standing upright.  Still, that would at least give you some privacy.


  • rcrosierrcrosier Pro Posts: 275
    LOL @Highmtn:  I sometimes sing in my car, thinking people cannot hear me, forgetting that I now own a convertible, that has a soft top, and it's not very sound proof...

    I remember how much it lacks that sound proof ability when I catch people staring towards my car, listening... nobody has stopped to tell me they didn't like it though... yet...
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,174

    Yeah, I drive a hardtop vehicle, and I just tell myself that it's "soundproof" although I know that people at a crosswalk or in stopped traffic next to me can hear me anyway.

    It's always funny if you're in the midst of a full-blown tongue exercise to turn and see someone looking right at you.  You look crazy enough if you're doing lip rolls, or even just singing your heart out, but really, the tongue exercise, that's a bit hard to look non-chalant...

  • rcrosierrcrosier Pro Posts: 275
    I'm too shy to do that one when people are near...  haha
  • sam.ksam.k Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 41
    edited March 2015
    I've done a lot of reading and research on this topic and unfortunately it's one of those things that is just not easy to do.

    Putting foam or egg cartons on the wall is ONLY useful for improving the sound INSIDE the room if (Eg. for recording) it has nothing to do with stopping the sound from getting out.

    When it comes to preventing sound from escaping only 3 things really matter and none of them are easy to achieve.

    1. Material Density - The thicker and heavier the walls are, the better. There is no magical light/cheap material that can compensate for this.

    2. Air Gaps - Anywhere that air can flow in or out of the room will massively increase the amount of sound that gets out. Windows, gaps under doors, A/C ducting, suspended ceilings in offices, etc. will defeat your dense walls.

    3. Vibration Transfer - For maximum reduction of sound, the dense barrier that stops the sound (typically walls) should not be physically attached to anything on the outside (eg. a lighter wall) that can vibrate in sympathy and recreate the sound. This is why sound studios are built as a "room-in-a-room" with the inner room not touching the outer room at all except for standing on the floor (which is usually something super dense like concrete).

    After agonising on this exact subject for a long time, it is my opinion that the best solution is to look at those vocal booths you can buy, and then design and build a similar one yourself out of a dense particle board like MDF. Make it non-square (no parallel walls) and put foam materials on the inside to tame the inevitable "boxy" sound you will get inside such a small space.

    Make sure any openings are sealed well to prevent sound escaping BUT ALSO make sure you build an air inlet / outlet system with a fan that goes through a maze-like muffler box. THIS IS IMPORTANT, don't build yourself a tomb in which to suffocate!

    Doing it this way you could probably get away with spending around $1,000 instead of $5,000-$15,000 for an out-of-the-box vocal booth product.

    Sorry to dash your hopes for an easy solution, but it's better to read this, and realise the true size of the problem, than waste a bunch of money on acoustic foam for the wrong reasons.

    Anyway hope this helps :)
  • choidonchoidon Pro Posts: 2
    I really appreciate all of the insights from everyone. I had a gut feeling that this would be more costly of a solution than I would hope and the process definitely makes more sense now. Would be awesome if in the future a more affordable solution is developed but until then I'll make do with practicing in the car :)

    Thanks again for all of the help!

  • ragnarragnar Pro Posts: 410

    Nice. I've done a fair bit of research into it myself but that 3 point summary was an excellent way to organize my own thoughts on it, so thank you for that.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,174

    Yes.  Foam Acoustical tiles are nice, and definitely help the acoustics inside an isolation booth, but all the foam surrounding an ordinary room will not "soundproof" a room.

    Even anechoic chambers, which will drive you INSANE due to the lack of sound (the silence is deafening inside your head), aren't soundproof when you leave the gigantic, super-thick door to the chamber open.

    So sealing the enclosure is imperative, and keeping a good flow of fresh air in and stale air out is even MORE imperative.  Then there's lighting, cooling, etc...


  • sam.ksam.k Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 41
    Having a window is a really good idea too. It's tempting to leave it out of your build plans because it makes construction more complicated and expensive, but it has a lot of advantages that are worth it.

    For starters you don't have to have internal lighting, and if the room light coming through the window isn't enough you can put a standing lamp just outside the window.

    Secondly, it will make the booth feel a lot less claustrophobic. Even if small spaces don't bother, you it will still be subtly fatiguing to be stuck in a totally closed space with no idea what is going on outside.

    Thirdly, it makes it a lot easier to communicate with people outside and generally be aware of what's going on in your room. Don't discount the importance of this in getting along with the people you live with. It'll be much nicer for both of you if your significant other can wander in and wave at you or mouth "dinner is ready" at you and you can smile and wave back without them having to open the door and give you a surprise interruption.
  • CalvinMorrisCalvinMorris Member Posts: 7
    edited April 2015
    When we first started practicing singing and first discovered Kens YouTube Video's "Last Year"

    We tried soundproofing the closet which worked but the recordings sounded boxy. We put Thin Floor foam on the walls behind reflective material. Basically you want to chop the sound then have it absorb and have enough space for you and a laptop and a microphone UGH

    We had to buy a fan for under the laptop because it would overheat

    Since then we soundproofed our spare bedroom. Put carpet on the floor and walls - We found some on sale in a bin lol and put the reflective material around - we also put 2 pieces of reflective foam on a mic stand and sing toward it

    and put our mattress against the bedroom door > a pain to do but no sound comes through the door - next step is sound proof curtains - then we are all set :)

    The room sounds wonderful for recording and I think only people in the parking lot can hear us LOL

    Hope that helps!
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,174
    edited April 2015
    Now THAT's Dedication to solving a problem that most musicians and vocalists have to deal with!

    I have to say that your recordings sound very good, by the way!

  • CalvinMorrisCalvinMorris Member Posts: 7
    They are getting there slowly :) Thank You!
  • dennisbccdennisbcc Pro Posts: 3
    edited May 2018
    Neighbors are the worst singer's enemies !!!! Here is how to neutralize them.  Step1)
    buy 10 units of light 8x4 ft sheetrock panels from Home Depot.   Step2) Glue every pair panels together with acoustic glue creating a double layered sandwich. Step3) Cut one pair of panels horizontally by half. One half would be a floor of your booth and another 4x4 ft is for ceiling.  Step4) Assemble all the panels to a 4x4x8 ft booth . Step5) Cut the door, seal all holes and put Auralex acoustic foam panels inside.  Don't forget to open the door every 20 min or so to refresh air inside your booth. Also I added a photocatalytic air cleaner for cars to remove formaldehyde and bacteria from air inside the booth. The whole thing would cost you $200-300  + air-cleaner . Good luck  !!!!! I'm pretty sure I deserve a Nobel Prize for that invention of mine. I call it DAS BOOT Build one and never hear from f-ng neighbors... Good luck singer! 

  • kayrannekkerkayrannekker Member Posts: 1
    Another affordable option is to use industrial grade acoustic blankets that are like like 2-4 cm thick. The main advantage of these is that you can quickly assemble as well as disassemble the whole thing at any time. You just hang them around the walls and that's it. I recommend you check these acoustic blankets. They're usually used around construction sites, so they should block or at least muffle pretty much any sound.
  • dennisbccdennisbcc Pro Posts: 3
    IMHO there are 3 problems with blankets: 1. Not sufficient sound isolation&absorption compare to sheetrock 2. Otherwise a small amount of Formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals compare to non in sheetrock. 3. Although acoustic blankets are portable, application of Auralex foam panels could be difficult unless portability significantly decreased by applying Auralex Foam permanently.
  • robi17robi17 Member Posts: 2
    If you want to complete a soundproof room you can use sound reduction materials. I use a noise barrier wall in my room. It reduces all of the sounds of the room. Anyone can use this material easily.
  • bennybestinbennybestin Member Posts: 4
    You can use [url=https://www.3dwallboards.com/products/sound-absorbing-wall-panels/]sound absorbing wall panels[/url]. These are a very good environmentally friendly product using 100% pure polyester. It is non-toxic, easy to recycle, semi-permanent and high durability. The standard size is 2440x1220mm, we can also cut it into 600x600mm which become sound absorbing wall tiles.
  • HuduVuduHuduVudu 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,818
    The stuff you guys are looking for is called Rock Wool. It is a type of insulation. You don't have to put it in your walls (though you can if you are able), you just need to contain it in some way, because it produces a lot of dust and it is a bit prickly though not as bad as fiberglass insulation. This will deaden the sound CONSIDERABLY. Here is a promo video to see how it works. I put it in my back room and it is eerie what a room sounds like with it in it. It is kinda like a sound studio. Oohh and the best part is you can probably get it from a big box store anywhere. In the U.S. it is at Home Depot.
  • Remember when looking at buying these materials that if you shine a light on a surface, any surface, and it reflects light? It will also reflect sound. So you want to find materials that are porous, and not smooth on its surface.

    The best way to achieve soundproofing is very expensive, and is a big job. The ideal set up would include a room inside of a room which has both rooms inside of an even bigger room. The purpose is to create pockets of air, and multiple walls so the sound doesn't break through.

    For an apartment or small room in a house, you can get away with draping heavy moving blankets, or rugs for a makeshift frame of some sort.
    Just be careful if you smoke.

    Peace, Tony
  • bennybestinbennybestin Member Posts: 4
    edited October 2018
  • bennybestinbennybestin Member Posts: 4
    edited October 2018
    You can try sound absorbing panels . Sound absorbing wall panels are often used in large rooms projects to reduce echo. Our sound absorbing acoustic panels are made of 100% polyester fiber, and were developed to replace glass wool, rock wool, and polyurethane foam. These sound absorbing panels can be recycled and often used in classrooms, airports, restaurants, home theatres, apartment buildings, conference room, laboratories, radio room, stadiums, and so on.
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