When I was in a cover band, we used to pay a monthly fee to rent a practice room uptown. It was an awful experience, mainly because we didn’t just practice there. We also attempted to create many of our recordings, and we’d have to make sure and show up on a day when the building was virtually empty, because the rooms weren’t soundproof. If we showed up when other bands were practicing, it was pretty much pointless. Especially since I happen to live in a city that’s obsessed with heavy metal.
Since those days, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of practicing and recording in a soundproof room or studio. We ended up moving from that uptown space into our drummer’s soundproof loft, and I couldn’t have been happier with the decision. (Our band mates weren’t thrilled, because it was a 45-minute drive to the spot, but I remedied that problem by agreeing to transport them there every time we wanted to practice, so it all worked out… until the band broke up. But that’s another story for another post.)
Anyway, my buddy who let us practice at his house had spent a lot of time and money soundproofing the room to make it work. He also hired a professional electrician in Greenville, SC to wire his sound system, which made a huge difference. It sounded amazing in that room every time we practiced. He was a pretty dedicated musician and had the time and resources to build a better-than-average practice room right in the comfort of his upstairs loft.
Recently, someone wrote in and asked us about soundproofing music rooms, and I thought I’d let him weigh in on this question since he’s more of an expert than I am. Here are some things to consider when it comes to soundproofing your band’s practice space.
Reasons to Soundproof Your Practice Space
This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth covering anyway, especially if you don’t feel this is an important topic. Soundproofing your music practice space can have a number of positive effects, including:
Better sound quality. This frees you up to focus on making excellent music, rather than worrying about the environment’s acoustics.
Fewer recording takes. No sound interference from the heavy metal band in the room across the hall means less time spent doing multiple takes just to get one section of a song recorded.
Privacy. Your neighbors across the hall (assuming you share a multi-room building) won’t have to worry about you either.
Fewer distractions. Sans outside noises, your creative juices will flow better, allowing you to create more high-quality music.
There are 2 main types of products to consider when setting up your practice space to reduce unwanted noise. First off, there’s a difference between soundproofing and sound absorption. Sound absorption improves the sound quality of your environment, whereas soundproofing reduces outside noise. If your space already has great acoustics (and we’ll assume for the purposes of this post that it does), then you’ll need to focus on soundproofing. You’ll need to renovate your walls, floors, and ceilings for best results, and how you do it depends on how your space is currently constructed.
Soundproofing walls: Mass-loaded vinyl barriers or insulation help to isolate the sound so that it stays within your space and doesn’t leak to the outside. You can also install new drywall over your existing wall with a hollow air gap in between. High-grade foam can also improve your sound quality by absorbing sound waves and cutting down on reverb and echo.
Soundproofing floors: If you have hardwood floors, you’ll simply need isolators to create separation so that no part of the original flooring touches the new flooring. We recommend carpet underlay for solid concrete floors.
Soundproofing ceilings: My buddy’s loft already had dropped ceilings which worked in our favor. All he had to do was pack them with soundproofing materials to isolate the sound and prevent outside noise from leaking in. He also had an infant at home, so soundproofing was definitely a necessity, especially since the little guy napped upstairs!
There you have it! An introduction to soundproofing your practice space. I know this is pretty basic stuff so if you’re looking for an in-depth tutorial, you may want to visit your local music or hardware store and talk to a professional. Or, if you’re not into DIY, you can always hire a soundproofing expert to upfit your space for music practice. Either way, I think we can all agree that a soundproof band practice space is the optimal solution if you’re serious about making great music.