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Build your own soundproof studio in 11 easy steps

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Picture of Build your own soundproof studio in 11 easy steps

Thanks to constant advancements in digital technology, everyone can record at home, and everyone can own a studio. But while many settle for an eggbox-clad bedroom setup (a myth we'll debunk later), there is another way…

Build your own professional-quality recording studio. Yes, it's a Mohammed-style mountain to move and will require a sizeable investment of both time and money (and plasterboard) but the results could be priceless.

So, courtesy of MusicRadar.com here are the 11 most-important factors to consider when building your own studio. From soundproofing to floating floors to, er... breathing.

 
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Step 1: Location, location, location

Picture of Location, location, location

The first consideration when contemplating building a studio is where to build it. At this stage it's important to consider just how loud you're going to be (especially your drum kit) and how viable soundproofing is for your situation.

For example, converting a garage in your garden will probably leave a decent amount of space inside after soundproofing, with minimal noise escaping. However, a room in a house or flat may be impossible to soundproof completely and leave you unreasonably cramped after doing so.

Step 2: Let in the light

Picture of Let in the light
Daylight is such an important ingredient when it comes to creating a nice place to work in, and a lack of it can make your workplace feel like a prison cell. It's easy to assume that blocking up windows is the only option when soundproofing a room, yet a combination of a single double glazed unit with no opening windows and a sheet of acoustic glass (comprising of two sheets of glass with a thinner sheet glued inbetween) will work incredibly well if installed and sealed correctly.

Step 3: Close (and seal) the doors

Picture of Close (and seal) the doors

Your studio will have at least one doorway to contend with and, like the window, this is another potential area for sound leakage. Simply using a heavy door can help, though adding weight by building a regular door up or applying a layer of Sheetblok (a special vinyl material designed to act as an effective sound isolation barrier) can have the same effect.

Make sure each door seals completely when shut – regular sealing strips are available from DIY stores, but there are sets commercially available specifically for this purpose.

Step 4: Don't forget to breath

Picture of Don't forget to breath
With all of the windows and doors sealed and walls caulked and airtight, there is the small issue of how you're going to breathe. Surprisingly easily overlooked, the supply of air into the studio is important, not only to avoid lapsing into unconsciousness mid-paradiddle, but also for the preservation of the recording equipment, on which moisture can collect.

You'll need both an inlet and an outlet (one with a fan), spaced evenly apart of possible.

Step 5: Build an acoustic box (hello, MDF)

Picture of Build an acoustic box (hello, MDF)

In creating these air vents you'll now have a hole in your soundproofing that will need an acoustic box built over it, one of which will house the fan. Make an 'S' shape duct within an MDF (or equivalent) box, line with acoustic foam and place over the vent holes along with some mesh to keep out unwanted crawly things.

One final consideration is to avoid putting the inlet vent where the sun shines, so to speak, as it will pull in unwanted hot air during the summer.

Step 6: Create a room within a room (the difficult bit)

Picture of Create a room within a room (the difficult bit)

Most soundproofing is done with the 'room within a room' principle in mind: construct a separate room within the original building with minimal contact. If space allows, run a new wall of high-density concrete blocks internally, mounted on thin neoprene (a type of synthetic rubber compound) so that the blocks are not directly on the floor.

Tie them to the outer walls using acoustic wall ties and, once you have soundproofed the original roof using mineral wool placed between the beams and a couple of layers of plasterboard mounted on resilient channel, do the same thing again on a second roof mounted to the new internal wall.

These internal walls can then have 2x2 timber attached vertically, again mounted on neoprene, and after pushing in 2" thick mineral wool inbetween the studs, our two layers of plasterboard can be fitted onto resilient channel. Finally (phew!), all surfaces should be sealed with decorators caulk – a small hole in the surface, which can be caused by cracks around the surface of a wall, can compromise its efficiency by up to 50 percent.

Step 7: Don't hide the power

Picture of Don't hide the power
It's often assumed that power and lighting cables should be run behind the new plasterboard walls. However, cutting out plug sockets will destroy your carefully built soundproofing. Instead it's recommended that all power is surface mounted using conduit or trunking, or you could build out another area for light, plugs and power using timber and plasterboard.

Step 8: Use floating floors (another difficult bit)

Picture of Use floating floors (another difficult bit)
In essence, this is the same as we've done to the walls: decoupling two surfaces to prevent vibration being carried across. To float a floor, wooden beams can be placed on rubber U-Boat supports at regular intervals and, with neoprene strips inbetween, a chipboard floor can be screwed on top.

A much simpler and cheaper solution is to use PlatFoam to raise separate pieces of kit off the ground. PlatFoam comes in the form of long 3"x2" strips of high density foam which can be laid a few inches apart with a sheet of plywood placed on top to create a floating riser.

Step 9: Tune the room (absorption and diffusion)

Picture of Tune the room (absorption and diffusion)
You may well find that the reflective properties of the plasterboard make for a rather unpleasant and harsh-sounding room, which is not really what you want if you're going to be recording in there, and certainly not what you want if you're going to be monitoring and mixing in there either.

Simply having the room carpeted and putting a sofa at one end will probably help, but to address the wall reflection you can use a combination of two solutions: absorption and diffusion.

Diffusion involves sending the reflections off in different directions, breaking up the sound, while absorption soaks up certain unwanted frequencies. This is where the old eggbox myth can be laid to rest – while their shape should make them potentially good sound diffusers, their material isn't reflective enough, and its absorptive properties are minimal too. They don't look very nice either!

So, try picking up some 2'x4' sheets of hardboard and make yourself some absorption panels using 1" slabs of mineral wool (the same size) placed over the top and a dustsheet laid over and tightly stapled from behind. They'll look better and, more importantly, will actually work when hung on opposite walls.

If you'd prefer to invest in something ready made for the job, try some Aurelex, ProFoam or similar. These companies make a range of products for studios and even make room packs with all the different elements you'll need for different sized rooms. As you'd expect, this comes at a price, but gives professional results both sonically and visually.

Step 10: One room or two?

Picture of One room or two?

If this soundproof space is to be used as a recording studio as well as a practice room, your next consideration is whether to go for a one-room studio or to have a separate control room. It may seem obvious that a recording studio needs two rooms, one to record in and one to listen back in, but for some musicians it can sometimes be easier to work in the same room as the equipment.

One compromise in this situation is running a second computer monitor into the live room and using a wireless keyboard and mouse to control things. This way each room can be tuned to it's optimum potential.

Step 11: Remember: Rome wasn't built in a day

Building a studio can be a time-consuming process and you'll no doubt encounter setbacks along the way. As a result it can be frustrating as the time ticks by and costs add up, but try not to lose sight of the fact that once it's complete, the space is yours to create your own studio environment in.

You'll be free to play when you want without disturbing anyone and you can be as creative as you like. That's got be worth the effort hasn't it?

Thanks for reading, we'll be uploading more step-by-step tutorials to Instructables, but for all your other music-making needs, check out MusicRadar.com.

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AlviZ1 month ago
Cry out because you do not need much to make a recording studio
All you need is 1.A computer
2. music software (Reason 5 is perfect)
3.Midi keyboard (m audio air 32 is great)
4.Audio interface (maudio is voila in this case).
5.Microphones (condenser is great but dynamic is gonna work cool)
6.Pop Filter (obviously needed to replace soundproofing of walls).
7.Some great speakers.
8.many sets of wires to connect

To avoid soundproof you need good pop filter of $6 but you can even make it in home by watching some youtube videos and thats gonna work cool.

The most expensive
1.audio interface
2.Condenser microphones(optional)

THANK YOU
noah.schade.7 made it!9 months ago

I bought some acoustic wedges for my studio. The sound quality of the room was perfect after I installed. I just peeled off the thin plastic layer over the adhesive at the back of the acoustic wedge and stuck it to the wall. It took me 25 minutes to install a large room. The room use to echo before. Now I can finally jam out and record music with my buddies.

I thought it would cost me a fortune to install a soundproof studio but I was quite impressed when I found this over the internet http://www.bonanza.com/listings/12-x-Black-Acoustic-Wedges-for-Soundproofing-a-Professional-Studio-2-x12-x12-/214037895

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ezhope110 months ago

Great project, thanks!. And thanks for the hearty chuckle, " ...avoid lapsing into unconsciousness mid-paradiddle." Ha Ha, that's perfect.

MartindeMadrid11 months ago

Reading many Instructables, perhaps the majority show an appalling lack of grammar and the inability to effectively communicate a linear process in a clear manner. If one wishes to write up their project, it is essential to assume the reader has no understanding of the process and include each step, materials, sources, etc. so they can successfully complete the project. An Instructables author must proofread their work, by assuming the reader knows nothing. They must also carefully check their writing for mistakes in grammar, usage and spelling.

This Instructable was very good in the information presented, but could use some grammar checking and the author could have avoided some confusing instructions and lack of sources had he asked several friends to read it over. One thing he did not mention is to make the walls of the inner room asymmetrical in order to avoid a standing wave. Apart from this, I think he covered the major and minor points of soundproofing quite well. One suggestion is to use Green Glue to seal the drywall.

dreblow1 year ago
https://soundcloud.com/hannah_wants/hannah-wants-mixtape-0713
noingwhat2 years ago
How much did this project cost for you?
monkeywork3 years ago
I've been working on my own studio build, to www.voiceofmonk.blogspot.com to follow along. Roxul60 is the insulation material, great stuff!
Collie1475 years ago
I hung an old carpet and some old carpet underlay on opposing walls.  Did a fantastic job and it looked pretty damned cosy too!  Except people kept throwing themselves against the wall in a Blur "Song 2" fashion, that ended up tearing the underlay off the nails so I had to create a proper mounting for it.
Actually, there are alot of old school, "underground" recording studios and jam rooms that just carpet the walls and ceilings as well as the floor
lucidtones4 years ago
Great instructable! I cannot seem to find those door seals. Where did you get them?
Hey thanks Tomporter. I really like your tips about soundproofing i think they are cost effective tips. I would like to implement one by one and definitely give feedback to you. Thanks.
Be careful using MDF for anything that is going to be in an enclosed space, particularly in the construction of systems delivering breathable air. MDF is constructed using several volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) the most disconcerting being urea-formaldehyde, which is extremely toxic. There are brands of MDF constructed in a "green" manner, without using some of the VOC's normally used. I'm no tree-hugger, but I did build stairs for a living and had to work with MDF all the time. I developed somewhat of an allergy to the stuff and had to find a supplier that could source me MDF without urea. It's one thing to build some speakers with the stuff, but it's quite another to construct air delivery systems with the only inlet being built out of MDF. Just be careful and look out for brands that have a high content of urea-formaldehyde.
I'd developed a similar reaction, but I had no idea there was an alternative. Thanks for the heads up.
Junke5 years ago
Hey Thank You, Nice Tutorial.
wozlaser5 years ago
A good generic guideline is to absorb in all the corners and edges and diffuse your walls. Thicker foam is necessary for lower frequencies, so if you cheap out and get the thinnest rather than thickest hospital mattresses for example (great source) your room will be boomy. You can use a room like that if for vocals if all the bass is eq'd out, but don't be that lazy. Just go thick in the corners, even if you have to cram them with pillowcases full of clothes or Styrofoam peanuts, and break up all your flat surfaces. A treated room sounds kinda like a clothing store anyhow, it should if you think about it.

You know it's working if you clap in a bathroom or kitchen and then walk into your treated room. Your claps will sound smaller, closer to you, and more singular.

Poster board can make great diffusers if it's bent into arches, the shape makes it strong, like a speaker cone. see: http://www.instructables.com/id/Sound-defusingdampening-wall-with-posterboard/
peterkanton5 years ago
Interesting instructions. I like your points. I would like to add a little more to it.
A layer of Sheetblok is not going to provide enough soundproofing, you need more than that. Why not use QuietRock.  It is a soundproofing drywall which works way better than many layers of standard drywall. I am sure if you need to isolate the music from any extraneous sounds, just Sheetblok is not going to be enough.
eddie12615 years ago
 I just have to ask what purpose the studio is designed for. I have an upstairs studio but I record everything direct through headphones. Room acoustics have no spot in my equation, but of course, that's just me. I have a headphone bus all around the room and 8 people can plug in headphones. Of course you can't run everything direct and when I DO have horns or live drums they are in another room and they mic through a snake that runs through the wall and feeds a mixer in the main room. All good stuff here though.


Fred826645 years ago
instead of egg cartons I wonder about that foam matting you can get at Wal-Mart that you can put on top of beds to make them more padded. They have the shaped cones like egg cartons give them a shot of black paint mounted to a backing of rock wool or perhaps the spray in poly ear-thine foam . would that work out?  
A couple of things to consider:

1. You have to find paint that will not react with the foam and eventually flake off.
2. You would have to compare the bed foam to acoustic foam, not sure if it is open celled or closed, may have different sound properties.
3. You should check into the fire hazard thing, there was the Rhode Island nightclub tragedy when the non-approved acoustic foam caught on fire from stage pyrotechnics. Lining the walls with ignitible foam is not a good idea.

I'm all for building a cheap studio but do it safe.  Good luck.
well thanks for the thought. 1. I think that all things have a flash point of ignition including acoustic foam. 2 who in there right mind would set up any kind of pyrotechnics in side there home or in there home studio in the first place. 3 the Rhode Island tragedy had many bads to its credit  a) the space of confinement in relation to the charge size  b) the metals used in the charge produced high heat that could not escape thus it fed off what ever could burn in the temperature band. c) foam was not the only thing that caught fire the building was an old wood stricture, the wood was old and vary dry pine that would burn like a match stick. 
bulding a studio would be irtresting but seting off pyrtechnics inside of it would be kind of a like a scam using arson as a means to collett on a home oners policies.            
I guess any open flame is bad including "flicking your bic" and not to mention overloaded power strips, power strips plugged into power strips...time to untangle that mess of wires under the computer desk... Maybe just a super heavy fabric curtain on the walls would work.
I see you are a person that has no reality thinking and probably one of those sloppy wire jockeys that has no business plugging a cowmen house lap in. 1 if you flick your bic your intention is to light up something in the first place wither it being something your smoking or something to burn something including your house.  if you light a candle any where there is always risk of burning that was not intended to be burnt. 2. Any one that is a wire jockey should not wier up any kind of room  a)  they do not know how to do it safley in the first plase b) any one that dose not use fuses in any feed lines should have  there house brunt down just for the insentive of doing things right the first time .

Dude get real and yes for b) I am a bit harsh but but it is justafide !             
i'd take it a bit more seriously if you spell checked 
 Oh, I don't know if it's really justified...  in a studio it can be easy to overload a circuit unless the electrical work was done expressly for the extra power needed. The average bedroom or garage won't have enough power, unless your studio consists of a single laptop and a 60w lamp. However, to your original question: no, bed foam will not perform the same way acoustical foam will because the density is not the same. It might help just a little but you definitely won't get the same results.
hairyyy05 years ago
I'm curious. in your box pictured where what are you running? is it your power? or microphones? Just looking for a little clarification.
danlab hairyyy05 years ago
If you're asking about step 7, the plugs in the picture are for microphones.
teslafan1005 years ago
sick
It's:

"NB: You may want to line the inside of the Rockwool on the intake box to stop particles being dragged in by the fan"

Although to be honest, that sounds like it'd be killing the fun ;)
30 years in the Music Industry, I hosted and produced a DVD called "How to Set Up Your Own Recording Studio". And these instructions are excellent.
Great Job and Thanks for Sharing.
jvangurp5 years ago
 Great intsructable! So many people want a 'jam space' and start down the road to sound insulation but never quite make it. We all know how it goes... you start with Mom yelling TURN IT DOWN (thanks Frank ;-) so you put up some old pieces of carpet. Then someone hauls an old mattress in to put up behind the drums, etc. Eventually you get a good job and a house and build one of these studios... well, some guys do. Most won't. A pal of mine did so but he also 'tuned' the room using bass traps and Helmholtz resonator panels, etc. Easy to build and and very effective!
dchall85 years ago
Sound proofing rooms will always be a topic of interest.  Thanks for your approach.

For those of us in the US, mineral wool is what we now call insulation.  Usually it is pink and made from spun fiberglass.  There are other materials used and you can get it in different grades and densities. 

I've never heard the word 'eggbox' before.  If anyone tried to deaden a wall with actual egg boxes or egg cartons made from recycled paper or Styrofoam, they were probably experimenting.  If they weren't very particular and were not measuring the damping quality of the room, they were probably very satisfied with it.  We talk about 'egg crate' as a general shape for various foam products.  The egg crate foam is generally shaped with bumps and dips which resemble the shape of egg containers.  One common use for egg crate shaped urethane foam is as a bed topper.  Those are very good at damping sound reflections.  The professionals use actual conical and pyramidal shaped foam of varying length.  I've seen them about a foot deep (although I didn't measure them). 
Mineral wool is a distinct product from fiberglass insulation. You can argue fiberglass is a type of mineral wool but they are not the same.
I was trying to help people find a product that will work.  I can't remember the last time I saw the stuff you are calling mineral wool.  It might be available at specialty stores but it's not popular.  If you have a source for it, or if you think the pink fiberglass will not work as a substitute, can you please help us find it? 
 It's quite common in Canada and comes packaged much like pink, but it's not compressed nearly as much. It comes out in very clearly defined rectangular panels, cuts with a knife and has a much softer feel than fiberglass. It's very popular here.
f.seanb dchall85 years ago
 Mineral wool is insulation, but it is NOT fiberglass. Different stuff!
greatoak5 years ago
Wow!
That is an awesome space. Good job on the Instructable.
paliaspip5 years ago
haha i get it world peace, like peace and quiet, ahem, i like the joke. Yea if you could let us know what the NB part is that would be great. Thanks by the way.
netgrazer5 years ago
I don't want to sound like a negative Nancy, but the diagram in step 5 is pretty hard to read, and enlarging only seems to make it worse. Especially the 'NB!' part, which looks kind of important.

Otherwise, great 'ible! Though I can't use this myself, I know several people who could. You've just contributed to world peace! :)
juanvi5 years ago
nice, just i have eggbox covered walls in my studio and they work really nice
xana juanvi5 years ago
nice but corny.
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