Reducing the Acoustic Shadow
July 17, 2007 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Soundproofing material: What is this stuff called, and where can I find it?

I'm looking to soundproof the basement of the house I live in with five other musicians. A few years ago I read in a magazine about this sound insulation material, formerly used in jet airliners, becoming available, repurposed, for retail and commercial use. Ever since then I've been unable to locate it. I've looked here, but the site provides very little in the way of real information.
The ex-jet stuff seemed like the cheapest, and most fireproof, option. We want to give our neighbors a break. Any specific information would be super helpful, just so I can present my roomates with a budgeted estimate.
posted by Minus215Cee to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try Googling "anechoic" or "acoustic" with other keywords (like "tiles") for results like this and this. Some of this stuff is not much different from mattress foams, which might be cheaper.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2007

I have been doing my basement recently too, and I've been thinking about soundproofing a lot. I'm not sure about the jet liner stuff, but there are a few other products around that are worth taking a look at.

Quiet Rock is awesome, but crazy expensive. Sonopan is good for floors and ceilings, but I'm not sure it's that easy to get. Roxul Safe and Sound is cheap and plentiful, but it is only rated STC 52, so not that great. In any case, you probably also want to use a double layer of 5/8" drywall , heavy solid core doors, and maybe even think about installing resilient channels in the walls and ceiling. Be careful though, as it is supposed to be pretty hard to get them right.
posted by tracert at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2007

Just read these forums (especially the studio design and construction sections) and you will learn far more than you ever wanted to know about sound proofing studio space. If you join and post a few pictures, I am sure they would be glad to help you.

The short answer is that mattress pads on the wall do nothing for your neighbors.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 1:29 PM on July 17, 2007

I made great, virtually soundproof band rooms by hanging carpet remnants on the walls. As TWF said, you've got to produce a room within a room. Carpets are great for this. Cheap, easy, and dead as hell. Highly recommended.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2007

There's also Green Glue, which is sandwiched between two rigid surfaces such as drywall.

I read about it in this Wired article.

It sounds a too good to be true to me, though.
posted by ShooBoo at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2007

You might want to check out McMaster-Carr and search for "acoustic." They are a big warehouse that sell just about anything under the sun. They also have prices right on the website.
posted by albolin at 3:06 PM on July 17, 2007

Best answer: Also, generally, check out my previous post which includes some more DIY suggestions (chairs, carpet, etc.)
posted by tmcw at 4:02 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you guys play loud, there is no magic material that's going to save your neighbors. There is tons and tons of stuff on the internet about this, but basically room-within-room is the gold standard, and anything less than gold standard for a drums/guitars/amps band is not really going to do too much. That material you are thinking of probably functions similar to dynamat. This is often used to tame road noise in cars, but you'd getting a few dBs of transmission reduction, not silence. Most of the foam and stuff you see in the studio scenes of like VH1 Behind the Music is meant for sound control (e.g. Auralex), rather than sound proofing: it changes the acoustics of the room, rather than reducing the amount of sound that gets out of the room.

Also, it sounds like everyone including me is being discouraging when we say stuff like "you gotta build a room", but it's really not that hard or expensive. I'm sure you and your roomates can do it in a weekend. And it seems like a big cash outlay, but its super cheap compared to renting a practice space, for instance, and split among all of you, in might not be that bad.

The exception is stuff like the aforementioned QuietRock, which essentially duplicates the 'room-within-room' model in one step. Building a wall with QuietRock is like building two really thin walls at one time, with stuff in between to minimize acoustical coupling that supposedly works better than the air you get in a normal double wall setup. The trick with stuff like QuietRock is that people forget that the doors, windows, and HVAC ducts are still transparent, acoustically. Building an inner room makes this very obvious. An STC 10 Million QuietRock wall is useless if you stick a Home Depot Special hollow prehung door with a 1" floor gap in it.

Extrapolating from your description, my guess is that you and your roomates are wealthier in time than cash, and things like QuietRock are probably going to work out inferior to just doing something like room within room. To do a rough budget for this, just figure out how many drywall boards and studs you need to build a room (don't forget the ceiling). There are slight optimizations to this (staggered studs, resilient bars), but the basic idea is to build another set of walls inside your walls, from normal cheapo building materials.

The big caveat here is what your expectation is: stuff like carpets on the walls definitely do something, but they will not make the room 'soundproof' in the sense that a cranked plexi thru 4x12 won't be audible outside of the room, unless your room is pretty close to soundproof already (some old buildings have really serious walls). Stuff like Aurelex, or stuff that looks like but is cheaper than auralex (egg cartons, matress foam, etc.) will do nothing.

In the other thread, most of the useful suggestions focus on reducing the amount of sound being generated in the room (dampening drums, using small amps) rather than reducing the amount of acoustic energy that escapes the room. That's another thing worth considering.
posted by jeb at 5:39 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It looks as though the bassist moving in is friends with a carpenter/musician willing to help us knock out a bunch of framing, so I think we're gonna try a variation of the room-within-a room thing. I only wish the "loud" portion of our house had taller ceilings or more floorspace; I was really knocked out by the ideas of the book-lined room and the foam-stuffed desks.

Thank you very much.
posted by Minus215Cee at 1:18 AM on July 19, 2007

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