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Advice for soundproofing a room

evergreen

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
462
DH and I are expecting a baby in November. We're renting, a townhouse-style house with adjoining houses on both sides, with no plans to move. I've always known that when one set of neighbors is yelling at their kids, I can kind of hear it through the wall into our bedroom but it's muffled. They'll be OK with baby noise, since we're friends (watch each others' cats, etc) and their wall adjoins my/DH's bedroom anyway, which will be the less-baby-affected room after about 2-3 months.

I was just doodling around in the nursery-to-be over the weekend, a room we've never really spent time in, and discovered that I can hear our (nursery-side) neighbor SNORING through the walls! We barely know those neighbors. I don't think the baby will care one bit that there's a bit of sound leakage from the neighbors but I'm more concerned about what OUR baby will do to THEIR sanity. Also, my/DH's bedroom shares a wall with the baby's room, as well as an air vent which is a direct passage (i.e., can see light right through from my room to the baby's room) and we'd like it a little quieter on our own behalf as well.

Please don't get all up in arms about "babies have to cry" and "don't ignore your baby, you horrible person" and "if you soundproof your baby into its room that's dangerous!" -- yes, they do cry, but sometimes they just cry for reasons we can't do anything about. DH is already getting excited about setting up some wifi webcam monitoring system. Our walls are just thin to begin with, and for my sanity and that of the neighbors, I'd love some tips on reducing noise transmission that could be implemented without major structural changes to a rented house and for a reasonable amount of money (say, <$500 -- yes, it's worth that much, easily!). The nursery room is about 11.5 x 12.5 ft.
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
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Aug 29, 2014
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3,771
I have no idea, but I think you're a super kind neighbour! I would say, don't rule out doing the other side with the neighbour you like. If you want to keep them liking you, it might be a worthy investment!

Also good for resale for when you DO decide to move.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,128
It's too late for the best sound-absorbing techniques, building them into the building at construction.

Still, you can buy sound-absorbing foam like that used in recording studios.



Auralex is a big brand.
You can buy it at Sweetwater, Guitar Center or Amazon etc.
Most of the foam is pretty ugly for home use, but you can google up sound-absorbing acoustic wall hangings.

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evergreen

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
462
Thanks, telephone & kenny!

Kenny, I'd been thinking of acoustic foam: I see 24 sqft of panels for $90 and 36sqft ("room kit") for $187 at Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Auralex-Acoustics-Studiofoam-Absorption-24-Panels/dp/B0002D05KA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468971229&sr=8-1&keywords=auralex+foam
https://www.amazon.com/Auralex-Acoustics-Roominator-Absorption-Treatment/dp/B000E1U9ZG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1468971229&sr=8-5&keywords=auralex+foam

Is there a big difference in sound absorption with the two different zig-zag patterns? Do I have to cover the entire wall (120 sqft,ish), or will just dotting it around like the image you attached still help with noise isolation?

Any way to make it look less dark & gloomy? Can it be, e.g., spray-painted?

This is a different brand, but it comes in white: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Dash-Acoustic-Soundproofing (33 sqft, $90)-Treatment/dp/B01FXM5H8E/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1468971814&sr=8-4&keywords=white+acoustic+foam

How much difference in efficacy do you think there is between the bigger brands and the "off-brands"?
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,128
This is a diamond community.
Ask your questions over at a community that does home recording ...

I'm very busy, so I rarely go there but three I'm aware of are Gearslutz, homerecording and soundonsound.
 

evergreen

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
462
Ok, sorry, didn't mean to inundate. :) I appreciate your wisdom! I'm afraid to go over there because I think I want the EGL J/SI2 of soundproofing... But definitely grateful for the advice so far.
 

Karl_K

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Aug 4, 2008
Messages
9,428
coming out of hibernation for a minute then going back into hiding.

most of the acoustic foam on the market is highly flammable and gives off
extremely deadly fumes even before it starts to burn in a fire.
Think 3 times and shop extremely carefully if you go that route.
 

jordyonbass

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
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Dec 6, 2014
Messages
1,809
Let me give a few pointers here from what I've experienced recording heavy metal music...

The first type of foam you posted with the big wedges will be seen all over the walls of our recording room in order to stop reverberation, echoes and outside sounds coming in as it essentially has more surface area for the sound to be absorbed by the foam. Now keep in mind we're talking about drummers hitting their kits as hard as they can and huge amps cranked up near full in order to capture their valve tone, so I believe that this foam is probably a little too excessive if you plan on doing 100% wall coverage. It will be effective if you partially cover the wall though.

The second type you posted is what is more often used in rehearsal rooms where the sound doesn't have to be isolated but the room requires some forn of soundproofing. Like the first you posted it can be used effectively in strips for partial coverage to soundproof and is probably more what you are after, it's just not as effective as the first stuff you posted.

The way soundproofing was described to me was that the more surface area over a given flat spot, the more it absorbs sound. We had to build a pillow fort around my amp to soundproof the mic and the more pillows we added the better it worked :lol:
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Messages
8,861
Look at home theater forums for great details.

I would be super careful of fumes. There are different materials available so there should be something. Ceiling tiles, foam, etc.

You can also look at extra thick (or extra layer) sheetrock.

Bookcases of books, fabric hangings, etc can help too.
 

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,249
We have large panels like the 2nd ones Kenny showed. They are wooden frames, covered in a fabric we like and spaced on the walls in a pleasing to our eyes arrangement. The back side which is stuffed with heavy foam stuff is the ugly part. You can cover them with nearly any fabric. For nursery you could do a large scene with your child's name, plain pastel colours, animals or something equally pretty. They don't have to be intrusive or ugly.

My husband purchased the materials for 4 and built them in about a day after ordering the foam online and purchasing the fabric and wood from a local store. They are heavy, but easy to build, pretty cheap, and fairly damn effective. Our last neighbour was deaf and loved nature programs on tv.
 

evergreen

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
462
Karl, great point about the fire concern... The safest option would be sound-management sheetrock like TooPatient mentioned, i.e. building a false wall. DH and I are not really handy like that, but my dad will be coming out for the birth and it might be good to keep him busy... :think:

Failing that, cloth-covered frames like yours, Rhea, would be right up his alley. The fiberglass-core ones definitely have the advantage in fire safety over foam, but pre-made they are really, really expensive... This looks like a good tutorial: http://acousticsfreq.com/how-to-build-your-own-acoustic-panels/ -- is this similar to what you did? P.s. I've always wanted an excuse to use a staple gun!

Thanks, Jordy, for the explanation about the different types of foam! Sounds like some foam is better than none, and all foam is better than some... except for the fumes and the flammability. I might order a pack of the inexpensive (relatively) white foam just to check it out -- cut into cloud shapes it could be cute! Or we'll just do a pillow fort around the baby's crib. :D

Maybe a false wall or sound panels for the neighbors' side of the bedroom, and foam clouds or a quilt on the wall that borders my/DH's room.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
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Sep 1, 2009
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8,861
So.... I am out of touch with prices, but look at sound proofing materials for airplanes. For certified aircraft, it has to pass tough fire and other tests.

Also, DH says use solid insullation rated for sound proof. Put it in the wall and cover with two layers of sheetrock.
 

jordyonbass

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
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1,809
No problem evergreen!!

I forgot to mention that there is also some paints out there that have a sandy texture that also work in the same manner although they are frustrating to paint with. It may make the wall look a little weird though.

I reckon foam panels hung with that velcro stuff (so the foam is removable) would probably be ideal!!
 

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
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Oct 20, 2007
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6,249
Yes, our were built very similarly to that. DH is very precise so the build was neater with a better finish. The June 2014 update with the pretty colour block panels is much better!
 

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
3,160
It's not soundproofing but have you thought about white noise instead? I know for my DH - white noise drives him bonkers but I don't mind it and neither do my kids. I don't know if that would drown out the sound to the neighbors though.

DH is a musician and back in his teenage days when they had no money, they hung comforters on the wall - not a good look but it worked enough that the neighbors stopped complaining. Also, arranging the room so that baby's crib is not on the adjoining wall (if possible) would help.

You are a nice neighbor!
 
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