Affordable ways to Reduce Outside Noise?

Noizmak3r

Member
Hi guys I had an acoustics-related question I was hoping someone might know the answer to:
I am looking for something to help reduce noises coming from the apartments above me through the ceiling. Does anyone have any suggestions? I looked into studio foam, but saw an article saying that was only for shaping the acoustics of the room, and would not reduce external music / similar sounds. Obviously, I am not looking to add drywall etc, as I am only renting. So I was wondering what the next best alternative would be. Thanks in advance.
 

jcrosby

Senior Member
Hi guys I had an acoustics-related question I was hoping someone might know the answer to:
I am looking for something to help reduce noises coming from the apartments above me through the ceiling. Does anyone have any suggestions? I looked into studio foam, but saw an article saying that was only for shaping the acoustics of the room, and would not reduce external music / similar sounds. Obviously, I am not looking to add drywall etc, as I am only renting. So I was wondering what the next best alternative would be. Thanks in advance.
Acoustics and Sound Transmission/Isolation are two completely different subjects... (But VERY often confused.)

Acoustics handle how sound interacts with a room, (basically attempting to reduce interference caused by the shape and size of the room), isolation deals with how to keep sound in a room and prevent outside sound from getting in...

So acoustics would be like adding some kind of material, or a substance that slows the flow of water down.

Transmission/Isolation is the equivalent to building a fully sealed, leak-proof water tank. (And in the case of sound would require you building a tank inside of another tank... Sound just doesn't like to stay put, and below a certain frequency range it will attempt to leak out by any means necessary.. (Even though acousticians use the water analogy, the reality is sound trickier to contain than water. Technically it can't be contained completely..)

So both scenarios involve water, but have completely different purposes. One is about influencing the way water interacts with, and collides inside the tank, the other's about keeping the tank sealed, making sure nothing leaks in or out...

So if you can absorb sound inside a room can't you reduce some sound getting in or out? A little, but only higher frequencies. You can basically dull the sound coming in or leaving the room, but you won't stop footstomps from the neighbor upstairs or stop them from hearing you banging on a drum kit... Low frequencies are huge and travel through walls, ceilings, any domestic surface pretty effortlessly... (Plus dry wall resonates like the body of a guitar...)

That said, don't expect to reduce it much. Any dulling you might hear would be subtle at best using acoustics... Things like foot stomps won't be audibly tamed with acoustics... That's structural vibration...

And forget foam. That stuff does virtually nothing below 2500 Hz. All it does is stop flutter echo in a room which your neighbors can't hear... It might tighten up your recorded sound a little, but it won't touch anything getting through a ceiling... You literally need an air gap and isolation between you and the structure... Unfortunately that means construction since your ceiling is their floor...

Sorry man, just figured it's better to give an honest answer than a polite one... You can read more at the link below if you want...

http://www.soundcontrolroom.com/the-differences-between-sound-proofing-and-acoustic-treatment.php
 
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Quasar

Senior Member
jcrosby nailed it. I'm no expert, but did websearch this topic a while back, and (as opposed to acoustic treatment, which can be done in most "bedroom" studio environments relatively cheaply and unobtrusively) sound isolation requires both space & mass, and there are no work-arounds or shortcuts.
 

thesteelydane

Senior Member
A floating room within a room is the only way to get any real attenuation of outside noise, i.e. double floor, walls and ceiling, floating on rubber spacers with at least 5 cm airgap all the way around, and both “boxes” as airtight as possible. This makes ventilation and getting fresh in and out an issue, because one way or another you will have to make at least 2 holes in your airtight box.

That said, I converted a normal single wall room in the noisiest city on earth (Hanoi) into a reasonably soundproof space by making it completely airtight, and just opening the door every 2O min to get fresh air in. It wasn’t perfect but as long the neighbors dogs didn’t bark it was quiet enough, so the cheapest way is to make your room airtight. This unfortunately won’t help you, since your noise is vibrations being generated directly on the other side of one of your walls. Your only option is a room within a room. Sorry, physics is a cruel mistress.
 

reddognoyz

Senior Member
Look at keeping sound out like you'd look at keeping water out, at least for the higher frequencies. You kinda have to be airtight or it doesn't work. Half soundproofing, even 95% sound proofing is no help at all really.

For the low end you need mass and/or airtight walls separated but an airspace in betwween.
 

wst3

my office these days
Moderator
You have gotten some good advice, but I'm going to offer a couple other suggestions - not directly applicable to you now, but perhaps they'll come in handy in the future?

I have been successful reducing (not eliminating) foot falls and similar noises from the floor above without resorting to the whole room within a room thing. But this requires adding mass to the ceiling, and that isn't a good option for a renter.

For a drop ceiling you can realize good isolation in the upper octaves, and reasonable isolation in the lower octaves, by replacing the entire ceiling with a new grid and tiles. You need mass, so you'll want a very heavy gauge grid, and heavy panels. And you'll need to seal the grid to the side walls, and you'll want to suspend the grid with springs instead of cables. You might also get away with fastening the grind to the joists, but I've never tried that, and I'd be wary.

For a sheetrock ceiling attached to the joists then the only improvement you can do is to add another layer of sheetrock. You want the densest material you can find. I've used Durarock, this is the cement board often used to line showers. It is heavy! If you are going through the trouble to hang this stuff consider hanging it on resilient channel. You'll also want to make sure you overlap the seams.

In both cases you are looking at a lot of work, and considerable expense. For the additional isolation I'm not sure it is going to be worth it. It depends a lot on the rest of the construction and of course just how loud your neighbors can be<G>!

If I were in your shoes (and I have been) I'd consider a "portable" booth. You can make one for not a lot of money if you have the tools and the space to work, or you can purchase one. Used booths show up from time to time on various for-sale lists. It is completely removable when you move and you can probably reuse it too.

Other than that I'm afraid you are at the mercy of the laws of physics, and the hassles of inexpensive construction techniques.
 
OP
N

Noizmak3r

Member
Acoustics and Sound Transmission/Isolation are two completely different subjects... (But VERY often confused.)

Acoustics handle how sound interacts with a room, (basically attempting to reduce interference caused by the shape and size of the room), isolation deals with how to keep sound in a room and prevent outside sound from getting in...

So acoustics would be like adding some kind of material, or a substance that slows the flow of water down.

Transmission/Isolation is the equivalent to building a fully sealed, leak-proof water tank. (And in the case of sound would require you building a tank inside of another tank... Sound just doesn't like to stay put, and below a certain frequency range it will attempt to leak out by any means necessary.. (Even though acousticians use the water analogy, the reality is sound trickier to contain than water. Technically it can't be contained completely..)

So both scenarios involve water, but have completely different purposes. One is about influencing the way water interacts with, and collides inside the tank, the other's about keeping the tank sealed, making sure nothing leaks in or out...

So if you can absorb sound inside a room can't you reduce some sound getting in or out? A little, but only higher frequencies. You can basically dull the sound coming in or leaving the room, but you won't stop footstomps from the neighbor upstairs or stop them from hearing you banging on a drum kit... Low frequencies are huge and travel through walls, ceilings, any domestic surface pretty effortlessly... (Plus dry wall resonates like the body of a guitar...)

That said, don't expect to reduce it much. Any dulling you might hear would be subtle at best using acoustics... Things like foot stomps won't be audibly tamed with acoustics... That's structural vibration...

And forget foam. That stuff does virtually nothing below 2500 Hz. All it does is stop flutter echo in a room which your neighbors can't hear... It might tighten up your recorded sound a little, but it won't touch anything getting through a ceiling... You literally need an air gap and isolation between you and the structure... Unfortunately that means construction since your ceiling is their floor...

Sorry man, just figured it's better to give an honest answer than a polite one... You can read more at the link below if you want...

http://www.soundcontrolroom.com/the-differences-between-sound-proofing-and-acoustic-treatment.php


No problem, I would much rather get an honest answer than waste time trying all these different things just to find out there is no effect
 
OP
N

Noizmak3r

Member
the main thing i'd be interested in reducing is the sound of music coming from next door / upstairs - footsteps and other non-musical sounds don't matter that much to me. not sure if that makes any difference
 

thesteelydane

Senior Member
You can also consider that a room-within-a-room doesn't have to take up the entire space of the outer room, In other words something like a practice/vocal booth will give you all the quiet you desire and it can be any size. There are companies that make these, and they are usually modular, so you can take it with you when you move. It is of course far cheaper to build your own if you are used to making stuff, you just have to educate yourself on sound isolation. Making it so that it can be taken apart and re-assembled is extremely tricky though, so building a "one time use" gypsum board box may be easier. Then you only have to figure out how far down the rabbit hole you go when it comes to ventilation. As others have pointed out, foam and other forms of treatment will do absolutely nothing in your situation.
 

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
I’ve been doing construction work for over 25 years and honestly, bearing in mind you are renting the place, there is nothing you can do to stop the noise.

It’s incredibly hard (almost impossible in most situations) to “sound proof” (sound isolation) a room inside a building especially where you are surrounded by hollow cavities and at best, have a little insulation (that isn’t even dense Rock Wool) with all stud work being timber and only having 1 sheet of plasterboard (of which needs to be doubled every time, 1 sheet, 2 Sheets, 4 Sheets, 8 Sheets etc to be effective with plasterboard screws staggered). To sound proof anything you would need to build a “room inside a room” and to do that with Timber floors you not only need a massive amount of space, the floors have to then be Floating. I’m being brief here because I could talk all day about building two leaf tier structures, the benefits of filling a cavity with Sand or having a larger air gap, floating floors, rooms within rooms, isolated Grade (Grade is an American term for foundation), etc

Honestly, just move out and find a better place that suits your needs. There is a world of difference between “Acoustic Treatment” and “Sound Isolation”. Concrete is your greatest friend when you want Sound Isolation because of its mass.

And just incase somebody tells you to stick Egg Boxes all over your apartment... Ask them why you would use them for anything other than storing Eggs in? Haha! Seriously useless.

Just move or rent a space out for Music.... Or send Joe Pesci round to visit your neighbours?
 
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Paul Grymaud

Active Member
Leave your apartment (keep your wife and children) Buy or rent a boat, install your studio and sell your records at each port where you make a stopover. Obviously, it is hard to keep the equipment upright.
I already tried...and finally, I gave up. Probably, I don't also have the sea legs.


studio boat.gif