Solutions: Noise Reduction

To reduce the noise effectively,it is important to understand the principles of soundproofing

This would help to manage expectations and achieve reasonable noise level reduction for less.

Good soundproofing does not come cheap.  Noise is energy that goes through one medium to another and spreads by vibrating that other medium.  The energy gets lost every time a new medium or sound barrier has to be agitated, and the heavier the noise barrier, the more energy gets lost.
So the conclusion is: the heavier and denser the material, the more sound it will block.

But the sound is not a ray of light, it is not travelling in one direction, it goes in all directions, it is what they call omnidirectional.  So, if you just put one small barrier in a way of a sound wave, it will not stop sound, the sound is doing to go around it and through any opening it can find.  In fact,a study showed, that if you build a concrete wall and leave a hole in it the size of a quarter, the soundproofing efficiency of that sound barrier will be reduced by 75%.  Thus, a little peephole lets you hear everything what is going on on the other side. (It can be good or bad,depending on your intentions.)
That brings us to another conclusion: the soundproofing barrier has to be airtight.

And the third consideration is the cost. Heavy materials cost more than light-weight materials and are more difficult to handle.  Making a barrier airtight might require some construction skills and potential change to the building. For example, blocking the window with a brick wall in a rental apartment might be very effective, but probably not very practical and might cost you your deposit. That brings us to a third conclusion, that might not sound nice to hear, but true:
if you are workingon limited budget,keep your hopes high and expectations low.

Yeah…..

So, what are the solutions to get rid of the noise?

Well, there are few approaches one may take:

  • 1) Make some more noise! Yes, if you want to drown noise that you do not like, you can run a “white noise” that you do like. A “White noise” machine delivers a soothing sound of a forest brook or ocean waves, that distracts your brain into thinking that you are in a paradise.
  • 2) Use earplugs. That is an obvious choice if you want to go to sleep, although I strongly believe that it makes your brain to adapt and you will become anearplug addict.  Also, this solution is probably not going to work if you want to work.
  • 3) Mitigate the noise itself.

This third approach we will explore more, because this is where our acoustic sound absorbing blankets for soundproofing will shine, because they are an effective alternative to expensive soundproofing.

So how do you “mitigate the noise”?

Well, the easiest way is to simply turn it off. But if you could do that with a radio, dealing with street traffic or your neighbor might be a little more complicated.

The question then is: where is the noise coming from? OK, it is coming from the outside, I get it, but how does it get into YOUR space? (Home, office, audio recording studio, bedroom, whatever.)

The easiest way for noise to get into your space is by open and unobstructed byways.  That two inch opening under the door, cracks around the window frame, window panes that are not very tight.  Any place that you can see the light go through – the sound will get in.  Most of the noise gets in that way – traffic noise, chirping birds, loud music.

The other way the sound gets into your space is through the structure itself.  This is the low frequency noise that makes the house rumble.  Heavy trucks, subway, low bass from your neighbor’s subwoofer.

Now that we know the basics of the noise and how it gets in, let’s explore the noise dampening solutions:

  1. Window noise.

Windows are the weakest point in a house for the street noise to get in.  Especially the older, one pane windows, with rattling window panes.  The first thing to do to block the noise coming from the window, is to seal all cracks between the frame and the glass window panes, and also between the moving parts of the frame. Some caulk and rubber weather-stripping works well.  Then hang  Window Noise Control Blankets for soundproofing.    The Window Noise Control blanket is a double layer acoustic blanket producer’s choice for sound absorption. It will absorb sound leaking through the window.  It does great job dampening the high frequency noise such as light street traffic noise, birds chirping, far away lawn mower etc.  It will not completely block all the noise, but it is the next best thing for the money.

To use the Window Noise control Blanket hang it flush with the wall.  The window panes are usually recessed from the interior wall, so that 3-5 inches of space will create the very important layer of air that is helpful in absorbing more noise and sound reduction.  To hang the sound absorption blanket for windows you can use hook screws or you can use a track, or regular drywall screws. When necessary, you can easily take the Blanket down.

If you want heavy duty solution, you may try the SoundProofing Panels ( SPP) NOTE: This is a very heavy product, so you will need to secure it properly and that will be a more or less permanent installation. (It still be taken down if you want to, of course).

  1. Door noise.

Door is the next weak link after the windows. In principal all the same considerations apply when you want to control the noise coming through the door.  But there are some additional things to consider:

Doors can be hollow or solid.   Solid doors are more soundproof than hollow doors. If you have a hollow door you can add some mass to it by lining it with Mass loaded Vinyl ( MLV). Make sure to use the reinforced mass loaded vinyl sound barrier( RMLV). You can staple/nail the RMLV directly onto the door, all the way to the floor.  Adding mass to the door could add about 27 dB in noise reduction.

Doors, especially the interior doors, usually have a 2 inchclearance from the floor, so they do not scratch the floor and if you install thick carpet, the door can still be opened, but that opening is where the sound gets in.

So, the first thing is to decide do you want to replace the hollow door with a solid door? If that is an option, by all means – do it! The next thing is to make sure the door closes tightly.  Use rubber weather seal to make sure the door closesshut.  Use a draft guard, this usually comes as a rubber sweeper with a metal strip to attach to the bottom of the door.

In addition you can hang the  Door Noise Control acoustic blanket for soundproofing VB73DNC in front of the doorway.  Use screw hooks, or screws.  Please consider where the door opens. If it opens on the side where the blanket hangs,the blankets may cause an issue with door opening.  You can use a wall mount track  or ceiling track to hang the blanket and be able to slide the blanket out of the way.

Same as with the Window Noise control blanket, hang the Door Noise Control blanket close to the wall, so it overlaps the door frame.

If you do not need to use the door at all, then seal all cracks around the door and then use the SoundProofing Wall Panel ( SPP).  SPP comes in 48 x 96 inches and it provides the same level of soundproofing  ( STC 30) as an interior wall. Attach it to cover the door and overlap the door frame from all sides, and just screw or nail it shut.

  1. “Next door neighbor” noise (through the wall).

If you have noisy neighbors it can be frustrating.  Teaching them a lesson and try to “outnoise them” can be fun, but not a sustainable approach. Complaining to the landlord or calling a police if you have to, will work, but doing it routinely might create some unwanted after-effects.

The solution to block the noise from the neighbors is to apply sound absorption materials or/and add some layers of mass to the wall.

Hanging Sound Absorption acoustic blankets Producer’s Choice is the easiest way to go about it.  Use the Blanket Screw Hooks to keep the blanket away from the wall by about 3 inches, or install a 2 x 4 stud first. That air space between the wall and the blanket is very important for good sound absorption. Double layer of blankets will work even better.

The  SoundProofing Wall Panel ( SPP) Is the product specifically designed for this purpose.  These panels are made out of heavy reinforced mass loaded Vinyl with 1 lb per s.f. mass, and feature a sound absorbing felt on one side.    When installing the panels, the side with the felt should be facing the wall.  This creates the layered sound absorbing/sound blocking barrier, and in combination with limp mass sound barrier properties of the Mass loaded vinyl, it is an effective soundproofing solution comparable to building an additional drywall wall.

You can of course go for a full-blown construction and build an additional wall, or you can simply nail the SPP panels to the wall and achieve similar results. When installing the panels make sure to apply them as tight together as possible and seal the joints with black duct tape. The panels are 96 inch tall by 48 inch wide, designed to cover the wall from floor to ceiling. For better results you can screw 2 x 4 wood studs to the wall horizontally at the top and bottom, and vertically every 24 inches or so, and then nail the SPP to that framing.  Make sure to do this wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

  1. Noise from upstairs

The noise that comes from a neighbor above you, stumping on the floor, is very difficult to control. The main difficulty is that ideally it should be addressed from the neighbor’s apartment. Soft carpet with foam rubber underlayment makes a huge difference.  But of course, convincing neighbors to renovate their apartment might be a tough negotiating challenge, especially if you are not willing to pay for it. Pretty much the only alternative is to install a drop ceiling with sound blocking layerand sound absorption layer.

  1. Traffic noise

Traffic noise is notorious in the cities of course. Cars passing by, honking, low rumble of construction vehicles and garbage vehicles backing up, subway noise, shaking a whole building, and emergency vehicle’s sirens – all adds up into a cacophony of “street noise”.  To deal with Traffic and Street noise the first thing you need to address is windows.  See above how to soundproof your windows to reduce traffic noise.  The Double and triple pane modern windows would do a great job blocking most of that  noise, but if you are living in an older building and the installation of modern windows is not an option, then Window Noise control blanket Window Noise Control Blanket for soundproofing can be a great help to dampen the street noise. It will not put the world around you on mute, but it will take the edge off the noisy commute.

  1. Noise that does not let you sleep

Depending on how sensitive you are to noise, this can be a broad subject, way out of scope of this brief.  What we wanted to suggest is that you can address the problem by a) coveringthe windows and door and using all the other suggestions above to mitigate the noise sources, and also treat your sleeping area, for example create a canopy out of acoustic sound blankets and create that coveted quiet space around the bed. It does not need to be airtight as we had suggested for soundproofing  windows.  You want the fresh air to come in of course. The blankets will make the place quieter simply by absorbing the noise.

  1. Noise that does not let you work.

If the “work” is not related to voice over recording, then you just need a relatively quiet place, and applying the solutions above could be enough to solve your problem.

But if the “work” is audio recording with highly sensitive microphones, then you would need to implement additional measures to assure high quality audio recording.

Dampening all the noises that come from the outside, as described above, is still a good idea, but you can also treat your recording space and area around your microphone.  There are few things that can be done here.

I will start with the least obvious solution: decoupling your microphone from the structural noise.

Simply place a rubber mat under a microphone stand to cancel the vibrations coming from the floor.  These are the low frequency vibrations that transfer through the building structure and might not be even otherwise noticeable.    Vibrations from subway, heavy traffic, HVAC system in the building, neighbor’s washer and drier, refrigerator and so on.  We offer Soundproofing Vibration Cancelling Mat, that has a Mass loaded vinyl top layer and one-inch thick porous rubber material for better cushioning.  Any rubber mat will work though. The thicker the better.

 

The next solution is a Soundproof-er Sound booth  SPB series.  This sound booth comes in different sizes 3 x 3, 6 x 3 and 6×6 and can be assembled in larger sizes.  The new model comes with the Anti-Vibration Mat with Soundproofing to decouple the booth frame from the floor.  This booth gives you about 30 dB noise reduction and is very effective solution for any apartment or house.  It is not as heavy as a solid wall vocal booth, yet, because of the limp mass quality, it is an excellent sound isolation enclosure, and because it is lighter, it is safer to use in the older multifamily buildings.   The wall structure of the booth uses the specially designed multi layered sound proofing and sound absorbing layers, plus it includes the Acoustic blankets producer’s choice, which create an acoustically dead space conducive to making great voice over and audio recording.

 

A less expensive option is Acoustic Vocal Booth enclosures AVB Series.  These sound booths are a great solution for a voice over actors or singers for recording audio at home , assuming that the place is not noisy.  The AVB series Vocal Booths provide immediate acoustic room treatment.  There is no need to worry about the diffusers, bass traps and other expensive stuff. AVB booths take care of all echo and reverb in the room. They also block the outside noise by about 10 dB.

 

In situations where the work flexibility and portability are important, nothing beats VOMO.

VOMO is Voice Over MObile recording studio.  This tool is a must for a recording voice actor, not only because it is the best portable vocal booth on the market, but because it provides a consistent sound no matter wherever you go.  And according to testimonials of some voice actors, when they recorded in VOMO the sound was actually better than when they recorded in their own home studio.

See more about VOMO here: http://www.voiceovermobile.com/

So how can you attack the noise problem?  From ALL angles.  Create heavy, dense sound blocking barriers, airtight enclosures and use sound absorbing and sound blocking materials.  If you are doing  audio recording, address the issue of the overall sound proofing of you recording studio and also create sound isolated space around your microphone.  Using the sound blocking and sound-absorbing materials all adds up and have cumulative effect to solve that pesky noise problem.