Having your own jam room at home is great for band practice.
In this article, I’ll go into the various methods by which you can soundproof a jam room. But first I’ll look at some important information to consider.
Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how to go about this project.
Also read: How To Soundproof Your Electric Drums
The Principles of Soundproofing a Rehearsal Room
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Soundproofing a rehearsal space is slightly different from soundproofing something like a living room or home theater.
At the most basic level, things remain the same, but you’ll probably have to contend with higher volume levels in a jam room.
Most of your time will be spent blocking sound from leaving the room, but you’ll also need to focus on managing the acoustics within the room itself.
Rehearsing in a space without any acoustic management will result in muddier sound due to more reverberation.
Sound blocking (soundproofing) and acoustic management are 2 different things. Soundproofing focuses on reducing or eliminating sound transmission, while acoustic management is about improving the quality of the sound.
There are 4 main principles involved in soundproofing. These are:
These cover both soundproofing and acoustic management, and we’ll be using all 4 in the steps below. First we’ll go over them in a bit more detail.
Mass is the simplest principle to understand. Adding more mass to a structure reduces sound transmission because the structure doesn’t vibrate as much. That’s all there is to it.
As you may already know, sound waves are vibrations – both in air and through materials, such as walls and doors.
In order to pass through a solid object, such as a wall, the sound waves have to make it vibrate. The more an object can vibrate, the better it is at transmitting sounds.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and volume rises on a logarithmic scale. This means that an increase of 3dB is a 200% increase in volume, and a 10dB increase means sound energy is increased by a factor of 10.
In terms of soundproofing, reducing the volume by a mere 3dB will result in a 50% drop in perceived sound intensity.
Damping is the process of reducing resonance in a room, either by reflection, diffusion, or absorption. I’ll discuss absorption in more detail below.
Diffusion is what we’ll rely on most here. It’s the process of dissipating vibrational energy before is can become sound waves.
Generally, this is done by breaking up a reflective surface, such as a wall, by hanging something like curtains in front of it.
Decoupling (also known as mechanical isolation) is one of the most effective soundproofing methods.
In short, the aim is to create separation between the source of a noise and any nearby surfaces that could transmit it. You basically remove the sound wave’s pathway of transmission.
The most effective example of this is a room within a room. You might be familiar with this concept if you’ve ever visited a high-end recording studio.
Having complete separation between the inside room and the surrounding building, ideally with an insulated cavity, will prevent almost all sound from escaping.
If you’re planning on building a good soundproof jam room, this is the best way to do it. But it does take a lot of time and money.
Absorption is technically a branch of damping, but it’s worth discussing on its own. Also, it’s a method of acoustic management rather than sound blocking.
The purpose of absorption is generally to reduce resonance within a space, whether this is the room itself or a wall cavity.
As I mentioned, sound waves travel as vibrations. Materials that absorb sound waves convert them into heat energy, which essentially becomes “lost” sound.
Sound absorbing materials usually have an open structure. For example, acoustic foam or fiberglass insulation.
These materials let sound waves in, but they then expend their energy causing the fibers to vibrate, which becomes heat energy. The sound waves are unable to bounce back out of the material because of its fibrous texture.
There’s definitely a lot more to soundproofing than these basic explanations, but they’re enough to understand how to soundproof a room.
The process is scientific, and so as long as you follow the science it shouldn’t be difficult for you to be successful.
How to Soundproof a Jam Room
When setting up mine, I spent time researching and found 5 effective steps to soundproof a jam room. Here they are:
- Decouple the walls of the jam room
- Add more mass
- Soundproof the windows
- Reduce the door’s sound transmission properties
- Add some sound absorbing materials
Here are these steps in detail.
1. Decouple the walls of the jam room
If your jam room has stud walls, decoupling should be your first step. It’ll hopefully give you some good results.
This process also works if you’re building your jam room in a shed. In fact, it’ll probably be easier in a shed.
To decouple a wall, you can either go for a double stud or staggered stud approach. But these both require a fairly big investment of time and money, along with structural changes to the building.
I won’t detail the process here, but if you want to know more information you can check out this video on how to decouple a wall.
Instead, I’ll focus on a less invasive method that delivers almost as good results.
These replicate the decoupling process by isolating drywall from the wall studs. Also, the resilient clips have rubber feet, which help to absorb some of the vibrational energy.
Follow these steps:
- Rip off the old drywall to expose the studs and wall cavity.
- Screw the resilient clips to the studs.
- Fill the cavity with mineral wool insulation (Amazon link) to improve absorption and reduce resonance.
- Fix the hat channels to the resilient clips using screws.
- Attach the new sheets of drywall and seal any gaps using acoustic caulk.
You can repeat this process with the ceiling and the floor too. For the floor, you’ll need to use slightly different materials.
I’d recommend buying some floor floaters (Amazon link) instead of the resilient clips. You can then just sit the floor joists in these and it’ll do the same job. Be sure to fill all cavities with insulation too.
2. Add more mass
The first step should be adding mass to the walls. If the walls are solid already then this’ll be much easier. Drywall, however, will need a lot more mass adding to it.
As I mentioned, the purpose is to reduce sound transmission from inside your jam room. Even if you’re decoupling the walls I’d still recommend adding more mass to them.
For good results, you’ll need heavy and dense materials. The best thing you can go for is what’s known as limp mass. It doesn’t vibrate when sound waves hit it; instead, they just dissipate off its surface.
There are 2 products that are great for this job. The first is mass loaded vinyl (Amazon link).
It’s usually made from barium sulfate because of its high density-to-size ratio.
Mass loaded vinyl comes in different weights, but I’d recommend going for the 2lbs per square foot version. After all, the more mass you can add, the better.
You can use as many layers as you want when adding mass to the structure. But just be careful not to put too much stress on the wall joists; they’re only designed to bear a certain load.
The other product you can use here is a sound deadening mat (Amazon link). They’re designed for use in cars but do the same job as mass loaded vinyl.
Sound deadening mats are made from butyl rubber because it’s fire resistant, but are still dense limp mass.
I recommend fixing either product to the rear side of the drywall if you can take it down. If not, then fix another layer of drywall in front of the sound deadening material.
This is simply for looks; neither of the products is particularly attractive and you won’t have an easy time painting over them.
Finally, remember to stick them down with Green Glue (Amazon link), which you can also use to seal any gaps during construction.
3. Soundproof the windows
Windows are always a problem area when it comes to soundproofing. Glass itself is relatively good at blocking sound. The issue is that windows are always much thinner than walls.
If you can, remove the windows completely. This is the best way to overcome the issue, and if you can block up the hole with bricks or something solid, great.
But if you need to keep the window, work on reducing its sound transmission levels.
The first thing to do is to inspect the frame for any gaps or cracks. Sound can escape through even the smallest gap so this’ll make a difference.
Either use Green Glue or weatherstripping. Weatherstripping is designed for thermal insulation, but heat and sound follow many of the same principles.
Also, ensure your windows are double glazed. The most important part is the air gap between panes; have someone inspect it and repair the vacuum/gas ratio if necessary.
Finally, build a window plug. You’ll need the following materials:
- MDF or plywood
- Mass loaded vinyl
- Acoustic foam (Amazon link)
- Green Glue
- Nails or screws
Here are the steps:
- Measure the height, width, and depth of the hole that holds the window, not the window itself.
- Cut a piece of wood the size of the hole’s height and width, and 4 pieces the same width as its depth for the plug’s sides.
- Cut your mass loaded vinyl and acoustic foam to the same size as the main bit of the plug.
- Nail the sides to the back piece so you’ve got a 5-sided open box.
- Glue a layer of mass loaded vinyl inside the box using Green Glue.
- Add another layer of mass loaded vinyl.
- Finally, stick some acoustic foam on top.
Once this is all dry, it can be fitted into the window frame. I’d recommend having the soundproofing materials facing into the room, but you can flip it around if you’re more concerned about noise pollution getting in.
The main downside is that it’ll block light coming into the room, but it’s easy enough to remove when not in use.
4. Reduce the door’s sound transmission properties
Interior doors are usually hollow and so are awful at letting sound out. But this is easy enough to solve.
Your best option is a solid core door. These can be impractical, however.
If not, add more mass to the door using mass loaded vinyl or sound deadening mats.
5. Add some sound absorbing materials
The final step will be to add some acoustic management in your jam room to improve sound quality.
Acoustic foam and bass traps will be best. Add them to the walls to reduce reflection and reverb.
If you don’t like the look of them, you can always build acoustic panels like they have in restaurants. These are simply wooden frames filled with acoustic foam wrapped in fabric.
Then work on the floor. At the very least make sure it’s carpeted or covered in thick rugs.
Alternatively, lay some EVA foam gym mats (Amazon link). These will help to reduce resonance and sound transfer through the floor.
Acoustic management should be the final step in your project and is more for your benefit than others. Its purpose is to improve sound clarity in your jam space, so add as much or as little as you need.
Some Final Thoughts
Hopefully, you’ve not got some ideas on how to soundproof a jam room. While I don’t think any of the steps are too complicated, it’ll take a bit of time to do properly.
The best advice I can give is to plan everything out, including the layout of your instruments, before you start. This’ll allow you to be economical with your choices.