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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have acquired a tenor sax (thanks for all the help on my last post!) now I just need to get started practicing. I searched soundproofing on here and found a lot of comments about adding "mass" but no real recommendations on what materials to use.

Now, I realize it is not possible to completely soundproof a room on a budget but here's my goal: being able to practice without waking my sleeping almost-3 year old or disturbing my husband trying to relax in the evenings.

The location should help on it's own - it's a small room that's in the corner of my basement (roughly 5x7'). My husband will be on the main floor (so one floor above me) and my daughter will be sleeping upstairs (so two floors above me.)

Here are my thoughts so far. Something like these Rockwool panels covering the ceiling:

Acoustic foam panels on the walls:

And then soundproof curtains over the window and door and either carpet tiles or area rugs on the cement floor.

Does this sound like it will be sufficient enough to dampen the sound enough that it's not completely annoying upstairs? Or maybe should I do the rockwool all over and then the foam acoustic panels on top of that?

My other question is do I cover literally all the wall/ceiling space in the stuff so that none of the wall is visible or do I space it out?

Thanks in advance!
 

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That ceiling insulation appears to be thermal. The Amazon ones say sound proofing but I doubt they would do much. I would recommend adding mass such as plasterboard / dry lining.
I don't know of any soundproof curtains. I would suggest Double glazing and replace the door with something more substantial such as a fire door and make sure it fits well.

a room within a room is best but maybe not practical in a small area like this.

I have written a few articles on treatment, but soundproofing is a very different thing to acoustic treatment such as HF baffles etc

See

 

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To soundproof a room - in other words, to inhibit transmission of sound out of (or into) the room - you need to attack on several fronts. From here on I'll talk about sound leaving your room, but the same principles apply in the other direction.

1) Mass
2) Isolation
3) Sealing
4) Damping
5) Reverberation

The first four elements address the paths by which sound can enter or leave a room with walls.

1) Walls vibrate. The more mass in the walls, the less vibration is excited by the sound inside the room, thus the less vibration is excited in the walls exterior to the room. The gold standard here is concrete. Realistically, a double layer of drywall with all seams staggered and sealed is pretty helpful.

2) Isolation. The fewer elements of the interior room that are connected to the structure of the building outside the room, the better. If the ceiling of your basement room is directly connected to the floor structure of the room above, you've got an A-1 path for sound transmission. Again the gold standard is to build a room within a room. Barring that anything you can do to isolate vibrations originating in the room from the rest of the house, you want to do.

3) Sealing. The easiest path for sound to leave a room is through holes. Seal up all holes. The gaps around doors, the gaps around electrical outlets, etc. A big one is HVAC ducting. It's possible to reduce noise transmission down HVAC ducting by extreme measures, but in real life it's better to have a completely separate HVAC function in the room you're trying to isolate. If you've got windows, don't forget that sound can leave your room by a window and enter a neighboring room by a window.

4) Damping. Primarily this applies to walls and ceilings. Basically you're trying to turn vibration energy into heat by internal friction in the damping material. Ordinary fiberglass thermal insulation can provide a little benefit, but only a little. What fiberglass thermal insulation is intended to do is to break up convection currents within a wall. Noise transmission doesn't have anything to do with convection currents. The gold standard is concrete blocks filled with sand.

5) Reverberation. Most people who think they're making a room "soundproof" concentrate wholly on reverberation, then they're surprised when it's not soundproof. Controlling reverberation inside a room makes it a lot more pleasant for people inside the room, but it has only a fairly small effect on transmission out of the room. However, it does help a little, as it reduces the overall sound pressure level in the room; plus, anti-reverberation measures generally have some degree of damping effect on the walls they're mounted to.

The two treatments you've shown are solely for reverberation control. Their thinnness (1")) also means that to the extent they even work, they'll only be effective for high frequency sounds (short wavelengths). Unfortunately what's most annoying in trying to control noise is low frequency noise. For any REAL sound control material applied to walls, you can look up the response curve as a function of frequency. Again, though, if you've got AC ducts connected to the rest of the house, thin drywall on all the walls of your room attached directly to the studs, big gaps all round your practice room door, and the light fixture in the ceiling hangs from a box that's set into the ceiling air space, you can plaster all the stuff on the walls you want and it's unlikely to solve your issues.

(For reference, I have been involved in the design and construction of four different hemi-anechoic and fully-anechoic noise test chambers, two of which I designed myself, so I do have some actual background and experience in this matter.)
 

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Before you do anything, go down there and play your tenor at different times of the day to see how bad the leakage is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all! I guess maybe soundproofing was the wrong word. I'm not looking to dig into walls or doors or replace things (I'm not all that handy haha!) I guess I'm just looking to "soften" the sound as much as possible easily with what's already there. I know that they'll probably still be able to hear me upstairs and that's fine but anything I can do to dampen it or make it less noticeable would be great!

We're looking to move to the country in 3ish years so after that I can go sit in the pasture and play to my heart's content with no one to complain but the cows lol but until then looking to make a practice space that works as best it can on a budget. Or heck maybe when we build our house I'll design an actual practice room into the plans!

I do think it will help that the house is almost 100 years old and has ridiculously thick walls and high ceilings (so more room between floors.)
 

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Thanks all! I guess maybe soundproofing was the wrong word. I'm not looking to dig into walls or doors or replace things (I'm not all that handy haha!) I guess I'm just looking to "soften" the sound as much as possible easily with what's already there. I know that they'll probably still be able to hear me upstairs and that's fine but anything I can do to dampen it or make it less noticeable would be great!

We're looking to move to the country in 3ish years so after that I can go sit in the pasture and play to my heart's content with no one to complain but the cows lol but until then looking to make a practice space that works as best it can on a budget. Or heck maybe when we build our house I'll design an actual practice room into the plans!

I do think it will help that the house is almost 100 years old and has ridiculously thick walls and high ceilings (so more room between floors.)
Look on eBay for an e-sax. I've seen them mostly for alto saxophones but they are also made for tenor sax.
 
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There's a really great youtube video on a great option for semi-sound proofing a room. The best way to do it is to basically build another room inside that room, but it's an incredible amount of work.


Not sure if it helps, but I'm an aerospace engineer. What this guy says makes total sense. Especially about the sound transmission class rating. Basically adding another layer of drywall to your ceiling and walls could do a lot. A smallish 5x7 room shouldn't be too bad. Hope that helps!
 

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Another thought. I am lucky I have a basement, and we had to replace the floor above so the builder packed it with some kind of insulation. And I was able to change the door which he also made.

But people can still hear me, its just muffled. I can get away with a few hours each day.

I got a Yamaha YDS 150 digital sax last year, which I use to play at anti social times. Its sound is not great, but it feels like a sax. You need to get on the real horn to practice the blowing and develop tone, but the digital sax allows you to work on scales, tunes patterns etc. I usually do an hour on that too. Sorry more expense. It cost me around 700 dollars.

But I like the questions you pose. So for some one who does not want to, or cannot, build another room, add blocks, new windows, etc, what kinds of things can you do? I was not thinking about sound proofing, but just a way not to drive the family and neighbours crazy.
 

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If this is an underground basement I doubt you are going to run into many problems just practicing tenor saxophone. Now if you are going to be slapping an electric bass or be pounding on a base drum the people upstairs would be able to hear it since base frequencies require much more mass to stop them. I would first measure the dB of any noise escaping your planned practice area before I spent a cent on sound proofing materials. However, if you are more interested in attenuating echos off of hard walls then maybe hanging some stylish sound proofing panels from Acoustimac would help deal with any echos. I put these up in my sound/theater room and they worked great.
 

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Thanks all! I guess maybe soundproofing was the wrong word. I'm not looking to dig into walls or doors or replace things (I'm not all that handy haha!) I guess I'm just looking to "soften" the sound as much as possible easily with what's already there. I know that they'll probably still be able to hear me upstairs and that's fine but anything I can do to dampen it or make it less noticeable would be great!
Well, consider the 5 elements I listed above and do what you can about each one. I'd probably look at leaks first. Even just closing AC vents and putting a towel down at the bottom of a door can make a noticeable difference. Plastering the walls with some stuff off Amazon might make it more pleasant inside the room but it won't do much to limit sound transmission out of the room.

I'll note that high ceilings won't mean there's any more space between the ceiling of your basement room and the floor above it.
 

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In a basement, in addition to door and windows, the most effective soundproofing may be the ceiling. In my first studio I added extra drywall to the ceiling, but the best thing was having access to the ceiling cavity via the floorboards above. If you can do this and the ceiling below is strong enough, then the best/cheapest actual soundproofing is to just pour an inch or two of sand in there.

We made sure the extra drywall was screwed properly to the joists.

This was the single most effective for that room as sound transmission upwards was the biggest issue, but secondary thick glazing and forefoot also helped a lot.

any acoustic panels can help slightly but only in that they cut down reflections within the room that help the acoustics if the room is a bit too ambient, andso very slight soundproofing
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, consider the 5 elements I listed above and do what you can about each one. I'd probably look at leaks first. Even just closing AC vents and putting a towel down at the bottom of a door can make a noticeable difference. Plastering the walls with some stuff off Amazon might make it more pleasant inside the room but it won't do much to limit sound transmission out of the room.

I'll note that high ceilings won't mean there's any more space between the ceiling of your basement room and the floor above it.
No I guess my thoughts on the high ceiling though are that each floor is taller so there's more space between me in the basement and my daughter upstairs sleeping on the 2nd floor.

Yeah I might still do those foam pads just for nice sound inside the room. It sounds like that sheetrock might help dampen some so I'll probably try that and then what you said about making sure the door is sealed. I don't think there are any vents in that room but I'll double check that as well. One wall is cinder block (exterior basement wall) so hopefully that helps as well!
 

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Also, there is dry wall that is for sound reduction. It is much more dense.
Keep in mind that glass is not your friend.
Glass may as well be an open window.
There is no cheap method but really, as said, basements are pretty good right off the bat.
Concrete is good.
There is not really a cheap or easy way. Practice lots of long tones and learn to blow without honking.
This will have multiple advantages over time in terms of building dynamic control.
 

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In a basement, in addition to door and windows, the most effective soundproofing may be the ceiling. In my first studio I added extra drywall to the ceiling, but the best thing was having access to the ceiling cavity via the floorboards above. If you can do this and the ceiling below is strong enough, then the best/cheapest actual soundproofing is to just pour an inch or two of sand in there.

We made sure the extra drywall was screwed properly to the joists.
That's pretty good. If I were going to have a ceiling board holding up anything more than its own weight (i.e., a couple inches of sand) I'd use plywood. 1/2" or 3/4" plywood screwed to the ceiling studs is a lot stronger than drywall, which can just barely hold up its own weight.
 

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Keep in mind that glass is not your friend.
Glass may as well be an open window.
A storm window over the glass window (if OP even has one) will help quite a bit though as the air space between will reduce transmission - inner surface of inner glass (where the noise is) transmission to outer surface of that same pane of glass is near 100%, but there's transmission loss in the air space.

A single pane window will just act like a big speaker cone. A commercial double pane window with the usual 1/4" of separation, the inner pane will pump the outer pane (good for thermal insulation, not for sound) - but if you've got 2-3" between the panes of glass, that'll make a pretty big difference. Recording studios do something like this for the big windows between the control room and the studio.
 

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A storm window over the glass window (if OP even has one) will help quite a bit though as the air space between will reduce transmission - inner surface of inner glass (where the noise is) transmission to outer surface of that same pane of glass is near 100%, but there's transmission loss in the air space.

A single pane window will just act like a big speaker cone. A commercial double pane window with the usual 1/4" of separation, the inner pane will pump the outer pane (good for thermal insulation, not for sound) - but if you've got 2-3" between the panes of glass, that'll make a pretty big difference. Recording studios do something like this for the big windows between the control room and the studio.
We just replaced some windows in our house and we were debating triple-glazed both for insulation and noise reduction (we live in a noisy neighbourhood and it gets cold in the winter). We ended up getting a double-glazed design where they use different thicknesses of glass and some other voodoo that actually takes quite a bit of the sound transfer out. A bit pricier than the standard double-pane but worth it in our case. You would have to go to a company that deals with specialty windows as your usual sources like a hardware store etc aren't geared for the more specialized sources for these sorts of things (at least that has been our experience).

You can also get some heavy movers' blankets (or something similar) and rig up a temporary sound-block that you can place over the window openings when practicing (basement windows are usually fairly small and this might be a feasible cheapskate option).

Good luck to the OP!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There is one window in that room in the basement but it's really small and very very old (not a safety window up to today's codes). It's probably like a 12" x 24", if that. Been painted over god knows how many times in 100 years. I'll probably just throw a couple blankets over it and call it good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The other thing I'm still curious about is if I do try those rockwool panels - do I cover the entire ceiling in them? Like tight together? Or do I space them out like you see people do with acoustic panels?
 

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I dont know that rockwool will help much but put them together. The acoustic pannels are to control echo and to dampen sound. It appears your goal is to stop sound. Therefore, space will defeat the purpose.
 

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If I were going to have a ceiling board holding up anything more than its own weight
Yes, if in doubt something stronger that drywall. Much will depend on how close the joists are but we got a decent idea after an inch of sand in one area.
The other thing I'm still curious about is if I do try those rockwool panels - do I cover the entire ceiling in them?
I doubt they will do much at all apart from internal HF damping and not needed to cover entirely.

Best to put in frames and suspend 2 inches away from ceiling and walls. Use acoustically transparent covering.

My second home studio control room:
108798


a lot of the cheaper proprietary so called acoustic treatment isn't great - more use cosmetically very often
 
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