Soundproofing, in the simplest sense, is about controlling how much sound gets in or out of the room. When deciding how much soundproofing you need and whether you need it at all, you need to consider:
- other people in your house
- if your neighbours will be able to hear sound coming from your home.
- your desired listening level.
Preventing sound from getting into your room
Wherever you're installing audio into your home, soundproofing is the key to stopping outside noise from spoiling your listening experience. Potential disruptions could be road and traffic noise, kids messing around in the playroom upstairs or the neighbours blasting out loud music.
If the correct soundproofing isn’t in place then you could find yourself turning the volume up a lot more than you need to, listening at an unsafe level.
Preventing sound from escaping a room
As well as stopping sound from entering your room, you should also think about the sound that will leave the room as this can disrupt those around you, such as your familiy and neighbours. meaning that you'll have to lower the volume and won't be able to enjoy your audio the way you want to. Even though you may not have the volume turned up high, if your walls are particularly thin, lacking in acoustic insulation or made from a low density material, sound can still escape easily. And if you do listen at a high level of volume, you need to make sure you are not breaching any noise regulations.
When should I soundproof a room?
The earlier in the build stage you consider soundproofing, the better. If you tell your builder or custom installer that you require a room to be soundproofed before the walls are constructed, they will be able to provide you with a much more effective solution.
However, if you are considering having soundproofing installed into an existing media room or home theatre, you still have plenty of options, depending on your budget and goals.
There are materials that can be added to your wall to absorb sound, however, if you need a significant reduction in sound, it can be a costly endeavour as you will need several layers of material to get the desired result.
A doubling or 6dB increase in soundproofing requires double the mass. If you add one layer of plasterboard to another to get a 6db improvement, the next 6dB will need two more layers, and the next 6dB will need four layers, and so on in an exponential fashion.
Similarly, mass loaded vinyl (MLV) just adds mass to a wall and thus suffers the same fate, albeit at much greater cost and installation time.
Cost-effective glue/adhesive products are available which can be applied between two sheets of plasterboard or sub-flooring. These products are comprised of visco-elastic damping compounds, and can be used in either new or existing walls, ceilings or floors and can achieve high levels of soundproofing.