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Soundproof foam question

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by courderoy guy, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. mr e

    mr e

    Nov 17, 2003
  2. If it's any of the sound foams or the like, they will not help reduce the sound to those outside the space. They will only make it sound better if you are inside the space.

    To reduce the sound leaving the space the best solution is a "room within a room" and/or dense material. There are some good websites on soundproofing that cover this in detail. Don't waste $$ on foam thingies you stick on the wall unless you are trying to improve the sound in the room.
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm assuming you mean you want to improve the sound in the room where you're practicing.

    -The thickness of any absorber is directly related to what frequencies it will absorb - you can't get away from that. If you get that half-inch thick stuff, it'll absorb freqs from upper-mids and up, and you'll be stuck in a boomy, woofy room that'll drive ya nuts. There's no way around having to use thick material to evenly absorb a wide spectrum of frequencies. There is nothing better for the money than regular pink fiberglass; you build a frame out of SIX inch thick boards - like 1X6s (four-inches of fiberglass isn't the worst thing in the world, but some low-bass will still bounce back out from the wall behind), stuff'em with regular cheap fiberglass, cover'em with something like either chicken wire and cloth, or just the cloth, mount'em to the basement wall (or better, just build it against the wall in the first place), and whatever sound hits the face of them won't come back out! If you make them thinner than that, then some amount of lows will still bounce back out into the room.

    -an absorber of any type can never absorb more sound than an 'open window'. Some people have this impression that certain absorbers can somehow 'bend' or 'suck' soundwaves into them or something - this isn't true. No matter what you use, it won't absorb more sound than if it were just a 'hole' of the same area.

    -You can't make anything QUIETER than it IS if it's line-of sight in the room with you. This gets back to the sound-sucking myth - a drum set can't be made any quieter than it would be on, say, a raft in the middle of an ocean, unless you put a barrier between you and it. If you were to completely pad every wall - making your basement a complete 'dead room' (which is pretty irritating to work in - you want some amount of reverb!), then it'll be no different than just playing in the middle of a big hayfield or something.

    -The main reason it helps to put up absorbers on the walls is that it lowers the reverb time, and 'tightens-up' the overall sound in a room. It is a lot better playing in a room with absorbers on the walls, but it doesn't make the overall volume level terribly much less, really - although this tightening of the sound allows you to hear individual instruments more clearly - more seperately - and it definately reduces 'hearing fatigue', especially over a long rehearsal.

    SO... What you want to do, I think, is to make a bunch of these box-absorbers. What I've found works well is to put them from the floor (I say that because you can just support them on the floor - you don't have to mount them on the wall to support their weight) to somewhere over your heads (ya can't beat floor-to ceiling, but anywhere past your ears is pretty good). Make them like between two and four feet wide, and stagger them, so that across the room from each one is bare wall - this has the added benefit of squashing irritating 'flutter reflections'. I think that the optimal thing to do is to cover half the wall surface, so it's like three foot wide box, three foot of wall, three foot box, etc. If you make them too wide, and space them even, then as you walk through the room you can hear reflections from the wall getting louder and softer as you walk by; I like tall, two-foot wide absorbers best. If you don't want to make that many, than just any amount will help - go 2ft-wide absorbers that have 4ft between them or something. If you get all the way down to one quarter coverage - like 2ft boxes with 6ft between them, you'll still get a nice improvement, but much less than that, and I don't know if you'll be able to tell the difference very much - half-coverage with broadband absorbers, on the other hand, will result in a nice, tight room.

    There can be lots more involved, of course, but the biggest first step is just to get some of those hard, reflective walls out of the acoustic picture!

    That half-inch stuff would suck, unless you stacked it up to four or five inches, and you can't really beat pink-fluff anyway. These boxes can be slapped together real quick. Also, if it's an unfinished basement with ceiling joists, then get some fiberglass and cloth up in there too - that makes a huge difference because the ceiling is so close to you.

  4. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    If you learn nothing else from this thread, you need to take away this one very important fact: There is no such thing as foam that you can put onto a wall to make it less loud outside of the room. Physics doesn't work that way.

    If anyone tells you otherwise, it is easy to prove them wrong with an inexpensive SPL meter (once you've let them do the work of writing the check and hanging the foam). Stuff like egg crate foam and that expensive purple stuff arrayed in some computer generated grid which you can get at Guitar Center is for sound treating a room, which is covered by Joe P's excellent post above mine.

    Sound proofing is expensive. There is no way around it. You either play more quietly or you start spending a whole lot of time and money. People make careers out of sound proofing and sound treating areas, and with good reason.

    There is a ton of information, misinformation, and debate on this topic on the internet already. It's also a topic that's somewhat beyond the scope of just one thread on a bass forum. Check out the archives of the rec.music.makers.percussion and rec.audio.pro newsgroups as well as whatever websites you can find and you'll save yourself a lot of trouble.
  5. Thanks for the quality advice. Problem is, I'm broke (which is why we're going to practice in my basement rather than a $30-a-night studio to begin with, and $30 for a 3 hour practice is pretty cheap). Also, I'm renting. I just can't see myself buying 1x6 boards, making a wall, stuffing them, and putting it up. I don't doubt that it's great advice, but I just can swing that kind of thing.

    Of course, none of this would be a problem if my band's drummer didn't bang so hard on his drums. Super-talented guy, but plays with a "hard hand" style that makes it too loud.

    So, maybe in the interim, until I get some help from bandmates and a little cash to make the above poster's option work, I'll just hang some quilts, etc on the walls to help cut the 'verb a bit, try to block the windows with blankets and the like (yeah, if I get a 5db cut that'll be about the best I can hope for), and try to focus on cutting the drum sound.

    I've used cardboard (much to the previous drummer's dismay) to dampen the sound of the drums, ala Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica (most of the album was recorded that way), but that probably won't sit well. Would stacking pillows, etc around the bottom of the drum help cut some of that bass boom? Any other tips?

    Again, thanks for all the advice - good stuff.
  6. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    we used dense carpet pad. it's 50 bucks a roll and you can do a lot of area with a roll. We bought two and it helps control the room nicely.
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I am pissed. I had just almost completed a HUGE post - half bitching about drummers - and decided to go out for a smoke (as though I haven't been slacking at work enough); While I was away for a few minutes, a work-mate decided to look-up something on the internet, and closed the browser.

    So: I'll try to put it in a nutshell, and hope my boss doesn't ask what I've been doing for the last hour and a half...

    Acoustically, the best thing you can do is to put the drummer in a corner; put as much padding - of any kind you can in the corner behind him, and put whatever you can get hold of for barriers in front of him - doors, storm windows, cardboard or plywood and the like. The idea is that what goes in front of him is blasted back at him, and what continues on past him is ablorbed and attenuated by the padding behind him.

    But here's a more important issue: Tell the drummer to quiet-down!! Tell him that y'all can't even play that loud in most BARS - it's true. Why don't you tell him that you're going to loose your practice space if he doesn't - that may-well also be true. Drummers aren't supposed to be following-through like they were kung-fu fighting or something; they're supposed to be in control, and have some finesse.

    I gotta run now.

  8. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    If you really do want to get foam don't by Auralex! We just went through this. We were going to get their biggest roominator package that was well over a thousand dollars - A friend turned us on to Foam by Mail. These guys rule! We got more foam for less money. They have an ebay store and can make the same exact foam as Auralex but for much less. The only thing they don't have are the fancy T'fusors or whatever.
    I repeat - Foam by Mail rules!