Creating a Soundproof Recording Studio

The studio space I am working with will be 6’x6’x8′ in an exterior room in my house (our laundry room attached to the garage). There are power outlets on the far side of the room, but not on the side where I am going to be working. There is a window, but I’m going to be building over this and may simply cover the window space (though we’ve been toying with the idea of painting a mural on the outside of my studio wall for fun).

Day One

The first day was spent cleaning and clearing out the current materials. I took everything out of the laundry room except for the washer and drier (which I covered with a drop cloth) and I took out the drywall on the three walls and ceiling where I plan on building the studio into. This didn’t take long, since demo is fast but construction is hard.

The next step was to build up three false walls. One against the wall that holds our power box for the whole house, one for the wall with the window, and one for the wall where the door will go. These were fairly simple to create since I just had to create frames over the already existing frames. Each of the walls got a bit of plywood over them first, then the frames went up. I got them nice and square to the current room and ended up with a 6′ x 4.5′ x 8′ area to work in, plenty of room!

With these frames up, I went ahead and put in the insulation. I used Roxul Safe N Sound insulation so that as much of the sound traveling through the walls could be absorbed before they hit the first layer of drywall. Since I built the frame right, these slipped right into place with no problems at all. While I was at it, I also installed the door onto the wall that I had built. It fit perfectly with only minor shimming required.

 

Day Two

The second day was fairly straightforward. I cut the drywall down to the correct sizes and brought them in. I did the ceiling first, and since I was working alone, this was a neat trick. What I ended up doing was I cut a couple of 2×4 beams down so they would be just short enough that they could hold the drywall up. I put them against the wall and just lifted the drywall into place. I shimmied it around a bit so it was flush on all sides and then drilled it in, no biggie. I repeated this again for the last bit of drywall I had to put up and then I went to work on the walls. I wanted to be sure there was a bit of space at the bottom of the drywall near the floor so I could carpet the room when everything was complete, so I did a similar process as above, but with a few .5″ shims.

With the first layer of drywall up, I went to work cutting the two additional layers for the celing. I re-measured everything and got the pieces cut down, then I applied a generous coat of Green Glue to the panels, fitted them up on the celing after cutting the 2×4 by a half-inch, and drilled the panels in. 20 minutes later the celing was up and the green glue was setting. I put a generous bead around the perimeter and along the seams and went to work on cutting the walls drywall. I repeated the process with the green glue again and very soon I had a mostly sound-proof room. Everything but that dang door.

 

Day Three

The third day went fairly quickly. The walls were done and ready to go. I went to a carpet store and bought a bunch of remnant carpet. I put down a nice soft padding for the floor followed by the carpet which went under the drywall perfectly. Then, I got a nice 4′ wide and about 20′ long (shocked to get that in the remnants!) and went to work on carpeting the walls from one side of the door, around the room, to the other side of the door. I used a few tack nails to hold it up at first while I got the edges to line up, then, when everything was set I tacked it permanently to the wall and used some high-strength carpet glue to make sure it wouldn’t come off the walls. For the upper parts of the walls and the ceiling, I reused the moving blankets that I had in my original studio. I also had decided that the door needed some more work, so I cut some of the remaining dry-wall to size and fitted it over the door so that when it closed it made as near a seal as I could. I grabbed some of the shag carpet that I had bought and stapled it to the drywall on the door.

The outside wall still needed work. I went ahead and used a different style of carpet that was fairly shaggy on the exterior wall as well as on the door. For the exterior I just stapled it to the outside with a bit less glue than the interior (it’s likely to need replacing in the future, I didn’t want to make it TOO strong). I also went ahead and finished up the door on this side as well and tucked the carpet so that it went a bit under the door.

 

Day Four

I could tell this was the final day. I just had to set in some strips on the door and on the base of the door and then go over everything. I cut the strips to size, set them into the door in the space left by the drywall, and tested the door. It worked great! I put on a spotlight in the laundry room pointing at the door and then closed the door behind me. I hung out in there for about 2-3 minutes to make sure I couldn’t see any light coming through. Nice tight seal!¬†For good measure, I also put some weather strips on the laundry room door. Any sound that came into that room would already be muffled, so all the better!

Finally, I set up my access for my cables. In time, this will also become my ventilation system… but I don’t have the money for that yet. I drilled a 1″ diamerter hole in the wall all the way through and set my PVC pipe through. I slid the cables through and then I put a few elbows on either side and then wrapped it up in some of the Roxul insullation. A bit of sound may come through that hole, but if it does, it’ll be minimal.

 

For the Future

The next phase is to build a ventilation system so that I can get nice cool air in the studio whenever I want to record. Right now I can really only record in the cooler months since I live in Phoenix and the studio is known to reach well into the 120’s in the summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to build up on the studio over the next year and get that taken care of, but right now it’s not a priority.