If you’re making music in a rehearsal room or home studio of any kind, you know the importance of effective and affordable acoustic insulation. A particular challenge when it comes to soundproofing is insulating drum noise. Here, I will share my favorite ideas on how to soundproof a room for drums.
While all musical instruments can potentially cause unwanted noise, drums are trickier than most. An acoustic drum kit creates both airborne noise and a significant amount of vibration transmitted through solid surfaces. Luckily, there are ways for you to soundproof the drum room and reduce the levels of escaping noise, while simultaneously improving the quality of inside sound.
What Makes Drum Noise Problematic?
As I mentioned, drums can create troublesome levels of noise because of their specific nature. Namely, there are two ways noise transmission happens. Unfortunately, both of those apply to the sound of drums.
Airborne noise occurs when the source of sound creates vibrations in the local atmosphere. The air transmits these vibrations, or sound waves, further across space. Arguably, most of the noise in your building is airborne, and the sound of drums is no exception. What also makes airborne noise problematic is the fact that it travels far and can invade your room through tiny gaps.
Impact noise, on the other hand, travels across solid surfaces. It is the result of physical impact upon an object, such as an item dropping on the floor. Unfortunately, the only way to play drums is to impact them physically. The resulting vibrations are transmitted across the structure of the building and can easily create a disturbance.
Here you can read up on the difference between airborne and impact noise. Since drums create both types of noise, any room where you play them is in dire need of effective soundproofing.
Drum Room Soundproofing
Another important thing to know is the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption.
In simplest terms, soundproofing refers to the elimination of sound waves. A soundproof surface has a specific structure which does not permit sound vibrations to pass through.
On the other hand, sound absorption covers a different type of surfaces. Such materials do not block sound waves, but absorb them instead, transforming their energy into heat. Sound absorption does not reduce loudness but instead eliminates echo. Echo is not to be ignored, especially when you want to dampen the sound of drums.
To achieve peace and a decent sound quality inside the room, you need to consider both soundproofing and sound absorption. Here, I’ll be listing some tips regarding both techniques.
8 Ideas on How to Soundproof a Drum Room
Without further ado, here are some practical and cheap methods for soundproofing a room for drums:
1. Choose the Right Room for Practice
Which room you’ll be using for drum practice may or may not be up for debate, depending on your personal circumstances. However, if you haven’t decided on a room yet, there are several factors to consider.
The ideal drum room is located as far away as possible from the living areas, which makes basements a popular choice. If you set up in your basement, the primary concern will be insulating the ceiling, since you’ll be beneath the living areas. In that case, you might want to take a look at this guide to soundproofing a basement ceiling.
In any other case, you should still be mindful of which room you are going to choose. The easiest rooms to soundproof are windowless and without clutter since soundproofing materials can take up a lot of space.
Likewise, think about aesthetics – soundproofing materials can make a room visually less appealing.
2. Seal Gaps Around Doors and Windows
The first step of actual soundproofing work is sealing up any existing gaps. What makes that important is the fact that high levels of noise manage to travel even through the tiniest gaps. Gaps are, thus, the greatest risk factors in your drum room when it comes to soundproofing.
Most doors and windows aren’t particularly well-made in terms of soundproofing. There are usually significant gaps between the door/window and the frame, allowing the transmission of noise.
To seal up these gaps, you will first need to find them. The easiest way is to turn off the light in the room you’re in, and to leave the light on outside the door. Once you’ve located them, you should fill them up with appropriate acoustic materials.
An easy, practical way to seal up gaps is to use medium density fiberboard as a soundproofing agent. Glue it down with noise-proofing Green Glue. Both of these products are inexpensive and easy to obtain via online stores.
You can also add density to your door manually if you don’t feel like buying a special acoustic door. You can use layers of MDF here as well, but there are other options, too. Take a look at this step-by-step guide to soundproofing a door for more ideas.
3. Block all Air Vents
Air vents are another major source of noise leakage which you should pay attention to. However, keep in mind that there is a tough dilemma ahead of you. Soundproofing air vents will block air ventilation, which can create an unpleasant environment inside the room.
Here is an article that explains everything about soundproofing air vents.
4. Soundproof the Drum Room Walls
Once you have sealed up all existing gaps, it is time to soundproof the walls of your drum practice room.
Before you get to the soundproofing, a good trick is to position any existing furniture in the room tactically. Try to fill up any empty space with closets or shelves. Align them with the wall to create an additional layer which would block the sound waves trying to get out.
The first step to soundproofing walls requires you to line them with a soundproof material. For example, drywall is an affordable material which effectively dampens sound waves. The effectiveness of sound insulation depends upon the density of the blocking layer. That is why you should install multiple sheets of drywall in layers for maximum results.
The exact number of sheets you will use is optional. The best strategy is to experiment by mounting a couple of layers and then observing the results. If you aren’t satisfied, add an extra layer.
You should mount the sheets of drywall by using a proper soundproof sealant between them. There are many options to choose from, an effective one being acoustic sealant. Proper caulking will make sure there is no space left between the sheet. Thus, there will be no way for the sound waves to leave the room.
5. Add Sound Absorbing Materials
However, the work doesn’t have to end there if you want the best results. There are, in fact, ways to improve soundproof walls. The easiest way to do that is to install some additional sound-absorbing products. That way you can improve the quality of the sound within the room, but also eliminate all the resulting echo.
Nowadays, sound-absorbing products are cheap, numerous and easy to obtain. You can find a useful selection in this list of sound-absorbing materials and products. These products include:
If you choose to stick to drywall, you can still add a practical and visually pleasing finishing touch. You can choose between thick acoustic wallpaper or a few layers of sound-dampening paint.
6. Insulate the Floor and Lay Some Mats
If there are any rooms located below your drum practice room, chances are they will be severely affected by noise. As already mentioned, playing the drums creates a significant amount of impact noise, apart from the airborne noise.
As you physically impact the drums by playing them, the vibration will carry over to the floor, making the entire building structure vibrate. Your neighbors will ultimately be able to both hear and feel these vibrations.
You can prevent that from happening by soundproofing the floor of the room you’ll be drumming in. The exact approach you’ll be taking depends on the type of floor. However, the same principle applies to all of them – the thicker the insulating layer, the better the soundproofing.
Materials which absorb sound can be quite useful when it comes to reducing impact noise. Such materials are often soft and fuzzy, and their fibrous structure can effectively trap sound waves. A popular product used for floor insulation is acoustic underlayment.
Another type of material used for soundproofing floors is dense rubber or PVC. Instead of absorbing sound waves, such materials simply block their passage. This foam rubber padding is a great example of this group of materials.
If you want more detailed instructions for soundproofing a floor on your own, take a look at this guide:
7. Place Bass Traps in Corners
Whatever soundproofing methods you might employ, chances are you still will have trouble with the sound of the bass drum.
The problem arises from the fact that the lower the frequency of the sound is, the easier it travels around. However, there is a way to deal even with this type of noise.
The answer lies in bass traps, products made of acoustic foam which are placed in the corners of the room. The purpose of bass traps is to capture and absorb these lower frequencies, by transforming them into heat.
Bass traps aren’t 100% effective, as it is practically impossible to completely eliminate low frequencies. However, they do make a difference (read more).
If you want to soundproof your drum room, you probably don’t need complete insulation. What you want is to make the levels of noise acceptable and to avoid creating disturbances. That is why you might benefit from looking into inexpensive bass traps you can find online.
8. Build a Drum Room Inside an Existing Room
The most efficient method for soundproofing a room for drums is also the most expensive one. This serious investment does, however, pay off if you need high levels of insulation.
You can create a separate space inside an existing room which would be used for drum practice. A special ceiling and walls should separate such a space. For constructing those walls and ceiling, you need to use soundproof materials such as drywall or sheetrock. Your adhesive of choice should be soundproof as well, so you can opt for Green Glue.
This special area should be completely airtight so that no sound leakage happens through the atmosphere. Likewise, it would be smart to line the walls of your construction with sound-absorbing materials.
No More Drum Noise in the House
Even compared to other musical instruments, drums are infamous for their loudness. However, there are always options to improve your conditions, although some of them require an investment.
Did we help you figure out how to soundproof a room for drums? Hopefully, some of these techniques have inspired you to make a difference in your environment. Please share your experiences in the comments so that we can learn from each other’s ideas.