Banging away on a drum set has to be one of the greatest pleasures in life – for you, anyway. For others, a practicing or recording drummer can be a bane.
Drummers usually bash at anywhere between 90 up to 125 decibels, which is louder than a chainsaw or a jackhammer, and approaching a jet engine in sheer loudness. As a drummer, be aware that this noise level can cause long-term hearing damage.
It can also be one of the hardest noises to block out. While you can wear a good pair of earplugs or even noise-canceling earphones, that’s a bit of an ask for your roommates, family members, and neighbors. So if you’ve ever wondered how to build your own soundproof home studio for drums, now might be about the right time to look into it.
You know, before you get murdered…
Soundproofing for Drums
So what are your options for soundproofing drums? You could get yourself a drum shield that can block a portion of your sound and at least keep it from echoing around the room. For example, take a look at the Drum Shield DS4.
But shields don’t keep sound contained to a room. They just block it from blasting in the faces of your bandmates. Well, how about stapling old carpet or egg cartons all over the walls and ceiling? Or you can put up professional foam panels and get heavy curtains for your windows. Check out these JBER 48 Pack Acoustic Foam Panels for a nice option.
Well, the problem there is that while the sound in the room gets dampened, these solutions don’t block the noise from being conducted out of the room.
Sound and Structure
Panels, baffles, and other soft surfaces are things that can absorb sound in a room effectively. They can especially be effective in blocking standing waves from your room’s vibration frequencies. That’s the booming you sometimes hear if you call out at just the right note into a stairwell or small bathroom.
The wavelength of the tone you make and the distance between the hard surfaces in the room (walls, ceiling, and floor) can match up and amplify that frequency. If you break up the flat, hard surface in a room, you can stop these frequencies from echoing. Most professional studios do this to keep the sound of the room out of recordings and focused on the instruments.
But even damping sound in the room won’t keep it from traveling through the floor, walls, and ceiling. We all know, from the putting-a-cup-to-a-door trick, that sound travels effectively through solids, even better than through the air.
So the floor, ceiling joists, and walls studs. Adding extra layers of insulation doesn’t really work, or at least isn’t usually thick enough or affordable enough to be worth it. If you want to know how to soundproof a drum room, the only real solution is to buy or build yourself a room within a room.
Room Within a Room
There are four big words to remember when building a soundproof room. They are decoupling, absorption, mass, and damping. While we don’t have blueprints for a design, we’ll break down how you can go about building your soundproof room using these design features.
This means separating your soundproof room’s structure from the existing structure you already have. If you have a great drumming room already, essentially build another layer of this room inside of it.
You can decouple the walls by building a whole new layer of walls inside your room, separated by a gap from the existing walls. You don’t need to make these new walls very thick – you can just use standard 2×4 – but the bigger the air gap between the walls, the better.
This will create bigger airspace between the walls, and that means improved sound isolation. Where you have to connect your new wall studs to the existing wall, you can use resilient sound isolation clips which block sound transmission using rubber. An example is the RSIC-1 Resilient Sound Clip.
The ceiling is the same sort of idea…
Although you don’t need to connect the new ceiling to the existing ceiling because gravity will hold it in place. For the flooring, a step-up floor can be a lifesaver, especially to the people downstairs. Once again, you can connect your beams to the existing floor using soundproofing clips on your posts or simply sit the posts on rubber sheeting.
One of the best ways to stop the sound from leaking through your walls and to take advantage of the sound-trapping qualities of air, use insulation to absorb as much as you can. Regular fiberglass insulation is good, and two layers of R13 should be plenty to fill up your spaces and keep the sound in.
Mass means more stuff that can slow down and also absorb sound waves. For us, mass is going to mean drywall or other heavy paneling. While the ceiling might get too heavy, the walls will benefit from two layers of drywall. This is heavy enough to eat up a ton of the sound in your room.
To further reduce sound transfer between sheetrock and wall studs, use resilient soundproofing furring channels. Check out the Auralex RC8 Resilient Channel for a good example.
Nope, we don’t mean water. Although come to think of it, the best soundproof room would probably be underwater! Instead, damping is reducing sound before it transfers into your solid building materials. You can use those foam panels for damping, or look for sound-damping drywall sheets. JBER Acoustic Studio Foam is a good example of suitable foam panels.
Another choice for damping is a paint-on damping product that you can use between your two layers of drywall. Heavy curtains, carpet, and soft furniture all help with damping noise as well. A superb option is the very well-known Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound.
Don’t forget that you’ve just built a great sound-proofed room, but it may be nearly airtight as well. So, make sure you plan on putting in a ventilation system as well!
Doors and Windows
Right away, windows can go out the… well, you know. Sure, you can cover them with thick curtains and use triple glazing, but why put in windows at all? Problem solved.
The door, though, isn’t so simple. You need a way in and out of the room, right? Probably the best solution here is a double door system. Both can be heavy, insulated doors, but the inner door surface should be damped as well, with acoustic board or foam panels.
Check out the 12 Pack Set Acoustic Absorption Panel as one possible solution, or for more information and a number of recommendations, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Acoustic Foam Panels you can buy.
Again, keep a space between the two doors. A space of six inches is enough to give you a nice air gap, plus space for two doorknobs to not smash into each other.
Planning and Price
None of the best soundproofing materials come cheap. DIY drum room soundproofing projects can easily run to between $2000-$4000, depending on the labor and materials used. However, if this is going to be your recording studio for your drum tracks or instructional videos or even a teaching space, it may just have to be done.
You can keep the building costs down by doing all or most of the work yourself. Or at least paying your handy friends in pizza and beer. Learning How To Build Your Own Soundproof Home Studio For Drums can even be a bonding experience for band members.
If you have a rental property…
Make sure that you obtain permission to build in it. Even if you will essentially build something more-or-less freestanding from the current construction.
When building in a rental or your own home, make sure to consult building codes for safety and insurance purposes as well. Some insurance companies will refuse coverage for spaces that aren’t built by professional contractors.
Alternatives to Building Your Own Soundproof Home Studio
Before you take the plunge on what will be a time-consuming and costly project, consider your options once more. You may be worried about the time it will take for the construction. That could be precious recording or teaching time that you can’t use your drum studio for.
In that case, you might consider a pre-fabricated drum booth. Various businesses have sound-proof booths for sale in different sizes that could be enough for what you need. Have a look at the Next Generation M-Pod – Soundproof Pods Ideal for Musicians as a good example of a sound-proof booth.
Other options aren’t quite as satisfactory…
You could do most of your practicing with practice pads on the drums and cymbals to dramatically cut down the noise. You could also play with brushes or bundles, or even get sound damping tips for your sticks. Check out these products for some ideas.
None of these is a perfect option because you don’t get the real feel or sound you would from playing with sticks and at full volume. And for recording, they’re probably not an option at all.
Electronic drums could be the answer…
If you can put up with their quirks. High-quality electronic kits can be a pleasure to play on and can simulate the feel and sound of a real kit. A great example is the Roland TD-17KVX Electronic Drum Set Bundle.
You can listen to them through headphones or run the output straight into a recording and mixing program. No one has to hear more than a faint tapping on rubber. The downside is that they’re not really drums, and for many, that’s just not going to fly!
Benefits of Your Own Soundproof Studio
There are some serious benefits of a soundproof drum room.
- You can play at full volume whenever you want to, and noise won’t bother your neighbors.
- A damped room will reduce the strain on your ears and help prevent hearing damage.
- You’ll have a room that can be used for recording anything you want.
- The sound isolation and reduced echoes will help you focus on and perfect your technique and sound.
Need Great Drums, Kits, and Accessories?
We can help you with all of that. Simply check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Drumsticks, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500, the Best Beginner Drum Set, the Best Portable Drum Kits, the Best Drum Practice Pads, the Best Drum Thrones, the Best Snare Drums, the Best Drum Tuners, and the Best Jazz Drum Sets you can buy in 2021.
How to Build Your Own Soundproof Home Studio for Drums – Final Thoughts
Now that you know what you need to build a soundproof home drum studio, we hope you’ll give it some serious consideration. A soundproof drumming booth isn’t cheap or easy to build, so they’re definitely not for everyone.
The costs of building a room-within-a-room, or a box-in-a-box may be beyond what many drummers can afford. But consider the alternatives. Angry neighbors, a fed-up family, and nights sleeping in the doghouse may await you if you don’t.
You can also use this sort of room for high-quality recording without fear of being interrupted. Outside sounds also won’t be able to leak into your space. For pros, this can make the investment completely worth it.
Until next time, may the beat go on.