Soundproofing: Lessons from a Custom-Built Sound Studiocomments (5) November 30th, 2012 in Blogs
The studio's design had two primary functions, which were somewhat at cross-purposes. First, the studio had to be thoroughly soundproofed (achieving an STC 60 rating) so musical instruments could be played (and recorded) without disturbing neighbors. Secondly, the space had to be pleasant and light-filled during those times when the client was engaged in quieter pursuits.
The studio had fiberglass batt insulation on all six sides, and resilient channels attached to walls and the ceiling, to which drywall would be attached. The sound-control drywall was specially ordered: It was 3/4 in. thick, consisting of three pieces of ¼ in. drywall of varying densities and laminated with an elastomeric adhesive that never completely sets--so the adhesive also acted as a sound-deadening agent. The panels were extremely heavy, each more than 125 lbs., so installing them on the ceiling required both a drywall lift and extra hands to hold panels in place so they could be screwed to the resilient channels.
Typically, drywall ceilings are installed first so the edges of ceiling panels are supported by the tops of wall panels. But here the goal was to isolate the ceiling and allow it to float from the metal resilient channels. So wall panels were attached first; ceiling panels were then installed so that there was a gap between ceiling and walls. That gap would be filled with resilient acoustic sealant-Pro-Series® SC 175. Should the ceiling panels and resilient channels sag, they would still never make contact with wall panels.
Additionally, mass-loaded vinyl was used to achieve an STC 60-rating in some of the most problematic areas: electrical boxes and the windows that made the space so pleasant. Electrical boxes were surface-mounted to avoid creating holes in the envelope, and wrapped with mass-loaded vinyl jackets. But because the acoustical value of a room is only as strong as its weakest link, the windows were the greatest test. High-performing sound windows would have been prohibitively expensive, so the solution called for sliding window covers, rather like sliding barn doors, which would be constructed from mass-loaded vinyl and rigid insulation. When it was time to make music, the insulated covers would slide over the windows, creating a uniform STC 60 cocoon.
This article on soundproofing was excerpted from Renovation 4th Edition, now available from Taunton Press (November, 2012). Renovation 4 's 624 pages contain 1,000 photos largely taken on job sites, more than 250 illustrations and many lifetimes of field-tested tips and techniques that veteran builders across North America shared with Mike Litchfield, one of Fine Homebuilding's founding editors. Renovation 4 would make a great gift to any builder who would like to bone up on specialized techniques or to serious owner-renovators whose confidence will be bolstered by having a crew of seasoned builders close at hand.
Thanks to Stephen Marshall of www.thelittlehouseonthetrailer.com who allowed me to photograph his ingenious solutions in a sound studio he created for a musician/composer client in Northern California.
© Michael Litchfield 2012
posted in: Blogs, remodeling, renovation, soundproofing
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About the Author
Mike Litchfield was a founding editor of Fine Homebuilding and has been renovating homes or writing about them for more than 30 years.
He was one of the first technical journalists to go to job sites to gather information from tradespeople and his great work, Renovation: A Complete Guide is in its 3rd Edition.
Mike’s tenth book, In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Turning one house into two homes will be published by Taunton Press in March, 2011. To preview the book and learn more about its contributors, please visit www.cozydigz.com