I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
The Phat Conductor
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I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by The Phat Conductor » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:40 pm

I have a big garage in a detached house with stone foundations cut into a mountainside for my new studio.

The problems are

1. flimsy garage door with air holes (can be permanently closed)
2. window behind washer/dryer/furnace that is tough to block
3. thin walls (it's california, people don't insulate much here)

I was thinking

-'room-within-a-room' as far from door/window as possible
-sandbags or something with MASS to block the bass from going out the garage door

do any of you know cheap ways to do this? the commercial 'room-within-a-room' solutions would be like $7K for what i need (8x8x7)

delivery would be good too (i live in SF and don't drive)

thanks everyone!

ill gates aka the phat conductor
producer, performer + ableton/music teacher


The Philosopher King
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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by The Philosopher King » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:43 pm

The Phat Conductor wrote:do any of you know cheap ways to do this?
Take out a contract on your neighbors. Problem solved. Permanently.

Tweaking Knobs
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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by Tweaking Knobs » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:56 pm

The Philosopher King wrote:
The Phat Conductor wrote:do any of you know cheap ways to do this?
Take out a contract on your neighbors. Problem solved. Permanently.

he said cheap , bitch...

Uhm... nope , dont know of any cheap ways, as far as i know this kind of work is pretty expensive...

get an insulator friend XD

see ya !

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by JuanSOLO » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Blocking bass is hard, however you're thinking right with the room within a room. Try not to concentrate on the totality of cost, work your way up to it. Order some thick blocks insulation from Owens Corning, call em and ask if they have discounted pieces that are bent up or something. Buy what you can afford of that stuff, the REALLY dense kind, put it up on the walls. When you can afford more, get more. If you live in SF and you see someone that has put some shit on the curb you can use, TAKE IT!

However, dont expect to completely isolate booming bass without professional help and professional money, BUT you can reduce it quite a bit with your own efforts.

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by Sarrova-Q » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:42 pm


Just an idea but you can try this:
If you want to block audio/noise you need heavy stuff to put in front of the audio.
The more mass an object has, the more it can block audio coming through.
That's why studio doors are so unbelievably thick and heavy and filled with sand.

So maybe you could make a wall around you music studio and fill that wall with lots of sand from top to bottom?
And yes it'll probably be expensive if you want to block out as much as possible.

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by sounddevisor » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:01 pm

I built my own recording studio, in the basement of a two-family brownstone in Brooklyn, with neighbors on either side, so I speak from some experience here:

- You are on the right track with the "room-within-a-room" construction. It doesn't need to be particularly far from the existing walls as long as there is some air space in between the new and existing walls, and as long as your construction techniques are good, so that there is no contact between the inner room and the outer walls. If you are capable of basic construction techniques (i.e. framing and hanging sheetrock) it is totally possible to do this yourself. It won't be cheap, but it won't be prohibitively expensive either - basically, the cost of materials (framing stock, sheetrock, cavity insulation, maybe some tools or a drywall-lift rental.) You mentioned dimensions of 8x8x7 - if that's right then you are talking about roughly 350 - 450 square feet of surface area (depending on whether or not you are doing something with the floor), use that to calculate your construction costs.

- Don't get sucked into the "add some dense foam insulation as cheap soundproofing" route - this is a waste of time and money. To block sound (especially bass,) you need two things: mass, and isolation. Foam, bass traps, etc. can work as acoustical treatment - that is, a way of flattening the frequency response (or "tuning") a room or space, but they do next to nothing as far as blocking the transmission of sound from your room to the outside.

If you are serious about building a room-within-a-room, I strongly suggest that you do as much research as possible before you start. A good place to look is here - basically, way more info than you will ever need:


Good luck!

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by simmerdown » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:01 pm

try talking to them ahead of time, communicate your hopes and dreams :)

bring them beer and weed, whatever the preference, when you will have a session invite them to watch

(this may sound like im joking, but it worked for a skateramp with some very crotchety neighbors...)

+ headphones :!:

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by justchris86 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:03 pm

Cheapest way to do any sound blocking is card board. the thicker the better.

in my small home studio we found some large sheets of very thick card board. we found some that was 8 feet (the height of my ceilings) we put some carpeting on the card board and then rest the cardboard on the walls. you can fasten them if you want but we didn't want to or need to.

This provides a lot of blocking

The thicker the card board the better (more dead air space)
as well as the carpet. if you can find shag you are set.
because the card board is not really attached to the walls you know have floating (decoupled) walls.
worked for me. can't hear anything out side my place.

hope that helps!
"Do not quote or read this text"


beats me
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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by beats me » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:18 pm

You moved to SF. 8O

I went to one of your gigs in SF quite some time ago and you were right friendly and excited to meet somebody who was there to see you. Good show too. Ace. :)

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by Winterpark » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:45 pm

just throwing this into the mix when talking about construction of rooms within rooms....

these ratios are generally considered good for acoustic listening environments:
Height Width Length
1.00 1.14 1.39
1.00 1.28 1.54
1.00 1.60 2.33

worth considering, because if you are going to all that trouble to build a room within a room, to isolate the sound from the neighbours, you probably want it to sound good in the room also.
web | fb | sc | twt | bc

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by UncleAge » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:21 am

Some good suggestions in here for you (except for killing the neighbors-not cost effective really :) ). I'll add one more thing though... I found, when I did my little space, a bunch of panels from those office cubicles (Craigslist). The are about 5x6 and about 2" thick. All were wrapped in cloth already. I took a few apart to customize the size (some doubled into 4" thick panels) and clean them up in the washer but that may not be necessary for you to do. Especially if you use them in-between the old walls and the new walls. I got about 10 of them for about $60 or so. If I were in your shoes trying to kill the bass I would have picked up more of them.

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by DefCone1 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:00 am

Don't have any idea how much it costs, but Dynamat makes noise dampening material for home use.

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by Angstrom » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:11 am

Just a note, as I've not seen it mentioned:
When making a room within a room, make sure you float the floor. Make a frame on the ground, place neoprene blocks on the frame and then place a second 'suspended floor' frame on that. Obviously with the floating joists resting on the neoprene blocks. The Walls and floor you make should now (obviously) be built off that floating floor.
That ensures you are isolating the whole room from the environment.

If you are handy with wood then it shouldn't be too much trouble, the internet is full of plans. However - I'd say to get a friend or relative who works in the building trade to come and give you ideas. They have all their own mystical ways, working shortcuts and trade stores.

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by southsounder » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:51 am

There have been some good suggestions already, but I wanted to share some of my own experiences with this very issue - being both a bassist and a drummer I've been down this road more than once. I apologize in advance for the long post.

For starters, there are different approaches to stopping structural impact transmission and just containing low frequencies. The room within a room and especially the floating floor concepts are essential for preventing impact transmission (e.g. an actual kick drum or bass amp coupled to the floor) to the surrounding structure. Very important if you're in an apartment or other setting with neighbors in the same building, but not so much if the nearest neighbor is some distance away.

Low frequencies on the other hand, are much harder to contain and will travel considerable distance through the air. The #1 most effective way to contain them is mass. The air space created by the room within a room concept can help a little bit, but without mass it's not going do much. Cardboard, the fiberglass boards in most office dividers, and insulation are next to useless for containing low frequencies. Insulation can help with resonance in the airspace between the inside and outside wall and office dividers can help with resonance within the room, but neither stops actual transmission loss.

I couldn't quite tell from the OP's post exactly what the structural relationship is with the neighbors. If the garage and house is detached from the surrounding structures and you're not worried about annoying folks in your own house, then don't worry about the floating floor - especially with the limitations on ceiling height it sounds like you might have. A 7' ceiling is just too low for any serious recording or mixing - it'll sound like shit in the room itself and you'll have all sorts of mix translation problems.

Second, 8x8x7 is awfully close to 8x8x8, which would be horrible for modal resonance. Pay attention to am's post on proper room dimensions if you can. Even then, consider that anything even close to those dimensions will have a volume of 500 cubic feet or less - a third of the minimum recommended volume for any sort of critical listening.

With that in mind, I'd advise that your goal be to get the maximum volume you can, balanced with as much containment of low frequencies as possible. This realistically rules out a room within a room - you'll just lose too much volume for too little benefit considering some of the other compromises involved (e.g. no airlock, low budget, etc.) To do a room within a room properly takes a lot of space and a lot of money. And if you don't do it properly, it's really no more effective than some much simpler and cheaper solutions.

I would suggest using the current shell of the garage but framing over the garage door. Framing over the window would be best, but if it's a newer double-paned job you can probably get a away with leaving it for light/fresh air when needed. Seal EVERYTHING as well as you can with caulk/foam/whatever. Use standard insulation, then put on a double layer of 5/8 sheetrock. Carefully seal each layer to the floor, and go heavy with the tape and mud. Also, cover or just remove all electrical boxes etc. This is your primary source of transmission loss prevention and ANY hole will compromise it's effectiveness to a degree. If you leave the window carefully seal around the edges, and you might consider an airtight baffle that fits over the window when you're working. The ceiling is another potential compromise - if it's already sheetrocked you can add another layer if the joists are properly spaced, although I might use slightly thinner boards just to avoid any structural weight issues. If it's not framed then this is the one place worth spending money and having it framed correctly - both for safety and effectiveness!

Once the inner shell is done you can decide if you've got the time/budget for anything further - on my last garage conversion we added horizontal furring strips with the remaining space filled by soundboard, then put on 3/4 tongue and groove ceder planks we got as B-stock from a local mill. Looked nice and the room sounded sweet without a lot of other treatment. Lastly, add power and lighting INSIDE the sealed room - again, if you cut holes in the wall you will compromise the effectiveness of all your hard work to a surprisingly large degree.

Even with a small window facing the neighbor's house 10' away, with a setup very similar to what's described above we could play live drums and bass at any hour without bothering the neighbor's - they couldn't believe we were playing live music. Total construction cost was well under $1k, even with the cedar T&G - although our ceiling was already sheetrocked.

Just remember that no matter what you end up doing, the effectiveness of the whole project is only as good as the weakest link. It's easy to waste a lot of time & money if you're not really careful about the design and the implementation, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Good luck!!!

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Re: I need to block BASS so my neighbours don't get mad

Post by photonal » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:26 am

Switching off your sub-woofer might do it and would be a cheap option.

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