Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sound isolation as treatment

We have all heard about treating rooms for audio mixing. But what about treating our spaces for Isolation, or sound that leaks in from outside our rooms? Using Hyper Cardioid, dynamic mics can help reject a lot of this unwanted noise, but noise is persistent! There is only so much that off axis rejection in microphones can do.

Case in point....

 I have a room that I just adore. It is more like a music nook, but there are some issues. From time to time I have some outside noise distracting me. Since there is a window in my room, I do get some spillage. A lawnmower, perhaps a loud motorcycle, and lets not overlook the car horns from afar, all seep in and take my mind away from the task at hand. I like to record with microphones, quite a bit, and I can't have unwanted noise creeping in to my audio. Recently, I had to re-track a speaker due to a loud motorcycle "reving" up as it passed by. I missed it as we tracked, but it was obvious as we listened back to it.

Without getting into treating this space for frequency and reflections, I needed to try and remove some of the sounds from everyday life. I plan on recording my podcast in here, and this room is off of our living space too! I do not want to record only after 10 P.M. folks, I need ISOLATION first! Once I get my space a little more quiet, I will tackle treating it for mixing. So, how can we tackle the problem of sounds entering our rooms from the world at large?

Here is one simple, and elegant way to accomplish this task. I obtained some Audimute panels from an ad on Craigslist. I was really comprehensive about how good of a job it would do, but I had to do something! So, the day it went up, I knew it was the right way to go. I hung two sheets or panels up in the open doorway that leads into my space. Immediately, I noticed a very big difference! Gone were any trace of echoes. Gone was 75 percent of the common "House noises" than can enter into a microphone. I love how "dead" the room is now, and I think that the material looks great. The real test was to happen at 4 P.M., as my wife came home.

She does not have the same eye that I have. I like to see racks of mixing gear, monitors, speaker cabs, guitars and guitar amps, mic stands, and drum risers. The Audimute panels look sexy to me. My wife remained silent about the looks. So, the Audimute panels passed the first test. The next thing that my wife noticed was just how much the room had changed. Her exact words were "there is no echo in here". The Audimute panels had just passed the second test. I had turned my space into a "dead zone", and it is noticable. It is almost like your ears are popping or something like that.

The Audimute panels are made in the U.S.A. and they come with a 100 percent guarantee. They, however, will not improve the sonic frequencies in your room, but they will prevent a lot of "audio spillage" from entering your room, and more importantly, entering your microphones!

 The window in my space is still bare, and I have more material left. I will be trying to solve that issue too. I hate to block the light from entering into the space, but the window is a source of noise. That is, noise enters through that wall.

 I will keep you posted on this, and what I happen to come up with. What about you? Have any of you had to isolate a room with windows? If so, what did you do? Please, let me know, and I will pass that information on, right here on the blog!


  1. Hi great post! I just recently had to do something about my window in my control/tracking/mixing room. It sits directly behind my workstation and in the middle of the room. I live close to a main road the the biggest problem has been motorcycle and semi trucks barreling down the road. I bought some of that blue styrofoam stuff from Lowes, not sure exactly what its made of but its pretty sturdy. I bought a 2inch thick sheet and cut it to fit the entire window, and placed it behind the blinds. I also have drapes covering the whole thing so you cant see it anyways. Pretty much solved my problem. You can use almost anything like it that you can find. Its all pretty inexpensive and effective. Good luck.


  2. Great idea, Sean! Can you still remove the blue foam to look out your window from time to time? Curious, that’s all. Thanks for finding my blog post, and for the email.
    Please know that a podcast is in the works. I have 2 episodes done already! It will be “The Home Recording Podcast”, so keep an eye out!
    Thanks again for the great tip. Wait, how thick is the foam, and is it aluminum covered on one side?
    Kern Ramsdell

  3. Hey man its 2 inches thick and is just blue styrofoam type stuff all the way around. No aluminum. And yes I can easily pull it down. Its light weight so it just sits behind the blinds. The blinds kinda hold it there. But I never open them or even need to look out. All I would see is a dang fence anyways. lol


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