How to Soundproof Your Studio for a Better Podcast

Difficulty: 2 of 5

 

The popularity of video and audio podcasts has drawn attention to the value of good acoustics and the importance of soundproofing the space you record in. Large, ‘echo-y’ rooms make the audio hard to understand and difficult to listen to. In addition to the sound that moves to the camera directly, other sound waves travel from the point of origin out to reflective surfaces and back again. These reflections mix with the direct sound and distort the sound’s clarity. The solution is to use sound-absorbing materials to capture reflections and prevent them from being recorded during the podcast. When properly installed, these specially designed sound-absorbent materials trap reflected sound waves, resulting in a clearer audio for your podcast. To achieve these results, we installed Owens Corning QuietZone® Noise Control Batts and SOLSERENE® Fabric Ceiling System to the ceiling above the workspace, to the wall behind the workspace and to three movable sound absorbing panels, which can be rolled into place, as needed. Here’s how to do it.

 

Warning: Wear gloves, protective eyewear and a dust mask when working with fiberglass.

Materials:

– 1 Coarse-thread deck screws and washers
– Cotton gloves (provided)
– Dry cleaning sponge (provided)
– Drywall or matt knife and straight edge for cutting acoustic core
– Dust mask for cutting acoustic core
– Measuring tape
– Power miter saw
– Power screwdriver or pneumatic stapler
– QuietZone® Noise Control Batts
– QuietZone® SOLSERENE® Fabric Ceiling System, including retaining track, fabric, acoustic core and tuck tool
– Safety glasses
– Scissors
– Step ladder to reach ceiling

Step 1: Soundproof Your Studio for a Better Podcast


This studio space is framed with post-and-beam construction, so the first step was to construct a non-load bearing stud wall between the posts in the back and to run 2X4 joists between ceiling beams to support the acoustic material.

To absorb the sound waves that would normally reflect off the ceiling, we are going to use Owens Corning SOLSERENE Residential Fabric Ceiling System installed in a slightly unconventional way. The system consists of a compressed fiberglass acoustic core, a fabric retaining track that suspends the acoustic core panels and firmly holds the fabric over the acoustic core. The result is a finished, monolithic acoustic surface that looks very much like a painted ceiling.

Because this is an old post-and-beam factory building, we set 2X4 joists 24 1/2 inches on center between the old factory beams to support the sound absorbing material, which is 48 inches wide by 8 feet, 1 inch high.

The first step is to attach the fabric retaining track to the perimeter of the ceiling area. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes for the retaining screws approximately every 8 inches along the track. This fabric retaining track is fastened in place with 1-inch drywall screws. When you reach a corner, cut the fabric retaining track at a 45-degree angle and install the track so that the mitered faces line up evenly. Continue to fasten the track around the entire perimeter of the area you will be treating. In a more traditional room, you would do the entire ceiling.

Next, we install the acoustic core panels by sliding the panels into the slots of the fabric retaining track. You can use the fabric tuck tool or your fingers to help guide the acoustic core panels into the slot. To keep the panels from sagging, fasten the acoustic core to the joists with drywall screws and fender washers. Tighten the screws until the washer just touches the panel, then stop.

Once the track and the acoustic core panels are in place, the next stop is to install the SOLSERENE covering over the acoustic core panels. Start in one corner on a short wall, drape 3 to 4 inches of fabric over the tuck tool and insert the fabric into the retaining track. Move down the length of the wall, keeping the excess fabric in the bag. Insert the fabric into the retaining track approximately every six inches. When you remove the tuck tool from the tack, the fabric will be firmly held in place. Alternating from side to side, tack the fabric into the retaining track every few feet until the fabric is hanging loosely from the ceiling.

With the SOLSERENE loosely in place, cut away the excess. Work your way back around the parameter with the fabric tuck tool until the fabric is tightly tucked in place.

When the fabric is tight, trim off any excess with a sharp utility knife. The finished surface has a solid, monolithic look with very effective acoustical properties.

We treated the back wall exactly the same way as the ceiling; first, installing the fabric retaining track around the parameter of the back wall; next, covering the surface with two panels of fiberglass acoustic core and fastening each panel to the studs with drywall screws and washers. As with the ceiling, we covered the acoustic core with SOLSERENE fabric, stretched and tucked into the fabric retaining track until the surface is tight. The result is an attractive, acoustic-absorbing wall that, along with the ceiling, will trap reflected sound waves and help to improve sound of the podcasts.

Now we are going to add three movable acoustic panels to complete the sound treatment project. We have built two already, and now we will build the third.

Each of the three panels are framed with 2X4s, 16 inches on center, in the same way you would build a stud wall. While wearing a dust mask and gloves, the first step is to staple Owens Corning QuietZone® Noise Control Batts between the studs. The batting is secured with staples to the studs.

Next, measure, cut and fasten the fabric retaining track around the perimeter of both sides of the panel. The paper side will face away from the sound source, but you still want it to look good. The ends should be cut at a 45-degree angle so that the channels along the edge align. And fasten the fabric retaining track in place with 2-inch drywall screws.

Flip the panel over, and fasten fabric retaining track to the other side of the panel, as well. It’s this side, with the QuietZone® batts exposed, that should face you when you make your podcast.

Stretch the fabric across the panel, and using the fabric tuck tool, tack it into the fabric retaining track, working one side and then the other, evenly stretching the fabric across the surface.

Owens Corning SOLSERENE fabric is acoustically transparent. The special cloth is made from a high-quality-locking knit weave, offering a fire-retardant, crisp monolithic finish.

When the fabric is tight, trim the excess material with a utility knife.

The last step is to attach wheels to the panel so that it can easily be moved as needed. We’ve screwed 2-inch casters to each end of a 4-foot 2X4. We’ve fastened the 2X4-inch brackets to the acoustic panels with screws.

With the new acoustic materials completed, it’s time to test the results. Roll the three panels into place. And set up your camera. You may want to experiment with the location of the three panels until the best audio recording quality is achieved.

You will discover that your new acoustic room treatment will make a significant improvement in the quality and clarity of the podcast sound.