Drums. We love them but our neighbors hate them. Recording good acoustic drum sounds is among the most difficult tasks for anyone tracking at home.
In this article, we’re going to give you 10 budget-friendly tips to soundproof a room for drums. Our goal is to keep as much drum sound inside and block as much outside noise as possible.
There’s no practical way to make a home studio totally soundproof without rebuilding your home but you can maximize the space you have and end up with a nice little drum room that’s both cool and functional.
Ready to learn? Let’s rock and roll!
1. TREAT YOUR WINDOWS AND DOORS
Windows and doors are huge sound portals and have to be dealt with.
They are the biggest openings in your walls and will let the impact noise and other sounds from your drum kit directly out into the world. They will also let the world bleed into your drum mics. There are a few useful tactics for getting them under control.
Think about sound like you do heating and cooling
Use door sweeps and weather stripping to create an airtight gasket around the outside of your door. You could also employ special draft-blocking tape. Stick the weather stripping to the inside of your door jamb and use the sweep to seal off the bottom of the door. Easy!
Consider getting a heavier door
A solid core door with more internal mass to it will control a lot more sound than the hollow interior doors that are so common today. If you’re the home improvement type, think about installing back-to-back double doors. It’s a bit of a project but there’s nothing like doubling down.
Add some drywall
Add some drywall topped with acoustic foam panels or other soundproofing material to the inside of the door. This will help block sound and prevent unwanted reflections that will hurt your recorded tones.
Don’t forget to think about your windows
Modern double-pane windows with compression latches will do most of the heavy lifting for you but older, less precise windows will need attention. Treat them just like the doors by using weather stripping, insulating tape, or rope caulk to seal up the gaps. You can also hang a soundproof curtain or some acoustic blankets in front of the window itself.
Don’t be too eager to get drumming and skip this not-so-exciting job. Setting up mics and hoping for the best is not an effective strategy. Give this work some time and you’ll have a sweet spot to practice and record.
2. HELLO WALLS
Your walls are going to need treatment, too, so get busy!
Soundproofing your walls is again going to require you to add mass to them. How is that best accomplished?
Sound absorption sheets can be quite useful here. Soundproofing curtains and acoustic blankets are also recommended.
If you’re on a budget, get all the thick carpet remnants you can from your local carpet store and attach them to your walls. You could also use large area rugs or heavy quilts the same way. Your job is to make the walls thicker any way you can.
These materials will make your walls softer, which will dampen unwanted sonic reflections, as well.
Don’t hang egg crates on your walls and think they’re going to help you manage your sound. Using them won’t help and will just make your room look terrible.
Egg crates possess zero mass and that makes them completely useless as soundproofing material or acoustic treatment. Please don’t waste your time on them.
3. TORE UP FROM THE FLOOR UP
Your floor is the main offender when it comes to letting drum sounds escape your drum room!
This is because your kick drum sits directly on it. Each strike of your beater goes right into it and this sends it into your structure and other rooms. The best thing to do is to isolate your kick from the floor as much as you can.
Drum rugs are crucial here. Put as many as you can get between your bass drum and the floor. Soft carpet, rugs, or blankets will do nicely. Sometimes, low-tech solutions are the best.
Construct a drum riser. A riser will get you off the floor just like it will onstage and isn’t as big a job as you would think. Measure your space and head off to the lumber yard. If you want to do it right, fill it with bags of sand or some other dense filler to prevent unpleasant rumblings.
Don’t set up your drums on a bare wood or concrete floor. Those materials will transmit a ton of sound and their hardness will make your drums sound overly harsh and loud.
4. BUILD YOURSELF A DRUM BOOTH
If only the best will do, construct a drum booth with the knowledge you learned working on the floor, walls, windows, and doors.
This is a great way to go if you can do it and will also give you an outstanding isolation booth to use for vocals and acoustic instruments.
- Build insulated walls to keep everything inside. Spend your time and money on its function, not its appearance. That can be done later.
- Make it as large as your space will allow. No one ever complains about having too much room.
- Remember to plan for all of the cables that will have to be run between the booth and your board. A hardwired jack plate is best but you can run through the ceiling or be creative and invent your own solution.
- Don’t skimp on materials. Your booth needs to work.
- Don’t put fans or air vents inside. The noise from the moving air will bleed into your mics.
- Don’t forget to include a window if you can for better visual communication.
5. BUY OR BUILD SOUNDPROOFING PANELS
Make your own soundproofing panels to take loud sounds. Buy them if you must.
- Build them dense and thick and cover as much of your most difficult wall as you can.
- Make wooden frames, fill them with dense, soundproofing material like rockwool to absorb impact noise, and finish them off with a patterned fabric you like.
- Find plans for them online.
- Don’t make hollow panels. They won’t do any good.
- Don’t forget to bolt them to the wall and not merely hang them on it. If you build them right, they’ll be heavy. Hang them right the first time.
6. USE ELECTRONIC DRUMS
If volume is your biggest issue, consider going electronic.
If you have nasty neighbors or a less-than-understanding spouse, you may have to bite the bullet and use electronic drums. That way, you can have total control over the volume factor and even play or record silently.
- Get a good-quality set with heads that respond like traditional ones. Hard, non-responsive heads become hard on the elbows after a while.
- Select a good sound module if you intend to record with this kit. Become an expert on who makes the best-sounding units and get one.
- Don’t worry about authenticity or drum snobs. Do what you have to do to make your music.
7. CREATIVE USE OF FURNITURE
Think outside the box and use what you already have!
Many home spaces can be improved for drums by putting the furniture you already have in strategic places to dampen sound and break up standing waves.
- A soft, upholstered sofa or chair makes a great device for mellowing out unruly walls. It will also do much to break up the standing waves caused by the parallel walls typical of many home recording spaces and practice rooms.
- A couple of bookcases stocked with your literary favorites can also work. Paper is softer than drywall or brick, right?
- Don’t play or track in an empty, untreated room. Nothing sounds worse. Your sound will just bounce wildly from wall to wall.
- Don’t overlook the fact that the true goal here is to dissipate troublesome sounds, not to eliminate them. Break up those waves and you’ll hear your room improve right away.
8. USE AN ACRYLIC DRUM SHIELD
Just like onstage, an acrylic drum shield around your drum kit is a quick, easy way to keep your drum sound to yourself.
- Simply set it up around your drum kit and let it do its job. It will reduce sound in every direction except straight up. You did put some acoustic treatment on your ceiling, didn’t you?
- Shop for a deal, as this is a simple apparatus. Shields can get pricey, so do your homework.
- Don’t overthink this stuff. Depending on your drum room, a shield may handle most of your issues.
9. SET UP IN THE BASEMENT
If you have a basement, use it! Underground is a great place to be.
- Most bands start in the basement for a reason. Nothing blocks sound going in or out like good old terra firma.
- A finished basement is your best bet for sound quality. An unfinished concrete basement isn’t going to make much of a soundproof drum room.
- Don’t forget the water factor. Basements in low spots tend to flood in heavy rains. Sort out your level of risk before proceeding.
10. REMEMBER NOTHING IS EVER PERFECT
The only way to achieve complete soundproofing is to build from scratch with floating floor and wall-within-wall construction techniques. If you can’t do that, make the best of the room you have.
- Remember that close-micing will negate a lot of bad room issues. If your room is dicey, don’t expect to depend on overhead mics but learn to lean on tight kick, snare, and hat sounds.
- Use as much acoustic treatment as you need, as well as the rest of the knowledge in this article, to your best advantage but don’t obsess. People are making hit records in all kinds of spaces these days. Become one of them if you need to.
- Don’t forget that great playing and songwriting will always come out on top. Make your room as good as it can be and then get on with it.
We hope you’ve come through this article on 10 budget-friendly tips to soundproof a room for drums with some ideas about how to make your personal drum room better and more functional.
Experiment with different combinations of these suggestions and see what works best for your unique situation. Keep trying and learning and greatness could well be yours!