As a drummer, trying to practice quietly is a practice in futility. Most musicians, whether guitarists or keyboardists, can throw on a pair of practice headphones or turn down a volume knob when they want to be courteous to their neighbors.
Drummers don’t have that luxury.
The last thing you need is to become a regular for noise complaints or set yourself up for eviction.
Luckily, there’s still hope. So come dive in with us as we explore five ways to soundproof your drum room so you can play happily and freely without disturbing the peace.
Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption
Before we get to work, you must understand the differences between soundproofing and sound absorption.
A completely soundproof room does not let out any sound at all. Unfortunately, building a completely soundproof room from scratch can be incredibly time-consuming and cost lots of money.
In reality, there is no method of soundproofing a room halfway.
However, in most cases, completely soundproof rooms aren’t necessary for drummers. If you want to keep your neighbors or family happy, all you genuinely need to do is reduce the amount of sound escaping from your practice space.
Soundproofing vs. Sound Treatment
It’s also essential that we have a distinction between soundproofing and sound treatment.
Sound treatment includes treating your room’s interior surfaces and edges to make it sound better. For example, one will usually treat a room if it delivers slapback, echoes, reverberations, or unwanted frequency anomalies.
This process is much different from soundproofing, which aims to keep sound contained within space rather than make the space sound better.
Top 5 Ways to Soundproof your Drum Room
It’s vital to know thanks one of the best ways to soundproof a drum room is to construct a space specifically for playing or recording drums. This might mean decoupling the floor from the structure beneath, constructing inner room walls with an air void in the center, and building out an entirely new ceiling.
Of course, we’re well aware that most drummers don’t have the ability or know-how to construct an entirely new space from the ground up, which is why we want to provide more feasible soundproofing alternatives.
1) Weather Strip Your Door
One of the biggest culprits for leakage is your door, which is why it should be your first point of attack.
You can install weather strips around it to prevent sound from leaking around the sides and bottom. Unfortunately, many old doors do not have sealing thresholds at the bottom, meaning you’ll need to install one if you want to close the gap.
Most interior doors are constructed with a small gap at the bottom, allowing for better ventilation when shut. It’s also worth noting that many newer homes used hollow-core doors, which should be replaced with solid-core or composite doors.
If you cannot change out the door in your practice space, you can alternatively reinforce it with additional mass, using something like a Sound Seal wall blanket, mass-loaded vinyl, or Dynamat.
2) Fortify Your Windows
Once you’ve sealed your doors, you’ll want to begin looking at the amount of noise that comes out of your windows. Like your door, you want to install weather stripping around your windows.
You can easily seal any gaps between the border of your windows and your walls with an acoustic sealant like StopGap.
Lastly, look into installing thermal-insulated blackout curtains. These curtains are made explicitly for noise reduction, and it’s shocking how much sound they can cut back.
3) Seal Your Room
Now that your windows and doors are taken care of, the next thing to do is seal your room. Any holes or openings in your room will allow sound to pass through. You can begin by installing foam gaskets, which you can find at your local hardware store, on your wall plates and electrical outlets.
Once you’ve blocked out the obvious openings, perform a perimeter check of your room and look for inconspicuous places where air might flow from the wall or light may peek in. You can plug off these tiny holes with caulk, seal tape, or StopGap.
4) Put Up Acoustic Treatment
Putting up acoustic treatment in your room will not only make the space sound much better, ridding the room of unwanted reflections and standing waves, but it will also lessen the impact of sound waves leaking through your walls.
Acoustic treatment can be expensive, and many acoustic tiles advertised as “soundproofing foam” aren’t thick enough to have a significant impact.
Plus, acoustic foam has little to no impact on low-frequency sounds like drums.
Instead, you want to focus on acoustic treatments that impact the frequency range below 500Hz.
Many drummers don’t talk about them, but I’ve found that bass traps can be highly effective for absorbing low frequencies when appropriately placed in the corners of a room. You can also install 4″ acoustic panels, making sure there is an air gap behind them.
If you’re on a tight budget, I’d recommend purchasing some thick packing blankets, rugs, or duvets and mounting them along the wall to improve your space’s sound-absorbing quality. You can also use a thick cloud panel to block noise from passing through the drywall on your ceiling.
Also, don’t hang up egg cartons as soundproofing.
For whatever reason, this myth began circling years ago that you could stick empty egg carton crates to your walls to soundproof your room. The truth is egg cartons have zero mass, meaning they won’t do anything significant for noise reduction. At most, they’ll make your practice space look ugly.
You may also want to try using soundproof curtains, though, the sound reduction from these is more intended to stop outside noise from traffic and construction, rather than letting the bleed of your drums outside.
5) Decouple Your Kit
Decoupling your drum kit from the floor is crucial if you have a practice space in an upstairs bedroom or live on the second story or higher in an apartment. When you have drums anchored to the floor, each hit transmits vibrations through the floor.
To your downstairs neighbors, it can sound like a tap dancing extravaganza for giants.
One of the easiest ways to decouple your drums on a budget is with a high-quality drum rug. It will help absorb some of your sound and keep your stand spurs locked into place, so you don’t have to worry about them sliding around or scratching up your floor.
You can also look into products like the Auralex HoverMat, specifically designed for optimum isolation.
Alternatives to Soundproofing Your Drum Room
If you rent and can’t make permanent changes to our practice room, there are many alternatives to soundproofing.
Use an Electric Drum Kit
An easier and potentially more cost-effective solution is to replace your acoustic drum kit in your practice space with an electronic drum kit. Electronic drum kits have come a long way over the past decade, and many provide the same feel as acoustic drum sets with considerably less volume.
You can chug away with a good pair of headphones, never worrying about upsetting your neighbors.
Of course, you’ll still get the sound of audible tapping from the trigger pads or slight floor reverberation from the drum pedal, though it’ll still be far quieter than a full acoustic set.
Build a Drum Booth
Building a drum isolation booth is one of the most effective alternative solutions for soundproofing a room. Yes, building an isolation booth with soundproofing materials of any kind is there an expensive endeavor. However, you’ll achieve much better sound isolation without permanently changing your living space.
If budget is truly no concern, turnkey solutions like WhisperRoom might be an option.
Quiet Your Kit
Consider installing drum and cymbal mutes to reduce the sound of your acoustic drum set drastically. Many manufacturers produce these dampeners, though one of our favorite sets is the Evans SoundOff Complete Standard Set.
The beauty of playing with drum mutes allows for practice at a reasonably high energy level, maintaining your drums’ feel and fundamental tone without being a menace to society.
There are many other companies with products that reduce the overall volume of acoustic elements.
For example, look at the low-volume cymbals from the Sabians QT or Zildjian L80 series. These cymbals give you an ultra-realistic feel with a much lower volume.
You can combine your low-volume cymbals with quiet mesh drum heads, such as the Silentstroke heads from Remo or the all-in-one Evans DB One Low-Volume Set. These heads can cut down the volume of your kid by almost 50%, all while retaining the feel and playability.
Playing on the Low
Your drum kit is an expressive instrument, and it’s difficult to hide from the fact that, at its fundamental core, it is LOUD.
Luckily, you can use many tips and tricks to enjoy complete self-expression without worrying about the cops showing up at your door.