What are some good ways to soundproof a streaming room?
The best place to start when soundproofing a streaming room is to focus on the areas of greatest sound leakage which are typically doors and windows.
Different levels of soundproofing can be achieved depending on your budget, but a DIY approach can be much cheaper and still significantly improve your sound isolation.
In addition for game streamers, room internal background noise such as computer fans is one of the greatest noise offenders to be dealt with.
A friend of mine, who is a rising game streamer, recently asked me how he could improve the soundproofing of his streaming room.
To give you an idea of his setup, his streaming room is a bedroom, with a double bed, two windows, some storage furniture and a door (of course :)).
He has some money to spend, however, he wants to spend as little as possible and anything he does spend, he wants it to be worth it.
There are lots of acoustic products he can buy to soundproof his room, however, he can also achieve a lot of the same results and significantly improve his streaming sound quality using a DIY approach, i.e. using home materials such as blankets and duvets etc to dampen sound.
If you are looking to do the same and want to soundproof your own streaming room, this is where you should start.
What is the difference between Soundproofing & Sound Treatment?
Before jumping into the “how to” of soundproofing, there is a really important distinction that must be made between soundproofing and sound treatment.
It is important to understand this to ensure you get the result you want, don’t overspend unnecessarily and have your sound expectations met.
Soundproofing stops the sound. Soundproofing involves building barriers to sound and noise. For example, you might live next to a busy road and want to reduce the noise level of traffic, therefore you need adequate soundproofing. You want to stop the noise and sound and build a barrier.
Sound treatment, also known as acoustic treatment is the improvement of the room acoustics. For example, you might be doing your live game streaming in a hallway that has an echo and you sound “far away” on your streams. In this instance, you need sound treatment such as acoustic foam to put on the walls and in the corners to improve the room acoustically and change your sound from “an echo” to “close and warm”.
This acoustic treatment changes how sound moves around your room and space, thus, changing how your voice sounds on your streams.
The reason why it is important to understand the difference is that the products and techniques used are different and will achieve different sound results.
I often see game streamers sitting in a studio with lots of acoustic foam behind them.
This looks very cool, but mostly, this acoustic foam is only a prop if it is not positioned well within the room to consider room acoustics.
Many people buy acoustic foam online hoping for some miracle or barrier to sound but they rarely achieve the desired result. But it looks cool and gives a cool studio feel so, well, we forgive it 🙂
So understanding what you want is very important. If you need soundproofing because you have external noise interfering with your streaming, then acoustic foam will not be good enough, you need to focus on sound leakage areas of the room such as insulating doors and windows.
If you want to improve the quality of voice on your game streams and give a more “studio sound”, then focus your efforts on acoustic treatments such as acoustic foam and learn where to position it in your room to get the true acoustic benefit.
In this article, I am focusing on soundproofing.
How to Soundproof a Streaming Room on a Budget:
Step 1 – Doors
In a professional sound proofed environment, doors are heavily sound treated and carefully designed to attenuate sound.
If you ever visit a professional recording studio you will often find “double doors” or really heavy doors with air seals to reduce sound leakage.
But what do you do for a normal bedroom door?
Doors are one of the worst offenders when it comes to sound proofing. Your typical household door, made from plywood with lightweight honeycomb filling internals provides at best 15dB-20dB attenuation.
This means that, in a nutshell, they are pretty terrible at acting as a sound barrier.
To give you a comparative example of how loud 20dB is, IAC Acoustics compare this sound level to a whisper or rustling of leaves
Therefore, even the most basic soundproofing techniques used on doors will improve the sound proofing.
The two easiest and affordable way to soundproof an existing door (without replacing it) is to
1 – Seal all air gaps around the door.
2 – Add mass to the door by using acoustic curtains.
Sealing Air Gaps in Doors
Firstly, you have to find the gaps. Turn off the lights in the room and make sure it is dark inside and bright outside. Stand in the room and you will see where the light is getting through the door. These are the first cracks to tackle.
Door Sweeps or Draft Stoppers
I have found that a good quality door sweep or draft stopper fitted to the bottom of the door works well, they are cheap and block the air path, therefore block sound.
There are many different types of door sweeps on the market. Here in the UK we call them “draft excluders”.
Whichever one you pick, ensure it fits well and creates a good air seal.
Weather Stripping Seal Tape
There are many types of weather stripping seal tape on the market. This is a rubber seal that you can manually stick to the inside frame of your door.
Rubber is used everywhere to seal air and water leakages in products all around us. Using this product, we are effectively creating our own, custom air seal around our door frame.
It is best to get a rubber or fibreglass based seal tape as these will have good soundproofing properties.
It is essential that the door is pressed tight up against this seal for it to be effective.
To get a good seal, the rubber sealing should be fully compressed. Ideally, when you close your door you should feel a slight resistance.
One thing that you must consider when using a tape like this is to ensure that door will still close! You are effectively putting something in the way of the door closing so if it is too thick you may struggle to close your door.
The solution to this is to add an additional door latch that will keep the door closed. This is not ideal however as it typically involves drilling into your door 🙁 Not fun when it goes wrong!!!
Soundproof Blanket or Soundproof Curtain
Sealing gaps around a door is great however, typical household doors are thin and lightweight, which means a lot of sound can travel through the door itself.
The best solution to improve lightweight domestic doors is to add mass to help dampen the sound. Adding a sound curtain or sound blanket to your door will dampen and absorb sound.
Sound Blankets are easy to install, you just need to add some hooks to your door.
Similarly, sound curtains are made from heavy material that absorbs sound. With sound curtains, you could fit them to cover the entire doorway which will act as a good barrier to most unwanted noise.
With both sound blankets and sound curtains, they can be expensive. The key to getting a good solution here is to ensure your material is heavy. It is all about adding weight and mass to your door to absorb and dampen sound.
Step 2 – Windows
Most streamers will have their studio at home, therefore the window shape, size and insulation levels will vary.
No matter what type of domestic window you have, just like doors, they will leak most of the sound.
If you visit a professional recording studio, typically you will find very few or no windows at all. Given how bad windows are for sound proofing, most audio professionals will sacrifice daylight for their sound.
In a professional setup, windows are typically blocked completely with shutters, double glazed air gaps and sandbags, but what can you do in a typical domestic home?
Similarly to doors, using heavy curtains is a very effective step in adding the sound leakage through windows.
Personally, I have found that blackout curtains work pretty well as they are often heavy due to the double layers of fabric.
Similarly to soundproofing doors, it is all about adding mass (weight) to absorb sound so the heavier the curtain the better as long as your curtain rail can support the weight.
If you don’t have double glazing or perhaps a wooden frame window, similarly to doors you can add weather sealing tape around your window to seal any drafts.
Blocking air will reduce sound leakage so if your windows have a draft, simply blocking up some of the gaps can help.
Step 3 – Floors
Soundproofing your windows and doors is definitely the top priority to stop sound leakage in and out of your streaming studio.
The next area to deal with are floors.
If you have a concrete floor, then you are already in a good position. If you have a wooden floor, then it is not as good as acting as a sound barrier.
In a home-based streaming studio environment, the best option to take is to lay a heavy rug or carpet.
Heavy materials dampen sound, therefore the thicker and heavier the material the better.
If most of your sound leakage comes from the floor, then in addition to a heavy rug or carpet you can lay an extra layer of vinyl.
Acoustic vinyl sheets are heavy and have great sound-absorbing properties. Laying a layer of acoustic vinyl in addition to a heavy rug will significantly improve sound leakage.
Step 4 – Walls & Ceilings
Walls and ceilings are very difficult to soundproof in a home streaming studio.
In a professional soundproofed environment, structural techniques are used on walls and ceilings to create a sound barrier such as double walls and floating ceilings.
This is not practical or even possible for many in a domestic home streaming studio but if you want to tackle these areas, there are some solutions available that will help.
You can add acoustic foam to walls but do not expect miracles.
I have used a lot of acoustic foam over the years but only as acoustic treatment as I have found that it is not dense or thick enough to have a significant soundproofing impact.
Just like soundproofing doors and windows, it is all about adding mass and blocking air gaps which is difficult to do with walls.
Adding acoustic foam to your walls will give a “studio vibe” and will help the sound within the room sound “warmer” and “closer”.
With good positioning of the acoustic foam, your speech audio quality can be improved in your streams as there will be less internal room reflections (sound bouncing off internal walls causing the sound to be less distinct) and in theory, you can get a closer and therefore clearer sounding audio quality.
Ceilings can be a tricky place to soundproof as gravity is against you.
In a domestic setup, “soundclouds” which are basically ceiling foam tiles that can be installed which are an additional layer of soundproofing.
From my experience however, these are too lightweight and keep out very little sound
Personally, if you have problems with sound from the floor above, if you are lucky enough to own it, soundproof the floor of the room above using heavy carpet, rugs and vinyl skins. This will be far cheaper and far more effective.
Sound Isolating Internal Room Noise (e.g. Computer Fans)
It is so easy to get caught up soundproofing our streaming studios from external noise that we can often overlook the internal noises within the room.
The biggest internal noise offenders in streaming rooms are equipment fans, be it the whirring of your PC fan or the low rumble of your XBox.
Some people are super sensitive to these sounds (myself included :)) so it can be good to reduce or eliminate them.
My solution to noisy PCs and equipment is just put them in another room if possible. With wireless technology, it could be possible to have your loud gaming PC or devices in the next room, simply removing the problem.
Alternatively, if you have loud streaming PCs and equipment, it can be useful to consider raising these from the floor.
For example, if you have a noisy PC tower sitting on a wooden floor, that annoying PC fan usually will sound louder on a wooden floor as the wooden floor will amplify the sound. We call this “structurally borne sound”.
Sound on sound magazine has written a fantastic article on PC silencing, which could also be expanded to include other devices. If you are looking for some options to deal with a noisy PC, check it out.
Soundproofing & Ventilation
If you do decide to go the distance and fully soundproof your streaming room, don’t forget to consider ventilation.
All these soundproofing techniques are reducing air-flow and insulating your room, therefore it will be warmer with less fresh air.
At the end of the day, if you are going to be spending hours streaming on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer or whatever, you need to be comfortable and considering your ventilation and temperature is vital.
Typically the standard at home soundproofing solutions are not efficient enough to see a major impact, but it is worth bearing in mind.
So after you soundproof everything and find you are a little bit warmer and cosy, at least you know your soundproofing is working. ☺️
Before You Go…
If you are a streamer and are looking for safe to use music in the background of your streams be sure to check out my royalty-free music library.
All my music is DMCA safe for use on Twitter, YouTube, Mixer and comes with a professional license to prove you have permission to use the music legally.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as a guide only for educational and informational purposes. It is not legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters.