One of the best and worst things about playing drums is the noise factor. Nothing feels better than sitting with a kit and thrashing out some loud grooves and fills, taking out your frustration from the day. The feeling of playing on a stage and creating music is unrivaled.
However, drum kits are a neighbor’s worst enemy. The loud noise and constant bashing have the potential to drive people crazy. So, as drummers, we either need to live somewhere with some super chill neighbors or soundproof our drum rooms as best we can in order to keep the peace in the neighborhood.
Here are some ways to control the sound coming out of your practice room.
Look for Leaks
You should think of your drum sound as a type of gas that can escape wherever there are open spaces that lead outside of the room. This is why closing a door reduces the sound dramatically. It closes that big open space.
There are a lot of small spaces that you may not think of initially that can leak sound. The first place to look would be the bottom of your door. A lot of doors have a slight gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. This gap allows a lot of sound to escape through it. So, covering that gap will help with soundproofing. If you don’t want to spend any money, you could stick a towel or blanket under it. If you’re willing to invest some cash, then you could use some adhesive foam.
The next place to look would be your windows. Even if your windows are closed, there might still be a gap where the air is coming through, which in turn lets sound travel out of. The adhesive foam would work in sealing that up as well.
Depending on what type of door you have, it might let sound travel through it if it’s hollow. Hanging a thick blanket over the door will help to stop sound going through it.
A big aspect of how a room affects sound is the flooring. Certain types of floors amplify sound more than others. To soundproof your room, you’re going to need a carpeted floor. The carpet acts as a sound insulator as well. Have you ever noticed how drums sound better in a room that is carpeted as opposed to a room that isn’t? This is why all recording studios have carpeted floors.
Once your room is carpeted, it will be good to use a drum rug as well. The extra layer of surface will further control the sound coming from the drums. The drum rug stops the drums from vibrating too much, lowering the harshness of their sound. Any rug will do, but there are a lot of specially made drum rugs from drum companies that will do the job. I have a list of the best ones here.
Having a carpeted floor will make your practice space feel really cozy as well!
The last aspect of soundproofing a room is the walls. Certain types of walls will reflect sound harsher than others. Concrete walls are probably the worst sound insulators out there. Have you ever noticed how a room echoes when there’s no furniture in it? It’s because there is nothing stopping the sound from hitting the walls and reflecting off of them.
The first thing to do with regards to walls is to cover up the corners. The corners are the worst part when it comes to sound and covering them up will help the sound dramatically. You can use soundproof foam panels to do this. I have a list of my favorites here.
The next thing to do is to cover the walls completely with a thick material. Casual home blankets will work, but they won’t look too great. There are companies that make specific heavy wall blankets for this purpose like these.
You could get some wall blankets that are a specific color to improve the aesthetic look of your practice space. I’ve found that black ones work the best, especially when used in conjunction with LED lights for making videos.
Sometimes it just isn’t going to be possible to soundproof a room properly. This could be because you live in an apartment, have a shared space, or just don’t have the tools to do it. So, you’d need to find other options for reducing sound. This could come in the form of an electronic drum kit or low volume cymbals and pads.
Electronic drum kits are the most popular solution to sound worries. They’ve really come a long way in their quality over the years and there are some affordable high-quality e-kits on the market. Companies like Roland, Alesis, and Yamaha all have some good products to check out.
The other solution to sound worries would be low volume cymbals and drum pads. These are acoustic cymbals and pads that are designed to produce about 20% of the noise that normal acoustic drums produce. You can use them along with your standard acoustic kit and you won’t bother anyone in your neighborhood or apartment building.
Dealing with irritated neighbors and family members is one of the trade-offs of being a drummer. We all have a story or two where we got reprimanded by someone for making a noise.
Soundproofing a room doesn’t have to be an expensive process. There are a few things you can do that will help in your mission to not bother anyone.
The only way to truly soundproof a room 100% would be to build a room within a room. This isn’t possible for most of us, so we just have to do the best we can with what we have. So, go and try some of the above-mentioned soundproofing tactics and then get practicing!