No matter if you just want to block out the outside noise or if you want to make a home recording studio, you will have to soundproof at least one room if not the entire apartment. Luckily you have a lot of options when it comes to soundproofing and most of them do not require you to make any significant modifications in your rental apartment.
You can soundproof a rental apartment by, choosing the right room, getting rid of large furniture, using soundproofing blankets, soundproofing foam, by soundproofing your door, soundproofing your windows, soundproofing your floor, soundproofing your ceiling, using soundproofing paint and even by using a noise machine.
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As a singer sooner or later you will have to take into consideration ho soundproofing your rental apartment might actually help you record your singing. The problem is that most propper soundproofing techniques cost a fair amount of money and usually there is a lot of construction needed to be done. This in turn ill be impossible in some rental apartments as not all landlords will allow you to modify the apartment in any shape or form.
If you are a singer which is serious about singing then you probably set up already a small recording studio. If you have not yet done that and you would like more information about what kind of equipment you will need than check out my recent article Singing at home equipment ( Top 11 Essentials ). If you already know hat kind of equipment you will need for your recording studio then the next logical step is to consider how to effectively soundproof the actual room.
Soundproofing a rental apartment is a lot more different than soundproofing a room in a house. Generally, speaking most rental apartments do have a lot of connecting walls between the apartments. Problem is that these interior walls are usually fairly thin and you can often hear your neighbors watching TV and so on. If you will set up a small recording studio in a room which is not soundproofed in any shape or form you ill find that your microphone will pick up a lot of background noise.
This background noise could come from outside or from your neighbors, in some cases where the walls are thin, these walls will actually resonate the sound and produce an echo effect. You can get rid of this echo effect in post-production while you are editing but this is hardly the ideal for a recording studio.
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Choose the right room
Generally speaking, most rental apartments have around 2-3 rooms which usually means that you will probably have some roommates. In case that you live in a small rented single bedroom apaprtment than it will be a lot easier to soundproof at least one corner of the room, it’s not ideal but you have to work with what you have. In case you have roommates you have to find the best room for your recording studio which might be already occupied by one of the roommates.
My personal recommendation is to test out some of the rooms, generally speaking, the outside walls are better insulated than the interior walls. The problem with these exterior walls is that the actual windows could be low-quality ones which means that no matter how good the exterior walls are insulated they will still have noise coming in trough the windows. Usually, this happens in older apartments that have wooden window frames.
Once you have identified the best room which you can soundproof easier but it is already occupied than try to bargain for it with your roommates. Try to be smart about it and do not actually tell the real reason why you want it, just make something up. The main reason why you wouldn’t want to let them know why you actually need the room is because they will know that you need that room and you don’t really have an option, this will make it extremely hard to negotiate for the room. Choosing the right room is especially important if you are actually making money with your singing if you are not yet at that point than check out my article How to make money by singing ( Top 27 Methods ).
Get rid of large furniture
Older styled apartments have a lot of large furniture, while they might look stylish they are not the best when it comes to soundproofing. Large tables and bookshelves will resonate the sound back to your microphone and you will have an echo or a vibrating effect in your recodings. No matter how high quality your microphone is it will be fairly hard to filter them out without specialized software.
On the other hand, large furniture which contains clothes can stay, you just have to check if the bolts of the doors and handles will not vibrate and produce a sound while you are editing your music.
Use soundproofing blankets
Your main goal is not only to soundproof against the noise from outside but also from the noise of what your studio equipment makes. My personal recommendation is to use soundproof blankets, especially on your recording desk. It might feel awkward to work on it at first but my suggestion is to put an extra-large mouse pad on top of it. This way you are not only soundproofing your recording area but the soundproofing blanket will also absorb the sound which your recording equipment makes.
By far one of the easiest ways in how to soundproof a rented apartment is with soundproof foam. These are fairly cheap and they come in different sizes. Usually, you will have to blue these on to the wall, but you would probably want to avoid doing this if you live in a rented apartment, especially if you want to use the soundproofing foam on larger surfaces. My personal recommendation is before you go and buy some soundproofing foam is to make some calculations before so you know aproximately how much you need.
In addition to the soundproofing foam, you should also buy a box cutter and some double-sided duct tape. The reason why you will be needing a box cutter is that it is far easier to cut the soundproofing foam with this, rather than with a kitchen knife. You will use the double-sided duct tape instead of glue, this way you will not leave any permanent marks on the wall. Just make sure that you use enough double-sided duct tape that the soundproofing foam sits firmly and don’t move.
Depending on the quality of the actual soundproofing foam and the duct tape you might find it that they become loose after a while. If this starts to happen, then buy some velcro and use the double-sided duct tape to put velcro both on the foam and on the wall, this way it will be a lot more secure and will not fall off.
PS: Make sure that the wall is clean of any dust before you put the double-sided duct tape on it, otherwise the duct tape will simply stick to the dust and will fall off in no time. If you did not install the soundproofing foam correctly than you might hear it in your recordings and in some cases it might even distort your voice, for more reasons why this could happen, check out my article Why does my singing sound awful recorded? ( Top 10 Reasons ).
Soundproof your door
If you are living alone you can probably skip this step. However, if you are living with roommates than you will have to soundproof your door. If you have enough money to get a well insulating door, if not you will have to use soundproofing foam for not letting the outside noise to enter the room. One additional step which you might have to keep an eye out is that some doors have a larger gap between the floor and the actual door.
The problem is that if the gap is large enough sound from outside could still come in, luckily you can simply stop this from happening by blocking the path underneath the door with a simple wool blanket. You don’t have to keep it there constantly just when you are recording.
Soundproof your windows
The main goal of the soundproofing curtains is to absorb the sound which comes trough the windows. As you probably do not want to put soundproofing foam on your windows as it will look awful and without any sunlight, your rented apartment might look like a dungeon. These soundproofing curtains have a different absorption power depending on the decibel of the sound, usually, it is specified on the packaging of the soundproof curtains.
My personal recommendation is to simply get the thickest ones you can get, just keep in mind that the thicker they are the heavier they get. So make sure that your curtain holder is strong enough to take the additional load. Another option of how to soundproof your windows is by using window inserters, these are usually made out of some kind of special plastic and they are directly placed on the windows. The problem is that this will increase the width of the windows and you might find it hard to open the windows, although there are some brands that can be simply taken often a matter of minutes.
Soundproof your floor
Now you might think that you have to put some soundproofing foam on your floor, this is not ideal and will not work. All you have to do is to put a good thick rug on the floor. Generally speaking the thikcker the rug is the better its soundproofing qualities are. You do not even have to cover the entire floor but it will still be a good idea if you have the possibility to do that, on the other hand, it will be a nightmare to clean so it is up to you how big of a rug you use.
I personally use a small rubber rug that sits right under my desk and chair, this way any additional noise which my equipment makes will not be channeled down into the floor which might bounce the sound back to my microphone.
Soundproof your ceiling
It might be fairly difficult to soundproof your ceiling, usually one of the best ways is to install drywall filled with sound-absorbing material. Although if you live in a rented appartment this might not be an option for you. There are some ceiling soundproofing equipment on the market where you do not have to alter the apartment, the problem is that these are extremely expensive. If you are on a tight budget you will have to think outside of the box and come up with a solution.
By far one of the strangest solutions to soundproofing a ceiling was done by one of my friends which comes from Europe, he simply put a rug on the ceiling. Not only that but the walls were also covered by rugs in order to soundproof the entire room, and it was actually working surprisingly well. He later told me that in Europe from where he comes from most apartments do have rugs on the walls but for aesthetic purposes.
There are certain types of paints that have soundproofing quality, the problem is that they can be extremely expensive and they are fairly hard to be applied to the walls. In addition to this, you will probably need to make a thick layer of soundproofing substance on the wall right before you apply the soundproof paint. I do not know how exactly these soundproofing paints work or if they are even a viable solution for a recording studio, and I have never seen somebody use it for a recording studio.
Your last option is to get a noise machine, I know that this is probably the last thing on your mind when it comes to soundproofing your recording studio but hear me out. These noise machines create a special sound which will actually block the background noise, this sound will be easily picked up by your microphone but the good news is that as this sound is fairly cosntant you can edit it out fairly easy.
Soundproofing a rental apartment if you want to make a home recording studio will definitely be a challenge as you will not be able to modify the apartment in any significant way. You simply have got to work with what you have, and oftentimes this means that you will have to improvise.