Home Studio - Sound Isolation?

Hey y’all!

I’m finally in a position to buy my own house with my partner. We’re currently renting and I’ve commandeered one of the extra bedrooms as my studio. The problem is that it’s right by the living room (where my partner mostly hangs out) and it prevents me from cranking my monitors up any significant amount (and I’d like to add a sub!). This has left me with using headphones pretty exclusively which I don’t like to do due to hyper-acusis and ear fatigue.

When looking for homes I’ve been trying to find layouts with a bedroom far off from the living room and have also been considering building a studio shed in a backyard.

The latter option is significantly more expensive than using an existing room in a house, but I’m worried that using something in the house isn’t going to isolate sound well enough and my partner will kill me after hearing me tune a 4/4 kick on the Rytm for 2 hours.

My question is, how many of you with home studio rooms have sub woofers and use your monitors to mix? Do you have trouble containing the sound in the room? What should I look for in a layout that’ll give me the optimal separation?

I’m not looking for a professional mixing studio. I’m really just wanting a place that I can play my monitors relatively loud while jamming with a sub and not be rude to my partner.

Tl:dr- I would suggest looking for a home with a detached garage or other type of outbuilding (with electricity). It is inhibiting to have a studio space in the home and it is really difficult to mitigate noise issues.

Congratulations on being at a point to buy a home. We bought our house in 2015 and it had an extra bedroom which I used as a studio for a while but honestly, it was a drag. First, I do most of my music after my wife and kids have gone to bed. Unfortunately, the bedroom I used was right over one of our kid’s rooms and next to my wife and I’s bedroom. This eventually made me feel like I was walking on eggshells (and that was with only using headphones). With venting, hardwood floors, hollow core doors, and a million other things that come with homes it makes it really tough to effectively address noise issues. Additionally, someone often would come in to ask me a question or pass through to our garage (the door to the garage was in the bedroom I used as a studio). It effectively made it impossible for me to get in a zone.
I think an outbuilding or detached garage is the way to go. Building backyard studio sheds in costly but to retrofit an outbuilding is much more manageable. Good luck with the Home search.


The ultimate yellow press headline.

When we were buying a house six years ago I had long been on a break from doing music so finding a place with something I could turn into a studio (of sort) wasn’t a concern. However, a lot of ’modern’ houses (built in late 90s and 2000s) tend to be very compact which can become a problem. A lot of two-storey houses where all rooms are very close to one another, at least here in Finland.

Thinking back, there were a couple of different scenarios that could’ve worked:

  • a garage turned into an extra bedroom (usually not right next to a living room or bedroom)
  • a basement, with some sound treatment
  • an outside storage (heated, natch)

I was lucky we bought a house with a storage that’s separated from the bedrooms by a firewall and a utility room (sauna, bathroom etc.). It also has separate entrance. 1,5 years ago I turned that into my music making space. Like @new_drugs, I usually get to make music once our kids have gone to bed, but with the current arrangement I’m able to use monitors and have my gear set up in a separate space away from curious little ones. Sometimes they get to visit. :slightly_smiling_face:

Really depends on the layout of the house and, maybe more importantly, the construction style.
Sound isolation (decoupling really) is tricky. The best solution if you have to be in the same building is to build a room within a room. It won’t be totally soundproof but it’ll get you as close as you’re going to get. It can be expensive though, and quite the project. There are several articles about that method online. I’m designing one for playing drums in my garage.
An outbuilding will usually be harder to contain sound in due to lighter duty construction (typically) but it doesn’t matter as much since it’s decoupled from the house. Insulation and drywall will probably do the trick.
My house is small but has a room I can use at the opposite end from the living room. The luckiest part is that my wife just doesn’t mind me being loud. I’m a noisy guy in general and she knew that before marrying me. Haha.
If you’re going to do any construction for this purpose do your research first, it’s easy to waste time and money if you haven’t read up on sound transmission and construction. And set realistic goals. Fully sound proof means air tight, literally.

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isolating a room in a house is doable, but really depends an a few factors, mostly how much time and money you want to spend and how good of a handyman you are.

If you double up your walls and ceiling, put in a triple-glaze window and heavy exterior-grade door you should be fine. The sub can be placed on shock absorbers, and you can place a cheap dB meter on your desk so you know your limits while working different hours. It’s a fair bit of change, but within the context of buying a house, and considering that it’s for many years to come, the cost isn’t huge.

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Great points also.

I’d also add, if you can find a home with an unfinished basement, that can be an ideal studio space.
Spending the time to insulate the ceiling above and building a “box within a box”, preferably decoupled from the concrete pad with u-boats.
Such a project would not only keep the sound from bleeding throughout the home, but the underground setup would keep it from bleeding outside of the home and into your neighbors.
Keep in mind that building the room within a room means in all dimensions you will lose space, so a basement that is larger than what you think you’d need is preferable. If you want a 10 x 20 ft space with 8 foot ceilings, you’ll want to look for a basement with a roughly 12 x 22 ft free area and 10 to 11 foot ceilings.

Of course, some regions are more likely to have homes with basements than others. But, if possible, it’s a direction worth looking into.


im living in a flat with thin walls, so my homestudio needed to be isolated for the neighbors. it worked out pretty well and I think you can achive the same in your new house.

Most important is the volume of your studio room and the distance between the walls.

my room is roughly 3,0x4,3x2,9 meters, so its a bit small, but I dont have a bigger one. The distance between the walls determine the frequency of the standing bass waves between parallel walls. 4,3 meters produce a standing wave at 40 hz. untreated this can produce a peak of 12 to 18 db in the corners of the room. this is what will annoy people in the rooms next to my studio.

but no bass waves below 40 hz can swing in the room. although my sub can go down below 27 hz, I highpassed everything at 40 hz ( the lowest standing wave possible). so the question if you can benefit from a sub can be answered from the difference between the lowest frequency of your stereo monitors and the largest distance between your walls.

I put 6 large basstraps in the corners of my room and ordered a calculation of the necessary absorbers to get a rt60 of around 0,2 seconds. to get a room of my size completely treated i had to invest 3000 to 4000 euros in bass traps, absorbers and diffusors.

because there were still resonant peaks in the bass frequencies I combined it with a room calibration system, that flatens out the resonances. You can do this in software, but if you play with hardware synths without a pc, I found a dbx driverack pa2 to be a much better solution. it costs around 400 euro plus a cheap measurement mike for 60 euro to do the measurements.

another thing is that I dont mix at 83 db, but at a much lower level below 60 db (with additional avantone cubes) this is also nice for the ears when you work over a few hours.

so long story short: room treatment and room correction to get ridd of the bass modes is the solution to your question and cheaper than building another studio in the garden.

if the room is well treated and you got ridd of the bass modes, you wont need a second floor or secondary walls. this is only necessary, if your playing drums, because this produces structure borne noise that will get through the walls.


My studio is now in the attic conversion. Attics are fantastic as they are so large and away from downstairs living so you can really ramp up the volume. In your case you have to compromise so much its always going to end in arguments with your wife. Get a large outhouse studio in the garden like Rachel Collier if you can afford it.

Personally I tend to favour no sub, small monitors and listen at no more than 80db for short periods of time, for monitoring I tend to stay at around 70db (very small room) It is pretty easy to fuck your hearing up and develop tinnitus listening too loud for too long. Of course it is oh so tempting to listen loud and ignore the advice, but you only have 1 set of ears that currently can’t be replaced or repaired.

Smaller monitors obviously don’t have the volume of larger monitors, and subsequently contribute less reverberant energy into the room, so you can sit closer and get a more direct sound, given that most difficult room problems come from bass frequencies keeping these lower can save needing drastic room treatment.


rachels studio is an example, how not to do it. too many windows, no room treatment, a bad kitchen chair to sit on. this is not a good solution for a mixing room.


Basements are great with one big caveat: humidity and mold. Some unfinished basements are chronically damp which is bad for your gear, so when checking out a house, if the unfinished basement smells like a damp cave you may need to treat more than just acoustics to make it studio-ready. This does not come from experience in recording studios but from experience in real-estate.

The “box within a box” structure serves two functions: it blocks sound transmission in and out of the room; in addition, the dead air between the walls with a bit of rock wool is an excellent wide band bass trap, which than saves on the considerable cost of specialty bass traps.

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if you can find a house with a basement you can finish it in such a way that isolates it from the rest of the house. you don’t need to do a floating floor. just decouple the ceiling from the floor above and build out from the basement walls.

i didn’t even do that much and my basement is decently isolated. i do wish i had decouple the ceiling as it would help a lot.

but the basement is split into 3 rooms. my studio, a living room/tv space, utility room (washer dryer furnace some storage) and i can play things at reasonable levels while someone watches tv and it’s no problem. the wall between the studio/tv room is 8 inches… decoupled/staggered studs so the dry wall on each side isn’t touching the same studs. there 2 layers of dry wall and a heavy solid door.

if you really want to have your studio in the house in an existing room and you want to be able to get loud w/o bothering anyone you’ll need to gut the room and rebuild it. there’s all kinds of things you can do that will be cheaper than building a new unattached building.

check john sayers forum. great for research on techniques and materials.


another thing to consider… if you do decide to build an out building on whatever property you buy… the county/city will reassess the property and your property taxes will no doubt increase since you’re adding will likely be termed an ADU - Accessory Dwelling Unit -

basically… any thing that requires a permit for a build is flagged by the assessor who will want to come out and reassess the property for tax reasons.

re: basements. mine is dry as fuck. it’s the reason i bought the house. no dampness, no mold none of that worry. so, you can find dry basements and so long as drainage around the house is right and the floor/walls etc were done right you should be good. ceiling height can be an issue though. it’s sometimes tough to find full size ceiling height basements. mine is a bit shorter than the 8ft that’s typical in normal rooms. it’s about 7-4 i think. so not bad.


Wow, so many great resources in these responses thank you all! Unfortunately basements are really rare in the areas we’re looking.

I’m going to look deeper into what it would take to modify a room in the house to make this work, but it seems as though I’ll have the best luck with an outbuilding. Luckily those are relatively common to have already been built.

Going to take some time to digest all this information

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If you have the time and patience, this is a great source:

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I would talk to your realtor and let them know what you’re looking for. especially if you’re OK doing some work. there’s all sorts of odd-ball things in houses that could work out for you. our house has a room off the back that used to be a patio. when we tried to sell the house previously (but eventually backed out) the room was only enclosed; floor wasn’t leveled or finished, no HVAC, but insulation, roofing and drywall were done. the realtor specifically noted this in our listing and as a result, most potential buyers visiting the house had interest in turning this into a kid’s playroom, extra bedroom, home office, gym, etc. since we stayed, we added what this room was missing and it’s my office/studio now. since it’s technically outside the original main house, it’s naturally isolated to a decent degree. as long as I keep the volume somewhat reasonable, I bother nobody.

point is: you could find a half-finished room above a garage or a “mother-in-law suite” off the back of the house or something that you can tailor to your needs. just tell your realtor what you’re looking for. properties with such spaces (especially un-completed) are sometimes tricky to sell, so they love to work with interested buyers.


In your case I would probably go room in room if possible. I would never feel good with all my gear outside in a shed.

me too. but i think he’s looking at more than a shed. like a detached garage or something. still some ‘sheds’ these days really are quite substantial and well constructed. it’s possible to upgrade doors and windows and make them secure. even put in an alarm system and a wyze camera or something for reasonable fees.

so long as there isn’t a huge tree over it that will collapse or drop big limbs in a storm a mega shed might work just fine. i think it helps not to advertise what’s in the shed ya know… keep it private and obstructed view from the street etc.

Well, I have made the budget calculations for my box-in-a-box mini studio. Mainly for synth jams. BUT as it is a part of my garage: dimensions are VERY limited: 1,80 m width, 3.5m long. I play not at huge volumes at all. So my question is simple: is there a chance that I get a good sound in such a small space. I know it might look ‘claustrophobic’, but I really enjoy that almost everthing is within reach.
Seem like you know what you are talking about, so I’m curious for your opinion. I would appreciate it very much.

Is 1.8m the net width after building the inner box or the gross width you have to work with?

the inner dimensions of the box (luckily - if not it would be like 1m20 :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
The total width of the garage is 3m00, but I need a doorway to my garden, bummer, but it’s what it is. And I don’t want bicycles passing through my ‘studio’ all the time. :slight_smile: