Five ideas to soundproof so you can turn video games up to 11 without waking the dead

September 30 |
"Made by Swedish company Form Us With Love, Hexagon is a modular, awesome soundproofing panel.

Everyone needs a little soundproofing knowledge now and then, but nerds more than most. Between our loud sci fi movies and raucous LAN parties — not that sitting in front of your monitor usually gets any more raucous than tipping over a bottle of Bawls in your excitement to fend off a Zerg rush — nerds make more noise than, say, a knitting circle. More than most knitting circles, at least.

Whether you need to soundproof your apartment or your house, for your neighbors' benefit or so your roommate can do his homework, here are our solutions for soundproofing your space.

There are designer options out there, like Hexagon, pictured above, but they can be hard to get hold of. This one's not on the market yet, sadly. So. What else?

acoustic foam

There are a number of acoustic foams out there like this soundproofing kit — which is kind of a steal at $35 for 8 square feet of foam PLUS adhesive. This is the kind of stuff commonly used in recording booths to dampen echos.

In the non-specialty goods department, there are a number of ways you can use stuff you've already got — or might already buy! — to deaden sound in your place.

Get thee a bookshelf!

Me 'n' beans, doing what we do

Ariel's got the right idea. This is her full-wall bookshelf, as seen in her whirling dream castle. Say on the other side of this wall is a room where Tavi and his baby-friends have loud baby gymnastics time while Ariel's partner Dre tries to get some reading done in the family room. The bookshelf — and its heavy, dense books — will do a lot to keep happily yelling babies from disrupting Papa's reading time.

Add an extra wall

If the space is yours permanently, consider adding a second layer of sheetrock or drywall over the existing wall in a noisy room. This'll give the sound waves another layer to pass through and they'll be a little less energetic when they come out the other side.

When in doubt, add all things soft

In doesn't necessarily matter where the soft things are — just having them around the noise-making adds extra material to deaden sound waves. Think of how loud your home was on that empty day when you first moved in. Now, filled with furniture, beds, and blankets, it's a less echo-y space and sound probably travels less from room to room.

orange drapes

Drapes! Put 'em on the windows, or use them on a wall. Traditionally, drapes are made heavy to block out light — plus they often gather. Both of these are good qualities when you're trying to drown out sound.

Source: oneofeachblog.com via Cat on Pinterest
Source: tingelings.devote.se via Cat on Pinterest

Pillows — also soft. Also cheap, easy to make, and kind of collectible. You can use them traditionally, or in one of these less-usual ways to soften up the joint.

And we can't forget rugs.

shag rug
Get yourself an awesome rug (or several awesome rugs). The thicker the better.

rug pad
Then invest in a rug pad to put under your new awesome floor covering for extra sound proofing.

So basically today we're covering the barrier method to soundproofing. If you've hung up a tapestry or otherwise muted your noisiness — share it with the rest of us, and include photos if you can!

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  1. When we lived in the tiny apartment we totally hung fabric along one wall in the babys room. Muted the kitchen noises from the connecting apartment perfectly.

    2 agree
  2. We don't do much to mute our noise, but then again the other 3 units in our building are inhabited by fairly deaf older women. We hear their TV's or grandchildren, but in almost 3 years nobody has ever said anything about our noise, even when we're drunkenly playing Rock Band at all hours!

    3 agree
  3. Don't think there's a good way to soundproof my apartment… I live on the second floor of a Victorian house. I have hardwood floors, and so a lot of the noise from downstairs (my neighbor plays his country music VERY loudly, and yells a lot) finds its way to me. Can't think of any way to reduce the noise, other than layering carpets… upon which I would surely trip and break my neck. Alas.

    2 agree
  4. I don't know what kind of LAN parties you're going to. All the ones I've seen tend to involve lots of shouting – usually of the cursing at death variety. Or the cursing at idiot teammates or taunting of recently defeated foes.

    5 agree
  5. Any ideas for muting sound from the apartment above you? We've got a passive aggressive charmer up there who likes to play his sub on his music to a crazy degree and his tv so loud that we can hear the dialogue throughout our apartment. Talking to him/talking to the landlord has gotten nowhere. But since we both moved here in August, we're looking at a loooong ten more months (at least!) together.
    Any ideas for what I can do to minimize his noise, short of stapling rugs to my ceilings?

    13 agree
    • You could get some of those panels (or make some like was said below with some cork, which is great for sound proofing, quilt batting and some pretty fabric) and then use Command Strips from 3M to attach them to the ceiling without causing damage. You can the type that's basically Velcro. Then when you move out, remove the panel, remove the strip as per the instructions and you are golden!

      6 agree
  6. Another thing is to consider how much noise is coming through windows and doors. I know in the UK (but I don't know why you couldn't do this in the US or elsewhere) we can buy plastic film to go over windows, attached with double-sided tape. The real purpose of this is to hold in heat, but it does help with sound a bit. A more permanent version would be to put perspex/plexiglass over the glass on your windows.

    Doors are another thing worth considering. You can buy, fairly cheaply, rubber lining to put in door frames that helps reduce both drafts and sound, as well as seals for the bottom of the door.

    2 agree
    • We do have these shrink wrap style window covers in the US- though I never saw them until I moved to the East Coast and had to deal with older-than-the-Mayflower single pane windows. Wish I had known about them in Colorado.

      I would also suggest ceiling fans for upstairs noise (and white noise machines/ fans in general) At the very least you won't have to listen to the all too clearly articulated movie choices of your neighbors.

      1 agrees
  7. I don't know what knitting circles you're going to, but a big group of women (and men too!) chatting away and cracking each other up? It gets pretty loud, pretty fast. ­čÖé

    7 agree
  8. Quilts!! the soft stuff is the best at muffling sound. A nice curtain rod hung wall to wall, or even just a piece of wood or cork as a tack strip, then a layer of pollyester batting from the craft store topped by a quilt or cool fabric works really well. You can even use two rods and "tent" your ceiling.

    4 agree
  9. Oooo love these ideas! I am SO ready to move into our first apartment but the thought of not being able to comfortably play my violin is heartbreaking…

    1 agrees
  10. @gwen, what's your experience with the violin and soundproofing you house now? My boyfriend teaches the violin at home and we're considering buying an old house with neighbours above, below and next to us…. Did these tips help you?

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