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The Importance Of Decoupling

When it comes to acoustically treating your studio an area that very often gets overlooked is isolation and decoupling of equipment.  Any vibrations in a room can be very disruptive whether it is vibration from your monitors sat on the desk or vibration from the gig equipment sat on the floor to vibration from the drum kit when it is struck.  Any vibration in a room transfers into unwanted noise and any unwanted noise will cause problems in a studio whether it is being used for mixing and production or recording.  However by effectively isolating or decoupling equipment and instruments from the hard surface they are sat you will have a room that is that little bit more controlled and equipment and instruments will respond a lot better.

Firstly let’s consider drum kits.  Drum kits whether acoustic or electric create a lot of vibration.  The vibration from the drum kit transfers through the floor and makes the whole room vibrate and resonate.  If your room is above somebody the person below will hear and feel every kick and beat.   There are number of methods you can improve the situation.  If you are disturbing people below you then a floating floor would be a great place to start.  By creating a floating floor you are decoupling the whole floor.  This will have a number of benefits.  Firstly the floating floor will help to soundproof the floor, this will in turn reduce the amount of airborne sound and impact noise passing through the floor and disturbing the neighbour below and also vibrations inthe room being used will be reduced and a better recording environment is the result.  A floating floor is created by laying a few layers of different soundproofing materials, which combined together complete in vastly reduce sound transmission.  The first thing is to make sure the existing floor boards are securely fixed to the joists.  By ensuring this any squeaking is minimized, this will have a positive impact on the room below and will also have a positive impact in the room being treated, no more strange squeaks coming over in the recordings!  Once this has been completed the next step is toacoustically seal all the floor boards joints including around the perimeter of the room.  We recommend you use a fire rated acoustic sealant.  Once you have done this you can then start to lay the soundproofing materials.  The first product to lay is a product called Soundproofing Mat.  This is a 2mm thick soundproof matting with a weight of 5kg/m2.  It is recommended that two layers of Soundproofing Mat are put down ensuring that any joins with the first layer are staggered with the second layer.  Usually running the second layer of roll in the opposite direction to the first layer ensures you do this.  We also recommend that you join the edges of the Soundproofing Mat with Jointing Tape.    The Soundproofing Mat will work to reduce airborne noise. 

Once you have laid your two or three layers the next product to install is a granulated rubber matting called R10.  It is the R10 that creates the floating floor and thus reduces impact noise.  It creates a durable cushion between the floorboards below and the boards you lay in top.  Once you have laid the R10 you can then lay the floorboards.  For improved performance it is recommended that cement impregnated floor boards are used.  This product called QuietBoard is heavier and denser that regular specification floor boards and works to further reduce airborne noise passing through.  Once you have laid the QuietBoard you then need to finally seal all the joints with acoustic sealant.  And that’s it you have floating floor ready for your final surface whether that be carpet or wood.  A carpet finish is recommended as this will improve the rooms acoustics by bringing the reverberation time down.  If you decide to lay carpet then a good acoustic underlay is a good idea such QuietFloor Plus, an acoustic underlay that further reduces impact noise and airborne noise.

If you don’t have anyone below and you simply want to reduce the vibration passing from the drum kit, through the floor and transferring to the walls then a drum isolation kit is the way to go.  By sitting your drum kit on a Isolation Platform you are decoupling the drum kit from the floor thus reducing the vibrations passing though when you kick or strike.  The Drum Isolation Kit PRO is a fantastic product worth considering.  The kit is made of high density load bearing strips of foam upon which are sat the cement impregnated floorboards mentioned earlier, the QuietBoard.  You just simply glue the foam strips to the QuietBoard, glue the sheets of QuietBoard together and there you have a Drum Isolation Kit ready to rock and roll.

Decoupling your monitors from the surface they are sat on is a very good and cost effective way of improving the ability of the monitors to work at their best and also reduce the vibrations passing through the desk or stands which in turn creates noise.  The A.M.I (Advanced Monitor Isolation) Monitor Isolation Pads are an excellent way of doing this.  You can do the same thing with your gig and PA equipment too.  The ISOMAT is an Isolation Mat that can withstand heavy loads and decouple your equipment from the floor.

When it comes to decoupling and isolation there some simple and cheap methods to improving the acoustics in your studio, however, if you need to decouple the whole floor we have explained a system that will allow you to do so with ease