Whether it’s in your new lease or your neighbors have started voicing complaints, soundproofing your studio isn’t a straightforward process. There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to how to get the job done. Should you hire a professional, or try to do it yourself? What kind of materials would work best in your particular space?
But since music (and getting along with your neighbors) are both integral when it comes to running a fitness studio, we’ve enlisted the help of a soundproofing expert to weigh in on the best practices for getting the job done right. Read on for advice on how to soundproof your studio.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SOUNDPROOF YOUR STUDIO?
If it’s not explicitly listed in your lease that your space needs to be soundproofed, it can be tempting to skip the process altogether, saving you time and money. But as acoustical consultant and founder of Acoustilog Alan Fierstein points out, the last thing you want to do is run the risk of having to do it retroactively and on the fly once complaints start coming in. “It’s not efficient after setting up your studio to find out that neighbors are complaining and the landlord requires you to fix the problem,” he says. “It is even worse when a noise law is broken and fines come into the picture.” Better safe than sorry.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE YOUR SOUNDPROOFING NEEDS?
When determining what kind of soundproofing material your fitness studio will need and how much, Fierstein explains that the professional you hire should run a test in order to make that call, as each space is different and the needs may vary. “I do testing to measure the inherent soundproofing of the space, the typical noise your business will make, and the appropriate levels of sound leaking out,” he explains. “That allows me to recommend the right material. Some steps for stopping excessive music may not be effective for an instructor’s voice, etc.”
WHAT MATERIALS WORK BEST FOR YOUR STUDIO?
As for the best soundproofing materials to use in your space, Fierstein says that it varies from studio to studio, and the soundproofing pro you’re working with should be making the final call. And with so many different types of workouts out there, it’s worth it to find someone knowledgeable in the space to help you make that decision. “A dance studio may do heavy jumping, a rowing class may occasionally use hand weights, a yoga class may only have an issue with the instructor’s amplified microphone, and so on,” he explains. “Different types of flooring are used to prevent impact noise, and will vary depending on the sound level, the frequency and musical pitch of the sound.” Other factors that will be taken into consideration include the terms listed in the lease, the neighbors and their proximity, and whether they have noise from the street that may mask the noise from the gym, etc.
CAN YOU “DIY” YOUR SOUNDPROOFING?
As far as soundproofing a space yourself goes, Fierstein would only recommend doing so if you’re soundproofing your space simply to give your studio better sound quality — rather than trying to keep your sound from bothering others. “DIY makes sense when you are sure there are no possible serious repercussions if you make a mistake or omission,” he says. “For instance, you are moving into a stand alone building with no neighbors, but you don’t want the space to be so echoey.” Basically, if you’re at risk of complaints rolling in due to your poor DIY efforts, go the professional route.
CAN YOU TAKE YOUR SOUNDPROOFING MATERIALS WITH YOU IF YOU MOVE?
Being able to take your soundproofing materials with you varies from situation to situation. But in most cases, if you’ve built in a very customized soundproofing structure, you’ll probably have to leave it behind. Fierstein says that simpler soundproofing materials like wall pads would be more transportable — but don’t let their portability drive your decision when it comes to your studio’s soundproofing needs. “Anything built in will not be reusable, and your lease may require to remove it even if it has to be carted away as garbage,” he explains. “Simple pads that are not permanently installed are transportable, but may not be effective in the new space. So it all depends.”