Can you soundproof your living space?

Concepts Behind Soundproofing

If noise is bothering you to the point that you want to take soundproofing steps, you can come at it from two angles: noise transmission and noise reception. Perhaps you practice on an electric guitar every night and don't want your neighbors to complain about your intense jam sessions -- that's a transmission issue. As that noise-barraged neighbor, you'd want to block that sound out, in other words, block the reception.

The next question is what type of sound you're dealing with. You know that chest-pounding feeling you get when you pull up beside a car with bass blasting through a subwoofer? Those indoor noise vibrations your body feels are referred to as structure-borne. Overhearing a conversation or knowing what's on a neighbor's tube is called airborne noise [source: Sound Isolation Company].

Muffling those audible aggravations involves three different avenues: space, mass and dampening. Space increases the amount of air between your ears and the source, diffusing the noise by taking away the vibration channels. Mass, such as a hefty wall, can act as a sound sponge, soaking in the waves. Dampening sound requires specific materials, insulation for instance, that will convert structure-borne sound waves to heat energy [source:].

On the next page, we'll learn the simplest and cheapest ways to keep sound in and out of your humble abode.