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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014
The Sound and the Fury
Manit Moorjani, Hindustan Times
September 15, 2012
First Published: 17:17 IST(15/9/2012)
Last Updated: 17:44 IST(15/9/2012)

When was was the last time your neighbours set the dog on you or dialled 100 to muffle your musical ambitions? This may seem far-fetched but it’s a common occurrence for many musicians. Ask Parikrama percussionist Srijan Mahajan. “Initially, my neighbours would keep calling my number and ask me to stop. But I played on. Now that I play at studios or at a reasonable hour, they are more tolerant.”

Apart from hostile neighbours, acoustic-unfriendly rooms and discordant echoes can prove jarring to the ears of connoisseurs and lay listeners. But converting your study or living room into a personal sound room isn’t as tough as it, well... sounds.

You don’t have to be a professional to listen to clearer music in your own room. Using simple steps, you can dampen and soundproof your room to an extent that there is a rich sound inside, and the neighbours, too, can keep to themselves.

A good listening room is one where your ears feel comfortably numb, as ever-present background sounds are absent. You shout, and your voice doesn’t echo. You hear a single sound, nothing overlaps. Architect and sound engineer Arsh Sharma says the most important sound control factor is to avoid the bass frequency boom, which isn’t part of the original soundtrack. “All speakers have an added distorted sound emerging from the back, apart from the main sound. A wall of acoustic panels right behind the speakers, and another in front, is essential to create a good listening environment,” adds Sharma.

When was was the last time your neighbours set the dog on you or dialled 100 to muffle your musical ambitions? This may seem far-fetched but it’s a common occurrence for many musicians. Ask Parikrama percussionist Srijan Mahajan. “Initially, my neighbours would keep calling my number and ask me to stop. But I played on. Now that I play at studios or at a reasonable hour, they are more tolerant.” Apart from hostile neighbours, acoustic-unfriendly rooms and discordant echoes can prove jarring to the ears of connoisseurs and lay listeners. But converting your study or living room into a personal sound room isn’t as tough as it, well... sounds. You don’t have to be a professional to listen to clearer music in your own room. Using simple steps, you can dampen and soundproof your room to an extent that there is a rich sound inside, and the neighbours, too, can keep to themselves. A good listening room is one where your ears feel comfortably numb, as ever-present background sounds are absent. You shout, and your voice doesn’t echo. You hear a single sound, nothing overlaps. Architect and sound engineer Arsh Sharma says the most important sound control factor is to avoid the bass frequency boom, which isn’t part of the original soundtrack. “All speakers have an added distorted sound emerging from the back, apart from the main sound. A wall of acoustic panels right behind the speakers, and another in front, is essential to create a good listening environment,” adds Sharma. do-it-yourself Certain simple ideas in a room can produce great results when it comes to sound dampening (see Sound Advice). “Use a lot of filled bookcases, and have plenty of cushions, mattresses and fabric,” says Sharma, who is also a guitarist with Delhi-based experimental rock band The Circus. Sharma has built a basic sound recording room in his South Delhi house, which has acoustic panels all over the room to cover all visible space on the walls and ceiling. Sound designer Debjit Mitra, who has handled the audio engineering for stand-up comedy groups such as Delhi’s Cheese Monkey Mafia and Mumbai’s Culture Shoq, has put up acoustic panels in his bedroom. Mitra says bass sounds are toughest to soundproof, and one has to select sound-absorbent materials. “Acoustic panels with foam sheets and pinboards are handy. Don’t use egg trays, they don’t work,” he says. If you can afford it, go for wooden false ceilings. “And if the room is being built, make sure to not have an even number of surfaces. A hexagonal-shaped room works well,” adds Sharma, who also plays for the electronica band Fuzzculture. So what are you waiting for? Turn up the volume! Sound advice Here’s what you can do to create a basic sound room without hiring a fancy (and expensive) expert Fill the place with bookcases filled with books to absorb sound Furnish it with cushions, rugs, thick mattresses and carpets Add more cloth and fabric to the room – tablecloths, blankets on sofas, chairs, canvas, other thick fabric Use wood (as much as possible) Install acoustic panels Use double-layer soundproof glass Install false ceilings Get a soundproof door bottom Use acoustic insulation to fill gaps and edges of windows Paint it right. Some professionals even have soundproof paint Here are some age-old garage band tricks that might come in handy Hang thick rugs or old mattresses against the walls Just fill the room with stuff – even if you need to place store-room racks Cheap enough! Creating a sound room out of your regular-sized room costs a minimum of R10,000 (for 2-3 acoustic panels) for basic sound absorption and bass control. These costs can go up to R2,00,000 depending on the level of soundproofing and sophistication. From HT Brunch, September 16 Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

Do-it-yourself
Certain simple ideas in a room can produce great results when it comes to sound dampening (see Sound Advice). “Use a lot of filled bookcases, and have plenty of cushions, mattresses and fabric,” says Sharma, who is also a guitarist with Delhi-based experimental rock band The Circus.

Sharma has built a basic sound recording room in his South Delhi house, which has acoustic panels all over the room to cover all visible space on the walls and ceiling.

Sound designer Debjit Mitra, who has handled the audio engineering for stand-up comedy groups such as Delhi’s Cheese Monkey Mafia and Mumbai’s Culture Shoq, has put up acoustic panels in his bedroom. Mitra says bass sounds are toughest to soundproof, and one has to select sound-absorbent materials. “Acoustic panels with foam sheets and pinboards are handy. Don’t use egg trays, they don’t work,” he says.

If you can afford it, go for wooden false ceilings. “And if the room is being built, make sure to not have an even number of surfaces. A hexagonal-shaped room works well,” adds Sharma, who also plays for the electronica band Fuzzculture.

So what are you waiting for? Turn up the volume!

Sound advice
Here’s what you can do to create a basic sound room without hiring a fancy (and expensive) expert
Fill the place with bookcases filled with books to absorb sound
Furnish it with cushions, rugs, thick mattresses and carpets
Add more cloth and fabric to the room – tablecloths, blankets on sofas, chairs, canvas, other thick fabric
Use wood (as much as possible)
Install acoustic panels
Use double-layer soundproof glass
Install false ceilings
Get a soundproof door bottom
Use acoustic insulation to fill gaps and edges of windows
Paint it right. Some professionals even have soundproof paint

Here are some age-old garage band tricks that might come in handy
Hang thick rugs or old mattresses against the walls
Just fill the room with stuff – even if you need to place store-room racks

Cheap enough!
Creating a sound room out of your regular-sized room costs a minimum of Rs. 10,000 (for 2-3 acoustic panels) for basic sound absorption and bass control.
These costs can go up to R2,00,000
depending on the level of soundproofing and sophistication.

From HT Brunch, September 16

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch


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