Db-3 Acoustical Barrier (Ditra) – A Mass Loaded Vinyl Home Depot Alternative
Recording studio design is of vast importance when it comes to creating an audio recording setup. One of the biggest challenges is adequately soundproofing the space. This could be either to keep sound in or keep sound out. In a band rehearsal space, it is often necessary to keep loud sounds in. This keeps the neighbors happy. But if you own an audio recording studio or have a home studio, you must make sure sound is not getting in. The build-up of sound affects your overall headroom. This can lead to unwanted noise on the recording. Now do not get this confused with acoustic sound treatment. This focuses on the quality of the sound as opposed to creating a barrier to block it. The recording studio I have set up is in an unusual space… an indoor climate-controlled storage unit. There are a number of things that make this space not ideal for audio recording. From the beginning I knew that a lot of soundproofing and acoustic sound treatment would be needed. Because it is climate controlled, the ceiling of the unit is nothing but wire. So sound bounces all over the building and right into the unit. The other main problem is the steel walls. That unpleasantly harshens the sound.
I researched endlessly about soundproofing and acoustic sound treatment. I needed to clean up the sound and keep out as much air conditioner and other unwanted noises. I had thought about trying to create a room within a room using OSB fiberboard and green glue. But, it would have been extremely labor intensive, so I decided against it. I did, however, use this method to close off the roll-up door area.
The second idea I considered was mass loaded vinyl, or MLV. This seemed like it would have been a great solution.It would have been easy to work with by myself and would have molded nicely to some of the challenging surfaces. But… way too expensive. This is not meant to be a professional recording studio. It is mainly just a place where my bands can practice and record our own music. It is also an experiment to see just how much sound I could stop from getting in. I would say it is somewhere between a home studio and a professional recording studio.
So while researching MLV (mass loaded vinyl), I discovered a mass loaded vinyl Home Depot alternative called Db-3 acoustical barrier, or ditra. It comes in a 4’x8’ roll, and is approximately 1 lb. per square foot. This gives me the density I am looking for at nearly a third of the cost as MLV. Through Home Depot, it is available with free shipping, which is even more lovely. After I received the mass loaded vinyl Home Depot alternative, I placed the sheets on top of the wire ceiling. Then I covered the sheets with couch cushions. I also hung the sheets from the ceiling, about 8” in front of the wall. And lastly, I filled the gap with anything I could find to use for insulation. And after the Db-3 acoustical barrier/mass loaded vinyl Home Depot alternative was in place, I sealed the remaining air openings. One downfall of the Db-3 acoustical barrier is that it is much more rigid than MLV (mass loaded vinyl). This makes it a bit more difficult to handle. But for the money, I am definitely able to overlook this.
I am happy to say that after all the soundproofing and sound treatment I did, I was able to reduce the noise from about 60db to 40db. Not silent by any means, but definitely a major improvement. I am not saying this solution will work for everybody. In fact, I’m sure there are recording experts and computer audiophiles that will laugh at this method. But it has worked for me, and I have avoided the cost of MLV (mass loaded vinyl). My audio recordings are produced at the highest quality I can achieve with my amount of knowledge. Thus far there has not been any disappointment. Now, I did do further acoustic sound treatment by adding DIY broadband absorbers and DIY bass traps until the measurement of the room was as flat as I could get it. But that is a whole other can of worms. But for soundproofing alone, Db-3 acoustical barrier/mass loaded vinyl Home Depot alternative could be a viable solution for your home studio.
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