What If You Can’t Soundproof Your Room?

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What if you can’t effectively soundproof your bedroom for sleeping?

Most of the advice on soundproofing your room or home on this website deals with blocking noises from outside, like traffic noise, neighbors’ TVs or just loud conversation, or even barking dogs.

But what about noises from inside your own home? Maybe some family members (or roommates) stay up later, and watch movies later at night than you do (a very common occurrence)? Or they just have friends over, who stay longer than you want to stay up?

We have this situation in our house. Our master bedroom is upstairs, but our living room has cathedral ceilings, and the open area above shares a wall with our master bedroom. So effectively, there’s just a regular wall between the bedroom and the living room, where the TV, with surround sound, is set up. We didn’t foresee the need for additional sound insulation in the master bedroom wall, so it transmits sound pretty effectively. (As an aside, we did install additional fiberglass insulation in the ceiling of our guest bedroom, directly below the living room, but the sound still carries too well, through the wood joists and wall studs.)

To make matters worse, one of the satellite speakers in the corner is mere inches from the bedroom wall. One final touch is that, since the floor plan is very open, the master bedroom’s double French doors open on to a “bridge” to the other upstairs rooms, so there’s sound coming from elsewhere in the house as well. Those French doors don’t block sound much at all.

The result is, unless the people watching TV have the volume turned way down, whoever is trying to sleep can hear all the movie dialog just fine from the bedroom. I’m a very light sleeper, very sensitive to sound, so can’t sleep unless the volume on the TV is turned way, way down. If they’re watching an action movie, with chase scenes or explosions, there will be no sleep until the movie is over.

So, how to sleep in a non-soundproof room?

Our first “soundproofing” solution was actually to cover up sounds from outside, using a white noise generator. We originally got one so our dogs (who sleep in our bedroom) wouldn’t hear coyotes out behind our house. We have since relied on the white noise machine to cover up wind noise (from our occasional high winds), the TV, and any other noises coming from the kitchen and other rooms. The machine works pretty well, in general, so we’ve had one on every night for several years, not. However, this is only effective when the TV sound is turned way down.

My next attempted solution was to use foam ear plugs. They actually work pretty decently, if they stay in. This usually requires multiple attempts, for whatever reason. As the ear plugs expand, they very often just slide right out of my ears. I’ve tried quite a few different brands. Some work well enough, after several tries, some don’t.

In combination, the ear plugs and white noise generator provide enough sound isolation that I can sleep, if the TV volume is turned down, and the movie doesn’t have lots of loud noises, like yelling, care chases, or explosions. But, when the movie of the night is fairly noisy, the white noise machine and ear plugs are not nearly enough.

The Ultimate, Low-Cost Personal Soundproofing Solution

Enter the ultimate, low-cost, super efficient soundproofing solution – my Apple AirPods Pro noise-cancelling earbuds.

I got my AirPods for another purpose altogether. My office is right next to our workout area in the basement, and my family members like to watch movies while working out.  The TV volume has to be loud enough to overcome the noises of our elliptical machine and stationary bike, and all the heavy breathing.

Unfortunately, I’m very close by, trying to work in my office. Not happening.

My wife bought me a pair of Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones (Noisehush BT, over the ear headphones.) They’re super comfortable, and do cut down on the noise quite a bit, but when a movie is blaring on the other side of the door, it’s not enough – I can still hear the dialog loud enough to distract me completely. (Did I mention that I’m very sensitive to environmental sounds?)

The Airpod Pro earbuds, however, are definitely up to the challenge. With my Airpods in, I can happily continue working, even with a loud movie playing very close by – including yelling voices, car chases, explosions, you name it. I can’t hear any of it!

As a bonus, I can wear my Airpod Pros to bed, so the family can continue watching whatever they want on TV, without disturbing me. I just pop them in, usually turn on a white noise app of some kind, although that’s really not needed, either, and I’m in my own virtual soundproof booth. They can watch whatever they want, at any volume, and it doesn’t disturb me at all! (I usually take them out at some point during the night, though, since when I roll onto my side, they’re a little bit uncomfortable in my ear.)

Noise-Cancelling Earbuds – Worth Their Weight in Gold

As you may know, or will find out if you check them out, they’re not cheap. (I rarely pay for high-end products, but figured if these worked as well as people said, they’d be worth it.) I have to say, these airbuds are the best bang-for-the-buck investment I’ve ever made – bar none. If I lost one, I’d replace it in a heartbeat. They’re plenty comfortable to wear, too, so I could probably keep them in for hours, but I usually only put them in when noise is a problem. Oddly, although they reproduce sound extremely well – that’s one of the things they’re so highly touted for – I use them almost exclusively for the noise cancelling function. I love music, but rarely listen on headphones unless I’m on a plane.

Since this website is all about soundproofing and quiet, I won’t even review the sound quality these earbuds deliver. For me, it’s all about the noise cancellation, and for that, they’re literally worth their weight in gold!

Although my bedroom and office are very far from being soundproof, I can now work and sleep in my own little soundproof world, anytime. Isn’t technology great?!

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