Some Sound Advice

I got an email the other day from a gentleman asking me what he could do to improve the soundproofing cabinet he was trying to build around his machine.  Here is the essence of his letter:

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Hello Matt,
 
My machine is too loud. 
 
I have built a styrofoam box around my machine.   I used dense 2-1/2 inch material.  Now I know I must put a second layer of material over the top and have a dead space between the two boxes. Someone suggested using moving blankets over my box.   Another person suggested a lead blanket over my box.   Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Wayne H. (Vancouver British Columbia   Canada)


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I spent a couple of days thinking about how to build a box that would suppress the excess noise and yet not interfere with long board carving projects that needed to move in and out of the machine.  I also wanted to consider air circulation so there wouldn't be any heat buildup inside the enclosure.  I gave some thought to how a guy could go about building a soundproof room in the basement or out in the garage. I started drawing out sketches and thinking of supplies I would need - I was going all out.  I even did some research to find out what it would take to create an active sound cancellation system using sophisticated electronics. 

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I was sitting at my computer listening to music while I was surfing
Amazon.com looking for the supplies I would need to build that active noise cancellation system when my ear began to itch.  I pulled off my headphones to scratch that itch and it HIT me!!  ...Did the lightbulb just go on for you too?

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You see, I was going down the same path that everyone else was too.  We were so preoccupied with the engineering aspect that we failed to see the simple solution. 
HEARING PROTECTION!!!  We couldn't see the forest cause all them damned trees were in the way.

Scrap the enclosure idea and just get a nice set of headphones to shield the noise and protect your hearing.  There are models that look like conventional stereo
headphones and there are devices that look more like earplugs - from bargain priced units all the way up to some pretty stylish active suppression units.

Not to be over simplistic, it did occur to me that maybe Wayne wants to quiet his noise making down to show respect for his family and/or neighbors.  If this is the case, then I suggest a couple of books that may help provide a solution.

The first is called
Noise Control Manual for Residential Buildings.  It's a builders guide that shows how to build or retrofit a building to reduce noise levels.  The second is called Keep The Peace.  It's aimed at musicians that want to build a quiet place where they can be loud.  Even though it centers around musical needs, it's main emphasis is to create an area where noise won't escape.

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I hope that this note will get you thinking more about noise and how to reduce it around you.  Noise has some ill consequences and any hints you can glean to reduce it will definitely be
sound advice.