You love the rich, crisp, booming sound you get from your home speakers, but what about your doorbell speakers or those near your studio? Even you have to admit that sometimes they’re just too loud. Is there any way to make these speakers quieter? There is, and it’s known as muffling.
How do you muffle a speaker? You have plenty of options for muffling your speakers, from using polyurethane foam or acoustic foam to rags, pillows, tape, or even a spare plushy. While some options are more effective and intended for longer-term use than others, all these methods will dampen sound.
If you want detailed info on how to muffle any problem speakers, then read on. I’ll go into depth on all the methods outlined above so you can enjoy more peace and quiet.
Reasons to Muffle a Speaker
Speakers are phenomenal things, they really are, but in some instances, they can be a bit much. If you have a home alarm system installed on your property, then anytime it’s in use (which hopefully isn’t often!), all those shrill screams and loud whoops can give you a headache. Your alarm system might be the kind where it consistently beeps even when it’s not in use just to let you know it’s on and working. That can drive you nuts fast.
According to one forum poster here, their apartment complex doorbell will keep chiming until the visitor stops pressing the bottom. The visitor can’t hear the doorbell chime, though, only the resident. The doorbell is especially loud, and if multiple people come by to hang out, that chiming can get tiresome quickly.
Other apartment renters have reported a loathsome buzzing noise when visitors use their building’s intercom system, which is just as bad as the doorbell chime issue. Maybe these noises are familiar to you, and you’re looking for a solution. If so, you’ve come to the right place.
If you have your own studio, like a poster here does, then it may not be in the most ideal location. For instance, the poster mentioned they do their recording in a large storage warehouse building. If there are announcements or music played over the intercom, it can interrupt the recording. They then have to start all over again.
Those are real-world examples of people who have had their speakers get in the way of enjoying and living their lives. For them, muffling the speaker is the perfect solution.
How to Muffle a Speaker
Luckily, muffling a speaker isn’t too difficult. If you need short-term, quick solutions, there are plenty of ways to mute the sound, as I mentioned in the intro. There are also more long-term, effective options that will cost some money to procure. I’ll elaborate on all the options mentioned above so you can have your pick.
Tape is convenient, easily available, and a solid solution if you don’t own your speaker, such as in the case of an overly loud apartment doorbell. It’s cheap, too. What’s not to love?
There are plenty of tape types you can use to muffle a speaker. Duct tape is one such option. Do be aware that if you leave the tape on for too long and then go to peel it off, it may leave behind a tacky residue. You’ll then have to clean the stickiness off the speaker carefully.
Other types of tape you might want to try in lieu of duct tape are painter’s tape and gaffer’s tape. Painter’s tape is often blue in color and quite slim. That’s because it’s designed to go on corners and ceilings to protect them from paint.
As a warning, some brands of painter’s tape may also leave behind a residue. It can also be hard to remove this tape if you leave it on your speaker for too long.
Lastly, there’s gaffer’s tape. This looks a lot like duct tape. It’s wide, comes on a large wheel, and is often black in color. It’s made of a cotton cloth for flexibility. Unlike duct tape and painter’s tape, though, there’s less residue to be dealt with. Gaffer’s tape should be your go-to then.
I don’t know if you associate feelings with a stuffed animal, but if you do, this will seem kind of mean. Still, if it works, it works. What am I talking about? Putting a stuffed animal in front of the speaker, of course!
You’d want the plushie to be big enough that it covers the entirety of the speaker. It should also be slim enough that you can close any backboards or vents that may cover the speaker.
Rags and Pillows
If you’ve outgrown your stuffed animal phase, then don’t despair. You can still quickly and cheaply muffle your speaker without needing to run out and buy tape. Just use rags or an old pillow instead.
When going the rag route, you’ll have to have a handful of rags to use. If they’re thinner, then ball them up until they make a large mass, sort of like a stuffed animal would. Then put the mass in front of the speaker, and it should be quieter. If you have thicker rags, you might stack them on top of each other and then lay them flat over the speaker. This too can reduce noise levels.
An old pillow can also do the trick. The older, the better. Yes, true, old pillows aren’t as plush as they once were, but they’re not as firm, either. That means you can easily fold the pillow in half on itself and then stuff it in front of the speaker while still being able to fit the backboard or vent back on.
The above methods are fine for short-term noise dampening, but what if you’re looking for a longer-term option that’s a little more professional? Acoustic foam is one such option at your disposal.
What is acoustic foam? Good question! This foam is used to dampen sound by boosting the resistance of air in a room. That cuts a soundwave’s amplitude. While acoustic foam is handy for muffling speakers and other loud noises, it can create a lot of heat. That’s because the sound waves, as they gain more air, will warm up. Make sure your acoustic foam is fire retardant for your safety.
You can find plenty of acoustic foam options from retailers like Amazon. Here is one such set. This two-pack of acoustic foam measures 48x24x2 inches. Its pyramid design will reduce noisiness, although it’s not designed to completely soundproof a space. The foam can be used in all sorts of environments, including home offices, home entertainment theaters, control rooms, and recording studios. You can even install it on your ceiling or doors.
Another foam option for muffling speakers is polyurethane foam. There are two types of this foam: rigid or flexible. You’d want the latter for your home or studio. Not only does polyurethane foam cut down on noise, but it insulates a room as well. There’s also much less risk of it creating heat, making it potentially safer than acoustic foam.
Polyurethane foam is also available on Amazon here. This high-density foam has a one-inch compression, earning it a compression rating of 44 pounds. The stiffness is minimal, and you get lots of cushioning sure to stop loud noises.
Complications Associated with Muffling
Before you start muffling all that unwanted noise, there are some complications to be aware of. You’ll have to decide if these are worth dampening the sound coming from your speakers.
The complications are:
- If you’re renting an apartment, you might not be able to access the doorbell speakers or other speakers.
- Even if you can get to the speakers, you have to make sure you don’t damage them. If you do, you could have to pay for them, and you might not get your deposit back when you move out.
- For that reason, if you live in an apartment, you should only use gaffer’s tape if you use any tape at all.
- If you use rags, pillows, or a stuffed animal to muffle the speaker, you can’t just set it and forget it. You want to go to the speakers every few weeks and check that the muffling isn’t a fire hazard or causing other adverse effects.
- Speaking of fire hazards, because of the heat that acoustic foam can give off, you must use it carefully. Frequently open the door or a window so fresh air can get into the room with the acoustic foam. An oscillating fan can also work.
- It’s not recommended you install acoustic foam or polyurethane foam if you have an apartment. You’ll have to glue or nail the foam in place, and both are probably not allowed under a landlord’s rules.
If you live in an apartment or record in a busy environment, then the sounds of a nearby speaker can be annoying and distracting. By muffling your speaker using acoustic or polyurethane foam, you can dampen the sound. Tape, pillows, rags, or stuffed animals also work.
No matter which method you choose, always make sure you’re safe and smart about it. If you’re living in an apartment, you’ll have to get creative about your speaker muffling solutions, but it is possible to reduce the noise. Good luck!