How to Design a Sound-Proof Box?

1. Jul 13, 2013

screamingman

I desire to build a box that is sound proof that would be only slightly larger then my head, which I could scream as loud as I possibly could, yet the outside world would barely be able to hear, or not be able to hear at all (as little as possible). I have almost no knowledge of physics (only an intro mechanics class at a community college--I am taking calc based mechanics E&M, and waves next year), and so I did not know where to put this question. Any advice, ideas or information that could be provided to benefit the project are greatly appreciated! The best advice would be what to use, and why to use it, although anything is truly and genuinely appreciated!

Thank you!

(if anyone would like reasons for the project, I will post, but I did not want to waste peoples energy with potentially undesired, superfluous material).

2. Jul 13, 2013

Simon Bridge

You'll need to experiment a bit - the usual starting place is textured foam rubber: the walls of your box must absorb sound.

What you end up with is limited only by your budget and how silly you are prepared to look.

3. Jul 13, 2013

screamingman

Thank you for giving me a take-off point. And looks/judgements have never effected me.
Is textured foam rubber more potent at absorbing sound then carpet?

4. Jul 13, 2013

Bobbywhy

Of course absorption of the sound with textured foam will reduce your scream intensity. But there is another method, if you're willing to invest in some technology: noise cancellation. This method could, in theory, completely cancel out whatever sound you can produce. Bose, for example, sells Noise cancelling headphones that operate on the principle. I suggest you do some searching (aka: research) into this as a possible solution.

5. Jul 13, 2013

Simon Bridge

depends on the details of the material. Just several layers of thin/stiff card separated by air can have a big damping effect.
http://info.acoustiblok.com/acoustiblok-products/quietfiber/ (commercial sound absorber)

I've seen a soundproofed container about head size that was basically a plywood box with louvre baffles (you'll need some way for air to get in and out :) ) lined with acoustic foam. It was designed to house a noisy pump.

Some noise will still get out for anything reasonably portable - but a thick polystyrene cup lined with foam and an outer-shell of thin plastic that just fits over mouth and nose could knock out most of the sound from yelling - so you may want to consider a composite strategy.

Technology can be as sophisticated as you like - i.e. the sound cancellation mentioned - depending on how deep your pockets are ;)

I take it just duct-taping your lips shut is out of the question?

6. Jul 13, 2013

technician

Great physics project and great fun. What you are after is known as an anechoic chamber.
As well as rubber foam egg boxes make a great sound proofing liner. They are absorbent and the irregular surfaces produce scattering and improve absorption.......also almost cost free.
BE CAREFUL !!!!! The absorbed sound energy could cause the head ware to heat up !!!!!!!

7. Jul 13, 2013

sophiecentaur

A fan could help with the cooling.

In addition to the need for a good loss mechanism (foam / fabric) it would also help to have a good acoustic mis-match at the boundary with the outside air - that would involve a rigid, dense envelope. Any anechoic chamber worth its salt will have thick concrete walls, for this reason.

A thick, steel domed helmet would work (Diver's Helmet job). A lighter and less unpleasant solution could involve two or three thick polycarbonate shells (double / triple glazing), which would allow you to see and be seen (but not heard). A curved surface would flex less and, so, transmit less sound energy. You would need a very good acoustic seal round the neck, two long in/out tubes would allow fresh air to circulate as you wouldn't want a lot of tidal air in the helmet.

[EDIT: As I sit here I can see a decorative 'chamber pot' on a shelf. It got me thinking of a cheap solution. It may be worth while looking for a glass goldfish bowl. It would be ideal material, in many ways - just a bit heavy, perhaps.]

Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
8. Jul 13, 2013

CWatters

What seems to work well are layers of a material with relatively high mass (drywall or plywood?) separated by layers of sound absorbent material (soft foam/egg box foam?). The trick is figuring out how to support/separate the high mass layers without bridging the sound absorbent layers.

Your neck will unavoidably bridge the sound absorbing layers.

PS Presumably this forum logs IP addresses (at the very least) so we can be sure you don't plan to put anyone else in this :-(

9. Jul 13, 2013

technician

I am inspired...I think I will have a go at making one....I will start with egg boxes and I might fit cooling fins of some sort.
As an extension I think I will instal mini speakers so that I can listen to my I- pad and yell my head off without disturbing anyone.
I will post a photograph if it works ( I am surprised the infamous Sheldon Cooper has not beaten us to it)
Screamingman......you are an inspiration

10. Jul 13, 2013

256bits

Put on a space helmet and take the next rocket to space. Out there you can scream as much as you want and nobody will hear you.

So you build a sturdy space helemt facsimilie, and suuround that with a globe. In between evacuate the air and you have your "Screaming While Space Walking Device" ie (SW)$^{2}$D, which even gives it a cool name and artist merit.

Just make sure everything is failure safe.

Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
11. Jul 16, 2013

screamingman

Thank you all for the incredible answers! I just got my wisdom teeth out, but have been trying to wade through all of the incredible suggestions and responses (I am unsure of some of the terms used, etc.). I will post back a substantial, detailed response after I understand all/some of the suggestions better.

12. Jul 17, 2013

cjl

Not likely. The amount of energy contained in even extremely loud sounds is pretty negligible.

13. Jul 17, 2013

sophiecentaur

No chance of a shout powered radio!!

14. Jul 17, 2013

SteamKing

Staff Emeritus
Just step back into the closet and close the door. You can scream all you want.

15. Jul 17, 2013

technician

Negligible is not zero! There will be some heat energy.....no harm in pointing out potential hazards.
The threshold of pain is about 130dB which is about 1 watt/ m^2

Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
16. Jul 17, 2013

sophiecentaur

Hardly a 'hazardous' quantity - compared with the heat radiated from and breathed out by his body. You have to quantify an effect before you can call it a hazard.
Any sound damage to the ears from shouting will be self limiting.

17. Jul 17, 2013

technician

I do not think that you have to quantify an effect before it is identified as a hazard! First you have to identify it as a POTENTIAL hazard.
You may need to quantify it to be able to deal with it.
I did quantify it (unlike 'negligible') he has just had his wisdom teeth out.....130dB scream....perhaps a bit extreme but definetly quantified.
1W/m^2....... I will try to come up with a temp increase. Which will probably turn out to be negligible

18. Jul 17, 2013

cjl

130dB is past the threshold of pain and would cause immediate hearing damage. It's a rather unreasonable volume to be using, and even so, the power is negligible (the exact temperature increase will depend on the thermal characteristics of the box though). The amount of heat added to the box simply from the user's body heat will be much greater than the sound power itself.

19. Jul 17, 2013

Staff: Mentor

Hmm, I just had a sinister thought. What if the OP is building this thing to more effectively hold somebody hostage... Sort of a new form of a gag, but without the breathing difficulty issues.

20. Jul 17, 2013

solar71

You can not build a 100% sound proof box for your head. 95% maybe.
But don't forget the sound you make in you voice box cant be completely eliminated.
This is because some of the sound will reverberate though you neck and down.
So if your box does not cut your head completely off it cant completely silence you either.