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How to Record Music (Respectfully) in Your Dorm

Recording songs in your dorm room your fav way to create? Here's how to avoid noise complaints.

by Karl Ortegon
September 10, 2021

In recent years, we’ve seen how artists have built careers in genres like bedroom pop simply from making and recording music in their own rooms and spaces. The dorm room studio can be a boon for any songwriter or producer looking to churn out content from the comfort of their own space.

Hold your horses, though, because you’re probably not the only person who is going to hear the sounds of your creative process, however loud they may be. Further, that’s especially true if you’re an underclassman living in the dorms.

You’re probably eager to set up your FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 and Shure SM58 and get going, but it’s important to be cognizant of your roommates and neighbors when you’re making music. Here are a few pointers to ensure that you can keep to your craft without disturbing those around you.

Having the Chat

Look –– people always appreciate a heads up before being inconvenienced. And there’s a good chance that your roommate(s) and neighbor(s) LOVE music, just like you. They might not mind at all that you’ll be recording and making bangers all semester long. But it’s always better to run it by the people you’re living with or near –– it’s common courtesy!

If you already know your roommate or neighbors before moving in, then great –– you can shoot them a message beforehand. At some point, though, it’s worth having a chat in-person. Then, you can outline the roommate agreement, hashing out when you’re typically going to be recording, how long a session might go, and other details that are important to share.

The more expectations you can set, and then stick to, the more likely it is that you won’t run into any problems!

Recording respectfully 

In your chat with roommate(s) and neighbor(s), try to come up with a plan for when your recording is a no-go for someone else. Maybe it’s a text, or call, or FaceTime from a neighbor when you’re playing too loudly or for too long. You might prefer getting a knock on the door and being told in-person. Whatever works! Just make sure you decide on something. 

Meanwhile, in dorms, there are likely quiet hours (especially during finals). Honor those! You do not want to be the person who everyone grows to resent because you couldn’t follow simple rules. 

College student recording music in her dorm room
Try your best to be respectful of your roommate and neighbors when recording music.
Soundproofing the room

It may sound daunting, but it actually doesn’t take much to soundproof a room. Of course, truly soundproofing it may require some professional assistance, but you’d be surprised how much you can muffle and mitigate your noisiness with just a few simple steps. 

One thing you’ll already have in a dorm is furniture -- you can arrange it so that it stacks up against a shared wall, which can help absorb noise. Hang decorations on the walls (you can even find soundproof curtains)! Cover the floor with rugs and carpet, and try installing thick tapestries (or even foam tiles) on the ceiling. 

Have your plan in place? We want to hear what music you create this semester, so be sure to tag us in your sessions and keep us posted on your new music on Instagram and Twitter. And if you get creative with your soundproofing project, let us know with a DM!