High SPL hurts the back of my head


Junior Member
I have a project studio in my basement. The control/drum room is 13x23x7.5'. I've tuned the room with bass traps and other semi-rigid covered panels on walls and ceiling. There's also two 2x7'x4" variable depth tuned bass traps, pine frame with 1/8" maple membranes on either side of the drums. Panels on ceiling are suspended 2in from surface. The whole works extremely well, as recorded drums sound fantastic. The drums are setup at one end. The kit is a large Sonor Designer with Paiste Signatures.

The room has a fresh air vent from the home air-to-air exchanger, but no return venting to redirect air out. When I play drums the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) is extreme as the build up of pressure actually hurts my cerebellum. I've experienced this at guitar players' studios with amps turned up loud in the room.

Outside the room you barely hear anything, so the science applied (a la F. Alton Everest) works. I do use special ear plugs or headphones most of the time and this seems to work, but in general the high SPLs are there and the room has positive pressure (hence the build up).

I'm considering building a return duct with a plenum in the adjacent room so as to dissipate the sound and relieve the pressure in the main room.

Has anyone had a similar experience? Any suggestions for relief? BTW I'm not a basher and have great technique, so that's a non-issue. Thanks.


"Uncle Larry"
Frankly, if you get a return air duct back in that room, and your issue disappears, I'll be surprised. That room can't be that airtight can it? I hope it works for your sake, but I have my doubts.


Junior Member
Thanks for your responses. The room is quite airtight..so much so that after a while it gets too warm...I built the room within a room myself and worked within its limitations (low ceiling, small space) so its as good as it gets.

Circulation was real issue until I added an air duct (two years ago), but then that didn't quite do it either. I'm convinced if I vent air out, I'd be lowering the pressure in the room, which should give the high SPLs created by the drums a way out....providing relief.

I don't know how many drummers play in rooms this size and that have been treated, who may also be feeling the effects of high SPLs. Trust me I'm not playing overly loud. Let's just say my technique allows me to draw the most out of the drumset without having to hit hard. The drums are also Sonors' with lots of deep toms so maybe the sympathetic vibration also plays a role.


Senior Member
My previous practice space was an 8" x 12" space, perfectly air tight with no ventilation at all. No amplification but you can trust that my kit is plenty loud and I never had this problem. Your highest SPLs aren't even coming from your drums. I highly doubt that SPLs are your problem and if they are, good ear protection will do the trick.

Have you ever tried spending an extended period of time in the room not playing, but still doing something physical?