Why Soundproofing Materials May be the Last Thing You Need

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to deciding on Soundproofing Materials is knowing exactly what you need and why. 

Take these two scenarios, for example. 

Your family room is just that…the room where everyone congregates to do homework watch TV, listen to music, and even to practice instruments. It's a wonderful thing to have this common place where everyone wants to be. Except that when everyone is in the room, it's difficult to hear anything but a lot of noise.  Trumpet practice is ear splitting. The entertainment center volumes are extra high because without it you miss a lot. Even normal conversations between people in the room have a lot of "What?" and "I can't hear you" peppered throughout them.  

You need to find a way to reduce all the echo and reverberation in the room so that sound isn't so loud and the words so muffled. Instead, you want conversations to be more audible.
In this second example, your son has started a band and they have decided to practice in your garage. It's great that they are dedicated…practice is every night at 8:00pm. What is not so great is just how loud they are, and how much the neighbors aren't into it. They understandably want quiet. You want to encourage your child's talents and interests, but you need to keep the peace too.  

You need to prevent the sound from blaring out of the garage and disturbing the entire neighborhood. 

Soundproofing Materials Do Not Solve Every Sound Control Problem 

You see how these two examples both involve high volume sound? Many people automatically think they need soundproofing in both scenarios. However, that's not the case.
Soundproofing materials keep sound from traveling from one room to another.  So it's perfect in the garage band example.  Anytime you want to stop noise from traveling through walls, ceilings, and floors, you need soundproofing. The most ideal soundproofing happens when a room is being built. The soundproofing material is built into the actual structure of the room. However, that ideal doesn't always happen, and in that case soundproofing materials can be hung to accomplish the same effect. 

Let's say your problem is more similar to the family room example. What you need in this case is sound absorption - not soundproofing. By placing acoustic sound panels on the walls you'll experience a quieter environment, and conversations in the room will become more clear and audible. The panels work by helping to absorb the sound waves that are causing echoes and reverberation within the room. The end result is a more pleasant room environment. Read 8 Ways Acoustic Wall Panels Will Make Your Room Better for more information about absorption panels. 

So What Happens If You Get It Wrong?

Now that you know the difference between the two sound control solutions, what if you use sound absorption where you really need soundproofing, or the other way around?  Or, what if you just decide to use soundproofing across the board, because this will reduce noise for sure, right?

In the case of the garage example, if you use acoustic panels instead of soundproofing, you'll reduce the sound coming out of the space but you certainly won't eliminate it.  Probably not satisfactory for those neighbors.

In the family room setting, if you were to use soundproofing instead of acoustic panels you'll actually make your noise problem worse. Remember, soundproofing keeps sound from leaving a room.  So all of that echo-y, vibrating noise that makes the room uncomfortable to be in to begin with will be trapped inside and make the room even that much noisier. 
You want to get it right.  

Trying to improvise and make the best of your solution if it isn't the right one will just leave you unsatisfied.  Now that you better understand the difference between soundproofing materials and sound absorption materials, it should be easier to choose what you need.  However, you may still come across a situation where it's not so clear which to use.  In that case, a sound expert is your best bet to finding your answer.

For more information about soundproofing versus sound absorbing materials give us a call, 866-553-4600 and one of our specialists will be able to assist you. For more acoustic solution articles, check out our Sound Control Resource Center here.