Sound regulation is a part of our everyday lives. We turn the volume on the TV up and down depending on how immersed we want to be, adjust it on our phones to listen to music or talk to a friend, pop in ear plugs at night to drown out dad’s snoring, and boost the bass in the car to jam our favorite song. There are thousands of ways we utilize tools to make what we hear more comfortable and suited for us.
If you’re one of the approximately 173,000 people who work as a musician each year, sound is even more vital to your life. In this profession, proper sound and soundproofing are necessary for your livelihood. This is also the case for people who produce high quality podcasts, audio services, and online videos. And even if you’re not a professional musician or content creator, there are several reasons to retrieve acoustic building products to soundproof your living space. But what are acoustic building products, exactly? How do they work and what specific functions do they serve?
Soundproof Wall Panels
If you’ve ever been in a room with funny looking foam or vinyl panels on the wall, odds are they are soundproof wall panels, also known as sound insulation panels. As their name suggests, these panels in one way or another stop sound, or absorb it depending on the type of wall panel and the material from which it’s made. Panels made from foam are designed to absorb the echo within a room, making for more precise and higher quality recordings. Noise that is produced in a room with acoustical foam wall panels doesn’t drift away and bounce around like it would in a large room with little insulation (like in a gym, for instance). However, panels that absorb echo don’t necessarily keep noise from leaving the room entirely. To block sound from leaving or entering a room, a different kind of soundproofing is necessary.
Sheetrock and Vinyl Barriers
Wall panels are a good external solution for optimizing the way sound waves behave within a space. But for blocking sound, different acoustic building products are necessary. In order to ensure the least possible amount of noise spills in or out of a room, it’s necessary to decouple your walls, insulate them with material such as sheetrock or vinyl, and close any air gaps.
Decoupling a wall is basically just as it sounds. The two sides of a wall are manually separated so that insulation can be wedged between them. This isn’t only done for soundproofing but also to maintain a home’s temperature. Soundproof sheetrock and mass loaded vinyl are two good examples of an insulating material that effectively blocks sound. These are highly dense materials, meaning there is very little space for sound waves to break through, unlike a porous and thin material. It’s key when decoupling and adding insulation that all air gaps are filled, since for any 1% of opening, 50% of sound will penetrate.
Acoustic Ceiling Panels and Ceiling Clouds
Like soundproof wall panels, acoustic ceiling panels and tiles work to either absorb or block sound within a room. The biggest difference is merely the placement of the panel (up high rather than on the side). If sound can escape through the walls it can surely escape through the ceiling, so in order to fully soundproof a room, it’s wise to cover the space above your head as well. Acoustic ceiling products are also made from the same materials as wall panels.
Whether soundproofing is a part of your livelihood or just a home project, it’s nice to be in control of what comes in and goes out of a room.