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The 5 Principles of Soundproofing: What You Should Know About

Principles of Soundproofing

Are you looking for feasible solutions to your noise pollution problems at home or work? Or maybe you’re aiming to FORTIFY your home studio by soundproofing it?

There are a few soundproofing principles you need to know before deciding which material works best for you.

Table of Contents

5 Main Principles of Soundproofing & Sound Isolation

You’ve heard about the various principles of life, but soundproofing principles also exist. They help further your understanding of how to reduce noise.

Take note of these essential principles and elements:

1. Mass

Mass Icon

Some of the first science topics we tackle in class are the law of conservation of mass and how surface density is a good measurement of mass. But what is the mass law of sound insulation?

Its weight per unit area determines the sound insulation for a wall. This means that objects with a high mass ensure high sound insulation.

Adding mass is a vital soundproofing concept, but it isn’t enough to ensure a completely soundproof room. This is where the other soundproofing principles come in!

2. Dampening & Resonance

Dampening & Resonance Icon

Resonance might be an essential concept in music, but sounds with a high resonance aren’t always the best for external noise.

Imagine hearing your neighbors talk (this is an example of airborne sound) as clearly as if they were standing right next to you. That wouldn’t be a fun experience at all, especially if you value your privacy.

By employing the concept of dampening, you get to experience a quieter room because dampening reduces the magnitude of resonance.

3. Decoupling

Decoupling Icon

Sound decoupling (not de-coupling) is NOT the opposite of a relationship.

It’s a GOOD OPTION for sound isolation because it involves separating two sides of a structure.

Decoupling ensures that the sound vibration occurs INDEPENDENTLY by isolating sound on one side of a wall and preventing it from traveling through to the other side.

Basically, the sound hits and goes through, but gets dissipated when traveling across the walls.

There are various ways of decoupling a wall, such as a double stud wall, a staggered stud wall, or resilient clips. These decoupling methods ensure that most of the sound vibrations are absorbed.

One of the weaknesses of decoupling is that it adds resonance, so make sure to apply dampening methods!

4. Absorption

Absorption Icon

Besides decoupling, sound absorption is another soundproofing method you can try out. 

It works a little bit like a sponge by measuring the amount of sound energy removed when the sound wave passes through a thick material.

Sound absorption/absorption occurs because sound can be reflected or absorbed when passing through thick materials, so sound energy is lost in either case.

This is effective in absorbing impact sound AND airborne sound.

5. Conduction

Conduction Icon

The first image that pops into your mind might be that of a musical conductor in their element.

While musical conductors communicate with their musicians, conduction involves sound waves passing through materials.

An example of this is the vibrations that pass through a wall.

Why Do We Need Soundproofing?

With how LOUD the world is, there are times where you’d prefer a bit of order in your life. Here are a few reasons why soundproofing is important:

1. Ensures Privacy

Maybe you’re focused on finishing some of the contents of your wine glass after a long day at work or fixing the bass note that still doesn’t sound perfect.

But your room isn’t the best at sound isolation, and you keep getting distracted by the noise outside. You might want to look into soundproofing to implement sound insulation.

By doing this, you’d be able to comfortably kick back with your wine glass and give yourself a much-needed break.

2. Efficient Work

Have you experienced moments where you’re in your element, working on your latest mixtape or an installation so beautiful it looks like it could be in an art museum?

Whichever the case, we know that it’s difficult to concentrate if you keep hearing external noise. Soundproofing is a good solution for preserving your current state of concentration.

3. As The Night Falls

After a long day of work, wouldn’t it be great to experience a long and continuous sleep cycle?

Unfortunately, sometimes you can still hear your neighbor’s dog barking or the noise of the car horns BLARING while passing by on the side road.

Soundproofing your room would ensure that you can sleep better at night so that you’re refreshed and ready to tackle the next day!

4. The Words You Say

Imagine discussing something with your co-worker, but your words are DROWNED out by the noisy office on the other side of the wall.

You can try talking louder or employing various hand gestures, but you and your co-worker might still have some misunderstandings because of the background noise.

Communicating is difficult, but it becomes more challenging when the building structure (specifically the wall) feels paper-thin.

By soundproofing your offices, you ensure that you get to communicate properly.

What Makes Soundproofing Materials Effective?

Soundproofing materials have varying levels of effectiveness. Read on to learn more about how STC and NRC ratings are effective measurements of soundproofing.

Sound Transmission Class (STC)

Have you ever heard your neighbors BELTING out the latest pop song lyrics at each other during an ungodly hour?

This may be because their building structure has a low Sound Transmission Class or STC.

STC measures how well sound travels through ceilings and walls. A low STC means that sound can be heard well, while a high STC means the sound is inaudible.

Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) Rating

The NRC rating measures the percent of the sound that an object’s surface can absorb.

Heavy curtains usually have an NRC rating of 0.5, which means that they absorb 50% of the sound hitting it, while 50% bounce back.

NOTE: NRC ratings can differ per material based on factors like an existing paint coat.

Just a Few Reminders

Before you continue reading, make sure to take note of 2 things:

1. Feasibility

The best options aren’t always the MOST expensive products.

Make sure to determine which materials and elements work best for you and your room while also considering your budget.

2. Hidden Things

Plan to do a bit of construction work?

Make sure to determine the location of the pipe runs and cable runs in your room to ensure that you don’t accidentally dislodge anything.

Examples of the Best Soundproofing Materials

Before you begin your soundproofing room treatment, it’s important to know the types of materials involved in the process:

1. Acoustic Panels

Acoustic Panels

These are wooden or metal frames filled with sound absorption materials (i.e., cellulose, fiberglass, mineral wool, etc.). You can even make acoustic panels yourself!

These products are one of the more aesthetic options as they’re often covered with colorful fabric and are commonly hung on your wall.

They’re one of the more common acoustical room treatment products as well.

Take note that they act more like sound absorbers rather than sound reflectors.

2. Bricks

Bricks

If your room contains bricks, chances are you don’t need to do much since a brick wall already acts as a good sound barrier!

If you’re still interested in reinforcing your brick walls (especially if you only have a half brick wall), you could try covering the walls with acoustic tiles or building a layer of drywall.

3. Egg Cartons

Egg Cartons

Are you a big fan of BOTH eggs and sustainability? You may be surprised to find out that egg cartons are capable of diffusing sound.

It’ll take some time and work to set up, but an efficient way to cover more space is to use some cartons that hold around 30 eggs.

Make sure not to use cartons that hold 10-12 eggs because that would take all day!

4. Soundproof Fiberglass

Soundproof Fiberglass

These can also come in the form of sound insulation boards, which absorb echoes in your room.

They act as sound-deadening materials and are a good choice for sound insulation purposes. As sound insulation increases, less noise can permeate your room.

If you’re looking for an aesthetic option, these panels will spruce up the walls of your room! This fiberglass insulation can also be used on your floors or used as an acoustical ceiling tile.

5. Resilient Channels

Resilient Channels

These are NOT the survival shows you see on TV. Resilient channels are sheet metal rails that can be hung across stud beams.

If you have soundproofing insulation installed in drywall, placing resilient channels over the drywall ensures that sound will be absorbed and redirected.

A lot of broadcasting and concert buildings actually make use of resilient channels and resilient sound clips to achieve very high insulation.

This option requires a LOT of construction and renovation since you would need to install them in your walls.

6. Soundproof Windows

Soundproof Windows

Soundproofed windows usually consist of thick panes of glass with a thin layer of air that reduces the outside noise that enters your room.

If your room already has windows, you DON’T need to remove them and purchase a new set of sound-proof windows for sound isolation!

By using spring-loaded frames on tacks, they can be placed over your current windows to ensure that no leak occurs from your window seals.

You can also make use of an acoustic damping compound (e.g., acoustic caulk or Green Glue) for any gaps and holes around your window frames to help block sound from entering.

7. Carpets or Rugs

Carpets or Rugs

Looking for an affordable soundproofing method? While carpets or rugs usually aren’t the products some people prefer, they DEFINITELY act as an excellent damping compound.

Carpets also act as good layers by covering any floor gaps you may have. They work as a layer damping system by dampening the vibration that results from various external noises.

You can also place these as layers on your walls if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!

8. Cavity Wall

Cavity Wall

A cavity construction consists of 2 different walls with an air cavity in between.

Air cavity constructions act as good sound insulators and provide good thermal insulation because of the air gaps between the two walls.

9. Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass-loaded vinyl is suitable for soundproofing apartments, recording studios, and conference rooms.

They enhance stereo sounds while blocking external noise. Mass-loaded vinyl comes in the form of mats that you can hang on walls or floors.

Final Thoughts

Before embarking on your soundproofing project, it’s crucial to determine the soundproofing principles and some of the factors that affect sound absorption and sound insulation.

This helps you ensure that your room gets the best treatment while also ensuring that nothing gets in the way of your peaceful workstation!

About the Author

andrea_adams

Andrea has always been bombarded by the hustle and bustle outside her home. Living in the city doesn’t get any quieter. The never ending noise from construction, traffic, and dogs barking on the streets day in and day out drove Andrea to a breaking point.

For 3 years, Andrea committed herself to studying DIY hacks, performing soundproofing experiments, and installing noise-free solutions. Now, she lives a quiet life free of the stress from noisy environments.

She hopes to share this knowledge so that others don’t have to endure the noise reigning in their ears and live a peaceful, stress-free life.