There are a lot of soundproofing materials available today. At best, many of them are just okay and useful enough for soundproofing. At worst, they are ineffective when it comes to soundproofing. As a result of the different materials, it is important to know which materials are good to build a soundproof box.
To build your soundproof box, good materials that you can use include acoustic foam, sound insulation, acoustic boards/panels, acoustic fabrics, acoustic coatings, floor underlayment and architectural soundproofing.
In this article, I will be looking at the different types of soundproofing materials available. I will also be examining the different categories of soundproofing materials and the materials that fall within each one.
Types Of Soundproofing Materials
Commonly referred to as Studio Foam, this material has a pyramid shape or distinctive wedge that is extremely effective in absorbing sound. Acoustic foams can be attached to walls in the form of panels; they can also sit as bass traps in the corner of a room or box or hang as baffles from the ceilings.
For more information, check out why acoustic foam cost so much.
These are batts that are made of fiberglass, rock wool, and mineral wool. The design is in such a way that they fit in between wall studs. The batts fit in nicely between the studs to occupy airspace that sound can be transmitted through.
They are like a version of sound-absorbing foams and sound insulation but decorative. They usually come in different nice fabrics, patterns and colors to serve a dual purpose in the workplace and at home.
The acoustic fabrics are fabrics that are heavier and thicker than other types of fabrics and they are made use of in-studio blankets, blackout curtains and theatre curtains.
These are materials like MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl) that are rubber-like and used in many situations. They can be used as underlayment, in machinery appliances and car soundproofing. The material’s mass acts as a form of a sound barrier.
Before a tile or hardwood floor can be soundproofed, the flooring surface and subfloor have to be decoupled to reduce the transmission of noise. Common underlayment materials include polymers, felt and cork rolls,
This group is made up of anything that is used in a building structure like doors, soundproofing walls, soundproofing windows, and also the decoupling products that are employed in installing them.
Categories Of Soundproofing Of Good Materials
Sound Absorbing Materials
Instead of reflecting the noise, these materials absorb sound waves and soften reverberation and echo to improve the sound in the room or box. A very useful material is fabrics, used in heavy acoustic blankets and curtains. Of these materials, acoustic foam is the most popular one; it is a special type of material designed with density and a special cell structure to absorb, dampen and deflect unwanted sounds. Acoustic foams are used in entertainment centers, theatres, and studios.
- Acoustic Foam (Auralex Studiofoam Wedges): its best use is to improve the sound in medium or small rooms like small home theatres, control boardrooms, and recording studios. It is a well-known brand of acoustic foam that has several shapes and sizes. Perfect for any type of box, they are used by lovers of home theatres, podcasters, musicians, and recording artists.
The best-sellers are the 2″ wedges of the studio foam, and they have a 0.8 NRC rating. Flutter, slap and reverberation can be cut down significantly by the anechoic wedge. To mount the foam to the walls of your box or room, you can make use of spray adhesive, hook and loop strips or 3M command strips. If you plan on moving the foam in the future, removable adhesive strips should be used.
- Sound Absorbing Foam (Pro Studio Acoustic Tiles): it’s best as an alternative to Auralex panels, they come in different attractive colors unlike the charcoal color of the Auralex Studiofoam wedges. With an NRC rating of 0.65, the Pro studio acoustic tiles come in charcoal color with Purple, teal, red and blue. The tiles are best installed on walls where the problem is noise reflection or to cut down on reverberation and echo. It can be used both at home and in the office, which makes it a very good soundproofing material.
- Acoustic Panels (ATS Acoustics): if the appearance of pyramid and wedge foam is not desirable, acoustic panels like the ATS acoustics are the perfect option. The wood-framed panels look very much like a large picture or decoration than an actual panel for absorbing sound.
It has an NRC rating of 1.0 and comes in Ivory, burgundy, black and beige colors. For the rooms where acoustic foams won’t do a great visual job, acoustic panels are the way to go. The ATS acoustics panel is constructed using a solid wood frame and Roxul ABF mineral wool. It is then finished off with a jute fabric cover that ensures that it looks great.
- Acoustic Curtains (Utopia Thermal Blackout Curtains): when it comes to reducing noise from doors and windows, the blackout curtains are the way to go. They can be used in a nursery, home theatre, bedroom, or wherever noise is not wanted. It makes use of heavyweight, quality, plush fabrics alongside soundproofing materials such as MLV to reduce echo and dampen sound.
They are employed on homes and buildings to reduce the sound that is transmitted to the other parts of the building. The most common materials here are fiberglass and mineral wool. They are a very cost-effective and easy way to soundproof a box. For soundproofing insulation, the good materials to use are:
- Mineral Wool (Roclwool Rockboard): rock board is a fire-resistant, rigid mineral wool insulation that is used in both thermal and acoustic insulation. It is best used in commercial and residential buildings and has an NRC rating of between 0.8 and 1.1 based on thickness.
- Soundproof Fiberglass (Owen Corning 703): they are commonly applied in the making of acoustic panels for theatres, churches, commercial buildings and home studios.
Check out my article on how quiet a recording studio should be.
Sound Dampening Materials
The density and mass of the materials here help in dissipating sound and reducing the energy and amplitude of the noise. The materials for sound dampening usually come in the form of paints, sprays, rolls and mats. They help in killing vibrations and overall noise dissipation. Good materials for sound dampening include:
- Mass Loaded Vinyl (Dynamat Xtreme)
- Floor Underlayment (Roberts Super Felt)
- Sound Deadening Spray (DEI Boom Mat)
- Sound Deadening Paint (Acousticoat Paint)
Sound Decoupling Products
To fully soundproof space, there is a need to decouple materials in that space that are transmitting sounds like the doors, floors, ceiling and walls. For sound decoupling, good materials to use are:
- Noise proofing Compound (Green Glue)
- Resilient Channel
- Soundproof Drywall
- Soundproof Windows.
For more information, check out my Guide to Building a Studio for Recording.
Building a soundproof box is something everyone considers nowadays, some because of noise and others because of their profession, hobbies or interests. Whatever the reason might be, building a quality soundproof box or room is important. For this reason, you must know the best materials in each category of soundproofing.
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