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Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatment | Know the Difference...

soundproofing and acoustical treatment

Are soundproofing and acoustic treatment the same?

I thought of writing about this topic after having an altercation with one of my clients. Truly speaking, the mistake was on my part. Unfortunately, I assumed in the back of my mind that he must be aware of the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment.

Let's decode the concept and the complications attached to it.

I hope you must be aware of the sound ecosystem. In case you aren't, then allow me to help you with the concept.

A sound ecosystem consists of a source, a destination, sound waves, and the medium, that is, air, water and so on.

I would like to mention here that sound doesn't travel in a vacuum.


For example, you have ON your television or radio or music system, then these devices are the source of the sound, you and the other member of your family including the dog and other pets are the receivers and the air in the room is medium. The medium plays a crucial role as it helps the sound travel between source and destination. I hope you are clear with the concept.

Now, comes the trickiest or confusing part. When the sound wave travels from the source to the destination, a lot more happens than you can think. Trust me, it is complicated.

Some waves start from the source and reach the destination directly, that is, without any interruption whereas other waves reach the destination after getting reflected from the walls or floor or ceilings.

The sound waves that travel directly to the destination are called direct waves and the reflected sound waves reaching the destination are called indirect sound waves.

You will not find any kind of alteration in the direct sound waves whereas the indirect sound waves may have changes in the sound properties.

The changes in the properties of indirect sound can be good or bad depending on a lot of parameters such as the size of the room, the soundproofing capabilities of the room and so on. Even the carpets, furniture and other household items can affect the performance of these sounds.

Some examples of the indirect sounds are echoes, reverbs, and vibrations.

What is soundproofing?

Soundproofing can be defined as the process of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source and receptor. When it comes to the ways of reducing the unwanted sound, you have a variety of options today, that is, you can increase the distance between the source and the receiver to reduce the intensity of the unwanted noise.

Some other methods are as follows:
As the name suggests, soundproofing is the process by which you can isolate the desired sound from the unwanted ones. Let me explain you with an example. In your study room, you will not want the unwanted horns, traffic, and vehicle sounds to disturb you, right? At the same time, you will also not want the television sound to reach your ear and disturb your concentration, right? So, you will follow some step by step procedure to isolate your study room from both inner as well as external disturbances. The step by step process is called soundproofing.

soundproofing

What is an acoustic treatment?

Acoustic treatment is almost entirely opposite to the concept we have discussed in the previous section.

In the layman term, soundproofing is more of a blocking the sound- internal or external, at the same time, acoustic treatment deals with controlling the quality of the sound.

Most of the cases, we use the acoustic treatment for the indirect sounds, that is, vibrations, echoes and so on.

For example, acoustic treatment is highly recommended when it comes to making a home studio, controlling sound inside a room etc. If we see from a musician perspective, the motive should be to produce a piece of high-quality music and then, record it with any alteration. It seems quite simple, isn't it? Furthermore, the idea is to provide the same quality of sound to the end customers without compromising on the quality.

So, the musician will set up a system which will control the quality of the music.

Here, the acoustic treatment comes into the picture.

acoustic treatment diy

Which is the best option- Soundproofing or Acoustic treatment?

A common question asked by my clients in the very first meeting. Trust me, it's not a one-liner answer. If I have to answer this question, then I need to look for a lot of things. Be it the shape or size of the room, the location of the apartment, and most importantly the need of my client.

In fact, I have to check with my client whether he is looking for complete external sound blocking or simply want to reduce the echoes in the room or apartment.

Complete sealing of the room or the apartment is a tedious process and it involves lots of steps.

When it comes to echoes, you can simply minimize it by taking a few steps.

if you are looking for the solution for your office, then you need to be very clear with your requirement and purpose.

Allow me to take you through some of the methods which are definitely cost-effective and economical.

I have categorized these methods into soundproofing and acoustic treatment.

Soundproofing Methods: 

I have come across a lot of people who made their home studio to be completely soundproof. It's really good to have high expectation but the reality is quite different. To have an ideal soundproof studio, you will have to start from scratch. It's not possible in most of the cases and it's quite expensive also.

So, what's the better option?

Though the method I am going to discuss here will not be 100 percent accurate or effective still I can assure you, it will serve your purpose.

You can definitely try these simple yet effective methods until and unless your requirement is very specific.

Most of the time, we keep different objects in our room in such a way that they are in contact with one another and as a result vibration happens. So, the best way to get rid of these vibrations is to decouple things.

Decoupling things is the process of detaching things. You can use an anti-vibration pad and it will definitely serve the purpose. I mostly recommend my clients to use casa Pura anti-vibration pad as it is compressed for maximum sound dampening. 

The best thing about this mat is that it can serve multiple purposes. For example, it can also be used as a safety-enhancing mat for gym flooring or as an anti-fatigue mat in the workplace, due to the soft granular rubber composition.

Before we discuss the next step, let me tell you about how the density of a material affects the soundproofing process. It's indeed a very simple mathematical calculation. Don't worry we will not go into the calculation part. The more the density of the material the better it will act against the sound waves.

Let's understand the above statement with a practical example. The more the thickness of the wall the better it will have the soundproofing properties.

I hope you would have guessed the next step. It's adding mass to the walls. By doing so, you prevent the sound to travel in and out of the room. There are a variety of materials that you can use for this purpose. Over a period of time, I have found mass loaded vinyl to be very effective. This sheet is 1/8 of an inch thick and is perfect for automobiles, apartments, bathrooms, and studios.

Once you have added mass to the walls, you can definitely feel the difference. In case you aren't satisfied with the progress, you can use soundproof curtains and soundproof blankets. These curtains and blankets are made up of sound absorbing materials and are very helpful in soundproofing.

Acoustic Treatment Methods:

If you are planning to go acoustic way, then you must be looking for a product which absorbs the sound.

The above statement is very confusing, isn't it? 

The first thing you have to do is to do a quick check of your room soundproofing capabilities. Don't worry, it's really more simple than you think. Just clap and make a loud noise to check the sound properties of your room. 

Either you will hear smooth reverb or a metallic ringing sound. If the first one is the case, then you don't require an additional sound absorbing material or you can try a minimal sound absorbing material but if you are hearing a metallic ringing, then definitely a material which has great absorbing capabilities is needed.

best soundproof and acoustic treatment

Soundwave consists of different frequencies, that is, low frequency, mid frequency, and higher frequency. To get a great result from acoustic treatment, you need to separately target these frequencies. There are many products available in the market to absorb these frequencies.

Let's discuss some of them.
  • Bass Traps- to absorb low frequencies
  • Acoustic Panels- to absorb the mid/high frequencies
  • Diffusers- to scatter the remaining frequencies
Bass Traps:

Personally, I recommend a bass trap to be the first thing that needs to be installed. There is no doubt that these traps are great at absorbing low frequencies. If you are buying a porous bass trap, then it will also absorb medium and high frequencies because the porous bass trap is a broadband absorber.

In most of the cases, installation of bass traps does the work.

Acoustic Panels: Definitely, acoustic panels are great at absorbing mid and high frequencies but the performance of these panels at lower frequencies is still a question mark.

These panel are thin and has a large surface area and thus, provides a large wall coverage.

These panels are very effective in killing standing waves that may exist between opposite parallel walls.

I prefer acoustic panels by Foamily

Diffusers: In fact, you don't need diffusers until and unless you are looking for very high precision. I will not recommend you any product in this section as I mostly avoid recommending diffuser to my clients.

The work of diffuser is to simply scatter the remaining frequencies.

Do you know that white noise is a great option to get a sound sleep?

I use it on a regular basis and I have shared my experience here.

Wrapping UP: Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatment 

I hope this article would have definitely served your purpose and at least you would have got some idea about the soundproofing and acoustic treatment.

Try these products and let us know your feedback regarding the same. In case of doubt, ask the question in the comment section and I will try to clear the doubt.

To conclude, soundproofing is the process of blocking and preventing the sound from entering your room or apartment. Acoustic treatment is the process of minimizing the effect of the sound waves that get reflected from the walls, floors, and ceilings. So, acoustic treatment deals mostly with the echoes and vibrations.







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