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Sound Deadening or Sound Absorbing? That’s the question!


Sound Deadening or Sound Absorbing – What’s the Difference?

Sound deadening or Sound absorbing? That is the question, whether it is nobler in the mind…….. ooops!!! Sorry, my inner Shakespeare got carried away!! But seriously, if you’re considering a soundproofing project, then understanding the difference between sound deadening and sound absorbing products will be very important, and will help you get the best results.

Sound can be likened to water – it has no form or shape and it can mould itself to its surroundings too. Very much like water, there are a number of materials that can absorb it and others that can contain it. Which you need to use depends on your project and what you’re trying to achieve. Often, when a space has to be sound-proofed, sound deadening as well as sound absorbing materials are used to get the best result. So, is there really any difference between these two or can they be used interchangeably? Well, let’s take a look:

Sound Deadening Products- What are They?

Sound deadening products help contain sound in a space and prevent it from transitioning to other areas outside of the space, be it a room or a building; they also help to stop any unwanted sounds from entering the space. The type of soundproofing-products-mlvsituations in which you would use sound deadening products could be, if you:

  • Are looking for a solution that will keep the going-ons in your conference room confidential

  • Want to block the deafening music that emanates from your next-door neighbour’s nightly heavy metal concerts!!!

  • Live on a busy street and want to block traffic noise from entering your house

  • Need a noise-free room where you can unleash your inner genius and focus on writing that next War & Peace

  • Need to practice your opera piece for a very important theatre production role

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Sound Absorbing Products- What are They?

Sound absorbing Products are significantly different from sound deadening products. As the name suggests, sound soundproofing-products-soundscreen-insulation-battsabsorbing products do just that, they absorb excess sound waves which bounce around in a room, and result in poor acoustics, bad echo and background noise. Sound absorbing products won’t necessarily stop sound from entering the space or being transmitted to the adjoining rooms; however they dramatically improve speech intelligibility as well as the sound quality within rooms, boats, cars or any other enclosed spaces, and can be used in situations such as:

  • You live in an apartment where voices tend to echo & footsteps sound hollow; you want these to sound more natural and warm

  • An auditorium needs to have minimal reverberation in order that the presenter be clearly heard from the audience seats

  • A restaurant owner wants to ensure that the sound of clattering dishes from the kitchen are dulled

  • A recording studio has to control sound reflections in order to maintain the clarity of the sound that is being produced & recorded

Choosing the right product:

When you are looking for a soundproofing product, it can be difficult to know whether it’s designed for sound deadening or sound absorbing. Both types might be tagged as sound treatment products/noise reduction products/soundproofing products. The one way to get it right is to look at their test data:

  • If the specifications include an STC (sound transmission class) number or a weighted sound-reduction index value, or a TL (transmission loss curve), it means the product has been tested as a sound deadening material. These products tend to be quite heavy / solid type materials like rubber or vinyl.

  • On the other hand, if the specifications include a sound-absorption coefficient or an NRC (noise reduction coefficient); it’s an indication that the product has gone through sound absorbing material tests. These materials are typically soft, fibrous and/or porous in nature

Having an understanding of these differences while deciding which soundproofing solutions is right for your project will help you avoid wasting time, effort and money on products that won’t serve your purpose. In many instances optimum results are best achieved by employing both sound deadening and sound absorbing products, in the right context. If undertaking an important or costly soundproofing project, we recommend consulting with an acoustic engineer.

For more information on Sound Deadening or Sound Absorbing products, simply email to [email protected] and we will be only too happy to help.