While the terms “sound absorption” and “soundproofing” are often used interchangeably, they refer to products with distinct purposes. As such, it is essential to understand the differences between the two terms to ensure you select the right type of noise reduction product for your application.
In this blog post, we explore the differences between sound absorption and soundproofing products, explaining what they do, how they function, and what applications for which they are suited to help guide the selection process.
What Is Sound Absorption?
Although sound waves weaken as they travel farther from their source, they can seem louder or more bothersome if given a chance to echo. For this reason, acoustic absorption products are designed to reduce perceived noise levels by eliminating the reflection of and increasing the distance traveled by sound waves. One important thing to note is that they only improve the acoustic properties within the space. They do not block sound from entering or leaving a space.
Acoustic absorbers are generally made from softer materials with open-celled structures, such as foams or fiber-based substrates. The numerous holes within the material make it easy for sound waves to enter but not to exit, essentially trapping—i.e., absorbing—them. Each sound absorber is given a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) rating that describes how much sound they can absorb.
What Is Soundproofing?
Soundproofing prevents sound waves from traveling through a surface, which stops them from escaping or entering a space. As a result, soundproofed machines in operation emit less noise.
Soundproofing represents the common conception of sound blocking. Acoustic barriers often referred to as soundproofing materials, are generally found within engine enclosures or compartments incorporated by OEMs during initial designs. Acoustic barriers are made from denser substrates than those of acoustic absorbers, which serve as a barrier against the sound waves between the source of the noise and the “quiet” area(s). They are given a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating, which describes how well the barrier attenuates sound.
Applications for Sound Absorption and Soundproofing Products
Since sound absorption and soundproofing products serve different noise reduction purposes (absorbing and blocking), they are suitable for different noise reduction applications. For example, sound absorption products—such as acoustic absorbers—are used in equipment enclosures and operator cabs, while soundproofing products—such as acoustic barriers—are utilized for engine housings, heavy equipment and vehicle floor mats, and firewalls. However, some applications may require both sound absorption and soundproofing products to achieve optimal acoustic properties.
Contact the Noise Reduction Experts at Technicon Acoustics Today
Some companies find it challenging to determine whether sound absorption or sound barrier materials are right for their needs. Fortunately, the experts at Technicon Acoustics are here to help.
We are the leading producer of acoustic solutions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in North America. Equipped with over 40 years of industry experience, we can design, develop, and deliver products for nearly any sound absorption, blocking, or isolation need.