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What is Soundproofing? A Detailed Guide
Soundproofing is the process by which sound is kept from entering or leaving a room. This is usually done in places where being able to hear someone clearly is very important. For instance, most recording studios or large lecture halls are soundproofed. Doing this helps cancel out external noise and also prevents echoing, which improves the sound quality in that room.
Sound waves can travel through walls and leak through small spaces such as vents and creaks between windows and doors. To soundproof a room is to eliminate opportunities for sound waves to pass. This can be done by blocking any holes in the room as well as by making the walls of the room thicker with material that can absorb sound.
A sound can never be completely soundproof since some type of ventilation will always be necessary. However, even reducing the number of sound waves entering a room can make a huge difference in its sound quality. In this article, I will be explaining the basics of what is soundproofing?
What is Sound Proofing? And How Does It Work?
Soundproofing is done by adding extra materials to the walls of a room to prevent soundwaves from passing. There are various ways in which soundproofing can be done. Three main ways by which a room is soundproof are by reducing airborne noise, reducing structural noise, and building up structural mass.
Airborne noise can enter a room through any sort of opening in a room. These types of openings can range from vents, electrical outlets, windows, doors, ceiling lights, etc. Any type of space through which air can pass is a scope for airborne noise to enter. This is prevented by sealing off any openings in walls with acoustical sealants.
Structure-borne noise is the issue of sound moving through walls and entering a room. Sound waves can pass through walls by transferring energy from one particle to another. Placing damping materials in between parts of the building can help prevent this. The damping material acts as a barrier that prevents sound energy from passing easily.
Another way of soundproofing is by building up structural mass. The main idea is that by increasing the structural mass of a building, the wall density can be increased. With a higher wall density, it becomes more difficult for sound vibrations to pass through, thereby reducing the amount of sound that enters the room.
What is the Difference Between Diffusion and Absorption?
To put it simply, diffusion is when sound hits a barrier and spreads out. On the other hand, absorption occurs when the barrier takes in or swallows the sound. Sound diffusion and sound absorption are both important acoustical tools needed to soundproof a room. These tools do not block out external sound but rather improve the sound quality within the room.
The use of absorption and diffusion vary depending on the size and structure of the area you are trying to soundproof. These tools greatly impact the angles through which sound enters your ears. Thus not doing them correctly can result in a disconnect between the creation of a sound and your mind’s perception of it.
Most rooms consist of several flat surfaces that reflect sound. The various surfaces reflect sound in multiple angles before it reaches our ears. Because of this, the sound we hear is slightly distorted version of the sound that was originally produced. Sound diffusers scatter sound waves equally throughout the room and improve the clarity of the sound we hear.
In recent times, diffusion has become a popular alternative to absorption. However, this matter is complicated by the fact that having good diffusion in a room can be quite tricky. Ideally, a room should have a good balance of diffusion and absorption to produce the best quality of sound.
Absorption is the most common acoustical tool to improve a room’s sound quality. Unlike diffusion which scatters sound evenly through a room, absorption eliminates any unwanted noise instead. Absorption works by converting sound energy to heat energy thus reducing the amount of sound reflected in a room.
Though absorption works well, it is impossible for any material to completely absorb sound without reflecting some of it. The overuse of absorption can also mess with the timing of when sound reaches your ear. For an optimal hearing experience, absorption and diffusion should be used together. This ensures a sound quality that is not only good but also natural.
**If you are curious more about absorption and diffusion in Chinese, feel free to check this out! A clear explanation guide : 隔音棉真的可以隔音吗？**
Best Materials For Soundproofing
There are lots of different types of materials that you can use to soundproof your room. What you decide to use will depend on your room’s dimensions and the budget you set aside for soundproofing your room. For best results, it may be best to measure the original acoustics of the room before deciding on what materials to use for soundproofing.
When it comes to preventing airborne noise, the best tools to use are acoustic windows and door inserts. However, when soundproofing the rest of the room, your best choices are acoustic panels, acoustic fabrics, and acoustic foam. Though the purpose of all these is similar, they excel differently based on how they are used.
The most aesthetically pleasing option is acoustic panels, which are usually installed on top of walls or floors. Acoustic fabrics usually refer to curtains or blankets. These are best for theatres or halls as they improve the equalization of sound. Acoustic foam is typically used in music studios. They are not as effective but function well as temporary solutions.
Soundproofing has become increasingly common not just in studios but also in regular households. Despite how it may seem, the process isn’t too complex once you understand the basics. Soundproofing allows you to protect your privacy while also ensuring that noise from your house does not disrupt your neighbors.
I hope this article has helped answer the question, what is soundproofing? Now that you are familiar with the basics, I hope you will have no trouble making the right decisions when soundproofing your room.
**Also if you are curious about soundproofing your piano room, check this article out in Chinese : 琴房隔音您必须知道的三件事！**