Soundproofing VS Sound Treatment

When someone is faced with sound and noise problems, the first thing they often think they need to do is “soundproof” an area. In concept this is ideal; creating a space that doesn’t permit the entry of sound, nor its exit. In practice, this isn’t realistic without a substantial construction effort and tens of thousands of dollars in costs, if not more. Despite what companies may claim, and what the look of professional studios may imply, sound absorbing foam or fiberglass does NOT soundproof a room. It is however useful for treating noise and improving the sound in a room.

Acoustic foam and similar materials provide sound treatment, which is different from soundproofing in both definition and function. These materials can provide insulation for noise when used as sound barriers in construction, but when added to a finished area, they can clarify, improve, or deaden sounds and noise, not eliminate them. Part of the noise is bouncing sound waves that reach our ears at intervals that differ by fractions of seconds, creating reverberation and distortion. Good acoustic foam absorbs many of these bouncing waves while deflecting and diffusing others, helping make sure only the intended sounds are reaching your ears. This reduction in noise and sound confusion can make a space seem quieter, just by virtue of less interference reaching your ears.

There are other ways to treat sound as well, from rearranging a room’s furniture, to adding carpeting or even aiming speakers. It is also important to recognize not all foams are made for acoustical use, and due to their often “in-the-open” placement, fire retardant foam varieties are the only kind of acoustical foam that should be used.