Soundproofing vs. Sound Treatment

When someone is facing sound and noise issues, the first solution often considered is “soundproofing” an area. In theory this would be ideal, creating a space that does not allow the entry of sound nor its exit. In practice, this isn’t realistic without substantial construction and tens of thousands of dollars in costs, if not more. Despite what companies may claim and what the appearances of studios may imply, sound absorbing foam or fiberglass does NOT soundproof a room. It is, however useful for improving the sound in a room.

Acoustic foam and similar materials provide sound treatment, which is wholly different from soundproofing. These materials can provide some insulation for noise when used as sound barriers in construction, but when added to a finished area, they will clarify, improve or deaden sounds and noise, not eliminate them. Part of what contributes to noise is the bouncing waves that reach our ears at different intervals, creating reverberation and distortion. Good acoustic foam absorbs some of these bouncing waves and deflects and diffuses others, helping make sure only the primary sounds are reaching you. This can make a space seem quieter by virtue of less noise and interference reaching your ears.

There are other ways to treat sound, from rearranging the furniture in a room, to adding carpeting or even aiming speakers, the source of noise. It is also important to recognize not all foams can be used acoustically, and due to their often in-the-open placement, fire resistant foam is the only variety of acoustical foam that should be used.