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Sound Absorption vs. Soundproofing

What’s the difference between sound absorption and soundproofing


When you realize you have a sound issue in your space, where do you start when seeking a solution?

Quickly searching for soundproofing solutions may seem to make complete sense. But solving an acoustical issue isn’t a one size fits all solution.

There are two-sides to the acoustic solutions story: the well-known soundproofing and the less-known, but effective, sound absorption.


So, what’s the difference?



Soundproofing is the prevention of the passage of sound. Soundproofing products stop or block sound from leaving or entering a room.

Soundproofing materials and products are typically found inside walls, making soundproofing efforts inconvenient to accomplish once a structure is built. Different than sound absorption materials (as we will discuss next), soundproofing materials are typically dense and made to separate two sides of a wall.


Sound Absorption

Sound absorption is the process by which sound waves are taken in or soaked up by soft surfaces. Sound absorption materials absorb unwanted noise, like an echo, within a room.

The misconception that sound solutions are soundproof-based commonly occurs. But when fixing sound issues, blocking all sound is not always the best or desired solution.

Products like acoustic panels, tiles, clouds, and ceiling baffles are all effective sound absorption products that are designed to dampen reverberation and reduce reflected sound in a properly treated space.

Additionally, when researching an effective, accurate sound solution for your space, it’s important to know that products that block sound and products that absorb sound are subject to entirely different rating systems for efficacy.

Sound absorption products are given a NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) rating, while sound blocking (or soundproofing) materials are given a STC (Sound Transmission Class).

While both acoustic products reduce unwanted sound, they accomplish sound reduction by different means, and are best suited to different applications.

Check out our video to see the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption.