Anyone that has an issue with noise may come to us asking for a ‘soundproofing’ solution. Businesses, schools, restaurants, theatres, halls and hospitals all have a tendency to struggle with controlling sound. For some it’s the sound within the room that needs to be lessened, whilst for others it’s the sound from elsewhere that needs to be blocked from leaving or entering a room. ‘Soundproofing’ is often used as a general term that encompasses all interior acoustic solutions. But in fact, soundproofing is just one of two methods used by us to control the sound environment. Soundproofing refers specifically to the action of blocking sound and sound absorption refers to the application of materials to walls or ceilings that absorb the sound from within the room. The two are very different so here’s a little about how they differ.
Controlling noise through sound absorption can be an extremely effective method of lessening the echo and noise within a space. Products that are designed to absorb sound are made with soft materials that can soak up the sound as it hits its surfaces. Our huge product catalogue features lots of sound absorbing products ranging from acoustic wall panels and stretched fabric systems to acoustic ceiling systems and acoustic baffles. All of these products are built specifically with absorption in mind. Whether it’s excessive noise in an office, poor speech intelligibility in a classroom or a disturbing echo in a village hall – a selection of cleverly placed sound absorbing materials on the walls and/or ceiling will help to resolve an array of noise issues. Whilst the term ‘sound absorption’ is less frequently heard, it’s probably the method we undertake the majority of the time – even if we are approached to provide a ‘soundproofing’ solution.
Soundproofing or sound blocking with sound insulating material stops sound from entering or leaving a room. Soundproofing materials are mostly solid and heavy – the action of physically blocking sound requires it to be dense enough to reflect sound and keep it enclosed in one space. Soundproofing isn’t always the go-to solution when someone has a problem with noise, but there are definitely circumstances where soundproofing is the most suitable method. Theatres, cinemas and TV/Radio studios often need to use soundproofing to resolve issues of unwanted sound entering or leaving a room. We’ve worked on a number of projects where part of the solution has been to provide soundproofing methods. At Huawei’s videoconferencing suite in London we installed an acoustic sound barrier in the suspended ceiling void to reduce ‘room to room’ sound travel. A project at Mintel’s studio in London required us to construct a metal stud framework covered with 2 layers of soundbloc plasterboard to ensure sound did not escape the studio space. Where the brief is to stop disturbances travelling into or out of a room, soundproofing is the solution to go for.
So there you have it –our quick guide to soundproofing and sound absorption. One method blocks sound, the other one absorbs – it’s as simple as that!