How soundproofing works?

Analogy of soundproofing

When we construct a soundproof partition wall, building materials are assembled in in ways that maximize sound attenuation of the wall. We accomplish soundproofing objectives by taking advantage of physical properties of materials.

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Approaches to soundproofing

​Generally, in order to reduce airborne noise (speech, music) from penetrating a partition walls, the designer can take the following measures:

  • Increase mass of the structure by adding one or more layers of drywall or other materials.
  • Damping sound vibration within the wall cavity by adding acoustic insulation.
  • Damping vibration within the drywall by introducing a layer of viscos-elastic material.
  • Decoupling the wall skin (drywall) from the structure by resilient channels or resilient clips.

Sound transmission through walls and other building structures is a complicated physical process. There are may scholarly books written on this subject, for example Sound Insulation by Carl Hopkins.  However, the following demonstration video by Acoustical Surfaces Inc. shows useful, easy to follow and well explained analogy of basic material properties that are utilized in sound attenuation.

Demonstration of material properties useful in soundprofing.

Do not expect that watching this video will make you an expert in sound reduction. There are many websites that sell specialized acoustical materials. These websites usually provide do-it-yourself guidance and suggest that anyone can install soundproofing products. However, this is rarely true, except perhaps in the simplest of situations. 

Successful sound reduction requires proper assessment of acoustical needs, understanding of noise attenuation of existing structure, knowledge of possible flanking noise paths, ventilation issues and other potential pitfalls. In most typical soundproofing situations, a homeowner or a contractor should seek expert advice in order to achieve optimal soundproofing results.

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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