Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption

Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption

When it comes to new office spaces with solid clean lines and all glass offices and conference rooms while it looks great overall they do not function well. We at Brooklyn Insulation & Soundproofing(BIS) receive hundreds of inquiries a year from customers that are looking to cut down the echo in the space and not so much cut down what will bleed out from the space. Now is there a difference between how you treat these two issues. Yes of course there is. Why is that?  Lets think about this for a second there are similarities between sound waves and water. Water sits in its vessel until it is reacted upon. It has no shape or form and can be moved with outside forces. If you throw a rock in a pond the waves ripple outwards these waves just like sound can be muted or completely stopped. If you stop a wave it will bounce off the object back towards itself which creates "echo". You would also mute the wave so it does not bounce back into the space but gets absorbed like if the wave just washed away on shore. So what is the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption lets walk you through this. 

Soundproofing And Sound Absorption: The Only Difference

There is a different way to approach if you need to keep the sound in your space versus if you need to help the acoustics or how the room sounds internally. For this one needs to understand the difference between both problems and their solutions. How to you keep sound from bleeding into adjacent spaces vs how do I keep people on my conference calls from hearing an echo in my space. The difference between these is one you have to block the sound and the other you have to absorb the sound. Now you are thinking well if I absorb the sound isn't that soundproofing as well... not necessarily. We will explain why later. 

What Is Soundproofing?

Soundproofing involves several factors that have to be used in conjunction to one another to work at its best to prevent noise from either entering or escaping the space. You need to do 4 things correctly to get a proper soundproofed space. These 4 items are as follows decouple, absorb, add mass and dampen. The materials used for soundproofing when done properly help the sound from entering or leaving the room, makes sense right. Well again, if you had the best materials but the worst installers that had no clue what they were doing in such a technically challenging solution you would end up with no gain in the long run. So watch out for something that might be too good to be true because sometimes it turns out to be that way in the long run. Now that your space is soundproofed you might experience more bounce back or echo than before so you would need to soften the space. For this you could bring back in all your furniture and add some rugs or curtains if you are a residential client.

What Is Sound Absorption?

So sound absorption we are looking to reduce the echo into the space. So for this products are designed to be soft, light, and full of voids and air gaps. The goal is to soften up the surface within the room from glass and concrete to something with less solid, and reduce the echo in that space internally. The room is now pleasing to be in and more inviting but your calls can still bleed into neighboring spaces but at a lower level at times. 

Summary Soundproofing Vs Sound Absorption?

While the sound is being absorbed it is not close to being soundproofed because its just like adding a sponge to a wall or ceiling. The vibrations are still happening in the room which are in turn are shaking the other end of the glass or wall. These vibrations are just like a drum you hit one end the other end shakes but if you put a pillow in a drum it does dampen the sound but there is still sound transmission. You did something to minimize the vibration but not to the level of having a soundproofed room. So controlling noise through absorption is a great way to cut down the echo inside the space. In an office setting people end up going this route since sound absorption is less invasive which means a quicker turn around time on getting their room back into a working and usable order. This might be the case as well if you were originally looking to soundproof your office but couldn't afford the higher cost to retrofit the space for that need.  

Contact one of our specialist to see how we can help.