Soundproofing And Sound Absorbing - Understanding The Difference In Simplest Terms

soundproofing vs sound absorbing image with brick and acoustic foam

Acoustic foam is often called “soundproofing foam” or “soundproof panels”. This is very common even among musicians and in acoustics class chats. However, acoustic foam does not soundproof. Don’t feel bad if you refer to the foam as “soundproofing foam” though. We even use this wording in our product listings because if we didn’t we would not reach the 30% or more of customers who search for it.

Pictures of cool studios featuring foam wedges on the wall are everywhere and add to the easy misconception that acoustic foam will soundproof. Let’s explore the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption so you know what kind of materials you should be looking for to solve your sound problem!

To treat a sound problem we often use materials that block or absorb.

Soft, light, porous and fluffy materials will ABSORB sound.

Dense, heavy and airtight materials will BLOCK sound.

Sound Blocking:

  • Blocking materials are often inside the walls.
  • Materials are heavy and dense like wallboard, sheetrock and concrete.
  • Decoupling is often used to make sure there is no hard contact between the walls which would allow vibration and sound to pass through.

Sound Absorbing:

  • Absorption materials are on the wall surfaces most often on the inside of the room.
  • Materials are light and fluffy like foam, fiberglass, rockwool & polyester.
  • Can treat echoes and control sound within a room.

This is about the simplest way to put it. We could get into more specifics and technical details but I really want this to be simple so it makes sense to everyone.

Now that you understand the difference between materials used to block sound (soundproofing) and materials used to absorb sound you are on your way to better understanding the needs for your project.

If you still have questions we are glad to help you! Please contact us anytime or fill out our free acoustic room analysis!

Sound absorbing products:

Sound blocking products:


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Read More:

Will Acoustic Foam Soundproof A Room ?

What Is Transmission Loss Of Sound ?

What Is Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) ?

Acoustic Foam FAQ

Acoustic Foam Room Calculator

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