Room Acoustics

Sound proofing vs acoustic treatment: what’s the difference?

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Sound proofing vs acoustic treatment what's the differenceSound proofing vs acoustic treatment

Sound proofing and acoustic treatment are two very different processes. Each is used to achieve a very different set of results. Never the less, people often confuse one with the other, or assume both to be the same thing. In this article, I’ll break down the differences between sound proofing and acoustic treatment. I’ll also explain what each process achieves.

Let’s start with sound proofing. Sound proofing is the process of preventing sound from inside a room escaping out of it. It also prevents sound from outside of a room leaking in.

Acoustic treatment however, is very different. Acoustic treatment is the process of controlling the way that sound waves interact with each other within a room, as well as how they interact with the room itself. You would usually carry out acoustic treatment to make a room acoustically suitable for recording or mixing. As such, sound proofing your room doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have good acoustics. Similarly, Acoustically treating your room will not stop sound escaping from it or leaking into it.

Let’s look at each of these two processes in finer detail.

What is sound proofing?

As previously mentioned, sound proofing is the process of adapting a room to prevent the sound inside of it from escaping out, and to prevent the sound from outside of it leaking in. If you are recording music, then it’s important to ensure that sound from outside cannot leak into your room and spill on to your recordings. For example, you may experience issues such as the sound of a passing car being picked up by your microphones if you record in a room which has not been sound proofed.

Similarly, in some instances, it can be important to ensure that the sound from the loud instruments that you are recording cannot escape out of the room that you’re recording in. For example, if you are recording loud instruments in a room which is located within close proximity to houses or businesses, then sound proofing prevents you from disturbing the people around you. To sound proof a room, you must build a ‘room within a room’. This generally involves the process of adding new walls to the inside of a room. Building a floating floor, a suspended ceiling and adding double doors should also be incorporated to prevent leakage of sound.

What is acoustic treatment?

As previously mentioned, acoustic treatment is the process of controlling the way sound behaves in a room. The way that sound behaves in a room is often less than ideal for music production. When sound bounces off of the walls, ceiling and floor in a room, unwanted reflections can occur. If you are using a room for recording, then these reflections can negatively effect the sound that your microphones capture. If you use a room for mixing, then these reflections can also negatively effect the accuracy of the sound that you are hearing when you mix. Accordingly, you may wish to implement a combination of absorption and diffusion to control the way that sound waves behave in your room.

Conclusion

As you can see, sound proofing and acoustic treatment are two very different things. You are not guaranteed to have a room which is acoustically suited to recording or mixing just because you have sound proofed it. Similarly, acoustically treating your room will not prevent sound from escaping out or leaking in. The two processes are very different and its important to understand the differences between them in order to achieve the result that you’re looking for.

Do you use any form of acoustic treatment or sound proofing in your studio?

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