Properly soundproofing a room can be an expensive job, which is why there are many soundproofing myths around which offer cheap but completely ineffective ways of soundproofing a room.
Below we bust some of these myths and explain what (if anything) these methods are actually useful for:
1. Egg Boxes
Egg boxes are the number one soundproofing myth that we come across all the time.
Whenever we mention soundproofing people will immediately mention egg boxes.
Egg boxes are often used as a cheap way of ‘soundproofing’ a studio or recording room.
There are several reasons that egg boxes for soundproofing have remained an enduring myth:
- There is a big difference between soundproofing and sound diffusion/absorption, part of the reason this myth endures is because people confuse the two.
Soundproofing will stop sound from entering and leaving a room (something egg boxes won’t help with at all).
Whereas sound diffusion will help spread sound energy evenly around a space.
Thanks to their shape egg boxes may help diffuse sound to a very small (almost imperceptible) degree.
- The egg box myth is something that is perpetuated even in Hollywood for example in this scene from Hustle & Flow you can see cup holders stuck to the walls of their recording studio.
- It is cheap and easy to stick egg boxes to a wall.
Properly soundproofing a room can cost a significant amount of money.
Egg boxes cost next to nothing so are an easy way of ticking the ‘soundproof’ box.
2. Foam Panels
You cannot soundproof a room with foam panels.
You can hang as many foam panels as you like on your walls and ceilings but it will do nothing to prevent sound coming in and out of the room.
Like egg boxes, the reason this myth prevails is due to a misunderstanding of the differences between soundproofing and sound diffusion.
Youtubers, musicians, podcasters and more use foam panels on their walls to diffuse sound not to soundproof their room.
What this means is that when they are recording sound will not echo around the room in the same way.
Instead, it is diffused meaning the audio they record will sound significantly better.
If you live in student accommodation and you decide to cover your room in foam so that you can play your tunes as loud as you want you’re not going to make anyone happy, so don’t do it!
3. Soft Furnishings
Another enduring soundproofing myth is that filling a room with loads of soft furnishings will make it quieter.
If you’re sat in a room full of wooden furniture and your neighbor is blasting out the tunes the idea is that it will sound far noisier for you than it will for the neighbor on the other side who has their lounge full of thousands of cushions, rugs, throws, soft armchairs and sofas.
Of course this is another myth, it will be just as loud for both of you.
Even if you staple cushions to your wall it will have no noticeable impact.
Mass is needed to properly block noise and soft furnishings have low densities which is useless at blocking sound.
As with foam panels, soft furnishings can help diffuse sound a bit but they do absolutely nothing to stop sound entering or leaving a room.
Fill a room with thick leafy plants and the soundwaves will bounce around off their leaves expending loads of sound energy and almost completely deadening the noise.
That’s the myth.
The reality is that unless you’ve got a 7-foot tall 3-foot wide hedge in your lounge then plants will have no noticeable soundproofing impact.
Chucking a Japanese peace lily in your lounge or a rubber plant in your bedroom will make no difference when it comes to soundproofing.
That said we have written an article on the best sound-absorbing plants because leafier plants will absorb some sound energy.
In fact, thick hedges are great at blocking road noise…but, unless you’re using a lot of plants and the sound you’re trying to block is low level they will have little impact.
5. Muted Wall Colors
Dark wall colors make your room look more quiet, calm and peaceful.
They trick your mind into thinking that the space is more peaceful, more quiet and better soundproofed than an identical room painted in brighter colors.
This is of course an illusion, the color you paint your room has absolutely no impact on the acoustics of it.
6. Soundproof Paint
The idea that you can paint a payer on your wall that will suddenly make it impenetrable to sound is nice because it’s a cheap, quick and easy soundproofing solution.
The problem is it’s not effective.
Mass blocks sound.
Soundproof paints are heavy-bodied water-based paint.
They are far denser than standard paints due to a combination of ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers that are mixed in.
Yet despite this, once applied they are still extremely thin and only add a very small amount of mass to your walls.
They will make little difference to the amount of noise that passes through.
7. Soundproof Wallpaper
Soundproof wallpaper is similar to soundproof paint in that it offers quick and easy soundproofing at a very low cost.
Soundproof wallpaper is an extra dense paper that can be pasted onto the wall to help dampen the sound coming into or leaving a room.
Let’s be clear, soundproof wallpaper is a myth.
No wallpaper, no matter how thick it is, will transform any room from sounding like the inside of a nightclub to the inside of a library.
At best it may slightly muffle low level TV noise which you could barely hear in the first place.
At worst (and the most likely result) it will make zero difference.
Hanging thick heavy curtains over your window will help soundproof it is the myth.
The reality is that even so called ‘soundproof curtains‘ are not very effective at all.
Mass blocks noise and even the heaviest of curtains still lacks signficant mass.
Curtains can help muffle noise somewhat and they can certainly help reduce echo in a room but they won’t do a great deal to stop sound coming in and out of your window.
Especially as sound can easily travel through the gaps at the edge of the curtains.
If you pair a thick curtain with some thick blinds you may notice a bit more difference but again don’t rely exclusively on fabrics for soundproofing as you are likely to end up dissappointed with the result.
Thick ‘soundproof rugs‘ will muffle outgoing and incoming sounds is the myth.
This is not true.
If you live near a noisy road or have a noisy neighbor then laying thick rugs down will not do anything to soundproof your home.
It will help your downstairs neighbor, if you have one.
This is because it will soften impact vibrations from you walking on the floor it won’t do much to prevent you from being disturbed by loud music though.
Top Tip: Check out these devices for dealing with noisy neighbors!
As with rugs the idea is that installing a thick carpet or even soundproof carpet/underlay will turn your home into an impenetrable sound fortress.
Suprise suprise this is another myth.
Fitting carpets in your home does have numerous acoustic benefits, but soundproofing isn’t one of them.
Carpets and underlay help to deaden impact sound so footsteps don’t travel through the floor as noisily.
Carpet also helps minimize echo in the room so if you are setting up a recording studio you should ensure it is carpeted as well as uses acoustic foam to get the best sound quality possible.
Another carpet related soundproofing myth is that carpeting your walls for soundproofing is a good idea – it isn’t!
It can have an impact on room acoustics if done correctly but it will have no noticeable soundproofing impact and it looks awful!
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