I have seen countless people mislead into believing that soundproofing can actually soundproof the room from external noise. I was among one of them but not anymore.
If you ask me, the answer is Yes and No. Yes, because it works for the purpose it is designed for i.e reducing the reverberation and improving sound quality. No, because it doesn’t help you reduce the outside noise even with 100% coverage.
To understand what soundproofing foam is meant to do, you need to first understand the difference between Sound Treatment and Sound Proofing
Soundproofing means that you want isolation. No sound from outside should come in and no sound from the room should go out. It is quite difficult to achieve total soundproofing without proper construction.
There are things that you can do to muffle the sound coming into or going out of the room but complete soundproofing requires a lot of construction work.
Sound treatment refers to improving the the sound quality of the room. The sounds that are in the room go through phenomena of reflection. This phenomena can manifest in two forms
Echo: If you are in a large room such as a large auditorium and you speak loudly, then you will hear your own voice back. This is because when sound hits a hard surface such as amphitheater’s wall, it reflects back and reaches you in some time. The delay is due to the large distance.
Resonance: This effect prominently occurs when you are in a small room. The sounds in the room hit hard walls of the room and reflect back multiple times. The sound wave acts like a ping-pong ball bouncing off each wall and hitting back again.
Due to this effect, the actual sound is amplified it appears louder than it actually is.
So, Where does the soundproofing foam work?
Soundproofing foam is extremely effective when it comes to sound treatment but in
The foam is soft and therefore absorbs some part of the noise that is being thrown at it. This will reduce the echoing and resonance effect. The foam panels come in unique shapes. This shape helps the panel to diffuse the noise in different directions so that they cancel each other out.
This makes the sound quality of the room quite good but it hardly does anything to prevent external noises to come in.
The basic function of the foam is to replace the hard surface of the walls with a soft surface. This because the hard surfaces reflects most of the sound thrown at it.
Almost anything that is soft enough can work to achieve this effect. I have found that towels work really well to reduce the reflections. Even if you have some furniture lying around, it helps. In large theatres, the seats are made of soft material because they want to absorb the sound and improve the acoustic performance. Even the walls and floors of the theatre are covered with some kind of absorbent material similar to foam.
In conclusion, acoustic foam can work wonders to improve the sound quality of the room but it may not be as helpful in soundproofing.
I hope that this article was helpful