Acoustic Treatment vs Soundproofing

Fabric Acoustic Panel Hathaway Restaurant Singapore for Echo Reduction

Are Acoustic Treatment and Soundproofing the same?

Have you ever heard of a friend who tried to soundproof his room by putting acoustic foam or even egg crates on the wall? Well, the attempt probably failed miserably because it is impossible to soundproof a room by just sticking any type of acoustic panels onto the wall.

Acoustic panels are meant for acoustic treatment, which is the control of echoes and reverberation in a room. Whereas soundproofing is about preventing sound from entering or exiting a room. In this article, we attempt to discuss the differences between acoustic treatment and soundproofing!

What is Acoustic Treatment?

Acoustic treatment is the control of reverberations and echoes found in a space. I do not want to define acoustic treatment as “to reduce echoes and reverberation”, because even though most of the acoustic treatment jobs require the reduction of echoes and reverberation, some jobs require the redirecting of such echoes, such as in an opera house or a choral chamber. Nonetheless, let’s discuss how we can effectively reduce the reverberations and echoes in a room as that’s what most people want.

Fabric Round Acoustic Panel Hathaway Restaurant Singapore for Echo Reduction

Choosing a Suitable Acoustic Panel

Many different rooms have different requirements of how little echo it should have. A measurement of the amount of echo found in a room can be ascertained with the RT60 test, which measures the amount of time taken for an impulse sound to decay by 60 decibels.

The optimal RT60 of a venue depends on its size and purpose. For instance, vocal recording studio would require a very low RT60 time of 0.2 – 0.4 seconds, whereas a teleconference room would suffice with an RT60 time of 0.8 seconds.


Soundproofing is very much different from acoustical treatment. It is much more challenging to soundproof a room than it is to acoustically treat a room. To fully soundproof a room, we need to build a room within a room (RWAR). A room within a room construction consists of building a smaller room in a larger room, and decoupling the smaller room from the larger room with isolators for the inner walls, joist isolators for the inner floor, and springs for the inner ceiling.

It is also important to consider the use of building materials with heavy mass, as these high-density material will help to convert some of the low-frequency (LF) sound energy into heat energy before the transmitting through any isolators or springs. This means the walls and ceiling of the inner room can be lined with lead-sheet or mass-loaded vinyls for maximum LF absorption. In between the inner room and outer room, a high-density packing of insulation of 80 – 100kg/m3 should be installed.

To prevent any possible short-circuiting of sound within the inner walls, floor, and ceiling, a neoprene rubber strip or foam tape strip should be used where the boards of the wall/ceiling/floor touches one another, along with a generous caulk of acoustic sealant to seal up any possible joint leaks.

Soundproofing is not an easy job and should be done by a professional team who has experience building RWAR construction. It should not be attempted as a DIY project as there are many areas if not done properly can cause sound to leak through gaps or flanking paths.

Putting it all together

To build a room that noise cannot enter and have no echoes, you will have to do both soundproofing and acoustical treatment. A room that is acoustically treated but not soundproofed will still be affected by outdoor sounds coming in, and a room that is soundproofed but not acoustically treated will be plagued by echoes since no sound can escape.

It is recommend to soundproof the room first by isolating all the structures and walls in the room, then finish it off with acoustical treatment by installing acoustic panels on the walls and ceiling. The endeavour to have the perfect acoustic room is a tough one, but once properly done will give you a room that can acoustically serve you for many years to come.



This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.