Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatment: What’s the Difference

Soundproof booth

When it comes to creating a perfect sound environment, there are two terms that often get thrown around: soundproofing and acoustic treatment. While these terms might seem interchangeable, they are actually two different concepts that serve distinct purposes. Understanding the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment is essential for anyone who wants to achieve optimal sound quality in a given space. This is why we thought it would be useful to put together a brief discussion on this subject. If this is something that you’re interested in, read on as we explain the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment.

Soundproofing: Keeping Outside Sounds Out

Soundproofing is all about preventing sound from entering or escaping a room. The goal of soundproofing is to create a space where sound cannot penetrate the walls, floor, or ceiling. Soundproofing is commonly used in recording studios, concert halls, and other spaces where sound quality is critical.

The process of soundproofing typically involves adding mass to the walls, floors, and ceilings of a room. This can be achieved by adding drywall, insulation, or acoustic panels. These materials help to absorb sound, preventing it from escaping the room or entering from outside.

Another common way to soundproof a room is through decoupling. Decoupling is the process of creating a gap between the walls or ceiling and the rest of the building structure. This gap helps to prevent sound from traveling through the walls and into other parts of the building.

The key to effective soundproofing is to make sure that all of the gaps in a room are sealed. Even small gaps around doors or windows can allow sound to escape or enter a room. Soundproofing is typically measured in terms of Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings. The higher the STC rating, the better the room is at isolating sound.

Acoustic Treatment: Improving Sound Quality Within a Room

Acoustic treatment, on the other hand, is all about improving the sound quality within a room. Acoustic treatment is used to address issues such as echoes, reverberation, and standing waves. The goal of acoustic treatment is to create a space where sound is clear, well-balanced, and easy to hear.

Acoustic treatment involves adding materials to a room that help to absorb or diffuse sound waves. This can include adding acoustic panels, diffusers, or bass traps. These materials help to control the way that sound waves bounce around a room, improving the overall sound quality.

One of the most common ways to improve the acoustics of a room is through the use of absorption panels. Absorption panels are made from materials that are specifically designed to absorb sound waves. These panels can be placed on walls, ceilings, or even on the floor to help reduce echoes and improve clarity.

Diffusion is another common technique used in acoustic treatment. Diffusers are designed to scatter sound waves in different directions, preventing them from bouncing directly back to the listener. This can help to create a more natural sound that is easier to listen to.

Bass traps are another important component of acoustic treatment. Bass traps are designed to absorb low-frequency sound waves, which can be difficult to control. By reducing the amount of bass in a room, it is possible to create a more balanced sound that is easier to listen to.

The key to effective acoustic treatment is to identify the specific issues that need to be addressed. Every room is different, and the treatment that works best in one room might not be effective in another. Acoustic treatment is typically measured in terms of Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) ratings. The higher the NRC rating, the more effective the treatment is at absorbing sound.


While soundproofing and acoustic treatment might seem like similar concepts, they are actually quite different. Soundproofing is all about preventing sound from entering or escaping a room, while acoustic treatment is about improving the sound quality within a room. Both of these concepts are important for anyone who wants to create a perfect sound environment. By understanding the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment, it is possible to achieve optimal sound quality in any space.

Do you need help with soundproofing in London? Sound Zero is a commercial acoustic solutions provider based in London, specialising in office soundproofing, studio design, and acoustic consultation. We are known for our people-centred approach to design and for delivering unique and inspiring offices and workspaces tailored to what makes your business thrive.

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