What Materials Absorb Sound the Best and Why?
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All materials can absorb sound to an extent. However, the best sound absorbing materials are the ones that absorb most of the sound energy that collides with them. Some materials are more effective than others depending on the type of noise created, noise source, building structure, wall construction, and other key factors. You will find multiple sound absorbing materials in the market that can be used in your space for various applications. We have compiled some of the best sound absorbing materials below.
Felt, in the form of decorative acoustic felt wall panels, wall coverings, floor coverings, hanging panels, etc, offers great sound absorption along with excellent visual aesthetics. Wool felt solutions come in various sizes and colors and offer excellent muffling of sound due to their soft surface. Felts are produced by pressing and matting fibers together. Their ability to bend to uneven surfaces prevents the unwanted intrusion of foreign substances beneath the load-bearing area. The vibration of fibers within the felt is what achieves sound absorption with the energy dissipated by frictional heat loss.
Acoustic foam, also known as studio foam, is an open celled foam that consists of a distinctive wedge or pyramid shape and is used for acoustic treatment. They absorb sound waves that reflect off of hard surfaces and are highly effective when it comes to absorbing sound. Acoustic foam can be attached to panels, suspended from ceilings or acoustic ceiling baffles, or can be placed in the corner as bass traps.
Polyester fiber, also known as non-woven fabric, is a man made fiber that consists of long chain synthetic polymers. Since the sound absorption of polyester fiber increases with the frequency of sound, it is most effective at high frequencies. Polyester fiber is known to maintain its shape and structural integrity even after exposure to most chemicals, fuels, and oils—as well as water, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and ozone as it is highly suited in industrial settings. Polyester fiber has an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) rating between 0.8 and 1.
Fiberglass consists of small particles of compressed glass or plastic and combines rigidity and light weight. Highly effective and customizable, fiberglass can be installed in extremely tight spaces and is used in spaces to prevent echo and reverberation. With an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) rating of 0.90 to 0.95, fiber glass works best when it is thicker.