Soundproofing material may sound like something only musicians in a music studio need, but it can actually be used for a number of useful purposes.
Muting the sounds from a noisy washer and dryer in the next room, absorbing sounds from traffic on a busy street, and even dulling the roar from planes and trains are just some of the reasons to use soundproofing material.
Or perhaps you live in an apartment building with a committed musician as your neighbor, and he prefers to practice at 3 in the morning.
Whatever your needs are, there are various types of soundproofing material that can help reduce unwanted noise. There’s even soundproof paint that can help eliminate annoying noise.
In a hurry ? Here are our top picks
In this guide, we go over five different types of soundproofing material that can help reduce the transmission of sound. Each of these materials can be easily found, purchased, and even installed on your own (though you might need a friend or two).
1. Soundsulate ½ lb Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl, or MLV, is one of the most used and trusted materials when it comes to soundproofing. It’s thin, so won’t take up much space, and it’s dense, making it far more effective at reducing sound than some other more porous materials.
Typically applied over a wall stud, joists, or suspended ceilings, it’s extremely flexible, making it a perfect material to wrap around noise-producing ducts, machines, and other equipment. The denseness of the MLV makes it a heavy-duty barrier for reducing or eliminating unwanted sound.
The most common sizes of Sounsulate’s ½ lb MLV are 4’ x 25’ (100 square feet), 4’ x 50’ (200 square feet), and 4’ x 505’ (2020 square feet).
- Can be cut to fit over most any area or equipment
- A strong material that is durable
- Flexible, making it easy to curve around walls, doors, or other surfaces
- Availability in a larger size means you can use one sheet for a variety of projects
- Only an STC (Sound Transmission Class) Rating of 20, which is on the low end
- May not provide best sound dampening unless used with or between other materials, such as layers of drywall
- Like water, noise transmission can seep through cracks, so it may not work perfectly if it’s improperly sealed
- Installation process can be difficult due to the weight of the material
The Soundsulate ½ lb Mass Loaded Vinyl can handle nearly any soundproofing project you can imagine. Its dense material provides a noticeable reduction in sound energy, though it works particularly well when paired with other soundproofing materials, such as soundproof drywall.
It’s best for those who need a minimal sound dampening material, or who are going to use it as a soundproofing insulation between a layer of drywall. For larger projects such as this, professional installation is probably a better choice than trying to install it on your own.
2. SoundproofingMLV 1 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl
SoundproofingMLV’s 1 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl is a multi-purpose soundproofing product that can be used just as easily in a living space or an office space to cut down transmission of sound.
It comes in over 50 sizes, so you should be able to find just the one you need for your soundproofing project and your unique space. It comes with installation instructions, providing a template for easy installation no matter which types of material you need to soundproof.
- Comes in over 50 sizes and 5 different thicknesses
- Made from high-quality materials, making it strong and durable
- Comes with one of the highest sound ratings by weight
- The included installation instructions help the installation process go smoother
- Despite its “odor free” label, the odor is pretty strong right out of the box
- Only an STC rating of 26, meaning you’ll need to double layer it or combine it with a layer of drywall for a completely effective soundproofing system
- As with most MLV, it is heavy and may require professional installation, or at least a friend or two to help you install it
The 1lb Mass Loaded Vinyl by SoundproofingMLV is a high-quality, heavy duty vinyl that can be an effective soundproofing option for just about any job. Easy to cut and install with the included installation instructions, it will greatly increase the effectiveness of any soundproofing barrier.
This is best to use inside a soundproof drywall for soundproofing a wall, it can also be layered to achieve a similar effectiveness. The soundproofing performance will rely on what other materials you combine this product with, but even on its own it can lower noise level a fairly good amount if used right.
3. SoundproofingMLV 1.5 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl
The 1.5 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl by SoundproofingMLV is the heavier duty cousin to its 1 lb MLV. This provides an even more effective sound barrier, though may make installation more cumbersome (though the installation instructions included help a ton).
With a Sound Transmission Class rating of 29, this product can be used for just about any soundproofing purpose, whether soundproofing a door, or creating a soundproof wall between regular drywall.
It’s perfect as a building material for soundproofing a wall, heavily reducing airborne noise and impact noise alike.
- Heavy, durable, and flexible make it a great soundproof insulation
- You can cut and shape the material around pipes, doorways, equipment, etc.
- 5 sizes and thicknesses available
- Carries the highest sound rating by weight
- Heavier, most likely requiring at least two people for installation
- May be a more expensive option for some
- Will reduce noise more effectively if combined with layers of drywall
SoundproofingMLV’s 1.5 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl is a great combination of dense material and (fairly) simple installation.
Depending on what type of sound you want to reduce, it’s best as a building material between drywall layers, or using an extra layer or two to make the most effective soundproofing system.
Since it is so heavy, you may want a professional to install it for you (or at least ask some friends to help). It’s a great sound barrier for disturbances such as noisy pipes due to its flexibility and size, though there may be more cost effective options out there.
4. TMS Soundproofing Padding
The Trademark Soundproofing Store (TMS) Soundproofing Padding is a 1-pound MLV that is easy to use, quick to install, and more affordable than some other sound insulation materials.
Their vinyl sheets are made in the United States from highly durable, premium quality materials, weighing one pound per square foot.
Offering optimal mass and stiffness, this professional grade damper reduces a variety of noises, from conversations in the next apartment to loud pipes and machinery. Since it’s easy to cut and flexible, it can be made to fit in just about any place you need it to reduce noise.
Furthermore, it comes with easy-to-understand instructions as well as a phone number for their customer service department if you need help with installation. Seeking to be both affordable and efficient, TMS has created a soundproofing material that is the best of both worlds.
- It contains no recycled or re-grinded material, eliminating the bad odor some vinyl products give off
- Heavy duty material
- Durable and long-lasting
- Cost-effective price (one of the most affordable MLV’s on the market)
- Prompt, knowledgeable customer service department
- Easy to cut and shape despite how dense it is
- As with all MLV’s, this stuff is heavy, and may need to be cut into smaller pieces to be installed for a soundproofing wall
- With a Sound Transmission Class rating of 27, it will need to be used in layers or combined with sound dampening drywall to achieve the best effect
- Installation can be completed without help thanks to the clear installation instructions, but you may want help due to its weight
TMS’s Soundproofing Padding is a great combination of premium material and affordability. Best used as a building material inside a drywall layer, this material may also be effective on its own by using an extra layer.
Anyone who needs to reduce sound transfer and doesn’t want to spend exorbitant amounts should look into this soundproofing pattern. The ability to cut and mold it around any sound producing machinery makes it an effective soundproofing option for most jobs.
5. Audimute Sound Absorption Sheet
The Sound Absorption Sheet by Audimute improves audio quality by reducing sound echoes and reverberation. Unlike the previous products, this is for absorbing sound energy, not for blocking it. That means that it’s best used to eliminate or reduce sound in the room in which it’s installed.
Best used as an acoustic panel to improve sound quality, it can be used in a home music studio, recording studio, home theater or office, or anywhere else you want the acoustic property to remain in the room.
The proprietary eco-C-tex sound absorption material is made of a blend of recycled cotton and cellulose fibers, which makes it a more eco-friendly soundproofing system. It comes in 5 different colors, and one wall panel is 95 inches tall and 54 inches wide.
- Non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and fiberglass free
- 0.85 NRC rating, one of the highest for acoustic insulation and sound absorber
- Nice color options to match any area
- Fast shipping time
- Free shipping if ordering more than one
- As a sound absorber, it doesn’t block from the outside, unless you use on both interior and exterior walls
- A more expensive sound-absorbing material
- Can be difficult to hang due to weight and size
The Audimute Sound Absorption Sheet can improve the acoustic properties of nearly any space. Installation can be difficult even with the hanging material included, as the weight and size of the heavy blanket can pull them out of the wall if not careful.
As an acoustic foam panel, this type of product does not block sound; it merely absorbs it. This makes it best for rooms where sound quality is optimal, such as music studios or home theater rooms.
Things to Know Before You Buy: The Best Soundproofing Material
Sound Absorption vs. Soundproofing
One of the most common misconceptions about creating a soundproofing system is that all materials act in the same way.
Many people have confused a soundproofing material and a sound-absorbing material, which have caused issues. It’s important to know the difference between the two in order to purchase the one which will work best for your needs.
Materials such as MLV, or Mass Loaded Vinyl, are sound dampening materials that reflect sound transmission. As such, it is best used as a building material between drywall or on an exterior wall.
If the goal is to eliminate or reduce noise, a soundproofing material is best for this type of job. MLV can be cut, shaped, and layered to cover a variety of noise producing objects. It can also be placed inside of a wall to cut down on noise getting through.
Sound Absorption Options
Sound absorption materials, on the other hand, are designed to create a cleaner acoustic quality of a space. They do this by eliminating reverberations of sound off of objects such as walls.
Sound-absorbing material does not block sound as a soundproofing material does; it merely absorbs excess sound vibrations. This can make it an effective soundproofing option if used correctly, but the main purpose is not so much to soundproof as to improve the quality of sound.
Conclusion on the Best Soundproofing Material
The first four products offer a variety of Mass Loaded Vinyls in different weights, thickness, and sizes. Mass Loaded Vinyl is an effective soundproofing material that’s best when used in combination with drywall or other sound-reducing materials.
The last product is a sound-absorption material; a heavy blanket that can be hung to reduce or eliminate the excess vibrations of sound. It’s best when wanting to improve audio quality, effective in music rooms or home theater rooms.
Whether you’re looking for the best soundproofing material or sound absorbing material, this list of products offers both. You should find an effective soundproofing option here no matter your needs.