Soundproofing vs Acoustic Treatment: What’s the Difference?

June 10, 2024

We wish we were asked this question more often. There are significant differences between the two, and knowing which one you need can save you a lot of time, money, and confusion.

There are dozens of reasons to enhance a room’s sound quality. Whether you’re creating a welcoming, professional space, enhancing in-home acoustics, or needing professional sound for music recording, knowing the best way to enhance sound is critical for delivering the best acoustics. 

Let’s start with the biggest determining factor: the purpose of the space and how you will use it.

Defining Your Space

The main thing is to determine whether you need sound isolation, sound control, or both.

Some scenarios call for keeping unwanted sound from entering or escaping a space. This is done by soundproofing a room through “isolating” it from the surroundings. 

A few common examples of good use of soundproofing includes music recording studios, production studios, rooms for music practice, or any other room where the focus is on keeping sound from entering or escaping the defined space. 

Acoustic treatment, on the other hand, is about controlling and enhancing how sound behaves within a space. It focuses on improving the clarity and quality of sound in the room without affecting the volume of sound that escapes or enters.

Acoustic treatment is often the best option for spaces such as mixing studios, conference rooms, home offices and theaters, and other spaces where you want to improve sound quality.

To boil it all down, soundproofing controls what sound enters or leaves a space, while acoustic treatment controls how sound behaves within the space.

Acoustic Treatment

Acoustic treatment helps with things like eliminating echoes, dampening overall levels in a room, or creating optimal spatial audio points. 

But what is acoustic treatment, and how does it work?

Acoustic treatment uses various materials to control and manipulate a room’s sound properties. Common materials such as sound-absorbing panels and diffusers reduce or eliminate unwanted reflections of sound waves to enhance sound quality. 

Benefits of acoustic treatment

Acoustic treatment can provide an optimal listening, working, and recording space. It does this in various ways, including:

  • Enhanced sound quality: Eliminating echoes and unwanted sound reflections creates an easier space to communicate, record, and work in. 
  • Reduced ear fatigue: By minimizing internal noise disturbances like echo, acoustic treatment helps create a more comfortable soundscape in spaces such as classrooms, churches, retail stores, and offices, reducing ear fatigue and improving concentration. 
  • Eliminating acoustic flaws: Each room has specific acoustic properties; acoustic treatment can overcome most of these flaws. 
  • Reduced stress: Intentional control of sound within a space eliminates conscious and subconscious stress factors from a space, leading to a more enjoyable experience.

How does acoustic treatment work?

Acoustic treatment works by manipulating and controlling how sound interacts in a space. Many different products and treatments are used to create the desired quality of sound, including:

  • Sound panels: Crafted with audio-translucent fabric and eco-friendly polyester insulation, these panels drastically reduce reverberation and echo.
  • Fabric-wrapped track systems: These systems utilize a series of tracks that adapt to the contours and features of your room, resulting in a blend of function and style that enhances acoustics.
  • Diffusers: Custom milled from Douglas Fir, these diffusers are designed to disperse sound energy in multiple directions, creating a more natural and balanced sound field.
  • Acoustical wood: Wood panels offer a visually appealing and acoustically effective solution to any space and improve the sound quality in your space with exceptional sound absorption.

Acoustically treating your space enhances the sound experience and overall appearance and feel of a room. However, acoustical treatment is not the same as soundproofing. Using sound panels and diffusers will not eliminate noise from entering a room or prevent it from leaving—that is where soundproofing comes in. 


Soundproofing is a method of preventing sound from moving from one space to another. It is most commonly used in recording and production studios, hotels, and other commercial spaces. 

Benefits of soundproofing

The most significant enhancement of soundproofing a room is eliminating the entrance or escape of sound. There are typically two reasons to fully soundproof a space. One is that you need a completely quiet, isolated space where outside noise is eliminated. The second is that you need a space where loud noises cannot escape and disturb nearby rooms. 

How does soundproofing work?

Soundproofing is best achieved through two methods.

The first method is to add mass to a structure between the sound source and the target area. Adding mass helps to muffle sound by absorbing and converting sound energy into heat, rather than fully isolating the space from sound transmission.

The second method is to decouple one structure from another. This approach, which involves adding a gap or air space between walls or structures, is the most effective way to isolate a space. While not 100% soundproof, decoupling significantly reduces sound transfer, offering the best results for minimizing noise transmission. 

Choosing between acoustic treatment and soundproofing

While some people might have a clear understanding of which method suits their needs, many find it challenging to determine the right solution. It’s important to note that soundproofing is fundamentally a construction issue. The effectiveness of isolation depends entirely on the existing construction of a space and can only be properly addressed through remodeling or construction.

Soundproofing requires significant remodeling to achieve desired results, including adding additional layers to walls, doors, and windows to prevent sound from penetrating the structure.

Additionally, isolated spaces still require acoustic treatment. While soundproofing prevents sound transfer between spaces, it does not influence how sound behaves within a room. Acoustic treatment, which requires little to no construction, focuses on installing sound panels and diffusers to create the desired sound environment.

How we can help

We love helping people experience acoustic excellence, and we’re here to help you navigate creating the audio experience for your space. So if you’re still not sure which direction to go, or you need help treating or soundproofing your space, let us know.

Feel free to browse our acoustic products and design and installation services to learn more about how we can help. When you’re ready, you can request a quote, and we’ll take care of everything.