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Sound Absorption Vs Sound Insulation? What’s the big difference?

Posted in Soundproofing & Sound Testing on Sep 19, 2018

Sound absorption refers to the loss of sound energy when sound waves hit ceilings, walls and floors, and they are absorbed. Materials that are absorbent are often used so that a particular building is soundproofed to reduce the amount of reverberation, which has an impact on the way a particular room sounds.

Reverberation time is an important factor, as a longer duration makes a room sound loud and noisy, causing speech to become muffled. Spaces that are designed for speech usually benefit from a shorter reverberation time of less than one second. Longer reverberation times are used for music halls to add the acoustic dynamics of that space.

Buildings including schools, concert venues, recording studios and sports halls are important when it comes to their design as sound absorption needs to be implemented effectively so that these spaces operate fully for their intended use.

What does sound absorption look like?

Floors, walls and ceilings are usually treated with a specific type of sound absorption, which is either porous absorbents, resonance absorbents or single absorbents.

Porous absorbents

This type of absorbent takes the form of either a fibrous material or open-celled foam. The use of fibrous material allows the sound to be absorbed as the sound waves push through so that the fibres are bent and generate heat. This conversion of acoustic energy to heat means that sounds are absorbed.

Open-celled foam consists of the air movement from the sound waves that force particles of air through passages to generate heat. The thickness of a particular material has a significant impact on how well it absorbs sound.

Resonance absorbents

This type of absorbent is made up of a mechanical or acoustic system, which oscillates, and an example of this type of absorbent is membrane absorbers, which consist of a solid plate and a compact airspace.

Cavities can be filled with porous materials so that the absorption is widened across the range of frequencies.

Single absorbents

Single absorbents are usually types of furniture or other household objects including tables and chairs. The materials vary, as do the characteristics of their absorbance. For low-frequency sounds that are below 500 Hz, then there may be some difficulty when it comes to absorbing compared to high frequencies that are above this range which are usually easier to absorb.

Sound absorption and sound insulation are not the same

When it comes to sound absorption and sound insulation, it's important to remember that they are not the same thing. They each have different ways of helping the acoustics of a particular room or building.

Sound insulation is a technique that is used to restrict sound from travelling between separate spaces through walls, ceilings and floors.

Sound absorption occurs by converting some of the energy into heat, instead of transmitting it. This can be used in conjunction with sound insulation in order to maximise the opportunity to reduce and prevent acoustic problems from occurring, but it shouldn't be viewed as a substitute for proper sound insulation in buildings.

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- Paul Hastings

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

30th May, 2017

I engaged Nova at the outset of my project (which I recommend you do) to assist with providing a detailed material specification and installation guidance. There was always someone available to help with practical enquiries and advice...

- C.G. Henry

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

29th Nov, 2017

I had Adam come round to a property which i thought was beyond repair. He gave sound advice with exact details of what needed to be carried out in the most cost effective manner. Once the works were carried out he returned, tested it...

- Andrew Youngson

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

6th Dec, 2017

I have worked with the team at nova on a number of projects and have always been very helpful and competitively priced. Highly recommend this company for any sound test and report.

- Carol Chaplin

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

14th Jun, 2017

Excellent service, engineer was very informative and helpful.  Good customer service being able to speak to knowledgeable people on the telephone when making inquires about the procedure involved for the sound testing of our property...

- Bun Bar

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

2nd Dec, 2015

Good efficient service. Recommend it to all.

Bright Construction UK Ltd

- Gavin Boby

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

9th Nov, 2015

Very attentive and friendly service, keen to serve the client, and absolutely not about dragging the case out for fees - will work to save the client fees, and understand the practicalities of the case and the opposition that applications...

- Ejaz Shah

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

9th Nov, 2016

Adam was very attentive and very professional answered all my questions and returned all calls the engineer arrived at the time agreed and again explained everything before carrying out the test , and we received our report within couple...

- Charles OKell

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

23rd Feb, 2017

Its a tricky area and you need the right support, Paul Robinson  brought Adam's team to the table and we'll be working together again in future for sure.

- Ainsley Black

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

14th Dec, 2016

Although we had followed the building reg, in terms of sound insulation the property conversion still failed the sound Test. Adam was very helpful and professional and guided us to the point that when it was retested again we passed. Would...

- Robert Buchanan

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19th Jun, 2017

Friendly efficient and cost effective service, without complication

- Hepple Property Care Ltd

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

26th Oct, 2017

Very quick service, would recommend to others

- Ian Fairbairn

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

20th Dec, 2016

Excellent service and communication with all the members of staff we had dealings with.  A very professional approach and attitude by all.  An experience that is refreshing within the building sector and a company I could recommend...

- Daniel Cogdon

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

2nd Oct, 2017

Fast turn around and great service, recommended

- Allan Proctor

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

21st Sep, 2016

Excellent service by Adam and the team at Nova. The service they delivered was efficient, competitive and I would highly recommend them!

- Carol Richards

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

20th Jul, 2016

Having selected Nova Accoustics to perform a sound test on my latest project, I found the whole process completely professional, prompt & efficient .

The phone contact to set up the appointment was extremely  helpful...

- Michael Dickinson

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

1st Mar, 2017

Having used Nova Acoustics on several projects, I would not hesitate in recommending this company.

- Steph Openshaw

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

7th Sep, 2017

Fantastic service very quick and punctual highly recommended.

- Chris Bullerwell

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

22nd Nov, 2016

Used Nova Acoustics to sound test a property we'd converted in the Newcastle area.

Excellent service from start to finish. Professional, helpful & reliable throughout...highly recommended.

- Andrew Holmes

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

23rd Mar, 2017

Really helpful team of people and very quick service, which was greatly appreciated.

- Siying Lid

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

17th Aug, 2016

We are a small design firm and NOVA Acoustics provided very sufficient services to our clients with reasonable price. And they are quick to respond too.  Highly recommended.

- Floors By Design Leicester

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

24th Apr, 2017

Very good company, communicated all the way through.  Competitive pricing, I will be using them again in the near future.

- Stewart Greenhalgh

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

6th Jul, 2017

First Class, prompt professional service. I will recommend to other clients.

- Frank Kenny

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

5th Oct, 2017

Excellent  service so far and will be contacting them again for their services.

- Kelly Freakley

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

26th Jul, 2017

Fantastic service from this company at a very reasonable price, would definitely recomend....

- Robert Myers

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

27th Apr, 2017

I used Nova acoustics to sound test my basement flat conversion for the building control certificate

And found them to be professional and friendly. The test was done mid afternoon and I had received by six o'clock the same...

- Stephen Shaw

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

13th Jul, 2017

Excellent service. Would recommend to anyone needing assistance with matters arising from acoustics and noise.

- Rick Parsons

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

29th Jun, 2017

iKoustic have worked with Nova Acoustics for some time now and they are constantly thorough, professional and super helpful in everything they do ... They are certainly our partner of choice ... Rick

- Carl Smoult

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

10th Aug, 2017

Prompt, friendly, efficient, professional... would recommend and use again.

- Gary Oliver

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

20th Mar, 2017

As most of you reading this message are now probably aware  the difficulty of finding guidance and compliance of the part E building regulations is an arduous task. Well search no more! Adam at Nova Acoustics not only talked me through...

- Kate Whitehead

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

27th Jul, 2017

Speedy quote, arranging the testing & report! Seb was really friendly & efficient onsite. Highly recommend!

- David Hope

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

26th Sep, 2017

Came promptly at the requested time. Did the work professionally and in good time and provided the required reports so no issues or problems to report.

- Mark Girdham

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

27th Jul, 2017

NOVA provided a fast and efficient service. They came to carry out the sound tests on my 8 Bed HMO, which was a change of use from 4 flats. Very friendly and professional service. Mark (Hull)

- Simon Phillips

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4th Oct, 2017

Excellent company, providing a professional service at a competitive price and a quick, hassle free  experience. I would recommend them to anyone.

Simon Phillips  Salisbury Poultry Ltd

- Peter Phillips

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31st Aug, 2017

Excellent service from start to finish.

Highly professional team who where very accommodating to the team on site and worked exceptional well with everyone.

Having worked with other companies within the same...

- Claire Gannon

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31st Oct, 2017

Excellent speedy service, Luigi was very proficient and professional at carrying out his job, a real asset to the company. Thank you Luigi. Kind Regards, Ant Mason

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