Soundproof Curtains vs Panels (Which one to choose?)

With noise pollution becoming an unavoidable scenario in our daily life, be it in the workspace, study room, or bedroom, people are opting for soundproofing solutions more and more. While installing soundproofing solutions can prove to be disruptive, requiring you to construct walls, change doors, create false ceilings, etc, soundproofing curtains and acoustic panels can prove to be greatly beneficial. But if you wish to choose only one, the question that arises is, which one will be the best for you?

Curtains offer a simpler and more adaptable alternative when compared to soundproof panels. While both materials absorb sound waves in order to quieten a place, soundproof panels are a better alternative overall because they can mute a wider variety of moderate- and low-frequency noises.

In this article, let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both soundproof curtains and acoustic panels and understand which one will help you in achieving the desired result.

Soundproof Curtains

Soundproof curtains also referred to as sound absorbing, sound deadening, or sound dampening curtains are heavy, thick curtains that you can hang above your window frame. They may be made of polyester, velvet, or suede. They often feature a porous surface that allows sound waves to be absorbed, which helps to make a space quiet.

Sound-Deadening-Blocking
Sound-Deadening-Blocking

A soundproof curtain that is actually effective and of high quality will be thick, tightly woven, run from ceiling to floor, and extend several inches past each side of the window. They must completely enclose the area around the window in order for the curtain folds to form a seal around the sides.

Do Soundproof Curtains Work?

Before evaluating whether soundproof curtains work or not, it is important to understand two basic types of soundproofing- sound reduction and sound absorption. 

Sound reduction prevents or blocks sound from entering a location, keeping it free of outside disturbances including the weather, outdoor voices, and traffic. And on the other hand, sound absorption, commonly referred to as sound deadening, prevents sound that has already entered a place from reverberating and echoing.

Soundproof curtains work amazingly well for sound absorption purposes but are not so effective when it comes to noise reduction. What does that imply? While sound deadening materials can minimize echoes in space by lowering vibrations, they cannot lower the volume of sounds that enter a space.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Soundproof Curtains

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using soundproof curtains for reducing noise.

Advantages

  • They lessen the transmission and reverberation of sound both inside and outside
  • They act as a thermal barrier, allowing heat or air conditioning to remain inside
  • They act as a light barrier(Blackout Curtains)
  • Soundproof curtains are long-lasting.

Disadvantages

  • They are not as effective as other soundproofing solutions like soundproof window inserts, acoustic foam, etc.
  • They are hard to wash and maintain because of their heavy and thick nature
  • The curtains are so thick that they might completely block natural light, thus making the room/workspace dark.
source: soudproofguide

Soundproof Panels

An acoustic panel is a sound-absorbing panel used to reduce echo and reverberation in a space as well as background noise. They are also known as acoustic panels, sound baffles, etc.  

Generally speaking, vertical panels reduce sound transmissions in a room by stopping sound from moving from one end to the other. They can also help to reduce background noise to a safe level. While horizontal panels, on the other hand, are designed primarily for direct absorption.

By converting the sound energy into heat through friction, sound absorption panels can prevent sound waves from propagating. All horizontal panels are made of sound-absorbing materials or soft acoustic foam and work well in terms of absorption.

Do Soundproof Panels Work?

You can manage sound waves quite effectively by using acoustic panels. They automatically remove the reflected, undesired sound. However, there are a few factors that must be addressed in order to get the most out of acoustic panels.

To begin with, you need to purchase panels that are thick enough to muffle any sounds. Consider the following two examples: The ATS Acoustic Panel is made up of panels that measure 2 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 2 inches deep. While, another option, the ADW Acoustic Panels, is made up of numerous panels of varied sizes that are only 1 inch deep.

acoustic pannels
source: atsacoustics.com

Leaving aside the fact that they are different rectangular sizes and surface areas, the variation in thickness is considerable. With a 1-inch thickness, the ADW panels won’t have nearly as much of an impact as the ATS panels that are 2 inches deep. To get the most bang for your buck, we recommend purchasing panels that are at least 2 inches thick.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Soundproof Panels

Let’s look at the various advantages and disadvantages of soundproof panels and understand how effective they can be.

Advantages

  • Soundproof panels can absorb mid-level to high-level frequencies of sound, thus reducing noise pollution
  • They can help in improving the quality of sound by reducing the amplitude of waves
  • They can improve the overall aesthetics of a room.

Disadvantages

  • The panels are made with foam which cannot withhold fire.
  • If the panels are not set accurately, the quality of sound inside the room can be worse.

Soundproof curtains vs panels

DetailsSoundproof CurtainsPanels
MaterialsFabrics like velvet, suede, polyester, etc.Mineral wool, cellulose, fiberglass, open cell foam, etc.
CostLow to medium rangeMedium to high range
User-friendlyEasy to useEasy to use
EffectivenessPerfectly works on high frequenciesEffectively work on high to low frequencies 
NRCAround 0.4Around 0.8
soundproofinglife
  • As per the above, soundproof panels typically excel in all crucial areas. This is primarily because they are not entirely made up of fabric, but instead include solid components like acoustic foam.
  • A larger spectrum of frequencies can be muted by acoustic/soundproof panels. Since it relies primarily on the material substance and depth, there isn’t a precise number to reflect this. However, acoustic foam will always be more efficient than fabric. 
  • Acoustic/Soundproof panels are also thicker than curtains.
  • Soundproof curtains require arrangements and extra effort as it needs a curtain pole to hang however panels are ready to use. 
  • The NRC comes next. This term refers to the noise reduction coefficient (NRC), which ranges from 0 to 1.

The figure indicates the amount of sound that the substance absorbs. For instance, panels have an NRC value of 0.8, which indicates that it absorbs 80% of the energy deposited in sound waves. The remainder either returns to the origin via reflection or travels through the panels.

The NRC value of a soundproof curtain is significantly lower. This is because they are composed of thin and lighter materials. NRC can rise to a specific value depending on the depth and the materials utilised while making. Finally, the convenience of usage should be taken into account. Of course, it depends on the goal you have in mind, but there are still a few points to consider.

Conclusion

So, in the comparison of soundproof- curtains vs panels, soundproof panels always outperform soundproof curtains. These are not just more adaptable, but they also easily absorb sound much better. However, keep in mind that no product is used individually. When insulating a place, sound absorption is simply one of several aspects you have to consider.


FAQs

  1. Are soundproof curtains effective?

Soundproof curtains are effective if you wish to use them for sound absorption purposes. When it comes to sound reduction, they are not as effective as other materials.

  1. How many dB can soundproof curtains reduce?

Soundproof curtains can reduce noise by 21dB to 25 dB.