• Christian O'Boyle

Sound Treatment vs Soundproofing

Let’s talk about some confusion and two phrases that get used interchangeably, which do not have the same meaning. Sound Treatment and Soundproofing.


I see time and time again voice actors, even very experienced talent, using the word soundproofing when they are clearly talking about sound treatment.


Please, please, please know which one you are talking about before saying the wrong thing. The last thing you want is to have you client:

  1. Assume you are less knowledgeable by saying the wrong thing

  2. Believe you have a soundproofed space and then hear outside noise during your live session.

So what is the difference?


Sound treatment is the absorption of sound. Anything like sound panels, blankets, foam, carpet, etc can be a form of sound treatment. These materials reduce the reflections of waveforms and prevent sound from bouncing back into your microphone and into your recordings

.

Each space will require different forms of treatment. There are high and low frequencies and these require different forms of treatment, such as bass traps and sound panels.


I wrote a blog that covers why sound treating is crucial in your recording space. Even in a booth that is soundproof, you will need to add sound treatment.


So what is soundproofing?


Soundproofing comes from mass and an airtight space. Sound moves like water and if there is a crack or gap in your booth, sound will leak through. With that said 100% “soundproofing” is really difficult and expensive to achieve. However, we can reduce the amount of noise that can bleed through. Mass is also very important, the denser a material is, the harder it is for sound to penetrate your studio. Also, by using different materials and air gaps can help reduce sound. Thickness and density is important, however, reducing the speed of which the sound moves and throwing more mass will help block out most of the outside sound — therefore also preventing sound from escaping your booth.


Sounds very technical and expensive.


In comparison to just sound treating a space, it is. There is a science to building a quality booth and hence why buying a Whisperroom or having a professional build a booth can cost several thousand dollars. Even building a soundproof booth — if you are handy — can still cost upwards of a thousand dollars.


Then what!?


As mentioned previously, soundproofing is not essential to voice over and that sound treatment is. Client’s care that you can provide clean and professional audio and in most cases they do not care what space you have. Even many full time voice actors still use just a sound treated space. A soundproof booth is just nice when you need to record and your neighbors are mowing or the dog down the hall is barking. It even saves your household from hearing you scream in a small room… at night… when they are sleeping.


**Yes, I have woken up my family multiple times.


In the end, as long as you can record and you do not disturb anyone (too often), a simple sound treated space is more than sufficient. And a soundproof space is just an added benefit.


Hope this clears up any confusion you might have on the topic and will save you from mistaking the two to a potential lead or client!

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© 2020 by Christian O'Boyle Voice Actor | Seattle, WA | 818.452.3154 | christian@christianoboyle.com