Acoustic Panels vs. Soundproof Curtains: Which Is Right for You?

Acoustic Panels vs. Soundproof Curtains: Which Is Right for You?

If you wish to soundproof your home or particular rooms in it, you are faced with numerous options. Acoustic panels, acoustic foam, soundproof curtains, door seals, or even bass traps – it is easy to get lost if you are not a sound expert. But don’t worry, we will help you. In this particular article, we focus on acoustic panels vs. soundproof curtains – what is the difference and when to use them? Find out below.

Acoustic Panels vs. Soundproof Curtains Explained

We will begin by explaining what each of these solutions is. Let’s take acoustic panels for a start.

Acoustic Panels

As the name suggests, acoustic panels are panels put on the walls (sometimes also on the ceiling or floor) to improve the overall room acoustics. Depending on the model, they either reflect the sound equally in all directions or absorb it.

Soundproof Curtains

Soundproof curtains are designed specifically with windows in mind. Their sole purpose is to block sound (absorb it) from either entering the room or leaving it. They are usually just regular curtains with an extra layer made of felt, wool, cellulose insulation, or mass-loaded vinyl.

Acoustic Panels vs. Soundproof Curtains: Key Differences

With this brief introduction behind us, we can proceed to the main differences between these two.

  • Sound absorbing qualities – The main difference in the discussion of acoustic panels vs. soundproof curtains is their sound-absorbing properties. The former are much more effective, offering excellent noise reduction across all frequencies (though the particular NRC values for each frequency depend on the type of panels). The latter, on the other hand, have limited efficiency – you will rarely find soundproofing curtains with an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) over 0.4.

  • Design – Both acoustic panels and soundproof curtains are created to fit into the aesthetics of your interior. However, you usually have curtains at your home anyway, while acoustic panels are a kind of extra add-on. This makes them stand out a bit more. Plus, you need to find the right panels that will match your other decorations.

  • Installation area – If you know where to place acoustic panels, you realize that windows are not on the list, but with soundproofing curtains, it is the other way around. In this case, we could say that these two options complement each other, though both have their own alternatives and are not always required.

  • Alternatives – Instead of acoustic panels, you can use acoustic foam, bass traps, or even furniture (unless it’s a home theater or studio where sound quality is the top priority). But, if you’re looking for an alternative to soundproofing curtains, you are usually left with window inserts or the need to install a new, thicker window.

  • Purpose – Acoustic panels might be used for soundproofing, but their main purpose is usually to improve sound quality in a given room. On the other hand, soundproofing curtains are used only for the latter, so they serve their purpose only in certain types of spaces.

Acoustic Panels vs. Soundproof Curtains: Which One to Choose?

To decide which ones are the best for you, we need to consider what space you wish to soundproof and why. After all, a different solution will work for a restaurant, a different one for a conference room, and a different one for a home theater. So, let’s take a look at particular examples.

  • RestaurantsAcoustic panels for restaurants or soundproof curtains? In this case, the latter will probably be more useful. It mostly depends on the square footage of your venue and the size of the windows, but usually, neat, fitting curtains will do the job.

  • Office – Soundproof curtains will not be enough for a busy office – there’s too much noise for their limited NRC. Instead, you should opt for acoustic panels.

  • Home office – In this case, you won’t be battling so much noise as in a regular office. Plus, most of the sounds will come from the outside. Therefore, while you might also invest in some acoustic panels, you should install a soundproof curtain first.

  • Home Studio/Theater – A home studio or a home theater are all about sound quality. This means that you want to mix absorbing and diffusion panels and install them in the right place. This means that a window might be in a place where you want to reflect sound rather than reduce it. Therefore, soundproof curtains are rarely used in such spaces.

  • Conference room/classroom – For conference rooms, a mix of absorption and diffusion panels will be the finest option (depending on the size of the rooms). For classrooms, you might opt for soundproof curtains – as long as there is a busy street outside.

The Takeaway

We hope that we helped you with making the right choice between acoustic panels vs. soundproof curtains. Remember that all these products differ in noise-absorbing qualities – pay attention to the specifications while making the purchase.

And if you are interested in soundproofing options, read our other article Acoustic Panels vs. Foam: Which is Better for Soundproofing?

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