Just what exactly are Acoustic Blankets used for? Soundproofing blankets, or more accurately known as acoustic blankets, are commonly used as an acoustic treatment for recording rooms where reducing the amount of noise reflecting off the walls and ceilings is critical to producing quality sound recordings.
Studios – The blankets are very popular with studio professionals and vocalists alike. You can build a pretty handy DIY vocal booth with these blankets and some basic carpentry skills. People who take recording seriously cannot afford to have echo reverberating in their recording space.
Music Rooms – Another common use of sound absorbing blankets is to cover the walls of musicians practice rooms. Imagine if your family had to hear hours of your drum or saxophone practice, they might not be very happy with you. By hanging professional acoustic blankets on the walls in your practice room you will absorb much of the sounds and drastically reduce what your family and friends will hear on the outside.
Industrial Applications – In industrial uses, the blankets are much heavier weight, and typically constructed of higher density materials like fiberglass and mass loaded vinyl sheets. Many times these blankets are used as a barrier around a loud piece of machinery such as generators, compressors, and appliances.
How do the Acoustic Blankets Work?
Acoustic soundproofing blankets are typically constructed in multiple layers. The outer layers are usually made of a woven fabric from an acoustically transparent
material. This simply means the fabric allows sound waves to pass through the outer layer into the denser absorbing inner layers, as opposed to reflecting the sound back outward.
This is the reason that some types of movers blankets are not the best choice is because their outer layers are not specifically designed for sound transparency, and you get noise reflection.
If you can find soft heavy weight moving blankets without a reflective outer fabric, use them instead because they are a good compromise. Just know that you will still not be getting the noise reductions ratings that are possible with professional acoustical blankets. A professional studio grade sound blanket will have an NRC of up to 0.8, which means approximately 80% of the sound is absorbed by the blanket. This is a stellar result, and is one of the main reasons they are so popular.
The inner layers are what do most of the work. Common sound insulation filler materials are recycled cotton, fiberglass, mineral wool, and mass loaded vinyl. The density of these materials is what absorbs and dampens the sound waves.
Audio blankets usually have grommets along their outer edges to make it easy to have from hooks on the wall. The grommets also allow you to build or buy a frame to hang them on, creating a portable sound barrier or vocal booth.
Money Saving Tip
If you’re not a professional studio engineer, and are just looking to get a decent amount of acoustic absorption in your room without shelling out hundreds of dollars for a top of the line blanket, then try doubling up the mover’s blankets for increased sound absorption.
This is the tip the acoustic industry doesn’t want you to know. If you pick the right movers blanket, you can still achieve great results at a fraction of the pro’s price.
Two layers of professional mover’s blankets will cost you less overall compared to acoustic and industrial blankets, yet give you some increased density needed for better acoustic performance.
Measure all of the walls in your room and purchase enough blankets to cover them all with at least one layer of blanket. Keep in mind also, that typical movers blankets are only 72″ x 80″, and not as tall as acoustic blankets.
Here is a short video demonstrating some of the differences in quality between various soundproofing blankets.
photo credit: taestell cc