Quick poll for a potential room tuning product

Like many people, I live in an urban environment, and like many cities, it is a noisy one: traffic, trains, airplanes, etc.

Also like many people, my home has moderately-priced double-paned windows, with glass that is only 1/8" thick. These windows transmit a lot of sound into the room, as the same-thickness panes resonate like crazy and the two panes are only 1/4" apart, so any resonance on the outer pane is transmitted to the inner pane very efficiently.

The net of this is that many windows, particularly larger ones, bring a lot of city noise into the room - that dull city rumble, as well as higher-pitched sounds of traffic.

Only a few people are willing to indulge in major architectural work to improve their listening room, particularly if you live in an apartment, but I believe that there is a market for moderately-priced room tuning products that work well and can be taken with you when you move. Replacing the windows with thicker glass would also work, but be fairly costly.

After that long-winded introduction, the question I’d like feedback on is “What are your thoughts on a product that would substantially reduce noise coming in through your windows, with a reasonable WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor)?

This would consist of translucent polymer material a few mm thick, that would stick to (and easily peel off) windows.The appearance would be similar to smooth silicone rubber, and it would pass around 80% of exterior light. You could cut the stuff with scissors to suit. The material would dampen resonance and sound transmission both by mass-damping (adding weight to the glass “diaphragm”) and by unconstrained internal damping in the material.

The idea is to simply stick a piece of the stuff on the window surface (no adhesive needed). One might need a couple of square feet for a 30"x72" window. In my case, four of such windows face on a deck behind my speakers, and there is not much point in seeing the bars supporting the railing. I’d place the stuff on the lower half of the windows, so it would not obscure the view of anything I want to see.

Direct pricing would be on the order of $75-100 for such a window - the more used on a window, the better sound control.

Share your thoughts?

Great idea but you are asking a lot from such a thin sheet with no air gap, and to be transparent as well. A possible solution, though not cheap, would be to cover the windows with 0.25" acrylic (Plexiglass) sheets. The thicker the plastic the better but then it gets unwieldy for windows your size. Six mirror brackets should hold each sheet in place ad the WAF should be pretty good. Yours is not an easy problem to solve and even thick plastic may not be enough to get the results that you want. You could try one window and see if you can tell a difference. Of course, sound insulating windows would be the best option, but probably not a reasonable solution in your case as you mention. Good luck!

When I replaced the windows in our home I chose to have extra thick glass.

I do not know the exact difference between the regular glass and the extra thick or how thick the existing glass was.

But I was amazed by how much less noise was let into our home.

That would be with regard to the sound of the rain/storms, neighbors mowing, traffic and those urban heat pumps that sound like a hoard of locusts. ( I also paid extra to have the quietest heat pump made, but my neighbors did not )

I would suggest giving it a try, if at all possible, in a room that faces the noise source and see if it makes a difference.

Any time you can lower your ambient noise floor there is a benefit.

Windows are more than a source of noise, they can resonate or cause unwanted reflections.

On a side not, we installed opaque glass in our bathrooms, that is probably how the treatment you propose would look.

Clear sorbothane would more than likely adhere on its own without any extra adhesive.

Replacing the windows with thicker glass or installing these www.soundproofwindows.com would do the trick, but for around $6K. If this works reasonably well, it’s a Lot cheaper.

Here’s the dope on replacing windows for acoustic control: http://www.soundproofing101.com/window_pane_thickness.htm
"If you already have dual pane windows it is very doubtful that you can replace them and improve the amount of noise they stop by very much. Buying replacement dual pane windows as described below may decrease your noise levels by only about 10% over what you already have."

I’m experimenting with a piece of sorbothane at the moment - it helps a bit, but will require more than the 1 sq.ft. I bought to be effective. Unfortunately they don’t make clear sorbothane - it’s black. I have some pieces of silicone ordered, but I’m not sure it will stick to glass like sorbothane, which is very tacky.

Just for the record, I’ve been experimenting with this for a couple of weeks now, and for a low-cost alternative to window upgrades, it’s promising.

I’ve got a 12" square of 1/8" sorbothane and another of translucent silicone material stuck to the outside of a couple of my bigger windows. I tried this for a week on some smaller windows, and the reduction in resonance was pronounced. On those 20"-wide windows, the material damped vibrations substantially; for the larger windows I’d need bigger pieces to be effective.

The sorbothane was better than the silicone at damping, but difficult to get all the air bubbles out, and it’s black. On the plus side, it is very sticky. But did I mention that it’s black? And the largest pieces I’ve found for sale are only 12x12".

The silicone, by contrast, is translucent and neutral in tint, and only blocks maybe 20% of the the light, at a guess. It doesn’t look bad at all - much like a decorative frosted panel on the window. To get better damping I’m going to experiment with 4mm or 5mm silicone to see if it sticks well enough. Initially the silicone did not adhere to the window at all, but I washed it and left droplets of water on it, and when I rolled it down on the glass it stuck, and has stayed put on the outside glass for more than a week. Long-term is probably to use the stuff on the inside pane, to reduce yellowing from the sun.

So, progress progresses. I’m not going to mess with productizing this, but I’ll document what I’ve done here so other home-brew folks can perhaps improve their own listening environments.

What are you trying to accomplish that has not already been done with studio windows?

Not complicated, I want to reduce transmission of city noise into my listening room without spending $6-7K on window upgrades that I would not get back when the house sells.

Where does the $6,000 - $7,000 figure come from? Have you looked into specific products?

Very rarely does one get much back on housing improvements. Make the improvements you will appreciate.

I got an estimate on the Soundproofwindows installation, and thicker glass replacements would cost that much or more.

Very rarely does one get much back on housing improvements.
Some items, like kitchen replacement, do usually pay off, but plainly you aren't living in a hot housing market, like Portland, Oregon at the moment. Modernization and desirable extras here are paying off very nicely. I've roughly doubled the realistic value of my home in less than four years, a good bit of it from long-deferred maintenance upgrades.

The windows are more expensive than I anticipated. I should not be surprised, basic home windows are silly expensive (Why? We have been making glass and window frames for centuries.)

It is a seller’s market essentially everywhere. It is nutty.

Yes, addressing deferred maintenance pays off. :slight_smile: On the other hand, the return on improvements is typically only a percentage of what you put in, although some are better than others. That is, you are much less likely to recoup your investment in a major remodel of a kitchen than you are to recover what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new roof. As a result, I find it better to improve what is important to you, not to a hypothetical future buyer. A return of 90% on an improvement is still a 10% loss. Of course, if one is rehabbing a home this is entirely different, especially if it is your own labor.

My theory is that anything that will need to be done to make the place more salable gets done sooner rather than later, so that I get to enjoy the improvements. I’ve done roof, attic insulation, stilt upgrades, paint, and the list goes on. However, 6-7K is a lot to swallow for something that no-one but me would probably ever consciously notice.


I agree, this is the way to go.

I assume you are familiar with Marigo tuning dots, click.

Yes, they have been selling those for a while now, and don’t forget the Brilliant Pebbles, and putting coins on your speakers, and the wooden hockey-puck thingies that you put on the walls…

At first glance, that was my reaction as well. It would be difficult for a small circle of any material to significantly dampen a window. But it makes more sense than the pebbles or, even better, the teleportation tweak.

For the four 34x76" windows, my target is not small - pieces of 4mm silicone around 2x3 feet, covering most of the lower half of the window. This will damp their primary long-way node somewhat, and the 2x nodes reasonably well. The view that they will obscure is pretty minimal. For the trapezoidal windows above them, I’ll see if I can get 3-foot circles.

The 12" square test pieces do have an audible effect in reduced ringing of some smaller 20"x60" windows when you rap anywhere on the windowpane - the window is noticeably deader.

I’m going to wait a while to pull the trigger, as long-term adhesion is a concern. I’d hate to have to re-stick the pieces every few months. They are easily removable, but not while I want them to stick.

I am impressed. I did not think that the thin material would do much to help. I will look for a good crow recipe.laugh

A few foot piece of 1/8" glass behaves like a drum-head membrane at mid- and low-frequencies. Any damping works a lot better than no damping at all.

Elk said I agree, this is the way to go.

I assume you are familiar with Marigo tuning dots, click.

Do those things really work? Hard to imagine such small little dots would make any significant difference. Do you just use the speaker ones, or also use the dots for walls, tubes, components and such?

I assume they work to quell vibration on small bits, such as on a chip. I have trouble accepting a little semi-squishy circle can absorb/dampen vibration of an entire panel of glass.

3mm sorbothane and silicone materials both stuck to the outside of the glass just fine, and stayed there for a couple of months, so my next move is to find out if I can get the silicone in pieces larger than 30cm square. If not, I’ll settle for separate pieces and make an architectural pattern on the windows with them.

IMHO, and without having spent any time evaluating them, using a Marigo tuning dot on anything larger than a small capacitor would be a complete waste of time, and they should cost around $.02 each, not $10. They are like a lot of other audio snake-oil products based on nothing but total BS and greed; only salable to the ignorant and credulous. For walls and windows, they are simply not large enough for viscous damping, nor heavy enough for mass-damping.