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What is Soundproof Glass?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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Soundproof glass, while perhaps somewhat of an oxymoron, is glass that prevents sound from penetrating from one side to the other. In most cases, people who use this type of glass are those who live near noisy environments, such as airports of busy roads. While glass, in various configurations, may do a good job of preventing sound from getting through, it should be noted that true soundproof glass, at least from a general consumer standpoint, is all but impossible to acquire.

There are a number of different ways to make glass soundproof. The first involves simply making the glass thicker, because the thicker the glass is, the stiffer it becomes and, as a natural consequence, less prone to vibration. In such cases, sound is naturally reduced. Another option is to insulate the glass with some other material, or perhaps to just put an empty area in between two panes of glass.

A common material used in soundproofing is some sort of lamination. A thin piece of plastic is often placed between two panes, cutting down significantly on the amount of sound that gets through. As an added benefit, this glass also is extremely difficult to break, which provides some security improvements and is even used to meet hurricane building standards in areas prone to the storms. Using this method of soundproofing also helps keep the thickness of the glass to a more reasonable level.

For those interested in soundproof windows, perhaps the greatest indicator of how much sound is actually reduced is the Sound Transmission Class number. This number, for most traditional, single-paned windows, will run somewhere near 27. For double-paned windows, it may be slightly higher, perhaps 28 or 29. Some makers of soundproof glass say they are actually able to achieve a rating of 45 or higher. While this may not sound like much, it means that more than 95% of all sound is prevented from getting through.

To make glass completely capable of blocking all sound would be prohibitively expensive and likely not recommended for windows. The glass would need to be extremely thick and would be very heavy, perhaps overwhelming any material used in a typical window frame. The most common place to find soundproof glass is a sound studio, where it is important for music and other types of recordings to have a quiet environment. Even then, the glass is not completely able to withstand all sounds.

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Discussion Comments

By mpowell95 — On Sep 01, 2012

Recording studios often use a window that is 1/2" laminate and another that is 3/8".

Different thicknesses are used because they will vibrate at different frequencies, thus more effectively stopping sound. Even thicker glass is sometimes used, but it does little good to have glass with more mass than your walls. For the record, that aquarium glass would be fantastic at blocking sound transfer (if you're filthy rich)!

By anon230801 — On Nov 21, 2011

How about in a music room with one side made of a whole window? Is it good to install a double pane window about 11.00 meters long?

By umbra21 — On May 19, 2011

@KoiwiGal - I think you really would need a double layer of glass in order to truly soundproof a room. Otherwise the sound will be able to vibrate the single pane, because it is all in one piece and there is nowhere for the sound waves to dissipate. I'm sure it would at least have to be thicker than the glass used in an aquarium and as the article says, probably thick enough to be almost impossible to get or use in any meaningful way.

Normal sound proof glass (i.e. double pane windows) can get rid of most background noise, and usually does a better job at insulating a house as well, so they are worth paying a little extra.

By KoiwiGal — On May 17, 2011

I wonder if the glass used in tunnel aquariums is soundproof. I mean the aquariums you can walk through, with fish swimming over your head. They often show a little sample of the glass, so you can see how thick it is and it is usually several inches thick. I don't remember hearing any sound through it, but then, fish don't really make all that much sound anyway.

Obviously it would be really expensive to use for other applications, but I just wanted to know how thick the glass would have to be to completely block all sound.

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