Sound Isolation Clips Vs Resilient Channels – Which Are Better?


resilient channel vs sound isolation clips
Image courtesy Brighton Soundproofing Ltd

You can find many articles online on soundproofing by decoupling. There are so many different solutions that it is difficult to decide which is best.

In this post, we do a comparison of sound isolation clips vs resilient channels.

I moved into a new apartment last month. The apartment had everything my family needed. We were wondering what to do with the huge living room.

I decided to partition the room and use half of it as a makeshift studio and man cave.

We thought that this was a great idea. Not only would we be making use of space, we would save money on renting a studio. That is until we realized how expensive soundproofing would be.

It is not simple to pick a soundproofing solution. There are many different ways to soundproof using expensive products. This confuses a lot of people trying to soundproof their room.

It is especially hard to understand whether to use sound isolation clips or resilient channels for your decoupling needs. If you are in a similar situation, do read on.

What are Resilient Channels?

resilient channel soundproofing
Resilient Channel installed by Brighton Soundproofing Ltd.

In the 1960s, a device was developed to make soundproofing more effective. A sort of ‘T’ was made by installing a channel perpendicular to the wall studs on a layer of drywall.

The other layer of drywall was installed on the channel by using screws. Since the drywall was no longer in contact with the wood studs, it was believed that it would increase the STC (Sound Transmission Class) significantly.

What are Sound Isolation Clips?

Sound Isolation Clips soundproofing
Sound Isolation Clips from Green glue company.

Sound isolation clips try to cover the problem of decoupling by, kind of, insulating the wall studs.   They can be attached to the wall studs and a hat channel on which the other drywall is screwed.

The reason they help in soundproofing is that they are non-conductors of sound. Very often the clips contain a component made of rubber, which helps in isolation of sound.

Sound Isolation Clips Vs Resilient Channels – Which are Better for Soundproofing?

Now coming to the important question, sound isolation clips or resilient channels, which one is better? Both, resilient channels and sound isolation clips help make decoupling more efficient.

Resilient channels are cheaper than sound isolation clips. But the biggest disadvantage of using resilient channels is that the installation can be unsuccessful in most of the cases.

The wrong installation can lead to acoustical short-circuit if the wall studs come in touch with the screws. Any acoustic benefit of using resilient channels can easily be lost even if you hang any paintings on it.

Moreover, the other problem is that in the market there aren’t any uniform standards for the manufacturing of the resilient channels.

It is true that sound isolation clips also need some amount of technical expertise during installation. However, it has been found that they provide better insulation than resilient channels.

This is because they provide a lower resonance point. Below a certain frequency, the sound becomes inaudible to the human ear.

So the task at hand is to ensure that decoupling works till that frequency. In this regard, sound isolation clips become a better alternative than resilient channels.

As far as STC is concerned, sound isolation clips add 15-20 STC on an average. Resilient channels can add 5-7 points.

So, if you don’t mind investing a little more, it is better to opt for sound isolation clips.

Tips for Using Sound Isolation Clips and Resilient Channels

Devices like sound isolation clips and resilient channels can help in soundproofing a room. Here are some other steps to keep in mind while carrying out the project which will help with this:

Ensure there is Enough Mass

The simple theory at work here is that the heavier the structure, the more difficult it is to move. Thicker layers of drywall are better for soundproofing.

It is also important to save space while soundproofing. So try to increase the mass without using too much space.

Use a Good Damping Compound

You can find many good damping compounds in the market today. Check out my personal recommendation for damping compounds.

You can use these by introducing them between the two layers being decoupled. Damping compounds reduce the sound transmitted greatly by converting the sound energy into heat energy.

Increase the Depth of the Air Chamber

The essence of decoupling is to build an air chamber. By making the insulation layer as wide as possible, greater levels of soundproofing can be achieved.

But again, think about how much space you can sacrifice. If you need that space for something else, it is better to look for other methods like the addition of an insulation layer.

A Few Words About Decoupling

We can see that decoupling can help in making a room relatively soundproof. It can bring about a significant increase in the STC.

But there are some drawbacks. In order to make sure that the solution is cost-effective and makes the best use of space, we can use certain devices.

In this regard, sound isolation clips and resilient channels come in handy. Though they are both effective, it has been found that sound isolation clips perform better and can be used more easily than resilient channels.

Elements of Soundproofing

Soundproofing depends on four elements– absorption, damping, decoupling, and mass.

We can’t soundproof an area completely unless we create a vacuum. But by paying attention to these four factors, a room can almost be soundproof.

Sound isolation clips and resilient channels are used in the process of decoupling.

What is Decoupling?

Before seeing how decoupling works, let’s look at how sound travels. It moves from one point to another by transferring its energy to particles.

These particles sort of relay the energy by vibrating. This sort of energy transfer helps sound travel.

It is possible to prevent sound from traveling by trapping it in an insulated chamber. Think about it, if the city has no roads, you cannot drive your car.

Similarly, without a medium, sound cannot travel. Remember the astronaut in space jokes? The punch line is that an astronaut cannot hear anything on the moon because it has no atmosphere.

It is not possible to build one’s studio or room in the middle of a vacuum of course. Hence, people like us use solutions like decoupling.

What happens in decoupling is that two layers of drywall are separated from each other. By doing this, an empty chamber is created between them.

How does that help?

Since sound needs particles to travel, the isolated chamber slows it down. A variety of tools are used in the process of decoupling which includes sound isolation clips and resilient channels.

Problems Associated with Decoupling

In theory, decoupling is a great solution for soundproofing. But it has its drawbacks too.

The studs connecting the walls are one major problem. They provide an easy path for sounds to travel from one side of the wall to the other.

More importantly, at low frequencies, the air trapped between the drywall acts as a spring. Thus, high performance at low frequencies is compromised by the resonance intrinsic to decoupled walls.

In order to ensure effective performance from the drywall, something needs to be done about these issues.

Methods to Make  Decoupling More Effective

Certain methods have proven useful in making decoupling more effective. These are:

Building a Room within a Room

In this method, two separate stud walls are built all around the room. This is highly effective in soundproofing but eats up a lot of space.

Given the situation of housing in major cities, this is definitely not a viable option for most.

Staggered Stud Walls and Double Walls

With staggered stud walls and double walls, the studs are arranged in a staggered manner. This helps save space but also brings down the Sound Transmission Class (STC).

Resilient Channels and Sound Isolation Clips

While decoupling, such devices are added to one of the walls and act like mounts for the studs. These devices are designed to absorb the sound and prevent it from traveling on through the drywall.

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