While curtains are functional for blocking out light, they can also help reduce noise pollution. Of course, if this is your goal, you’ll need noise reducing curtains.
Soundproof curtains are particularly useful around the home but are also good for making offices a bit more peaceful.
In this article, I’ll review my top picks for the best soundproof curtains. I’ll also answer the question, do soundproof curtains work, and provide a buying guide covering the most important factors.
Hopefully, by the end you’ll have the perfect product for your needs or at least will be armed with the right information to make a good decision.
How a Curtain Reduces Noise
A soundproof curtain reduces noise through absorption rather than blocking. It’s important to note this here because it means they won’t completely isolate a sound but will instead reduce it.
What is Sound Absorption?
Sound absorption works when a sound wave passes through a porous substance, such as fabric. When a sound wave hits the material, 3 things happen:
- A portion of the energy is reflected back towards the source.
- A portion transmits through the material and comes out the other side.
- The final portion of the energy is absorbed by the material.
Sound waves are energy – specifically vibrations. When these vibrations make contact with a surface or material, they expend some of their energy making the molecules vibrate.
This is how sound waves transmit through the structure or material. But in the process they lose some of their energy when it’s converted into heat. This is what we class as absorption.
You can check out this video that illustrates how sound absorption works.
Sound Absorption Materials
Although pretty much all materials absorb sound waves, not all absorb them equally.
Materials with better sound absorption properties are usually soft and have open structures. These typically include:
- Woven fabric
- Acoustic foam
On the other hand, hard, flat materials like concrete and brick reflect more sound because of their structure.
When discussing sound absorption, we use a rating called Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). It’s based on a scale of 0 to 1, where 0 means no sound is absorbed and 1 means 100% of sound is absorbed.
Materials get tested in labs across a range of frequencies to determine their NRC rating. Generally, most materials will be better at absorbing high- and mid-range frequencies than low frequencies.
Do Soundproof Curtains Work?
Soundproof curtains work by absorbing a portion of the sound that passes through them. While there’s no hard and fast answer to cover the myriad options available on the market, we can use NRC ratings to determine how well they work.
NRC ratings tell us how much sound is absorbed, which typically isn’t expressed as a drop in decibels. However, there is a scientific way to calculate decibel drop from NRC.
At common frequencies, and with the right materials, you could see a drop of as much as 22dB if the material has an NRC rating of 0.93.
In practical terms, this would be the difference in noise levels between, say, a standard conversation (60dB) and a refrigerator (40dB).
Typically, it’s best not to think of soundproof curtains in terms of decibel drop. This is a measurement better reserved for Sound Transmission Class (STC), which is a measure of sound blocking properties.
I discuss STC in more detail in my article on soundproofing basement ceilings.
Remember, as I mentioned earlier, soundproof curtains don’t block sound because they don’t have enough mass.
Rather, they absorb a portion of the sound that passes through them, resulting in muffled sounds on the other side.
Types of Soundproofing Curtains
So, what types of noise reducing curtains exist and are some better than others?
Here’s a quick roundup of the main types you have to choose from in the noise blocking curtain market.
The vast majority of soundproof curtains look like regular curtains but are built slightly differently. They’ll usually have an extra layer of fabric sewn in, which can be anything from wool to acoustic fabric.
Of course, if you don’t want them to look like noise reducing curtains, this’ll be your best option.
Approach this area with caution, though, as many are simply thick normal curtains. If you want the best results, look for ones that specifically mention what sound-absorbing materials they contain.
Industrial / Moving Blankets
Industrial blankets, also called moving blankets, are thick, heavyweight bits of fabric used to protect items during transport. For this reason, they’re usually padded.
As a result, they can be quite effective at absorbing sounds. I discuss moving blankets in more detail in my article on the best blankets for soundproofing a door.
Industrial blankets are a good option if looks don’t matter. Of course, they can be more difficult to install, so look out for ones with grommets so you can hang them on hooks.
Audio Insulation Sheets
Audio insulation sheets are blankets made from materials specifically chosen for their sound-absorbing properties. I mention a few in my door soundproofing article, too.
Some common materials in these sheets include:
- Cotton wadding
- Sound dampening rubber sheets
While these products will typically be more expensive than soundproof curtains, they’re also more effective. This is because they’re made with sound-absorbing materials rather than more layers of fabric.
As with industrial blankets, they don’t look great though. They’re ideal for spaces like recording studios where results matter over looks. Also, good acoustic insulation sheets will have grommets to make installation easier.
What to Look for
When it comes to choosing the best soundproof curtains, it’s sensible to have a clear idea of your needs. Decide to what extent looks are important, as you’ll find the uglier products usually perform better.
Looks aside, here are my recommended buying factors when choosing the best soundproof curtains.
Size is clearly important when choosing a product to shield against unwanted noise. Your curtains should fill the space, ideally down to the floor. You’ll also want them to be a few inches wider than the area they’re covering (which is essential if you want your curtain to reduce noise).
Ideally, buy ones with extra material to create more folds in the curtain. The folded shape provides a greater form of thickness, which will improve noise reduction performance.
Soundproof curtains are measured the same as standard curtains, so this should be the easiest factor to consider.
If you’re opting for soundproof interior curtains, the outer material isn’t the most important bit. This’ll usually be polyester or cotton.
Instead, focus on what’s inside. The curtains will have a sound-absorbing lining, which could be cotton, felt, wool, or something else. Some might have something called thermaweave, which is useful for sound absorption.
Alternatively, fabrics such as velvet or suede offer some sound absorption. You might not find these marketed as soundproof curtains, but any heavyweight curtain will do an acceptable job. On another note, dense and tightly woven fabric like velvet or suede will be effective at blocking light. An alternative to get blackout curtains is to add a blackout liner to “traditional” layers of fabric.
You can probably guess by now, but weight is important. The heavier the curtains, the better they’ll do at absorbing sound (generally speaking).
Look for thick, heavy, and dense curtains as your top priority. That said, be sure your curtain rod or other installation methods can withstand all the weight.
Good soundproof curtains will include an NRC rating to help you make a decision. While there’s no definitive answer, I recommend looking for ones with a rating of 0.7 or higher.
The best you’ll likely find is 0.85 because curtains are restricted by their mass and materials. But this means they’ll absorb 85% of sound waves, which is fairly good.
Price is relative when buying the best soundproof curtains. If you want a product that’s going to perform well, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars.
The market is saturated with sound-absorbing curtains but I wouldn’t bother spending less than $50. In short, you get what you pay for.
Our Top 5 Picks
Now that we have a clear guide, it’s time to review the best noise reducing curtains.
1. Top Pick: Audimute Sound Absorbing Sheet
My top pick on a list of best soundproof curtains isn’t even a curtain. However, it’s a high-performing product that does exactly what you need it to.
Audimute’s sound absorbing sheet contains an inner layer of cotton wadding and cellulose fibers. This is ideal for dampening and absorbing sound waves across a range of frequencies.
Unlike many products in this category, it carries an NRC rating. Even better, it’s 0.85, meaning it’s an excellent sound absorber to improve a room’s acoustics.
Each sheet measures 8’ x 4.5’ and weighs 10lbs. It has grommets for convenient hanging and even comes with installation equipment.
What’s more, it’s at an acceptable price point for such a specialist soundproofing product.
The only real downside is that it doesn’t look great. But if this really bothers you, you could hide it behind a set of normal curtains for the best of both worlds.
Along with this, the other downside is the price. It’s more expensive than the soundproof curtains on this list, although its performance definitely justifies the price. If you need an effective sound-absorbing product, this might be the one for you.
- Dedicated sound-absorbing product.
- NRC of 0.85.
- Fairly large and comes with installation equipment.
- Doesn’t look amazing.
- Doesn’t block sounds, only dampens and absorbs.
2. RYB Home Sound Absorbing Curtains
These curtains come in a wide range of sizes, meaning it shouldn’t be difficult to find a good fit. They have metal eyelets, which support the material properly.
The outer layers are made from polyester fabric and there’s an interior layer of felt. This is what does most of the sound absorbing and they do an acceptable job.
Be advised, though, that a layer of felt won’t do as much as a specific sound-absorbing product. You should notice a difference at high- and mid-range frequencies but its effectiveness quickly drops off with low frequencies.
Similarly, some users reported little impact on loud noises, such as airports and lumber yards. But you can’t expect that kind of performance from a few layers of fabric.
In numbers, expect somewhere around a 3dB reduction in noise across common frequencies. As mentioned, you won’t really notice this difference with loud noises.
These curtains should be fine for things like traffic noise, noisy neighbors, and reducing noise in offices, though. Thanks to the density of layers, you’ll get blackout curtains.
- Offers excellent blackout properties.
- Come in a range of sizes and colors.
- Inner felt layer is quite thick and heavy.
- Not effective against low frequencies.
- Won’t make much difference to loud noises.
3. Cololeaf Velvet Curtain
These velvet curtains from Cololeaf are designed for use in home theaters. Importantly, this means they’re large, dense, and very heavy. In fact, they’re 300g/sm, which is quite heavy for a curtain. Standard cotton or polyester fabric typically weighs between 150 and 200 g/sm.
Also, they come in a wide range of sizes, particularly large widths. This’ll make them suitable as music curtains or for lining office walls.
While not specifically related to their function, these curtains come in 108 different colors! It shouldn’t be difficult for you to find the perfect match for your room’s design.
My major critique of this product is that it’s only a single layer. While the fabric is quite weighty, it would do a much better job if it had a lining.
As a result, some users report that this reduces their blackout ability. Granted, this isn’t why we’re discussing these curtains, but if they let light through then their sound-absorbing ability will be reduced too.
- Thick, heavy material.
- Come in a wide range of heights and widths.
- Designed for use in home theaters and recording studios.
- Quite a high price point.
- Slightly wider weave than is appropriate.
4. Nicetown Heavy-Duty Blackout Drapes
Nicetown has plenty of products in the soundproof curtains market, and these ones are a budget-friendly option.
Unlike Nicetown’s lower-end products, these drapes have 4 layers of fabric (compared to the standard 3). The 2 inner layers are both tripleweave blackout fabric.
While its main purpose is for blocking light, the extra layer of thick fabric makes these curtains fairly thick. This means they do a fairly good job of absorbing sound.
You have a range of size and color options, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the right ones for your needs.
But as I mentioned earlier, you get what you pay for. By choosing a budget option, you lose some performance compared to higher priced options. These curtains will dampen some sound, but the material isn’t that thick or heavy. In comparison, the RYB curtains (above in the list) are twice as dense as this option.
Some users reported choosing these curtains for recording studios, meaning they’re suitable for a range of frequencies. If you want something suitable for lower frequencies, though, opt for a denser material.
- Budget-friendly option.
- 4 layers of fabric absorbs noise pollution.
- Wide range of sizes and colors.
- Don’t perform as well as more expensive options.
- Not great with low frequencies.
5. Big Boxer Industrial Blanket
Sure, this isn’t a set of curtains, but it’ll do a good job of absorbing sounds. As mentioned, moving blankets are usually heavy and dense, and this one is no exception.
Each blanket measures 80” x 72” and weighs 3oz. per square foot, meaning it should give you plenty of coverage. The outer layers are polyester and it has a cotton wadding lining.
Importantly, there are 1″ industrial grommets along the shorter edges, so installation is easy. Some users hung the blankets behind standard curtains, so they’re clearly suitable for using over windows.
Other than the appearance, the major flaw is the smell. Many users reported having to air the blankets for a long time before using them, and this might be a reason not to use them in rooms where you’ll spend a lot of time.
But if you can get around the chemical smell, these industrial blankets will do a fairly good job of absorbing and dampening sounds.
- Effective at absorbing sounds.
- Heavy and dense material.
- Large enough to provide good coverage.
- Chemical smell requires airing.
- Don’t look amazing.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful tips on choosing the best soundproof curtains for your needs.
My top pick is the Audimute Sound Absorbing Sheet. While it’s not strictly a curtain, it does the best job because it’s designed for this purpose.
And, if the looks really bother you, just hide it behind some normal curtains!
But if you’re willing to sacrifice some performance for better looks, the RYB Sound Absorbing Curtains will be a good compromise.
What soundproof curtains do you use to absorb sound pollution? Drop a comment below to help others out!