The events of 2020 have resulted in more and more musicians learning a new instrument, or even setting up home studios. If you’re learning a new instrument, particularly in a condo or apartment, you might be concerned about disturbing your neighbors. On the contrary, if you’re trying to record, you may be more concerned about neighbors disturbing you! Installing baffles and other sound deadening materials on your walls and windows can be an expensive, and in many cases, permanent change to a room in your home. This is why soundproof curtains have such a broad appeal.
The aim of soundproof curtains is to absorb sound, whether it be from reverberations within the room, or noise from outside.
In order to find out once and for all which are the best soundproof curtains on the market, we set up a test lab at Killer Guitar Rigs HQ and played through our trusty Boss Katana. The test covered three main areas:
- How was the quality of the curtains, and how easy were they to hang?
- How much outside ambient noise could be heard on a mic’d up recording through the amp?
- How much noise was killed from the perspective of somebody standing outside?
- Our picks for best soundproof curtains
- What Are Soundproof Curtains?
- What Are The Different Types of Soundproof Curtains?
- How Should I Set Up My Soundproof Curtains?
- What To Look For In Sound Proof Curtains?
- The Soundproof Curtain Tests
- Wontex Blackout Curtains
- Nicetown Soundproof Insulated Blackout Curtain
- RYB Home Soundproof Curtains
- Audiomute Sound Absorption Sheet
- Bonzer Curtain
Our picks for best soundproof curtains
The Wontex 100% Grey Blackout Curtains strike an excellent balance between price and performance, making them our choice for the best value soundproof curtains. They have a 3 layer construction for excellent sound deadening, and are fitted with 8 silver grommets for easy rail mounting.
They have a 60 day satisfaction guarantee return policy, so, if you aren’t happy with these curtains, simply return within the 60 day window for a full refund. While it doesn’t actually affect the audio performance, these curtains are available in 14 different colors, and 12 different sizes, making it easy to find something that fits your needs.
Anybody looking for the best budget soundproof curtains can’t go wrong with the Nicetown Soundproof Insulated Blackout Curtain. They look like any other household curtain, which makes a big difference if your practice or recording space is shared with others in the home. They come in a wide range of sizes and colors, and because they are machine washable, they are easy to care for.
Many of the lower end soundproof curtains have a ‘cheap’ looking shiny finish, but given the low price of this particular set of curtains, the matte finish looks surprisingly high end. Color representation is good, and the quality of the grommets used for hanging on the rail is also strong.
For a combination of good looks and excellent sound reduction, the RYB Home Soundproof Curtains are a no-brainer for our Editor’s Choice as best soundproof curtains. They don’t offer as many color choices as some of the other brands, but the available options are all good looking, and sound deadening is superb.
They are constructed with a linen-like fiber, backed with felt. There are 3 layers in total, and they mount to your curtain rail with 8 pre installed 1.6” grommets. In addition to their excellent sound reduction properties, they also offer complete blackout in the room when closed. They are machine washable, and are actually hand made. The middle layer provides the soundproofing, and is actually removable for occasions in which you don’t want to deaden sound.
What Are Soundproof Curtains?
To begin this section, we will start by defining the word soundproof. It is quite a substantial claim for a manufacturer to declare their curtain soundproof. To be truly soundproof, a curtain must reject 100% of all sound trying to pass through it, no matter how loud, no matter the frequency.
In the majority of cases, manufacturers advertising their curtains as sound proof really mean sound reducing, or sound dampening. Curtains that reduce or dampen noise absorb the sound waves that try to pass through, rather than amplifying or reflecting them as happens on hard, smooth surfaces. This results in a drop in decibels from one side to the other, or in simple terms a reduction in heard volume.
In order to get closer to true sound proofing, a curtain must have a greater amount of mass. When picking up a pair or sound proof curtains, you will immediately notice the higher weight compared to a pair of standard curtains. The more available mass for absorption of sound energy, the bigger the drop in volume.
Because windows and doors have a much lower mass than the walls (particularly the exterior walls) that surround them, they are usually the biggest cause of sound leakage, either from inside to outside, or vice versa. This is why curtains are a great option for sound proofing.
Sound proof curtain manufacturers often achieve this mass by making their curtains in layers (three or more is typical). In a similar manner to layering to keep warm, a greater number of layers also helps to trap sound and reduce volumes.
It should also be mentioned that even if noise from outside isn’t a concern for you, a sound deadening curtain can really help to tone down room noise from an aggressive echo, to a gentle reverb. If you’re recording acoustic guitars and vocals, this should be something to be considered.
What Are The Different Types of Soundproof Curtains?
There are a couple of different types of curtain you can consider for your home studio or practice room. Both types are widely available, and should fit almost any application.
Domestic Blackout/Insulating Soundproof Curtains
These curtains are usually designed to block out light and maintain thermal insulation as their primary function, however, the same features that make them effective as thermal and light insulators, also makes them excellent sound insulators, too.
Because they have been proven to be effective at reducing noise from the street like traffic, voices, birds, etc. the manufacturers of these curtains, in many cases, have decided to call them “soundproof”. While they won’t stop all of the exterior noise from coming in, and won’t stop all of the interior noise from getting out, they do provide a very cost effective way to significantly reduce sound transmission through your windows or doors.
Audio Sound Absorption Sheets
These sheets aren’t curtains in the truest sense, but they are usually supplied with hardware to hang them, and pre mounted grommets, making the process for hanging them on a curtain rail very straight forward.
This style does not offer the normal household curtain aesthetic as you would get from a domestic blackout/soundproof curtain, but because they are purpose built for reducing sound, they are unrivalled in doing so.
Construction wise, these sheets are most typically quilted, and the voids filled with cellulose materials. Their downside in comparison to standard curtains is that they are not usually machine washable, making care a little more difficult.
How Should I Set Up My Soundproof Curtains?
For a basic sound deadening application, soundproof curtains should be hung just like regular curtains, covering your windows and/or doors completely. For this reason, when measuring, always be sure to order curtains that are at least 12 inches taller than your windows are (although floor to ceiling is preferable where possible), and around 24 inches wider.
Simply hanging the curtains will provide a noticeable drop in unwanted noise, but if you want to further improve the soundproofing qualities of your setup, there are a few extra steps to take.
Remember, sound travels in waves through the air, so, if you can see daylight through the other side of the curtain, or through any gaps, you are allowing sound to pass through. Replicating professional studio levels of sealing is a close to impossible task in a home setting, but the more opportunities for air to enter or escape you eliminate with your curtains, the more efficient they will be.
There are a couple of ways to achieve a better seal around the windows. First, you can try to install hooks all around the window frame, and install more grommets in the curtains to match. This will pin the curtain to the wall and significantly reduce the amount of sound that is able to pass around the sides. This technique will not close all gaps, but it will address much of the leakage. The downside is that extra drilling is required into your walls.
If you want to take it a step further, consider using duct tape to hold the curtains to the walls along the top and sides. This is about as good as a seal as you’re likely to be able to make, but doing this could potentially cause damage to the paint around the window.
What To Look For In Sound Proof Curtains?
When purchasing a set of sound proof curtains, there are a few variables to consider:
Weight Of The Curtains
The mark of a good soundproof curtain is in its weight. These curtains can weigh in excess of 10lb a pair, which in many cases is too much to be supported by a standard curtain rail and the associated wall mounts. You will need to ensure you have a heavy duty curtain rail capable of supporting a heavy curtain. As well, you should make sure you use wall plugs that are rated to the correct weight to prevent the weight of the curtains ripping the rail out of the wall.
The materials that the curtains are made of will significantly impact their sound deadening qualities. The best fabrics for this application are usually tightly woven and multi layered. Fabrics like felt, velvet, velour, and even suede make excellent sound proof curtains.
As we have pointed out, the greater the mass of the curtain, the greater its ability to absorb sound. For that reason, floor to ceiling curtains are ideal for soundproofing. If you don’t want them that long, make sure that they extend at least 12 inches below the windowsill to provide you enough fabric to pin it back to the wall.
The Soundproof Curtain Tests
To ensure test standardization, we used curtains in 52” x 72”, and where that size wasn’t available, we used the next largest. During the test we looked at overall quality, ease of hanging, how much noise was let in, and how much noise escaped. Air conditioning was turned off to prevent additional noise from contaminating the results.
KGR HQ is close to a moderately busy road, and there are several trees close by, so bird noises are fairly common. While recording, we played the same lick each time – the opening bars to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge”, using the same guitar, a 2020 Epiphone SG Standard on the bridge pickup.
For testing how much noise escaped the room, we played AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as one of the team stood outside to observe. Both the test recording and the noise escape test were performed with no curtains for reference before starting the product reviews.
We started off with the Wontex blackout curtains. These are domestic curtains designed for blackout and sound deadening. The sound proofing properties come from the center layer, which is made from high density black yarn. The construction quality was good, and the 1.6” grommets made it easy to hang. The overall weight was just over 5lb.
Once the curtain was hung, the difference in ambient noise in the room was night and day. During the recording there was still some faint traffic noise that was apparent to us, but we suspect if you didn’t know to listen for it, it wouldn’t be noticeable. We heard no birdsong on the recording, so deduced that these curtains performed very well in high frequency sound proofing.
As for preventing sound escaping, these Wontex curtains held up very well. The guitar could still be heard when standing in the open air outside, but the volume was so low that a neighbor who was inside their house would not have heard.
- Hefty material
- Excellent high frequency reduction
- Great color selection
- Panels were slightly uneven in length
These Nicetown curtains were one of the biggest surprises during this test. For such an inexpensive pair of curtains, they offer a lot when it comes to quality and noise deadening performance. Note that these come as single panels, so if you would prefer a pair, you will have to order 2. These are 3 layer curtains with standard 1.6” grommets pre installed for easy hanging. The fabric was soft and looked good, although some of the stitch finishing wasn’t quite up to the standard of the others. This small fault didn’t affect the sound proofing qualities, so it wasn’t a major concern.
While recording, traffic noise was present, but it was significantly reduced when compared to the reference test with no curtains. High frequency noises weren’t totally stopped either, but again, given the low cost of these curtains, the performance was more than adequate.
These curtains didn’t exactly fall down when it came to preventing noise escape, but it was more noticeable than it was with the other 4 curtains.
- Front and back of the curtains use the same attractive fabric
- Good entry level choice
- Stitch finishing subpar
- Sold as single panel
These RYB Home curtains performed so well during the test that we awarded them the editor’s pick. They don’t come in the widest range of sizes and colors, but as this test is mostly about audio performance, that is only a minor point against them. Again, these are a 3 layer curtain, but the soundproofing layer is actually removable, and attaches and detaches by hook and loop. The overall quality was flawless, and they looked great on the wall.
When it came to recording, we couldn’t make out any background noise whatsoever. This is not implying that they are 100% sound proof, rather that when put in a scenario where ambient noise is not significant, that noise can be stopped from reaching the microphone.
As for stopping noise getting out, these curtains were not completely successful, but noise was significantly deadened, and certainly wouldn’t bother neighbors.
- Dynamic design
- Excellent quality
- Easy care
- Only 4 sizes to choose from
- Color selection limited to 4 choices
This sound absorption sheet was the one purpose made soundproofing curtain we tested. This curtain was made in the USA, so quality was good as you would imagine. There were 3 hanging grommets installed on each of the short sides, which unfortunately were very small in diameter. The sheet did come with screws and a mounting kit, but we found you can use small hooks to place through the grommets, and the hooks can be run over the rail for easy hanging.
This Audiomute sheet was one of the best performers when it came to killing noise coming in from the outside. There was no audible traffic noise, nothing from people passing by, and nothing from the birds.
It also performed very well in reducing noise escaping to the outside. The music could still be heard, but once again, it would not be bothersome to passersby or neighbors.
- No dangerous products used
- Shipping is fast and free
- Absorbs approx 85% of sound waves that contact the sheet
- Not attractive enough to be left up like a curtain
- Fibers in the quilting can bunch up
This was another single panel curtain, but because it is divider curtain sized, it Is large enough to only need one. It is made from thick, triple weave fabric, and is supplied with 14 1.6” grommets pre installed. Given that there was only one panel, there were actually fewer gaps for sound to leak through, which was apparent in the strong performance during the testing. Fit and finish was found to be good.
This curtain was another strong performer during recording. Only a slight hint of traffic noise was noticed, but it was certainly low enough to be edited out with a noise gate, and everything from higher frequencies was well absorbed, making it a solid choice for anybody trying to record at home.
Prevention of noise to the outside was right in the middle performance wise. But critically, it was reduced to a volume at which neighbors would likely be unbothered, which is exactly what we would expect from a curtain.
- Good quality of stitch work
- 10 Colors available
- Only single layer
- Wrinkled from shipping
Soundproof curtains are almost never truly soundproof, but they can offer an inexpensive way to reduce noise from the outside interrupting your practice time or your recording sessions.
Remember that mass is the most important factor in making a curtain more effective at reducing noise. The heavier and more tightly woven the curtain, the better it is at dampening sound.
As for reducing noise to the outside world, curtains help, but they don’t come close to stopping it altogether. If this is a big concern for you, try a soundproof curtain combined with a slight reduction in volume and reevaluate the noise level.
Most soundproof curtains also carry extra benefits including blocking out light (including harmful UV), and thermally insulating your room, too. Not only that, but they look discreet, which is ideal if you want to keep your house looking like a home, and not a full time recording studio.