Tape Is Very, Very Quiet

If someone stops by and asks you to help them make some noisy thing less noisy, you probably wouldn’t reach for a roll of tape. But [The Action Lab] shows some 3M tape made for exactly that purpose. For the right kind of noise, it can dampen noise caused by a surface vibrating. You can see how (and why) it works in the video below.

The tape works using a technique known as “constrained layer damping.” Obviously, the tape only works in certain applications. The video explains that it bonds a stiff surface to the vibrating surface using an elastic-like layer. The tape reduces vibrations from things like cymbals and a cookie tin. The noise reduction is both in amplitude and in the duration of the sound, making things noticeably quieter.

You sometimes see a similar material in cars to reduce vibration noise, but we aren’t sure if it uses the same technique. We’ve also seen different kinds of tape used to lower drums’ volume. Reduces the neighbor’s complaints about your practice jam sessions.

This tape reduces noise but can also reduce fatigue wear on metal and composite structures. The downside is it seems extraordinarily expensive. It also doesn’t help that most places want you to buy an entire case, which drives the price even higher. Depending on the size, you can expect to pay about $200 for each 36-yard roll of this tape. But it seems like the principle involved is simple enough that you could make your own, sort of like the video does with the aluminum plate.

Usually, when we talk about noise reduction around here, we mean the electronic kind. Or, sometimes, fungal.

19 thoughts on “Tape Is Very, Very Quiet

  1. Just like the pads uses on the bottom of kitchen sinks from whenever kitchen sinks were made out stainless steel sheets instead of stone or concrete.

    I also still am not sure whether I felt sorry for Wintergatan when he painted his cymbals and they didn’t sound properly anymore. It seems so naive, but I guess everybody has to learn that lesson at some time in their career.

    1. I removed these Bitumen pads from my kitchen sink. Bitumen pads are not bad, is often used in car noise cancelling, but the glue is not heat resistant. My pads often peel off so removed them. In hardware stores are newer days these black shredded (recycled) car tire matts in different thicknesses. For my sink i have used silicone caulk and the 3mm patches. Works well. I like the sainless steel sinks more because i can mirros polish them with a handdrill, some pads and car polish (example autosol/dursol).

  2. Yeah I recall seeing a patch of stuff on the bottom of a SS sink and reading “noise control” printed clearly on a pair of these stick-ons. They sell expensive mats of sticky mass for damping door panel and car body problems in high end stereo installations. But, nothing sticks like dried out bubblegum!

  3. It’s only $100 for 36 sqft of generic brand(amazon basics, noico, kilmat) car constraint layer damper material. $250 for 36 sqft for “premium” name brand (Dynamat or hushmat) .
    Its a very sticky butyl rubber adhesive which doesnt dry out, attached to an aluminum sheet. Usually about 80 mils thick.

    I’ve applied over 150sqft of the generic material to my car over the past few months. $400.

    If I did it with this tape, $5000.

    Not sure why this tape is so costly.

      1. Jason Guerard, unfortunately that peel and stick roofing underlayment does not actually act as a constrained layer damper. It acts as a very poorly performing mass loader, which is a very inefficient way to reduce resonance. I’ve tested more than 40 products over time on a test rig designed specifically to test vibration damping materials, and the roofing underlayment has always been at the absolute bottom in terms of performance.

    1. I would highly suggest you check out the Facebook group “The Deadening”. I run that group, and have a test rig in my garage to objectively test constrained layer dampers. I recently compared Killmat and Noico to the most expensive product currently on the market, and found that it took more than 9 times as much Killmat to match its performance, and more than 6 times as much Noico to match its performance, making both products more expensive if you were to try to use as much to match the performance of the most expensive product currently available at marketed for car audio. Sadly, there are vast performance swings between products that are seemingly similar on the surface.

  4. I’m amazed that none of the HaD keyboard nerds have chimed in. Applying tape of varying thicknesses and materials to a mechanical keyboard PCB to augment resonance is a big part of customizing the sound of a build to the point it’s just called “Tape Mod” or “Tempest Mod”.

  5. I just use bitumen for car noise dampening. Works great. Need to order more. I’ve put it below the tank of my motorcycles and other parts that vibrate. Works great. A lot cheaper than this. Also very sticky. Just make sure it’s not near anything that’s hot.

    1. Bitumen is not viscoelastic, which is a requirement for something to work as a constrained layer damper. In years of objective testing, almost every bitumen base product has been at the bottom of the barrel in terms of performance and heat resistance. On the other hand, there are better products that stand up to ups side down applications at over 400 degrees F, and perform significantly better, anywhere from 10 to 20 times as well as run of the mill bitumen pads.

  6. Note: This is more effective to dampen an object’s resonant or near-resonant vibrations rather than to get many decibels of blocking of external sounds passing through. There’s still a point in having thick sound absorbing materials too. Cymbals are of course a resonating object, which has been specifically made to be not very dampened, so a bit of dampening makes them suddenly die away much faster.

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