Stop Noise in Its Tracks With Mass Loaded Vinyl

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Road noise is a … frustrating part of driving, and some cars are worse than others. Whether you have an expensive audio system or are tired of having to yell while driving on the highway, investing in some quality sound blocking will give you control over what you hear in your car cabin.

Modern noise abatement materials help to quiet a vehicle tremendously and will increase the comfort of your ride. Second Skin is here to assist you through your vehicle restoration project or just quieting down your daily driver.

Get to Know Noise Barriers
That road noise you hear should be kept outside of the car. A good noise barrier will prevent sound waves from passing through it and quiet down your ride.

As with anything else you buy for your vehicle, noise barriers come in a wide variety in quality of material – ranging from great to lousy (and even smelly). Second Skin Audio sells only the highest quality noise blocking products for the vehicle. We also want to make sure you understand the fundamentals of blocking sound waves so that you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you. We hope we can help you get the most bang for your buck, while enjoying the best results possible for your project.

Want to Block Airborne Noise? You Need A Noise Barrier!

The manufacture of sound blocking materials is big business these days. But everybody who buys sound abatement products for their vehicle does not get the same results. Why?

Because the unwanted sounds you hear inside your vehicle are traveling towards you along two very different paths. To get the best results, you have to match the product to the path you want to silence. It works like this:

Structural Noise

Some sound waves travel through metal. The metal chassis, floorboard panels and body structure of the vehicle conduct sound waves as energy vibrations. In many cases, the metal panels can even amplify the sound, like the buzzing noise when you turn the bass up on your audio system.

The solution, then, is to apply sound deadening material to metal that vibrates. As the name implies, sound deadening materials dampen the metal and mute the vibrations, much like stopping a noisy wind chime with your hand.

Airborne Noise

Other types of unwanted noise travel into the vehicle by air. The air molecules surrounding the vehicle transmit unwanted sound into the passenger compartment. These noises include the droning noise of exhaust system resonance, the roaring of road noise that comes from the tires, and even noise from air flowing under the vehicle can become wearisome to the ear.

The solution for airborne noise is to apply a barrier material that will block those sounds from entering the cabin. The idea is to create a personal bubble that rejects airborne sound waves before they reach you.

If you use the wrong products for the application, use low-quality products, or apply products incorrectly, you will get inferior results. That’s why people get widely differing results from their efforts to ‘soundproof’ their vehicles. But avoiding those expensive mistakes is easy – with the help of a little knowledge.

What Makes an Effective Noise Barrier?

To see how this works, let’s look at how a soundproof room is constructed. The same principles apply to soundproofing a room as soundproofing a vehicle. So, picture a recording studio – go ahead and put your favorite musician in there.

If you are like most people, you might be picturing a room with walls that are covered with a thick foam padding that has a pyramid-shaped texture. But that soft foam is not a noise barrier. In fact, if there was a wall made only of that soft foam separating you from another person, you would be able to converse through it because sound easily penetrates the soft foam. Then why is the foam there? Because instead of blocking noise, the soft, lightweight foam is excellent at absorbing sound and quelling light echoes. That’s all it does.

Then what prevents outside noise, like the sounds of street traffic or of the rock group next door, from entering the recording room? The actual sound barriers are installed inside the walls where you can’t see them. Those barriers are solid, thick, somewhat heavy, and fairly flexible. Traditionally, huge sheets of lead (yes, the metal lead) were nailed inside the walls of soundproof rooms. The lead sheets covered the entire framework of the rooms end to end, and from floor to ceiling. Technology has advanced a lot since then, but why was lead used? Because to be an effective blocker of sound, a material must be 3 things:

Dense: you need at least one pound per square foot to effectively repel sound waves (and the heavier the better). Otherwise sound would travel right through it like the soft foam.

Limp: the barrier should be somewhat malleable and soft to absorb the energy of noise vibration and to prevent it from resonating

Unbroken: any gaps in the barrier are gaps that sound waves can travel through


Nowadays, a new sound barrier material is used in the place of lead in buildings, and it’s great for vehicles as well. It is called mass loaded vinyl, or MLV for short.

The name comes from the way the material is manufactured. To increase the mass of the vinyl sheets, heavy metal particles are mixed in during the manufacturing process. That extra weight creates an effective sound blocker. The material is left somewhat limp, and that, like the soft lead, prevents the material from resonating as it blocks sound waves. Working together, the mass and the limpness create a sound barrier.

Additional Sound Blocking Information

  • Limp barriers work better than rigid ones

    The mass barrier has to be somewhat limp, like vinyl, because the give prevents your barrier from vibrating. For example, if you hit a sheet of lead, it won’t reverberate and ring like a rigid sheet of tin or brass would. It’s the same with mass loaded vinyl – the flexibility and softness prevent the MLV from vibrating. If the material doesn’t vibrate, you don’t hear the ringing sound.

  • What should you look for in an MLV sound barrier?

  • Watch out for MLV made from recycled products

How to Install Luxury Liner Pro

You don’t have to use an adhesive if you’re using it on the floor, but we recommend one. Apply Luxury Liner Pro using the Second Skin Contact Spray Adhesive, another strong adhesive (like 3M 90), or a super strong double sided tape. Apply the adhesive to the top of your sound deadener and to the foam side of the Luxury Liner Pro. We do not recommend installing Luxury Liner Pro on the ceiling or anywhere else it’ll be upside down – it’s heavy and may fall.

You should plan on installing Luxury Liner Pro at the same time that you’re installing your Damplifier Pro sound deadener.

Luxury Liner – our MLV Only Noise Barrier for Vehicles or Residential Use

Luxury Liner is an MLV without the layer of closed cell foam. Just like the Luxury Liner Pro, we’re very particular about the quality of the vinyl to ensure it doesn’t smell and you get consistent mass per square foot.

Don’t Skip The Decoupler

Remember we said that everybody who installs sound control products does not get the same results? Here is a step that is often skipped, and has negative consequences.

If you use Luxury Liner on top of Damplifier, or any other sound deadener, you need to install a soft, decoupling layer (such as our OverKill Pro closed cell foam or Heat Wave Pro thermal insulation blanket). The softer decoupling material prevents the two hard surfaces from hitting each other and creating sound waves from the vibration energy.


Around the House

Luxury Liner is also perfect for your typical wall, ceiling, or floor soundproofing projects.

It’s used in home theater rooms or any music room. Did you buy your kid a drum set for Christmas? You’re going to want a noise barrier.

Luxury Liner can be used to wrap anything making noise, like metal HVAC ducts, a generator, or plumbing pipes. If you have questions about your specific application, please give us a call.

Second Skin Is Here to Help!

Quality matters. Don’t skimp on your project. Why go through all the effort of deconstructing your car only to get subpar results?

Max out your results by installing a noise blocker on top of your sound deadener. It will create your personal bubble of calm and the purest space for you to enjoy. You’ll be glad you did.

If you still have questions, don’t go it alone! Call in for help on your project before you buy anything. We’re here to help.

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