Sound Isolation Clips

What are Sound Isolation Clips?

Sound isolation clips reduce noise through a wall or ceiling assembly by isolating the drywall from the framing. By decoupling the drywall from the building’s structure, the path for sound energy is broken and the sound transmitted is greatly reduced. Sound isolation clips are excellent for stopping both impact noise (increasing IIC rating) and airborne noise (increasing STC rating), making them an extremely attractive option for both new construction and retrofitting an existing space.

The special thing about sound isolation clips is that they give best-in-class results for both IIC and STC rating. We like to use mass loaded vinyl, Green Glue, and other soundproofing materials when it makes sense, but for impact noise (footsteps), we know that sound isolation clips are the ONLY option if you’re soundproofing a ceiling side of a floor-ceiling assembly. The good news is that the RSIC-1 clip is darn good at stopping that footstep noise from the floor above.

RSIC clips are far and away the best isolation clip option for soundproofing projects for a handful of reasons:

  1. RSIC clips have by far the most UL-rated fire assemblies and STC/IIC rated acoustic assemblies of any clip out there. We (and architects) like having options.
  2. RSIC clips are easier and faster to install than other clips. Fewer screws and simpler channel installation saves time on the jobsite.
  3. RSIC clips are not prone to the same installation errors as RC-1 channel. When you can’t mess up the install, you don’t make costly mistakes (like not meeting code).
  4. There are dozens of versions of RSIC clips to handle any sort of building situation.
  5. The various clips are all either made or assembled in the USA

The bread-and-butter clip in the RSIC line is the RSIC-1. The RSIC-1 is what we spec most often into our projects, and is the top-of-the-line solution for both IIC and STC.

How do Sound Isolation Clips Work?

Sound isolation clips work by isolating the ceiling and walls from the building’s structure, so that the sound energy (vibrations) can’t pass directly through. The metal clip is screwed into the wood or metal framing with a rubber isolator acting as the decoupler between the clip and the structure. Rubber is really good at isolating two hard surfaces from each other, preventing any sound energy traveling through the framing from the floor above from passing through.

The other benefit of sound isolation clips is they allow you to create a larger air cavity between the two layers of drywall. How much noise a wall blocks is a function of many things, and one of them is the size of the air cavity between the barrier on each side. RSIC-1 clips allow you to increase the space by 1-5/8”, with some versions of the clip allowing for even more.

Sound isolation clips are used in a huge variety of situations where soundproofing is critical, and can be used in just about any type of assembly (wood, metal, concrete).

  • Multi-family (condo soundproofing, apartments, duplexes)
  • Commercial (offices, retail)
  • High-end requirements (recording studios, theaters)
  • Residential (basements, Airbnbs, home studios and theaters)

How to Install RSIC Clips

The RSIC clips are fast and easy to install. For detailed instructions and information on spacing, refer to each clip’s install guide. But here’s the basic process.

1. Fasten the RSIC clip to framing with a screw.
2. Snap in 25 gauge hat channel to the clip.
3. Screw your 5/8” or soundproof drywall into the hat channel leaving a ¼” gap around the perimeter.
4. Seal the entire perimeter with acoustical sealant.

Alternatives to RSIC Clips

For soundproofing a wall or ceiling, the RSIC-1 clip is your best option for top-end performance. The RSIC-1 also works well with other products when extremely high STC and IIC ratings are needed. We often combine it with Green Glue and 2 layers of drywall when significant sound isolation is needed.

When considering alternatives to sound isolation clips, there are really three categories:

1. RC-1 Channel
2. Other Soundproofing Materials
3. Things that Don’t Work

RC-1 Channel

RC-1 Channel is the most commonly used soundproofing building material. The gold standard for resilient channel is the Clark Dietrich’s RC-1 Pro Deluxe. Then there’s everyone else. The problem builders run into is that they can’t find or cut cost by getting other hat channel – and then they get sub-par results, fail to meet code, or have other install issues. For more information on sound isolation clips vs resilient channel, read our article on the topic

That’s why we like the RC-1 Boost which will bump any resilient channel over building code (STC 50). It’s a builder’s best friend, as you can cost-effectively meet code even if you can’t get the RC Deluxe.

Material STC Rating
  Other RC-1 Channel     Low 40s to High 40s  
  RC-1 Pro Deluxe     STC 51  
  RC-1 Boost with Any RC-1 Channel     STC 51  
  RSIC-1     STC 58  


Other Soundproofing Materials

We work with a ton of customers who use materials other than sound isolation clips. The two most common are mass loaded vinyl and Green Glue. Both will get you a very good STC rating (around 50), are cost-effective, and simple to install.

When combining materials, we go Beast Mode with RSIC-1 clips, 5/8” drywall, Green Glue, and more 5/8” drywall. Seal it all up with acoustical sealant and you’re over an STC 60. If you want your Beast Mode to go Beast Mode, switch out 5/8” drywall for a soundproof drywall like SoundbreakXP.

Things That Don't Work

Whenever we talk about soundproofing, we feel like we have to mention things that don’t work, but that the internet loves to talk about. (Hello websites with ads everywhere that just happen to route me to Amazon)

  1. Do not expect acoustic foam or panels to soundproof your room. They are acoustic materials and will not stop sound from entering or exiting.
  2. No amount of plants, rugs, furniture, or curtains will soundproof your room.
  3. No special configuration of plants, rugs, furniture, or curtains will soundproof your room.

If you are trying to learn more about things you can do to soundproof a room, we wrote a whole article on how to soundproof a room. Check it out!