4 Best Mass Loaded Vinyl: What is best for you?
I have been fiddling around with soundproofing materials for so many years and it is interesting how there can be so many different things you can use to reduce noise. One of the premium products that frequently gets mentioned is the Mass Loaded Vinyl. In this post, let’s explore a bit more about this unique product and find out the best mass loaded vinyl brands you can get your hands on right now.
At the end of this post, you will learn to get a better understanding of this material and how it can benefit how, plus, you will know which brands you should go for too.
Let’s jump in.
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What is mass loaded vinyl? (MLV)
A mass-loaded vinyl is a specially created material that aids in soundproofing. It is made to be very thin and with high density, and its primary purpose is to control and stop sound waves from exiting a surface.
It feels rubber-like to the touch and is widely used in both residential and commercial home improvement projects alike.
Although it is dense, the MLV is highly flexible which allows it to be used in many applications, for example, car hood soundproofing or soundproofing a drum room.
Compared to lead, it is nontoxic, making it a safe and useful material to use for all kinds of projects.
And finally, mass-loaded vinyl can add a great STC value to any surface due to its sheer mass.
What are the uses of MLV?
There are many ways that you can use mass-loaded vinyl, both around the house or in a commercial or even industrial setting.
If you are dealing with machinery, you can create a sound screen around them to mute the noise. Similarly, you can wrap MLV around HVAC pipes to dampen the noise they produce.
At home, you can block out the sounds from noisy dishwashers, around a suspended ceiling, or use them to dampen noise in your home studio.
Outside, you can use MLV to improve the acoustics of your vehicle. They are very effective at blocking out road noise and also improve the quality of your sound system within the car cabin.
List of the best Mass Loaded Vinyl brands
There are several brands of mass-loaded vinyls out in the market, but not all are created equal. They are available in different types of thickness and weight, which is a key component that affects how effective it is at soundproofing.
You might also need to consider what kind of materials are used to produce MLVs. Typically, MLVs are made using 2 types of base polymer: PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC) or Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA).
PVC needs to be mixed with a plasticizer to give it the flexibility, but that also means that over time, it might give out unpleasant odors.
Those made with EVA do not require plasticizers, so this issue will not arise.
If you require more precision, you might also be interested in determining the target STC value you wish to achieve before finding the suitable material to use.
Soundsulate MLV is a superior solution that makes blocking out sounds very effective.
As the MLV is designed to be very thin and flexible, it is an excellent choice for projects that cannot compromise space.
It's main strengths are to reduce noise transmission through various home surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and floors.
You may also use them for applying over studs, joists, and suspended ceilings.
When it comes to an industrial setting, they can also be used as an acoustic wrap for machinery, equipment, and ductwork.
Soundsulate is a product that has far exceeded people’s expectations, none more so than mine. I used it previously in a home project where I helped my son soundproof a room to become a mini jamming studio. Even with a loud activity like drumming, there was barely any noise that escaped. Mighty impressive!
In terms of pricing, while they are not the cheapest, they are very competitive. In fact, when it comes to a product like MLV, cheaper almost always means inferior quality.
Audimute is a US company and has been making innovative products for many years now.
They have a strong focus on using environmentally friendly practices, using material that contains over 80% of post-consumer recycled material. These materials are also nontoxic and noncarcinogenic, making them very safe for use in all scenarios.
This particular model is perfect for floor underlayment as they are able to absorb shocks on top of dampening noises. You can even use this outdoors if needed.
Audimute has a wide variety of products that cater to different needs. For the Pacemaker featured here, it is excellent for floor soundproofing rather than blocking airborne sounds as it has an STC rating of only 4.
They are equally effective outdoors as I had the chance to witness firsthand an acoustic fencing project one of my friends did with this particular MLV.
Most users of Audimute have positive experiences to share, just as I do.
Price wise, they are slightly on the high side, but well worth their weight.
Made in the USA, Noise Grabber is a MLV product from SoundproofingMLV.
The company is a specialist in making high-quality mass loaded vinyl products that can be used in all kinds of applications, ranging from DIY products to large commercial projects.
The 1lb blocks have been tested to have an STC rating of 26 and can be stacked to produce even better sound characteristics.
I have not personally used this particular model but SoundproofingMLV is not a stranger to me. A couple of friends have told me before that they have had great success with their products and highly recommend them.
One of them had actually converted one of his rooms to become a karaoke room and used the NoiseGrabber for his project. Of course, I had to check it out and boy was I impressed. The sound blocking qualities of this MLV is top-notch.
Take note that their products are made with a PVC base polymer, so there will be some odor when you first install them. Leave them to air for a day or two and you shouldn’t feel its presence anymore.
Also, it can cost slightly more than the other brands, but if you are serious about keeping out noise, this should be one of your top choices.
Second Skin is a USA company that specializes in automotive insulation.
That means that whether you are trying to block out noise in your vehicle or to enhance the acoustics of your sound system, there is a solution waiting for you.
As this particular model is a 2 in 1 design, it can block out noise effectively while also blocking out heat from the firewall or floor.
Lots of people who are into van life will know about this product as it is a top choice for their Sprinter vans.
I couldn’t discuss the best MLV brands without talking about Second Skin. They are one of my favorite soundproofing products as they are super versatile and easy to use. Plus, they always work.
Primarily used inside of vehicles, they can greatly improve your driving experience, allowing for a pleasant and peaceful ride. They even provide professional services to take care of your needs if you wish to have a more detailed and comprehensive solution.
Best of all, they are not that crazy expensive!
Check out my comparison of Second Skin vs Dynamat here!
If you are planning a home makeover and renovation project, check out this Acoustiblok review. It is a great sound isolation product that your contractor might have.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much does mass-loaded vinyl cost?
MLVs are typically sold in 2 variants: 1lb/sqft or 2lb/sqft.
The price range for 1 lb MLV can range from $1.50 up to $2.50 per square foot, while the 2lb option will usually retail for up to $4 per square foot.
Does MLV really work?
Yes, they do. Mass-loaded vinyls are made of dense rubber-like material that can block out noises effectively. There are many models available that fit different needs from regular home soundproofing, sound absorption for floors, or in commercial settings as well.
What is better than MLV?
Mass-loaded vinyl can get quite expensive, typically ranging from $1.50 to over $2.00 per square foot, which becomes prohibitive for some. In such situations, you might need to consider other alternatives to MLV, including soundproof curtains, Green Glue, drywalls, rugs, and acoustic panels. It is not practical to say what is better than MLV as all soundproofing materials serve the same purpose. The main considerations should include cost, effectiveness, and ease of use.
What is the thickest MLV?
MLVs come in various thicknesses and weights so as to cater to specific needs. After all, you don’t need a top-of-the-line MLV for a basic soundproofing project. Density plays a very important role in the efficacy of mass-loaded vinyls, but of high importance too is how thick they are. MLVs are used in projects where a thin layer is required and when space is restricted. Hence, it makes sense that there are no 1-foot thick MLVs. The thickest you can get your hands on is a 1/2 inch MLV.
Can you put MLV over drywall?
Yes, it can be applied this way, but the most effective use of an MLV in this scenario is to sandwich it between two drywall sheets instead.
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