Last updated: January 10, 2022 at 12:22 pm
Acoustic windscreens are a visually and acoustically appealing way of improving the sound quality in your car. You’ve probably seen them all over the place, but you might not be sure what they do or how to spot one.
In this article:
We will discuss the pros and cons of acoustic windscreens, as well as how useful they are.
What is an Acoustic Windscreen?
The acoustic windscreen reduces the noise of the outside environment and improves the quality of sound in your vehicle.
It’s commonly used in cars as a double glazed or triple glazed glass windscreen in place of a conventional single glazed one. This means that it’s quieter and helps to insulate against heat loss through the glass.
Acoustic windscreens are made from specially designed glass with an extra layer of material in between the two layers of glass to make them soundproof. The glass is not just any old window, it must be made up of laminated safety glass to ensure that it meets road traffic legislation.
In addition, there needs to be a sealed edge and a stippled edge on both sides of each pane. This provides an air-tight seal where the two layers meet (this is done by pushing air out with compressed air).
Most acoustic windscreens have all their components carefully selected for their specific application, which may result in a higher cost than other products on the market. However, when you consider that they can add up to 20% of your vehicle’s value, this should not be seen as a negative factor.
Differences Between a Normal Windscreen and Acoustic
The main difference between a normal windscreen and an acoustic windscreen is the material they are made of.
A normal windscreen is made from a polycarbonate material, which helps to absorb and disperse the noise that is generated. Unfortunately, it also tends to magnify the sound of wind rushing past the rider’s ears, making it even louder. The wind blowing through gaps in the screen can make an unpleasant whistling noise. This can be more noticeable at higher speeds.
The acoustic windscreen is made of a material that absorbs, then dissipates, and reflects sound waves. This is an important factor in keeping unwanted sounds from reaching your ears while riding an automobile at highway speeds. Some enthusiasts even claim that there is less noise inside their helmets when using an acoustic windscreen on a motorbike.
Acoustic windscreens are generally thicker than normal windscreens – from 4-5 times as thick depending on their density. This means they’re able to absorb much more sound energy than a normal screen when used correctly.
How Much Sound Do They Block?
If you’re shopping for an acoustic windshield, don’t just look at the raw NRR rating. For example, a 33 dB windshield might have more noise-blocking power than one that’s rated as 27 dB. The reason: The 33 dB windshield is made of two layers of glass with an air space between, while the 27 dB model has only one layer of glass and no air space.
The best acoustic windshield models include those with multiple layers of glass and some sort of air space in between, whether it’s a foam core or a small piece of plastic. These types of windshields block more sound than single-layer models.
If you’ve got a long commute, you’ll want to consider how much sound your windshield blocks as well as how many decibels your engine produces in the first place. If you’re already driving with the windows closed and the air conditioning on, it might not matter all that much if your car is rated at 55 dB instead of 65 dB.
On the other hand, if you’re driving with your windows down or without A/C – or if your car is producing 80 dB – then a lower NRR rating can make a difference in terms of comfort and safety.
How to Tell if I Have One?
There are several ways to tell if your car has an acoustic windscreen. One thing you can check for is whether there are any decals on the windows.
Sometimes, companies will place decals on the windows when they install acoustic windscreens to let people know about it. If there aren’t any decals on your windows, your car windscreen may not have acoustic material, but it is still possible that it does.
Another way that you can tell whether your vehicle has an acoustic windscreen is by checking under the hood. Acoustic windscreens are designed to make vehicles quieter. So, they will usually have a layer of foam, carbon fibre, or any other insulating material within them.
Also, when you examine the windscreen itself, you should be able to see whether it is thick enough to be an acoustic type. If it is, then the edges will be stitched; if it isn’t then they will just have been folded over.
Benefits vs Downsides
Noise reduction – Acoustic windscreens help in keeping out noises from outside the car. This is very important especially if you live close to a busy road because you won’t be disturbed by traffic noise.
Audio system – It is used to reduce the noise of the speakers and enhance comfort while driving.
Privacy – It provides privacy from the outside world.
Good looks – It improves the appearance of the car and gives it a stylish look.
UV protection – It protects car interiors from harmful UV rays coming from outside through windows especially during summer months.
Safety – They have dual functions i.e., they protect your car interior from damage caused due to the impact of flying stones and other objects while driving as well as protect you, your family members, and driver from heatstroke and glare during summers.
Energy efficiency – Because they are made with special glass which has high thermal insulation properties, they help in reducing energy consumption required for the air-conditioning system thus saving on fuel costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the environment.
Sturdiness – They provide extra strength to car windshields protecting them against breakage.
Cost – acoustic windscreens are not cheap and most cost upwards of £200 (plus fitting). If you want more than one window done, then it can get very expensive!
Installation – fitting an acoustic windscreen is not a job for anyone who isn’t handy with tools. It will take quite some time to fit.
Practicality – if you are used to driving with a side or curtain airbag, then fitting an acoustic windscreen can be problematic. Many older drivers find that they struggle to see out of the window properly after fitting an acoustic windscreen.
Other Car Soundproofing Methods
Soundproofing your car doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require some effort on your part. If an acoustic car windscreen is too expensive for you, here are some tips for soundproofing a car on a budget:
Install interior panels that absorb sound – These panels should be made of foam, as they are best at absorbing sound waves. You can find them online or at most home improvement stores.
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Dampen the sound with carpeting – Carpeting will also help absorb the noise in your vehicle and can make all the difference in how many outside noises you hear while riding.
Muffler – Although it will cost you more money upfront, installing a muffler on your vehicle is an effective way to cut down on unwanted noise.
Improve Your Current Car Windows – Your current car windows may not be as soundproof as they could be. If you’re driving a newer vehicle, one thing you can do is install an additional glass layer between the two existing layers of glass in your vehicle’s windows. This will increase insulation and cut down on outside noise.
Install soundproofing foam in your car doors – This is one of the best ways to reduce road noise, especially if you drive along an expressway every day. Foam can also be purchased for around $50 online or at a local hardware store.
If your convertible has a soft top, consider getting a hard top instead. This will significantly improve the noise level in your car by preventing wind noises from getting in.
Acoustic Windscreen for Cars – Are They Worth It?
The answer to this question may seem unambiguous. After all, the main goal of any accessory is to improve the vehicle. But not all devices have a positive effect on the characteristics of the car, they just increase passenger comfort.
Traditional glass windscreens are not very effective in reducing noise. They are easily scratched and do not provide sound insulation. Acoustic windscreens solve these problems and give an opportunity to get rid of annoying noise from the engine compartment.