Putting Dynamat to the test in a Ford F-150
Our Car Stereo Proving Ground Series, part 4
We set out on a 5-month mission to create the ultimate system in a 2004 Ford F-150. With all the gear in place, it was time to battle road noise. Dynamat products minimize vibrations, block road noise, and absorb sonic reflections. By quieting all that noise, we were able to hear every last detail of the system we built.
John, one of our car audio writers, jumped at the opportunity to tear apart the F-150.
Watch the video about this project.
Reducing road noise with Dynamat
Vibrations from your car’s engine, chassis, and the road manifest themselves as audible noise in the cabin, which makes it tougher to hear details in your tunes. If you put time and money into building a system, you don't want it to be drowned out by the pavement. Jeff attacked the road noise issue with plenty of Dynamat — his system deserved nothing less.
Normally, you’d add Dynamat as you're putting in your speakers and running wires, but we did it last on purpose to show just how much of a difference in the sound pressure level (SPL) of road noise some damping can make. Jeff knew his truck had some rattles and resonant frequencies that were detracting from his sound, so Dynamat was a big part of his overall plan. And in keeping with the spirit of this project, he did as perfect a job as possible.
How much do I need?
Good results, even with partial coverage...
The minimum coverage recommended by Dynamat for basic resonance control is 30% of the area of any panel when using Dynamat Xtreme. Do that, and you’ll hear a difference.
...or get great results with full coverage
Of course, while a little Dynamat goes a long way, more is better. In fact, Dynamat says that complete coverage of an average vehicle can reduce road noise 9-18 dB. For reference, a 10 dB drop cuts road noise in half.
Adding dynamat to the doors
Jeff has a fantastic set of Focal component speakers in his doors, and they needed a sonically-sealed home. When his truck rolled off the assembly line, it had just a thin sheet of plastic to combat road noise. Rattles, vibrations, and resonant frequencies easily stole some thunder from Jeff’s speakers. So it was Dynamat to the rescue — he stuck it to every available square inch of his door. “A lot of energy is transferred through the doors,” Jeff says. "That’s the best place to start with Dynamat."
Dynamat Xtreme door kit
Doors are the trickiest places to apply Dynamat, since there are a lot of small spaces to navigate. Fortunately, you can cut out custom-sized pieces with a utility knife. The Dynamat Xtreme door kit comes with four 12" x 36" sheets (12 square feet), plenty for two doors.
Just adding Dynamat to the doors decreased the road noise by 2 dB.
Quieting the Floor
Jeff started by removing his seats and carpet. Then he put down a couple of layers of Dynamat Xtreme, followed by a layer of DynaPad (plus a little Dynaliner when he ran out). Man, was it nice to quiet down the noise coming through the floor — we really noticed a difference when driving over a dirt road. And here’s a nice bonus: the DynaPad feels pleasant underfoot, too.
Jeff had a lot of area to cover, so he opted for the bulk package of Dynamat Xtreme. It gave him 72 square feet to work with.
Jeff used these on his floor, too:
Dynamat DynaPad – DynaPad is a kind of acoustic foam “sandwich” that throws a layer of acoustic barrier material between two layers of sound-absorbing foam. It lies under your vehicle’s carpet.
Dynamat Dynaliner – Dynaliner helps absorb noise in your vehicle. Use it on top of a layer of Dynamat Xtreme for best results.
At this point, the truck is noticably quieter.
The DynaPad “sandwich”
Since DynaPad goes on the floor, it needs to be substantial in order to stand up to road noise and exhaust-system heat. Most people react the same way the first time they pick up a chunk of DynaPad: "Wow, that’s heavy!"
Sealing the cabin and hood
A layer of Dynamat Xtreme and Dynaliner went under his headliner, and Hoodliner went under the hood. Jeff’s got his rattles and engine noise under control now. He’s turned the F-150’s interior into a much quieter space for listening to tunes.
Even better on a dirt road
Wow, what a difference — we measured a huge 16 dB drop when driving on a dirt road. Other than the bumps, it was like riding on pavement had been before the Dynamat was installed.
Dynamat isn’t just for cars!
Dynamat helps stop rattles wherever they occur. We asked around Crutchfield headquarters and found employees using it for all kinds of things: wrapping it around a noisy HVAC duct, treating a washer and dryer, eliminating a buzz in an old guitar speaker cabinet...the only limit is your imagination. If it’s rattling, try some Dynamat.
What did we learn during this last round of testing?
Dynamat is fantastic stuff. Riding in Jeff’s truck after installing all the Dynamat products was an interesting experience after having ridden in noisy cars for so many years — for one thing, it wasn’t necessary to shout in order to hear one another. And since he doesn’t have to compete as much with road noise, Jeff doesn’t have to crank the volume as high.
"You can’t build the ultimate sound system without addressing road noise," he says. "Dynamat makes a huge difference."
Catch up on parts 1-3 here.