The 10 Best Sound Deadening Mats
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in February of 2017. It can be hard to enjoy music, a conversation or even just time spent alone with your thoughts if the cabin of your car, truck or SUV is filled with noise every time you drive. The sound deadening mats on our list can help soften the din caused by a rattling frame, a honking driver, a revving engine and all the other elements of a cacophonous commute. Some can even help keep your interior toasty. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 19, 2020:
Due to inconsistencies regarding the accuracy of the thickness of the Mat 66 MT12023 we have removed it from our list. We also decided to add another Kilmat brand option, the Kilmat Audio, to accompany the Kilmat 80 Mil. The Kilmat Audio is a thinner material, at 50 mil, but at 50 square feet, is better-suited to those more interested in coverage than thickness.
Kilmat products are highly respected for their effectiveness, as well as their simple installation. Unlike flat sound deadening mats that can be difficult to tell whether or not they’re fully applied to your car, Kilmat mats are designed with raised bubbles. These bubbles will flatten out when rolled correctly, and give you the peace of mind that they’re applied correctly.
A common mistake that some people make when choosing sound deadening material is assuming that the abbreviation “mil” is short for “millimeter”. Mil is actually its own unit of measure, which translates to 1/1000 of an inch. This probably won’t affect which option you choose, but it’s a fact worth knowing.
If you don’t have one already, you’ll need a reliable utility knife for cutting and trimming your sheets to size.
September 05, 2019:
Those looking to quiet the noise inside their cabin -- from tire hum, exhaust drone, motor whine and other outside racket -- may wonder whether to use sound-deadening spray-on foam or mats to get the job done. Both products have their place in automotive soundproofing and buyers should be aware of when to use each.
Spray-on foam is a great option for small, hard-to-reach places such as nooks and crannies in the engine compartment. However, it is less durable than mats and are prone to chipping. Some also have an unpleasant odor.
On the other hand, sound deadening mats can cover large surface areas and generally do a better job, though they take longer to install.
The way these mats work is by absorbing the mechanical energy that travels through your vehicle's panels, floorboards and roof and converting it into low-level heat through friction.
One of the most crucial aspects of these mats -- which we paid special attention to -- is the thickness of the material. It usually follows that the thicker a mat, the more effective it will be at dampening noise. Consumers may see the unit "mil" being used to express a model's thickness, which is just a shorthand way to represent one thousandth of an inch. Our top two picks, the Second Skin Damplifier Pro and the Kilmat 80 mil, have a thickness of 0.08 inches.
In the latest update, we bumped down the Dynamat 10455 Xtreme from second place to sixth because it is only 0.067 inches thick.
Tips For Installing Sound Deadening Mats
If you’re very nervous or uncertain, it’s okay to consult a professional.
A sound deadening mat does exactly what you’d imagine from the name: it keeps some of the noise on the outside of your automobile from getting in, where it can annoy you. These mats work by muffling some of the noise as well as by cutting down on vibrations, generally reducing both the amount and loudness of sounds in the cabin. The best part is that they’re not so tough to install; if you can follow instructions and apply stickers, you’ll probably be fine. We’ve got a few tips to make the process even easier.
First, and it probably goes without saying, you won’t apply your sound deadening mats over your carpet or rubber floor mats, nor will you put them on the outside of the car. Instead, look for those areas where you can cover interior metal. In some cases, as in the doors, you may need to remove a panel or upholstery to get to the installation area. If you’ve never done this before, it helps to take pictures of what the area looks like before you work on it, so you’ll have a reference when it comes time to reassemble everything. If you’re very nervous or uncertain, it’s okay to consult a professional.
Also, before you begin trimming your mats to size, make sure that you have a sharp, high-quality cutting tool, perhaps either upholstery scissors or a utility knife. It’s likely that cutting the mats will cause some wear and tear on whichever implement you choose, so avoid using your mom’s or significant other’s best sewing scissors.
Next, as you’re applying the mats, make sure that there are no gaps, as even small uncovered areas can undo all your hard work. Imagine putting your ear to a keyhole to listen to someone else’s conversation; the hole may be small, but you can probably still hear quite a bit (not that we condone eavesdropping). Aim for complete coverage.
While you’re working, you’ll be using a rubber roller to smooth out the mat and cause the adhesive to stick. Some sound deadening kits come with a roller, and some don’t. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry; they are available for purchase separately. Some enterprising individuals have even used a tennis ball to accomplish the same task. You could also employ a heat gun to make the adhesive stick better and give the mat a little more pliability as you work.
Finally, the adhesive in the case of most sound deadening mats is going to be quite sticky, so wear work clothes that can take some abuse.
They Hear Me Rollin’
After you’ve added sound deadening mats, there are a couple more ways to boost your audio experience without having to purchase an entirely new stereo system. Sometimes it’s the little tweaks that can make a big difference.
Do this at the volume at which you normally listen to your music, and remember that there’s no right or wrong answer here beyond what sounds good to you.
For instance, pay attention to the balance of the audio. Nowadays, this probably means considering the equalizer built into your stereo unit as well as the one on your phone or MP3 player. Although you might be tempted to blast the bass, excellent audio quality is more subtle and blended. You can train your ear to hear these differences with practice, but to start, put the equalizer in flat mode and adjust the low and high ends until you have a “V” or “U” shape. Do this at the volume at which you normally listen to your music, and remember that there’s no right or wrong answer here beyond what sounds good to you.
Additionally, you could try switching to higher quality music files, if you can. Generally, 128kbps is the lowest bitrate you should consider for MP3s, but for a crisper listening experience, you’ll want to go for 256kbps or 320kbps. You might also switch file types completely to one that is lossless, such as FLAC, although some audiophiles dispute the idea that people can hear the difference between lossless formats and MP3s on a run-of-the-mill system.
A Brief History Of The Car Stereo
As with cars themselves, the car stereo is actually an invention that’s much nearer to modern day than we tend to think. In fact, the automotive industry truly took off in the 1920s, with the invention of usable in-car audio lagging behind by just 10 years.
The first CD head units appeared in the 1980s, but this media didn’t assert its dominance until the 1990s.
The man to whom we ascribe the invention of the car stereo is Paul Galvin, an inventor in the manufacturing industry who worked with his brother Joseph. Although others had placed radios inside of cars before this duo created their model, these previous versions were large and too expensive for anyone but the superrich. The Galvins’ version offered a compact size and better affordability, allowing more drivers to embrace the fun distraction it provided. You might recognize the name of this first radio — the Motorola, for motorized Victrola. At first only referring to this car radio, the designation was eventually adopted as the company’s name in the 1940s.
These first radios couldn’t play any external media. They were limited to AM radio, with FM following in the 1950s. Then, in the 1960s, 8-tracks hit the scene, with cassette tapes coming along in the next decade. Compared to today’s MP3s and satellite radio, these media probably seem crude, but they offered more control than listening to radio stations. Of course, the in-dash CD player edged these media out, although the process was fairly slow. The first CD head units appeared in the 1980s, but this media didn’t assert its dominance until the 1990s.
While there are still some cars rolling off the line with CD players, the practice of including one is less and less common. Thanks to Bluetooth and the ubiquity of smartphones, it is becoming standard for drivers to play music from their personal devices — no need for a wired connection or clunky storage, as in a cassette tape. This means better audio quality as well as greater storage, so you’ll be getting the best sound, and best use for your sound deadening mats, no matter how many miles you go.