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@AndrewIndy - I use Etymotic (HF-3) on my motorcycle for noise reduction:30+dB and weight that's hard to beat. So yeah, it's definitely a possibility, and I've worn them or something similar for touring rides over the course of thousands of miles. For the Elise I want something I can drive without earplugs, and it's very close to that already with the touring pack, it just needs slightly more for my tastes.

Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) aggravates my tinnitus. It supposedly protects your hearing, but I prefer something like the Etymotic which is a passive earplug vs an ANC earbud.
 

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Cutting off any hearing is not recommended while driving. We need to hear everything, and as soon as possible.
 

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@atmh, makes sense. Interesting that active noise cancellation aggravates tinnitus, I wouldn’t have thought of that. It will be interesting to hear if attacking the higher frequencies of road/wind noise makes the difference for you, or if the exhaust note will be required for your desired comfort level.

I have the sport stage 2 exhaust on my 05 Elise with touring package, and it drones badly at highway speed. It’s uncomfortable on longer drives, but I love the sound of the exhaust otherwise, and i don’t do long drives that often right now. So i’ve been considering getting some noise canceling earbuds for longer trips. In my case, the exhaust is definitely the main noise discomfort. When i used regular ear plugs on the drive from FL to IN after buying the car, the ear plugs damped road noise, but did nothing for the exhaust drone.

@glb, fair point. I wonder if transparency mode on the Airpods Pro would do a good job of rejecting drone without cutting out horns or other relevant sounds?
 

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@AndrewIndy yeah that's why I swapped out the Larini Sport Exhaust that came on my car for a stock exhaust on day 3 of ownership! I think there is a "valved" exhaust some people swap on the car, which may be even quieter at casual driving, and is louder when driving aggressively. I don't know anything about it, though.

I'm honestly not sure why ANC aggravates my tinnitus. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. Some headphones seem to be better than others. In any case most ANC units wouldn't block out variable sounds like a siren or a horn. They're much more effective against constant "droning" sounds, like an airplane engine or your car exhaust at steady state.

The Etymotic's I use can block out a LOT of sound, and you can crank the volume up. When you do both you can't hear anything else, so they actually come with a warning about basically being deaf to the world and not using them like that while riding a bike, jogging, driving a car, etc.
 

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I used to use the Etymotics also when I was running the 2bular blowpipe. No worries with the Etys. They're not like typical smush foam earplugs. It attenuates over the entire freq range, so you can still hear things.
 
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I just got some airpod pros. I will try this out tomorrow. My car is very loud, REV 300->PPE Header->decat-> LBH baffled race exhaust, so it may be apples to exploding oranges.
 

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My wife just got a set of airpods a couple days ago. The ANC on them is definitely good, and ANC is great against "droning" noises, so this should be a pretty good solution! Looking forward to hearing about your experience!
 

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Got the stuff in from Second Skin! The great thing about having a touring pack Elise is that I can just use the floor mats to trace the shapes to cut out of the Luxury Liner. That helped me lay out the pieces. Two observations from that:

You can do the entire carpeted area of the interior (plus under the passenger footrest) with two sheets of Luxury Liner, if laid out properly. See image:
Technology Automotive window part

There's some compromises to get everything to fit on two sheets. Specifically the side-sill luxury liner pieces have to be a little bit smaller than the carpeting to get everything else to fit at full size. I think this is fine, I was going to make them a bit smaller anyways for better fitment, so it's hard to even say it's a compromise. Also this layout doesn't leave any room for error, so measure twice or thrice before cutting! The firewall carpet is not removable, so it's not shown, but the big open area is enough material to do the full firewall in 2-3 pieces (two big pieces, plus some smaller pieces under/around the "cup holder")

For those who just want to do the floor (no side sills, no firewall) you can do it with a single sheet of luxury liner, with the caveat that at least one of the under-seat areas is made up of two pieces. See image:
Electronics Technology Room Electronic device Audio equipment


I also got a few other items- damplifier, mega zorbe, and overkill foam. The headliner in my soft top is completely detached, so my plan is to test how well the mega zorbe works on the roof just by slipping the sheets in between the two layers of the soft top and measuring any changes in noise vs. baseline.that should be a very quick and easy way to check if it has any effect at all, and much easier than doing the hardtop.

Next steps:
  • I'm going to take measurements with the way the car is currently: All floor carpeting removed, firewall still intact with touring pack materials. This should give some idea for how effective the carpeting is in the touring pack for the floors/side sills.
  • Then I'll install all the floor and side-sill luxury liner and carpets, and measure
  • Then the mega zorbe soft-top test
  • Then decision point: doors or firewall
 

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Well, I spend the entire weekend installing about 20lbs of sound isolating materials, and... The results are mixed. Let's start with the bad:

The bad news is that when you measure the results, you get maybe a 1dB decrease in noise, and when you look at the spectrum it's lackluster, to say the least:
The main line is my current setup, what I spent the entire weekend working on, and the faded line is measurement taken with touring pack elise with floor and side carpets removed (firewall untouched).
1266738


So, am I disappointed? A bit, I suppose. What the graph doesn't tell you is that it does sound audibly different. Better perhaps. But quieter? A little. Since the human ear picks up details that you can't see in the graph, I'll describe the observations:]

  • Touring pack carpets and such vs. no carpets doesn't make much of a steady state difference. There are really only two things I noticed: Stuff like little pebbles hitting the chassis are significantly louder without the carpets. The carpets do help that a lot. Plus they do absorb some sound so it's less echo-y. The more obvious thing was that the aluminum clearly radiates heat like crazy compared to the carpets. I wouldn't say they do much for noise, but it seems they might do more for heating/cooling insulation
  • My current setup does have significantly less road noise. noises from underneath the car are much quieter, and there's merit to that. The car feels more refined, less raw. I think it's quieter, especially at speeds under 60mph but I wasn't measuring low speed conditions, so I can't back that up with data. I never found the car too loud at those speeds anyways, so is it worth it? Maybe.
  • At high speeds (80mph) wind noise is one of the biggest contributing factors - that's a lot more obvious now that the floor is treated. It's more obvious now that the doors need to be done to get any substantial changes.
  • The engine exhaust is the loudest noise in the interior. It might be worth accepting the fact that you really aren't ever going to do anything about it without getting a quieter exhaust. It's really a factor of the way the car is built, and as others have pointed out, quieter exhaust is really the best option here.
Here's what I've done:
  • Luxury liner under seats and in footwells (including the center channel area)
  • Damplifier strips (3" wide) on side sills, covered by luxury liner, all under the touring pack carpet
  • Damplifier covering a little over 60% of the firewall. Double-layer for ~30% ( below the plastic trim only - I just did the carpeted area)
  • Luxury liner on the firewall as close to 100% coverage of this area as I could manage (also just the carpeted area below the plastic trim piece)
  • Mega Zorbe on top of the luxury liner on the firewall - estimated 90% coverage (carpeted firewall area)
  • Damplifier (a wee bit) on the aluminum tunnel in the footwell (small amount, probably 10% or less - just on the big flat areas)
  • Mega Zorbe (thin strip) along the top edge of the aluminum tunnel
  • Overkill foam on the inside of all the plastic bits in the center console area
  • Some megazorbe in front of the shifter in the main console area. Drivers side had a 3x4x1.5" block to try and absorb some lower frequencies, and there was the space for it
*One more note: I did a test of mega zorbe stuffed into the soft top to see if it made a difference. It does, but mega zorbe is a pretty weak material prone to tearing, so I will probably use 3M Thinsulate (noise + thermal insulation) on the soft top, and the mega zorbe on the hard top

Conclusions: The floor is much quieter! I can tell there's much less sound emanating up from below. But, unfortunately, the wind noise and engine noise are bigger factors at 80mph, which is my test speed, and the data from my phone apps suggest that at ear level there isn't much of a difference. Having said that, since the floor is doing it's job, it's less of a "noise everywhere" situation and more of a "boy these doors are loud" situation. I think it helps enough that I can hear the stereo more clearly. Less noise bouncing around the cabin, that's for sure.

The Luxury liner is heavy. Damplifier less so. MegaZorbe weighs almost nothing. I did a test where I stuffed it into the softtop for a while, then took it out. It made a big enough difference that I'm going to install material in the soft top (3M Thinsulate). It's not exactly "quieter" - again, so much noise is coming in through the window seams and doors - but with it in place there's less noise coming from the roof, not that it was terribly loud in this car in the first place.

If someone wants a better souding elise, but doesn't want the weight, you could probably have a pretty decent improvement just by putting Mega Zorbe wherever you can fit it. There's a lot to be said for sound absorbers. They don't necessarily make the car quieter, but they reduce echo/reverberation, which at the very least makes the sounds you're hearing clearer, so the stereo might not need to be as loud, or you might not need to shout at your passenger. It's a quality improvement, if not a huge noise reduction.

At the end of the day, is the luxury liner worth the ~20lbs? I don't know. It's only 1% of the weight of the car, so in the grand scheme of things it's not really that much weight. But it only reduced the noise by ~1dB by my estimation, and doesn't really take on the biggest sources of noise at highway speeds. I guess it seems like it made more than a 1% improvement in the sonic experience within the car, so I'll be keeping it.

My next goal is to get my new sub up and running (a little 50w Pioneer unit) and probably all the work I did will make that sound much better. I'll tackle door seals and door cavities at some point thereafter.
 

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I'm actually curious when you get the new tires on. I have noticed in the past that "new" race tires are quieter. Heat cycles effectively getting the tires harder...and noisier.
 

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A) You have to do the doors. It's not really possible to do them completely, but cut strips as long as you think you can handle and press them inside against the outside. This will help to reduce vibration and "booming."

B) while the door panels are off, adjust the window height and angle. It's been many years but I think they can be moved in or out at both the front and back. Many, including me, found that it was necessary to do this and then do it again when switching between the hard and soft top. The seals we're definitely not in the same place. A fair bit of wind noise is caused by the windows not making contact evenly all the way around. I think I even posted pictures in this thread showing the gaps in my car. Use the paper test - if you can pull a strip of paper out between the glass and the seal, adjust.
 

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@6TVRs+ I already changed the tires, after my very first test, and before the second one where I removed the carpeting. That's why I'm comparing to the "carpeting removed" baseline. I honestly didn't hear much of a difference on the road surface I'm testing, but for the record: 4 year old Bridestone RE71Rs at ~50% tread left, vs. brand new Yokohama A052s. With the old bridgestones I noticed either tire or wheel bearing noise while going down East Grade (low engine load, relatively fast cruising speed on asphalt in good condition), but I previously hadn't noticed that noise on the concrete highway which is my test case. I haven't been back up to Palomar on the new tires to see if they're less noisy.

@Dylan - thanks for the comments! - As @wonk asked, what do you think is necessary for the doors? I was planning on just using mega zorbe and maybe some overkill foam since they're the two lightest materials. The Luxury Liner is heavy, and thus I'm not too keen on using it inside the doors, since that location is neither easy to remove nor low to the ground. I was also thinking the first thing to tackle is making sure all the window seams are sealed shut, as that might have the biggest impact! But if I gotta open up the door for both, might as well do both at the same time...

In addition to doing window adjustments, I was also planning on checking over the state of all the seals and replacing as needed. It seems like even minor gaps can cause a lot of wind noise to enter the cabin.

For what it's worth, I did keep track of how much every piece weighed, for the most part. I'll try and put a tally up here soon. But in any case: the luxury liner is like 90% of the weight, and most pieces of it are pretty easy to remove (floor and firewall).

I was thinking about it last night, and it should be pretty obvious that only covering one surface isn't going to transform the car. It's like if you're in a room with 4 windows, and you draw the blinds on one, there's still a ton of light pouring in from the other windows. If you want it to be "dark" in the room, you have to draw the blinds on all the windows. So yeah, gotta do the doors.
 

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Thanks. I think I used Luxury Liner for this purpose. I did use Dynamat and Luxury Liner overall. Again, strips, not the entire door and I got this tip from others. Definitely made a difference as the door is otherwise like a boom box

My car was pretty new at the time, so the seals were in good shape, but the fit was, well, hand-built would be the nice way to say it!
 

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how about the rear bulk head, where it meets the side skirts/sills.
has anyone sprayed expanding foam into these large, hollow, sound resonating areas?
i do bet, they are great homes for rats
 

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2005 Lotus Elise; 2007 Lotus Exige S; 2012 Porsche 991S
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Glad I found this thread, the noise in my Elise after 10 years has probably already made me partly deaf but I still want to tackle this project simply to make the car a little more enjoyable. Seems like a good project to tackle while all this covid stuff is going on and I'm home a lot.

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I think I know mostly what to buy. However, I need to revisit the part about what to do for the doors. I am planning to primarily focus on footwells, under the seats, the doors I think at least initially. As @MTribe mentioned, I want to keep some of the "good" sounds and block out the bad ones...
 

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Hey Chiarov! I've recently done a bunch - haven't done the doors yet, but I might provide some up-to-date insight. In particular to your question on doors:

Here's a rant!

-Luxury liner (or similar mass-loaded-vinyl with "decoupling" foam) is what blocks noise. This is what you will want to use for the biggest benefit in the doors. But, it's heavy, which is a bummer. Previously people had mentioned using overkill foam, which has recently become available with a peel-and-stick backing, so much easier than previously when it only came with spray adhesive. In any event, this is just used to prevent rattles, which is a big help for doors. For sound absorbption you would want to use a melamine foam, which is both very lightweight and much better at absorbing noise. My plan for the doors is as follows:
  • Some damplifier in 1-2 layers, select areas, to try and reduce vibration in the fiberglass (this will have minimal effect, but it's also not very heavy)
  • Luxury Liner Pro as much as possible. - this is heavy, but it's important to get as close to 100% coverage as possible to block the most noise.
  • Damplifier on rattly parts
  • Megazorbe in any open air areas to absorb as much as possible. Thicker blocks will absorb more effectively, especially lower frequencies.

I don't know that it's really possible to make these cars bad-quiet. After spending a lot of time thinking about it, putting in sound deadening, driving, thinking some more, there's two main reasons this car will never be quiet, unless you do some major work:
1 - Recent realization: Being so low to the ground just makes it so that for highway driving you're physically close to what is generating the noise (tires, road noise, other cars' tires, etc). The closer you are to the source of the noise, the louder it will be.
2 - The aluminum chassis transmits a LOT of noise. Since the exposed chassis is part of the aesthetics of the interior, it is impossible to make the interior quiet without covering up all that beautiful aluminum. There are only marginal gains to be had by putting sound blocking material in the most obvious areas (under the carpets in a touring pack Elise)

Having said that, areas for improvement:
1: Definitely doing the floor pans helps, especially if you don't have the touring package. If you do, putting Luxury liner under all the carpeting will soften the harshness of the sound within the interior. Actual decibel reduction is minor, but it will "clean up" the noise in a way that will make it easier to listen to the radio. Not much for saving your ears, but goes a long way for being generally more pleasant. Echos/reverberations within the car are a big reason for noise unpleasant-ness. Again, if you want to make it really quite, you would have to cover up all the exposed aluminum, thus dramatically changing the appearance of the interior. I don't know of anyone who has done this.
2: Melamine foam ("Megazorbe" from Second Skin) is going to help reduce reverberations. If you have a hard top, it will be good to put this on the roof. It's super lightweight, unlike the other materials. Do not use Melamine on the soft top: It's not very strong, and will disintegrate quickly when you put the top on/off, and won't roll up well. For a soft top, you would want to use a jute or something similar. 3M has a Thinsulate noise abosrber foam that I found through S2000 forums which I plan on trying for the soft top at some point.
3: You can probably also buy melamine foam blocks and stick them up under the dash, particularly in the passenger footwell. Also you could use fiberglass "bass sinks" made for home audio in these locations, it might help, I haven't gotten around to trying it yet. If you can't stop the noise, you can at least absorb it somewhere other than your ears
4: Doors are probably critical for making it actually quiet on the highway. I'm in San Diego and we have to drive 30 minutes or more on the highway to get anywhere fun to drive. It's the highway driving that kills my ears. However, I grew up in a rural area of Massachusetts, and it's much easier to string together cruising roads at ~50mph without much traffic back at my parent's house. Depending on where you live and the kind of roads you drive on, it may or may not be worth it to do the doors.
5: Besides road noise, wind noise is my other biggest source of noise in the cabin. It's honestly hard/ nearly impossible to fix if you have a soft top that you put on/take off regularly. The key is plugging up all the little holes, and the hardest location is where the windshield, side window, and roof all come together. If you have a hardtop that you basically don't ever plan on taking off, you could put down a strip of butyl rubber double sided adhesive (available from Second Skin or similar suppliers) which would essentially bond the roof in place, and fill in the gaps, thus reducing rattle and wind noise. Go down this path at your own risk, since it would make the hard top more of a permanent installation. You could also try replacing the weather stripping to maintain the removable nature of the top, and get better wind noise reduction.
6: Finally, the engine, and more specifically the exhaust: This is loudest noise in the cabin. It seems like you cannot successfully block this noise, the only option is to reduce it as much as possible at the source: AKA: You have to run stock exhaust. I don't know of an exhaust that's quieter than stock, but tbh, I would be interested if it existed. Stock exhaust is still pretty loud at highway speeds.
 

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@atmh cool thanks for the detailed update!

I do want to be conscious of weight as I track the car a bunch. It's not a daily driver for me, so I can tolerate some noise but I do sometimes take it on 3-day 1,000+ mile rallies and would love a little more quiet for those. (Have been taking my 911 on rallies lately because it's so comfortable.) Also the track is a 1.5 hour drive from home.

To the earlier point about good versus bad noise...for example I don't want to quiet the whole car down only to hear wind noise more noticeably. So I think it's about a balance. I also don't mind some engine and exhaust noise.

For the doors, I think I will try the mega zorbe stuff with the sticky backing as well as tightening everything up while I have them apart and adjusting the windows the best I can.

Does anyone know what @bryanf650 meant about the effectiveness of dynamat on the access panel. Which access panel does he mean? The engine lid? The two front access panels on the hood? Undertray panel?

PS. I do have the touring pack, so I realize my gains may be less than others on this thread.

PPS. Lately my dashboard (I think?) or where the dashboard touches the drivers door has developed an obnoxiously loud creak / plastic groaning sound. I realize I may have to take some dash pieces off and line them with felt to resolve that. This is driving me nuts more than anything else right now!
 

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@steelypip yeah I did notice that and I may go that route for stage 2. Figured the seats and floors and stuff are all a little easier to do. I also have a harness bar to remove if I want to do the firewall. So really I'm just being lazy! Haha.
 
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