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Difference Between Exhaust Muffler vs Resonator (Explained)

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Last Updated on: 7th September 2023, 12:41 am

A muffler and a resonator are two components found on most vehicles exhaust systems.

Mufflers reduce the total volume of exhaust at all RPMs. Within a certain RPM range, a resonator removes undesired resonance or droning sounds.

They work together to keep your exhaust volume and tone under control. Mufflers and resonators may be changed or removed completely to provide a louder exhaust.

However, it may be a legal requirement for some vehicles in some regions to have a muffler or a resonator.

In this article, we’ll explain the key differences between an exhaust muffler and resonator, and what they do.

an exhaust muffler being inspected

Exhaust Muffler

A muffler is a component that is connected to a vehicle’s exhaust system and controls the sound it emits.

They’re an important element of a vehicles exhaust system and play a critical role in controlling the exhaust sound.

Because of engine efficiency, manufacturing costs, and sound level requirements, factory mufflers are often slightly more restrictive.

Many enthusiasts change the muffler for a more free-flowing exhaust such as a muffler delete pipe which usually makes it louder.

How Mufflers Work

Mufflers muffle the sound of your exhaust system, making it quieter. The exhaust gases flow through various chambers with perforated tubes and baffles.

As the gas expands, it lowers the exhaust pressure and muffles the noise.

Baffles limit exhaust volume by forcing gases to follow a circuitous course through the muffler before escaping. The exhaust tone you receive will be determined by the chamber and baffle arrangement.

Some mufflers are filled with various materials, such as fibreglass, to further dampen sound.

Oftentimes they dampen the sound of the exhaust but also cause droning. Because mufflers can’t target a certain frequency, they’re often used in conjunction with a resonator.

Exhaust Resonator

Resonators adjust the sound of the exhaust for a more pleasing sound. The scratchy, droning, and high-pitched sounds from the exhaust will be reduced by resonators, usually the loudness is not reduced.

A resonator will work in conjunction with mufflers to eliminate annoying buzzing, humming, and droning while also smoothing out the exhaust tone.

How Resonators Work

Resonators are intended to reduce a certain frequency of sound.

Sounds waves have peaks and troughs. A sound wave’s peak collides with the trough of another wave of equal magnitude, cancelling each other out.

The sound waves are cancelled, which removes the unpleasant sounds and gives you a smoother exhaust note.

A resonator may help you remove exhaust drone due to this action.

Key Differences

  • Mufflers and resonators complement each other
  • Mufflers dampen all frequencies of sound
  • Specific sound frequencies are eliminated by resonators
  • Removing either may increase the sound of an exhaust
  • It may be a legal requirement in some regions to have a muffler or resonator
  • Andy Lewin

    Andy Lewin is a senior mechanic, ASE qualified master technician, and an experienced automotive engineer. He's passionate about serving the automotive community with the highest-quality and trustworthy information on all things automotive. He loves to write about car repairs, maintenance, car modifications and tuning, faults, and much more.

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