Mufflers vs Resonators: What’s The Difference?

Mufflers vs Resonators: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated September 26, 2016

Research Is Free; Multiple Exhaust Setups Aren’t

Although they may look alike, there are many differences between a resonator and muffler. So, before you go out there throwing all different kinds of exhaust on your Mustang, ST, F150, F100 or Bronco, be sure you learn the similarities and differences of each so you can nail the perfect exhaust note on the first try!

The #1 Difference Between Mufflers and Resonators

The main distinction is that a muffler is designed to muffle the overall volume across all RPMs, whereas a resonator is designed to eliminate unwanted resonance or noise at a particular RPM. This is why you see some auto manufacturers using a combination of both resonators and mufflers right from the factory. Mufflers do a great job of softening an exhaust note or obtaining a particular tone, but sometimes there could be leftover drone at a certain RPM. That’s when a resonator is used to target that RPM and deaden annoying exhaust drone.


Mustang Mufflers At CJ Pony Parts Detailed Interior of a Muffler

Let’s face it. The exhaust system on your Mustang right off the showroom floor is disappointing and unusually quiet. This is due to everything from efficiency of your engine, cost of manufacturing and sound level laws. Since 2011, Ford has been including a combination of both resonators and mufflers on your Mustang to really quiet down the exhaust note for the average owner. For those of you who want your Pony to sound the way it should, there are plenty of options from cat-back exhaust kits to axle-back kits and long tube headers.

A muffler’s job is to moderate engine noise out of an exhaust system. If you were to completely remove the mufflers from an exhaust system, let’s just say that you’d have the cops attention pretty quickly. Mufflers are designed with multiple chambers and baffles in which the exhaust gases pass through. The way in which the chambers and baffles are aligned will dictate what kind of exhaust note you will get.

Mufflers are an integral part of any cars exhaust system, ultimately dictating the kind of exhaust note that car will create:

  • Used to soften overall volume of exhaust note
  • Functional at all RPM levels
  • A combination of chambers and baffles aligned dictate volume and tone
  • Some mufflers are high pitched, some are deep and throaty

To further deaden sound, some mufflers are even packed with fiberglass as a sound insulator. However, depending on the type of muffler you’re looking at, some may sound excellent from the outside, but have annoying highway drone on the inside. That’s where resonators come in.

Mustang Exhaust At CJ Pony Parts
Mustang Exhaust System


Mustang Exhaust At CJ Pony Parts Interior of a Resonator

If you have an annoying drone out of your aftermarket exhaust system but really like the exhaust note, a resonator could fix your issue. Without really affecting the overall volume or exhaust note, a well-placed resonator can eliminate the drone that we all know and can’t stand. Resonators compliment mufflers by reducing annoying drone and providing a smoother exhaust note.

Resonators are designed to eliminate a sound wave at a given frequency. A simple way to explain this would be that sound waves are just that – a wave with a peak and trough. When these sound waves of a particular frequency are bouncing off the interior of a resonator, the peak of a wave would meet the trough of another wave of the same size and essentially cancel each other out; thus eliminating that frequency or drone.

For those who are thinking about just running resonators for their setup, keep in mind that it’s virtually the equivalent to straight-piping your exhaust. Resonators will remove some of the raspy, ping-y noise from your exhaust, but the volume will virtually be the same – ear-piercingly loud. If that’s what you’re going for, then great! If not, plan on picking up an appropriate set of mufflers to accompany your resonators. Be sure to look into Magnaflow, Flowmaster, Borla, Roush, Ford Racing, Corsa and many more for all of your exhaust needs at CJ’s!

Resonator Highlights:

  • Typically used in combination with a muffler
  • When a muffler causes drone, a resonator is added to eliminate that drone
  • Functional at a certain RPM/sound frequency
  • When used without a muffler, it will be very loud

S550 Resonator Deletes

For those with the 2015-2016 S550 Mustang GT, the resonator delete has become quite a popular exhaust modification. Due to the way the exhaust is set up on the S550’s, the resonator delete is an easy cut-and-clamp process that will drastically change the exhaust note on your Mustang without breaking the bank.

Offered in both H-Pipe and X-Pipe variants, you can pair your resonator delete with almost any axle-back or even your stock, OEM mufflers for an aggressive, head-turning exhaust note.

Mufflers vs Resonators - What's The Difference?

Some aftermarket cat-back or axle-back exhaust systems can sound great on the outside of the car, but have a deafening drone as you cruise down the highway. Adding resonators before the mufflers can help dial down the interior drone with minimal change to exterior exhaust note. Regardless if you’re going for a free-flowing but quiet exhaust system or if you want to be the loudest on the block, If you’re looking to switch up the sound of your Mustang, adding an aftermarket exhaust system is usually the best way to do it. CJ Pony Parts has the exhaust options you need to make your build stand out from the rest. So, check us out today!

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