Resonator Vs. Catalytic Converter

by Editorial Team
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Resonators and catalytic converters are parts that are installed in the exhaust systems of vehicles. When both devices are used properly, they help to reduce emissions and lower the amount of noise generated by the exhaust system of a vehicle. Although they both serve as parts in the exhaust system, a few differences make it possible to tell them apart.

What Is a Resonator?

A resonator is a chamber on the muffler in a vehicle that is responsible for helping to alleviate some of the noise caused by the exhaust system. The resonator is made to produce a wave form that cancels out a certain sound frequency. The specific frequency it cancels out depends on the vehicle it is attached to.

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

The catalytic converter on a vehicle is used to lower the amount of toxic byproduct emitting from the combustion process of an engine on a vehicle. A catalytic converter is comprised of three different parts. Those parts are the core, the washcoat, and the catalyst. The core is shaped like a honeycomb and is in place to provide extra surface area for the converter. The washcoat makes the converter more efficient by providing a place to store active precious metal deposits. The catalyst is usually made of platinum or palladium. The platinum or palladium strips the nitrogen atom from the air coming out of the exhaust, causing it to form oxygen.

How They're Often Confused

Catalytic converters and resonators are often thought to be the same object, as they are both part of the exhaust system. The parts of an exhaust system in a vehicle perform separate tasks. A catalytic converter does not reduce the amount of noise made by an exhaust system and a resonator does not reduce the toxic emissions of a vehicle.


A resonator is not required by law to be attached to a vehicle. The resonator is meant to make the noise generated by a vehicle more tolerable, but does not have an impact on the performance of the vehicle. A catalytic converter is required by law. This is because the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and states both have laws regarding the emission of toxic byproducts released from vehicles. If a catalytic converter were to be removed from a vehicle, the vehicle would not pass emissions safety tests.


Removal of the catalytic converter would not increase the performance of a vehicle. However, removing the resonator on a vehicle can boost the horsepower of the vehicle. This is often done in vehicles used for motor sports. Removing the resonator will cause the noise emitting from an exhaust system to become more audible. This can be tamed by using a tuned muffler, which will lower the volume and pitch of the sound being emitted from the exhaust.

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