When you are serious about building the best home theater you can build, then, sure, it is important that you pick a great high definition screen or a powerful projector, a great stereo system. But what many forget is the proper acoustical design of the home theater room. In this short article we’ll give you two secrets to a great home theater experience, and give you reasons why they have an excellent ROI, return on investment, compared to all the other expensive equipment that you bought. The two secrets to a great home theater experience are: Soundproof flooring and Acoustic foam. Let’s see why.
Even if there is no one living below your home theater room, it is still important to have soundproof flooring or acoustic flooring in your media room or home theater. The reason is not so much for preventing the sound to come in or go out through the floor but to prevent the sound reflections from the floor. The reflections are especially strong with tiled floor, or hard wood floor, or in general any hard floor. You will be able to reduce reflections significantly by carpeting your floor with a thick, heavy carpet. The other option is to use underlayment, below the carpet, such as cork underlayment, or special acoustic plastic underlayment.
You can place acoustic foam on the walls, and on the ceiling of your media room. Acoustical foam is a specially designed foam, made of just the right size bubbles, and the right materials to maximally absorb the range of frequencies from the lowest bass to the highest audible pitch. The best of foams are shaped with outwards protruding spikes or acoustic foam pyramids which increases the surface area of the foam, and thereby increase the absorption of the sound.
If you feel acoustic foam is an overkill for your home theater, you can substitute with acoustic curtains, but you will likely not achieve the same sound dampening effect. Plus, it is difficult to hang curtains on the ceiling!
So why is soundproof flooring and acoustic foam so important?
Two reasons, first, prevent the sound to escape the room. Why is that important? Well not so much for the sake of your experience but rather for the experience of others. You will want to have loud sound in your home theater for a better immersive experience, at least in some films. But then, without soundproofing, the sound will leak out and will adversely affect the people who are not watching the film at the time. So you want to prevent that.
Second, you want to prevent the sound to be reflected off the walls, the ceiling and the floor. Why is it important to prevent as many sound reflections in your home theater room as possible? Think about your HDTV screen. Think about your large screen projector. Think about why you are putting money into them. The reason is accurate reproduction of the experience that was intended by the director, the actors, and the whole crew. There are millions of dollars worth invested in creating the experience, and making it believable. This is especially true with the today’s assault of 3D movies such as Avatar, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore 3D, and others. The 3D effects and the accurate reproduction is just as important for the sound. There are significant efforts invested in generating a movie sound that is realistic, and 3D. So you want an accurate reproduction of that sound. And you want to allow the sound producers to achieve the maximally accurate reproduction of the sound in your room. So therefore, you want to minimize the uncontrollable reflections inside the room. So you want to add soundproofing to allow sound producers to maintain the maximal control of the sound experience in your room.