Home Theater Soundproofing
Summer movie season is winding down, and that means that this year’s summer blockbusters are finding their way into home theaters. Ultra-high definition home projectors can throw crystal-clear images on the screen, but what truly defines a quality home theater experience is a powerful and properly-tuned sound system. This is where home theater soundproofing comes in.
THX average reference calibration levels for theater sound systems are 85 dB, and recommended center-room correction levels for most home theater rooms are around 75 to 80 dB. In a film with action set pieces, that means that peak sound levels will often hit 90 to 95 dB—the same as a landing Boeing 737, right in the middle of your house. For those in the theater seats, this is thrilling. For family members trying to sleep in the next room, proper home theater soundproofing is crucial.
Here are the top three ways to soundproof your home theater:
For contractors conducting new builds or remodeling a home theater space, creating a quality sound envelope involves addressing the surface of the wall and ceiling as well as addressing the wall itself.
1. Fabric Panels – The next time you’re in a movie theater, take a look at the walls, and you’ll notice fabric sound panels. These panels limit reverberation within the room, “drying out” harsh overtones, and improving sound quality for the people watching the film. Fabric panels can also be customized to match your room aesthetic, making them both a good acoustical solution and a quality room design feature.
2. Sound Barrier Membrane – To address sound bleed to adjacent rooms, the name of the game is vibration isolation. From a design standpoint, doubling or staggering wall studs disconnects vibration channels inside the wall and effectively separates otherwise adjoining walls. From a materials standpoint, before you hang drywall, using a sound barrier membrane material, like dB-Bloc, prevents soundwaves from penetrating the wall, and vibrating electrical or plumbing elements that might otherwise contribute to sound bleed.
If you’re converting an existing room, and are looking for a solution that doesn’t require re-drywalling, a hybrid sound barrier, which combines a fabric panel with a sound barrier membrane, provides reverberation control for the people watching the movie, and helps damp soundwaves at the wall surface.
With proper sound design, a late-night B-Movie marathon can keep you up from dusk until dawn without waking the neighbors.