Designing a home theatre /2

The sound quality in a home theatre

By Maria Deschamps

The ultimate escape from the everyday stresses of life is when you can enter into your own dedicated home theatre space, close the door, and TURN IT UP! Creating a room where you can turn it up can also be annoying to other household members whom are not in the room, so think before you build!

There are two different aspects in relation to sound in a room: the first is Sound Proofing.  Insulating your home theatre must be taken seriously. Many experts suggest the best way to isolate the room is to literally build a box within a box with a small empty space in between. There are specifics to the details of building with certain materials including thicknesses, type and location. Materials like resilient bars, mineral wool, sound proofing panels, gypsum board all have uses for sound proofing. It is extremely important to plan for the type of construction in the walls, floor and ceiling and type of doors and hardware before starting construction. One minor mistake can make or break your sound proofing.

Panneaux acoustiques sur mesure

Made-to-measure acoustic panels

Of course you will assume that the sound in your room is highly controlled by the type of speakers, subwoofers and equipment you choose, but that is not all. The architecture of your space is extremely important as well. The higher quality of speakers and equipment the more important it is to use the proper materials and architectural elements. In order to achieve a well-balanced sound soft absorbing-materials are required as well as hard surfaces that will allow maximum sound-travel. Creatively dropping bulkheads, angled walls, and a good percentage of acoustic panels will give you the best balance of sound overall. Using corner bass traps to deflect the sound is another way to optimize the quality. The location of each element is technically calculated. I personally like to design my own custom acoustic panels, according to the design concept of the overall room. I often integrate speakers and or indirect lighting into acoustic panels, making the panels multi-function.

Materials used in a home theatre that absorb the sound are carpet, cork, some woods, upholstery and other “soft” accessories like pillow and throw-covers. Some hard materials that should be used sparingly in a home theatre are brick, tile, and glass. However, by adding more soft absorbent materials we can balance the sound quality. Often using acoustic panels for this purpose works the best.

Audiophiles or anyone who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound should certainly plan ahead when designing a room. In order to ensure the sound proofing and the sound optimization many calculations should be made. Experts who specialize in this field are the best to consult. I have used the technical services of Jean Laporte from Acoustikalab for sound consulting. He is highly knowledgeable in this field and can be reached by email at jlaporte@acoustikalab.com or by phone at 514 692-1147.

The overall look of your home theatre room is optimised when the sound materials are well integrated into the room. An experienced home theatre designer will take the care to strategically integrate each and every aspect related to the details and ensure your room is a true escape!

This is the second part of a three part article. The final article will be The steps to take to design and build your home theater.

Part 1 — Designing a home theatre

Images: courtesy of Maria Deschamps


Maria Deschamps

Maria Deschamps is an interior designer who specializes in custom home theatres. She started her career as a retail designer over 30 years ago, and has been designing home theatres for over 15 years. She works with audio-video specialists, suppliers and contractors that have the expertise to complete a turn-key project. She can be reached at 514-791-0550 or m@mariadeschamps.com
montrealhometheatres.com
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