While considering the home theatre design, considering the acoustics can enhance the listening experience. For a great-sounding home theatre that delivers the best sound quality possible, you must factor in the acoustic properties. To help you unlock an immersive cinematic experience in your living room, we bring an expert guide on optimising the cinema room acoustics.
Ready to put on your DIY cap and build a full-fledged cinema in your living room? Here’s how to treat your home theatre like you are making a trip to the local cinema.
Rules to follow for acoustic treatment
Acoustic damping and multiple speakers for sound effects throughout the room
Want to go ahead with 2-channel music in a home theatre room? It is advisable to use a surround sound mode ) to recreate the echo effect of a concert hall. 2-channel stereo music setups need a relatively more lively room with minimal acoustic damping to create a natural echo.
It acts as a performer on a front stage utilizing the acoustics of the concert hall to amplify and fill the space with sound (not speakers in the rear of the room.) This works amazingly well for music but is not the best solution for movies, where the sounds behind you are usually quite different from the sounds that emanate in front of you.
60-70% of the surfaces should be covered in acoustic absorption material
Ideally, if 60-70% of your walls and ceiling are covered, you would get the most remarkable acoustic performance. Having said that, it is equally important to have some reflections scattered around the room. Do not cover the ceiling at all, as it would be an unpleasant and aesthetically unappealing sight. So skip that!
It is highly effective to use the right type of acoustic fibreglass
Acoustic fibreglass panels provide the right amount of absorption of sound frequencies. If you skip using the acoustic fibreglass panels, it won’t cut down the proper frequencies. Usually, acoustic fibreglass panels are available in 2-feet x 4-feet (or 2-feet x 2 feet) sizes and are about 3/4-inch thick. Avoid choosing acoustic ceiling tiles, as they don’t help in reducing the echo, despite helping in keeping sound from going through to the next room.
Be mindful of the air gap between the acoustic panel and wall
An air gap of 1/2-inch to 1-inch between the fibreglass and the wall ensures optimal performance from the fibreglass panels. This enables the sound to pass through the fibreglass and be dispersed, then continue through the air gap, hit the wall and reflect, subsequently going back through the panel again for high levels of absorption.
Place the panels at the primary reflection points
How do you determine a primary reflection spot for the speaker? You can determine it by putting your speakers in their desired location, sitting in your primary seating position, and having someone move a mirror alongside the wall. When you see the reflection of a speaker in the mirror, you will know that’s a primary reflection spot for it. We recommend doing it for each of the front 3 speakers and for the ceiling too.
While keeping the visual appeal in mind, put bass traps in the corners
Corners of a living space can make certain bass frequencies much louder. However, they amplify only specific bass frequencies, leading to uneven and non-flat bass responses. So get extra fibreglass in each corner to act as a bass trap. You can place small panels at angles across the back corners and the loose ones in the front corners behind the speaker masks.
Isolate the air ducts to cut down sound transmission
Air-condition the living room with low-noise split ACs to prevent ingress and egress of sound. Additionally, you can consider getting acoustic sealant gaskets on all doors and windows, as a highly effective solution to isolate noise.
Have good left-right design symmetry
For people to hear everything that is happening, from anywhere in the home theatre, it is important to have the perfect left-right design symmetry.
Get a sense of open space with the help of diffusers
Despite using absorbers, there are some areas of the room where sound waves will sit because your room is a fixed box with fixed speakers. Diffusers can be very helpful in creating an ambience similar to sitting in a spacious, large open space devoid of a sense of being boxed up in space.
Tackle any floor reflections with proper carpeting or thick rugs
If your room has any hard floor surface, a thick rug padded rug will take care of any floor reflections. Ensure covering all main reflection points located on the floor. Similarly, for reflection points located on windows, we recommend treating them using drapery.Hopefully, these guidelines will help you when you are in a tight spot about the trade-off between time, cost, aesthetics, and benefit. However, if you don’t have personal experience doing it, or are keen to rope in the experts, Team Ooberpad can provide great value to you.