Noob question on redoing a room for home theater - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-27-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I know this may be a ridiculously broad question, but I've got virtually no remodeling/home improvement/theater construction experience, and I'd really appreciate some basic guidance from the more experienced folks here. I just bought a house, and I'm going to be making some improvement to an upstairs room to adapt it for home theater use. The previous owner was a bit of a cheapskate; after framing up the walls, instead of hanging drywall, he just nailed plywood paneling to the studs. It's only a few millimeters thick and flexes if you push on it. My plan is to rip that out and hang drywall.

My question is, given that this is going to be a home theater room, should I take the opportunity to do anything beyond just hanging basic drywall? The house is old--1928--so the plan is to have someone who knows what they're doing check the wiring and update as necessary. I'll also be running speaker cable through the walls for the surrounds.

But if anyone has suggestions about features that I should include, or special materials, etc., I'd love to hear them; as I said, I'm completely new to this.

Thanks in advance!

Room is roughly 10x17, by the way.

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post #2 of 5 Old 04-27-2013, 01:30 PM
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The best reasons to do anything beyond normal thermal insulation are acoustic. Would you be willing to spend time and money to keep the sounds of the rest of the house out of your movie (and at the same time help keep the movie out of the rest of the house.)?
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-27-2013, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
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I think that all depends on time/cost. I'd prefer not to sink an enormous amount of money into the room, but I'm a stickler for SQ and I'd rather get the best sound possible out of the room while I'm going through the hassle. That being said, I live alone, so I'm not really concerned about other peoples' noise distracting me from my movies, or vice versa.

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post #4 of 5 Old 04-27-2013, 07:46 PM
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The argument goes something like this: a CD has 16 bit audio, Blu-ray the same or more, which translates to a maximum dynamic range of 96 dB (or more for Blu-ray and other hi-fi formats). If your system is calibrated such that the maximum SPL you experience at your seat is 105 dB (I believe that's THX standard, and the reference level that is generally calibrated) you see that the quietest sounds on the disc could be as quiet as 9 dB, theoretically - but I understand that for other reasons 22 dB is the floor in most recordings. Why does that matter? Because if the ambient noise in your room due to the nearby highway or the refrigerator or the HVAC system exceeds that level (22 dB) you won't hear the full recording. If you turn up the volume to hear the quiet sections better, you can (very easily) run out of system headroom and power and end up with distorted blaring nastiness when the action gets going.

Realistically, a noise floor that low is an engineering marvel. Getting to that in a residential environment is impractical if not impossible, but that impracticality doesn't negate the benefits of trying. Check out the lengths forum member Digione went to in his build for some of the options that could be considered http://www.avsforum.com/t/1465163/my-a-v-room On the other hand, lots of builds proceed with a single layer of drywall and fiberglass batts of insulation in the wall cavities - those theater owners are often very happy with the performance of their systems.

So, what does it cost? Well, that's tough to say as it will depend on the technical approach you take and the lengths to which you go. I think in my case, for my 2300 cubic foot theater, my sound isolation efforts add approximately $1500 to $2000 to the overall budget. In the context, I am happy with the investment. An extra layer of drywall, some Green Glue (which is not cheap), maybe some clips and furring channels can go a long way towards getting you a nice quiet room to build your sonic landscapes, but making that monetary investment means you have to make the commensurate investment in planning and execution time to be sure that you don't waste your money. A few errant screws or an open-backed light switch can undo a lot of your isolation. Even if you contract out the labor, you owe it to the investment (IMO) to educate yourself so that (at an absolute minimum) you can communicate clearly with your contractors about the appropriate use of the techniques and technologies you want to employ. Most professional builders and remodeling crews have not seen the sound isolation techniques used before, and they may even think that they are wrong or bad - you will have to educate them and follow behind them to be sure it's done properly.

This may all sound like a bunch of nonsense - and to the uninitiated it could easily seem so. I'm not trying to scare you off - all of this is DIYable with some research. You'd be surprised at the number of high-quality builds members put together here with very little prior experience; I hope mine is one of them one day.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-29-2013, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
The house is old--1928--so the plan is to have someone who knows what they're doing check the wiring and update as necessary.

I gotta be thinking that the cost to update the wiring in a 1928 house is going to be REALLY high. Is it knob and tube? Is it grounded properly? Do you have the ability to add circuits? Are you going to have to upgrade the entire house once you get started?

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