Ceiling Tiles in Home Theaters - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-12-2006, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Folks,

I work at Empire West, manufacturer of Ceilume Ceiling tiles, and I am also trained in the art of studio engineering (for Music and Movies; It's more of a hobby these days). I love watching movies, and have a nice little home theater setup in my living room on which I do just that. (32" HiDef Panasonic widescreen, Bose fronts, satellites and center channel, Yamaha sub.)

I am posting here in an effort to offer my knowledge on the use of Ceiling Tiles in the Home Theater environment. In my work with Ceilume, I have become rather knowledgable about the different types of ceiling tiles, and their various uses.

I have noticed that our Ceiling Tiles have shown up here as a possible option for home theaters. I want to stress that I am not here to sell our tiles, but rather to help with any questions that may come up in selecting a ceiling tile. There are many options, and ours are not necessarily the best product for every situation.

Your ceiling can be a major factor in designing a home theater, whether it be for acoustics or asthetics. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about ceilings for use in home theaters. I would love to help.

Thanks!

Ben Carr
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-13-2006, 09:55 AM
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Thanks Ben,

I haven't been around the forum much lately, but I do have the delimna for a basement project where I may have to go with a grid/tile system verses drywall.. Too much utility wiring and piping and ductwork below the joists to move.

Given the fact that a drywall or double-drywall ceiling, possibly using hat-track and RSIC clips or similar for decoupling, would typically be a pretty good system for soundproofing..

What kind of tiles do you recommend to maximize the level of sound transmission (low frequency as well as mids and highs) out of the room into the rest of the house? Any special insulation techniques to optimize soundproofing you could share?

I've even considered tacking up mass-loaded vinyl against the joists above the tiles, along with the given liberal amounts of insulation between the joists and possibly below the joists above the tiles.

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post #3 of 13 Old 12-13-2006, 01:54 PM
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Hi Ben,

Welcome to the forum. Advice from knowledgeable pros is always appreciated.

> Your ceiling can be a major factor in designing a home theater, whether it be for acoustics or asthetics. <<br />
Excellent, and agreed. I am often asked about ceiling tiles, and most of the tiles I'm familiar with are meant for offices and are not absorbent enough to effectively deal with early reflections. Do you folks have tiles that absorb mid and high frequencies as well as raw fiberglass (that is, not plastic faced) and also look good?

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post #4 of 13 Old 12-13-2006, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Babs,


Your toughest obstacle is going to be the low end noise. Once that bass starts to vibrate the room itself, it's hard to stop it from getting to the next room.

Mass loaded vinyl is actually a pretty good way to go in this situation. There is a product called "Green Glue" (Google "GreenGlue", I'm new and can't give you the URL yet!) that is great for containing low frequencies. If possible, I would apply mass loaded vinyl to your joists with Green Glue, and if you've got the money, apply a second sheet of vinyl on top of that. The Green Glue dampens the vibrations caused by low frequencies by adding a flexible layer to the construction of the room. It is usually applied between two sheets of Drywall, but will work in many applications.

Once you've got your vinyl in place, some insulation will take care of the higher frequencies rather well, and your ceiling tiles become much less important for noise control. This gives you more options for asthetics. However, if you would like to minimize reflections, I would go with a good noise reducing panel like those at Silent Source: (Again, you will want to Google "Silent Source" for more info.)

I hope that helps a bit! Unfortunately, all this stuff is expensive, but it does tend to be worth it in the end!

Ben
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post #5 of 13 Old 12-13-2006, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Ethan,

I think it is the bane of all home theater owners that ceiling tiles companies don't seem to offer decorative AND sound absorbing qualities in one tile. Ceilume tiles are an excellent example: we have a ton of styles, and many elaborate designs, but our tiles are definitely more decorative than sound absorbing. (Ours are actually made ENTIRELY out of vinyl, so those early reflections aren't going away!) Silent Source, Sonex and a few others offer some moderately decorative tiles with fairly decent Noise Reduction Coefficients, but still not quite up there with fiberglass. (You'll have to Google those companies, as I cannot yet give you the URL) Those early reflections are killer, because you can't get rid of them by simply placing insulation behind your tiles. I suppose if you went with something from Sonex and placed your insulation behind it, you'd end up with a pretty good set up. Unfortunately, Sonex's designs tend to leave the room looking like a recording studio. Great, if that's what you are into, not so great if yer trying to match the drapes.

I bet you've got quite a bit more expertise than I do in general sound proofing, so please feel free to correct me when I'm wrong! I've been dealing with ceilings for a while, and I do have some studio soundproofing knowledge, but ceiling tiles are where I'm a viking.

Thanks for the post!

Ben
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-22-2006, 01:58 PM
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Thanks Ben.. I am very aware of Green Glue but hadn't thought of that type of application. Food for thought.

Scott

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post #7 of 13 Old 12-23-2006, 08:06 PM
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FWIW - In my last theater, I insulated between all of the joists and around duct work with R-13. Then I used a 2x2 ceiling tile called "Sandrift".......I believe USG or Armstrong makes it.

This pattern is one of the nicest my wife and I found and is very dense/heavy with a foil-backing on each one. They were pricey but I was shocked with the overall performance of the two combined (joist insulation + 2x2 ceiling tiles. These were the heaviest by far when comparing box weights of equal amounts.....Mass is one of the most important factors in stopping/blocking sound.

I had a powerful 5 channel Parasound amp, large Klipsch speakers and 3 subs in the basement. When the theater was in high gear, people upstairs would say "is that thunder" because there was only a small rumble of bass that made it to the main and 2nd floors of the home. Don't be afraid of 2x2 ceiling tiles just compare STC values and weights and make the best decision for you.

Biggest pros to using the tiles were numerous compliments on the cool random beach sand pattern, the sound and most of all always having access to the ceiling for additional wiring, plumbing and electrical needs.

Good luck. Brett
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post #8 of 13 Old 01-21-2007, 06:49 AM
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I just ordered some sample Ceilume tiles. I understand they are very thin - if the budget allowed it would it be possible to use them as the decorative tile and place a plain acoustic tile (Sonex etc) above them?
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-25-2007, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Driver,

Budget allowing, placing Ceilume tiles in front of a more sound absorbing tile works quite well. The only concern is over reflections off of our face tiles. The more design built into the tile, the more scattered the reflections will be, so a more ornate design does help. The tiles have yet to be tested for Ceiling Attenuation Class, (how much sound bounces back into a room) so we really don't know quite as much about that. I have found, through speaking with customers about their own home theaters, that the tiles don't seem to create any terrible echo. They are so lightweight that they tend to absorb that sound energy, and vibrate the center of the tile slightly. While quite a bit of the sound just passes right through, it doesn't seem that much of it bounces back. Further testing in the future will tell us!

Ben
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-17-2007, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all, we've got a new Ceilume Photo Gallery up, and there are pics of home theaters! Just Google Ceilume Photo Gallery, and check it out!

Ben
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post #11 of 13 Old 07-28-2007, 07:46 PM
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Benny,
Recently I bought your stratford tiles for my basement family room and the tile i have up look great, but I did have a question regarding in-ceiling speakers. Are they possible with the ceilume tile? I have a rear surround speaker that can really only be installed in the ceiling. It seems to me that an in-ceiling type speaker would cause a lot of rattle with these tiles. Is this your experience and do you have any tips for this kind of installation?

Thanks, WC05
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post #12 of 13 Old 08-06-2007, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Wildcat,

Sorry for the delay in response! I seem to be getting my emails a bit late from AVS.

In-ceiling speakers can work well with our tiles, but you've got to make sure they are well supported by the ceiling grid or ceiling joists. Once you've got the tiles well secured, you want to make sure that the tile does not have the opportunity to vibrate against the outside of the speaker. You can do this by applying caulk around the outside of the speaker, right where the tile meets the speaker. This will keep the tiles from rubbing against the speaker when it vibrates.

Our tiles tend to be so light that when they vibrate, they make little to no noise whatsoever. However, in a situation where you've got a vibrating speaker right next to a tile, you may find the two will rub against each other and make noise. I doubt this will be loud enough to be noticed over the sound the speaker is putting out, but it's possible. You might first install the speaker and see what happens. You can always add caulk later.

Thanks for the interest! I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes!

Thanks!

Benny C
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post #13 of 13 Old 01-13-2008, 06:57 PM
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Trying to decide on what kind of ceiling tiles to install in my basement HT. It appears that CAC should be greater than 30 to limit sound from traveling upstairs. However, the Noise Reduction Coefficient has me stumped. I value the sound more that noise absorption, and I don't want a dead room. Anyone out there know what to choose? Should the NRC be as close to 1 as possible in this case, or much much lower to preserve the best sound quality in the room?

Thanks,
Ike
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