My gear list is still changing as I plan but below is the most up-to-date:
Rear Surround: TBD
Sanus CFR2127 (built-in)
Apple TV 4K, Sonos, XBOX One
And so it begins. HT 2.0.
I am in the early stages of planning my 2nd HT room at our new home and I am hoping to get some soundproofing advice before I move further along. Final thickness of walls and ceilings obviously affect my construction/framing plans so I am turning to y'all for advice so that I can get the ball rolling with my contractor for some of the initial framing work that he will do for me.
I should also preface all of this by saying that I posted some of what I’ve said below over on the Master Soundproofing thread a couple of weeks back (with helpful responses so far from
– thank you). I did not want to derail the thread over there so I thought it would be best if I started a build thread. I look forward to continuing the conversation here.
To put it bluntly, I am up against several challenges building this room in the space that I have chosen. The biggest challenge being lower-than-normal ceiling joists (91” off slab) throughout my basement.
The dimensions of this space will be 12’ 5” W x 21’ 5” L
(give or take a few inches) and it will be a more dedicated room (albeit smaller) this time around. When I built my room in my former house 6 years ago, I started the build with mostly finished walls and ceilings and the space was more of an open living area with projector, screen, in-wall speakers, snack ledge, etc. It was also at least 2.5 times the size of this space with 8’ ceilings throughout (see link to that thread in signature below). It required two 15” PSA subs for LFE (and I probably could have used two more to be honest).
The biggest priorities that I have for this room are soundproofing and stepping up the quality of the audio a little bit from what I had before. I hope to accomplish both of these things without breaking the bank.
Video display is still a priority but, to me, a picture is a picture and it is safe to say that I will not be dropping $10K on a PJ.
So, whether or not I go with a PJ or a large TV remains to be seen but it will depend on what is available out there in the short-throw market for PJs. This room does not need to be built to the triple layer drywall standard like some here on AVS have done (like a bunker) but I would like to try to minimize sound out and sound in as best I can. I’d like to prevent sound from getting up to the 1st floor and I’d like to keep out the sound of a nearby furnace and a washing machine/dryer combo (behind Wall F).
The good news is that I have some flexibility in terms of building out my walls, adding additional layers of drywall, ceilings, insulation, etc. because not one existing wall of the room is built up against an exterior/foundation wall. There are some air ducts/returns in between ceiling joists in the room now so I’ll just have to do my best with adding additional insulation and layers of drywall where warranted. Not the most ideal situation to have ducts in the ceiling I know but relocating the vent ducts/returns is not an option. I have since removed the dated drop ceiling/grid in the room and I intend to go back with new lighting and a finished drywall ceiling. Central air/heat ducts will be added to the room (one return and two vents) and the rough-in work for them will take place shortly at the same time that my contractor frames out the modifications for Walls E and F.
Below are two sketches of the room as it is today. The only difference in the two being that the top version does not show the 1st row of theater seats and the 2nd one does. I have lettered each wall (A-F) on the sketch so you can tell which wall I am referring to in my detailed descriptions and questions below and in the four videos below:
Wall A is the wall I am proposing for the front of the room. The back of Wall A is insulated with 3” R11 in stud bays but does not have drywall on the back side. Nor will I be able to add any drywall on the back of the studs as it is way too tight back there. I have approximately 18” between the back of the studs and the exterior foundation wall behind it (I know, no bueno for soundproofing). This thread here
That wall continues across my basement to the other side with the same amount of space (running behind it). When natural gas was added to the house years ago, they ran 2 gas lines through the space behind my wall and secured both of them to the back of the (exposed) studs about 80” off the slab. Relocating the gas lines is off the table…it is cost prohibitive.
The plan for this wall is to go with in-wall speakers (with backer boxes since I have plenty of room back there) or on-wall speakers (Triad Bronze 4 LCRs). I have not given up on the possibility of in-walls behind an AT screen (if I can go the projector route) but I have to get this soundproofing issue resolved before I can commit to that. As I said above, it will be impossible to build another wall between the existing Wall A and the foundation wall due to the gas lines (and a water line) that run behind. Ceiling height in the front section of the room (where it meets Wall A) should be somewhere around 89-90” depending on how thick I go with DW on ceiling.
What is the best way to approach soundproofing Wall A and dealing with the space behind it?
Wall B is yet to be constructed but its purpose is obviously to close off the room from the other half of the basement (and the staircase). A 30” doorway will be installed in this wall with a solid core door. This will be 1 of 2 doors for entry to the HT room.
Should I build Wall B with DD and GG on both sides?
This is currently the only finished wall in the room that I cannot gain access to from behind because it is the finished side of the basement staircase. This is also an issue because the right side surround speaker will be installed in/on this wall. This may force me to go with an on-wall speakers for surrounds since 1) there is a lally column right inside the wall where I need to install the speaker and, 2) because an in-wall speaker would only have a single layer of 1/2” drywall between the back of the speaker and the staircase. That could easily be an issue with sound transmitting up into the staircase which could act as an echo chamber. I have also considered building columns/pilasters for the side surrounds but, again, that would take away and protrude into the 28”-30” aisle that I currently have going down each side of the room.
Would it make any sense to add an additional layer of drywall with GG over top of the existing drywall to give myself more mass on this wall? Building another wall in front of the existing wall is not an option here because I am very limited on width in the room and sacrificing another 6-9” is just not in the cards.
Similar to Wall B above, Wall D’s purpose is to close off the room from the other side of the basement (towards the back of the room). Walls B, C & D are more like “sections” of one whole wall and together will make up the entire right side wall of the theater when built and connected to one another.
Should I build Wall D with DD on both sides as well?
As shown on the sketch, Wall E will be the back of the room and is being modified a bit so that I can square out the room. Squaring that corner out will expose a lally column in this wall (that is currently in the unfinished storage space behind) so I will most likely have to box out the lally column slightly on the back wall so it remains behind drywall. I have access the backside of this entire wall and, could in fact, build another wall behind it if need be. I need to prevent sound from getting into this storage area because it could traverse on up to the kitchen and family room located above on the 1st floor. This wall has R11 in stud bays but does not currently have any drywall on the back side (facing storage area). I will also be closing off an existing 30” doorway on this wall. The plan is to have both rear surround speakers (Triad Bronze 4 LCRs) in/on this wall.
What would be the best approach to soundproof Wall E?
This wall is being slightly modified to meet Wall E in corner. I cannot build anything behind this wall due to the location of our gas furnace (the new wall will already be about 4-5” from back of the furnace) and because we are moving our washer and dryer down there and installing a utility sink (for immediate use). A 30” solid core door will be installed on this wall and it will be the only way in and out of the laundry and unfinished storage areas. This wall also has 3-in. thick R11 in stud bays and, like Wall A, does not have drywall on the back side. I could easily add a layer or 2 of drywall to the backside of this wall without too much trouble if that would be effective. The left side surround speaker (Triad Bronze 4 SURROUND) would reside in/on this wall as well.
What would be the best approach to soundproof Wall F?
The plan is to finish the remaining open ceilings in the room with drywall (areas that had drop ceiling). The old drop ceiling tiles have been removed. The bays in the open areas are insulated with 3” R11 and, for the time being, I re-secured all insulation up with new supports. The grid will be removed when I get around to temporarily securing the two 2x4 fluorescent lights that are in there now.
Should I consider using GG and DD for the finished ceilings? And what is the recommendation for the already-finished ceiling/bulkhead that is 80” off the slab in the back section of the room? Would it be effective if I added another layer of DW with GG over top of the existing?
As shown on the sketch, a boxed-out I-beam (finished with ½” DW) crosses through the middle of the room approx. 80” above grade. Is it worth adding another layer of DW to it as well or just leave as is?
Also, there is an area of open ceiling (approx. 4 feet - front to back) between the front edge of the existing bulkhead/ceiling in the back of the room and the beam that crosses the middle of the room. I was thinking that I should have my contractor frame out and marry the bulkhead ceiling with the finished beam in the middle of the room and call it a day since they are both currently 80” off slab. This would mean that I would be running an 80” ceiling from the back wall of the room all the way up to the beam that crosses the middle of the room. The higher ceiling would then only be in the front of the room – between the beam and Wall A.
In the 4 videos I have linked below, I have done my best to give you all a quick walk-thru of the room so you can get a better feel for the situation with existing walls and ceilings and those that I intend to have modified and/or built.
I know in-wall equipment racks are not always recommended for soundproofing reasons, but I do not have another wall or closet-like area that will accommodate this. I need to be able to access the back of the rack outside of the room and that location puts the rack in a closet that we are building anyway to enclose a HW heater and sump pump. I really like the convenience of having the front of my rack in the room so I can tinker and manually adjust things. Below is the plan and photo of my last in-wall rack and I will probably build something very similar this time around:
I also plan to have another snack ledge built, similar to what I did in my last room (w/ granite top) that will accommodate three more seats (swivel stools) and serve as the 2nd row of seating in the room.
Thanks in advance for your insight and opinions.