10 Things You Need to Know About Acoustics

Acoustics is a key consideration in any home-theater setup. Here are 10 things you can do to improve the sound quality of your HT room.

1. Tame an overly live/reflective room with rugs, upholstered furniture, and wall hangings. You want to create a room that is not too bright or too dead.

2. Large windows and sliding-glass doors are detrimental to sound quality. Avoid putting a home theater in a room that has either of these features if possible.

3. If your pre/pro or AVR provides automatic room correction, or you have a dedicated audio processor with this feature, run it and see if it improves the sound quality.

4. Install absorptive acoustical panels to help reduce sound reflections in your room.

5. Use acoustic diffuser panels—or even shelves full of books—to scatter reflected sound instead of absorbing it completely.

6. Tackle uneven bass response by installing corner bass traps. Standing waves create peaks and dips in the bass response; absorbing some of that energy helps smooth things out.

7. Isolate your home-theater room from distracting outside noises by installing a sealed soundproof door; this also helps keep sound in the theater from leaking out to the rest of the home.

8. If you’re building the entire room from scratch, use sound-isolating construction methods such as staggered studs, whisper clips and hat channels, and Green Glue between layers of plywood or drywall.

9. Minimize HVAC noise by using oversized vents/diffusers rated for high air flow; you can further reduce HVAC noise by replacing standard metal ducts with oversized, insulated flex duct or oversized lined-metal ducts.

10. If your budget allows, hire an acoustician to tackle the tricky task of installing a comprehensive collection of acoustical treatments including bass traps, absorptive panels, and diffusers.