Home Theater acoustic room treatment

May 6, 2004

acoustic-treatmentAll the high end gear in the world can’t overcome an acoustically challenged room. Time and time again a room with proper acoustics and mediocre gear can outperform mega buck equipment in a room with the acoustics of a cave.

Misconceptions abound in the home theater world about acoustics. Most integrators just simply dont have the proper background or time to make wise acoustic recommendations. My aim here isn’t to offer a holy grail of acoustic treatment because there are as many variables in acoustics as gear choices. Rather I want to offer some basic guidelines and dispel a few myths.

First off beware of the “you have to treat this room” with out first explaining how or what they have in mind, the most common mistake is to confuse the terms absorption or soundproofing with treatment. The goal with absorption is to contain the sound from the theater in the room, often with the side effect of actually making the room “sound” worse. Acoustic treatment on the other hand when properly applied can make the room sound better.

What I recommend for most of my clients is a balance, 5/8″ sheetrock with a small amount of treatment often accomplishes this. I’ve had a few instances of 5/8” with another layer of 1/2″ sheetrock over it when we needed more sound containment. But generally 5/8 inch is more than adequate. Often the use of Resilient Channels or Staggered Stud Construction is recommended but this approach isn’t typically necessary. Another thing to take into consideration is an even density of treatment across the sound spectrum, too heavy a treatment in a localized area will reinforce the corresponding frequency while muffling the opposing one.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater How-to


  • shawtimothy

    “What I recommend for most of my clients is a balance, 5/8? sheetrock with a small amount of treatment often accomplishes this.”
    What “treatment” do you recommend? I've read that a silicon bead or similar between wallboard and studs helps to achieve acoustical isolation. Is this what you refer to? (Your link for “treatment” doesn't work.)