When neighbors on the opposite end of the street start complaining that they know what you are watching on TV, it is time to soundproof your home theater room.
Your home theater system may be too powerful, so you should mask it.
Soundproofing is a project that takes effort but brings visible rewards. A few tips will get you started.
The need to soundproof your home theater room
Soundproofing is not merely a luxury. Often, it is necessary.
1. A soundproofed room relaxes you.
Returning to noisy surroundings after a stressful work day can cause your head to throb. The situation is worse if the noise comes from your neighbor’s home because it is hard to broach the subject with him. Should you live near the airport, you will find the roar of plane engines disturbing. Soundproofing blocks out both internal and external noise.
2. You will get better rest.
If your job involves shift work, you will need to sleep during the day. Family members, however, will not. They may turn on the home theater system at full volume.
The noise of a loud home theater system is hard to sleep through. Sleeping is crucial, especially if you snore heavily. Snoring comes about because airway muscles contract. These weakened muscles block air, which vibrates them as it tries to pass through. The vibration causes snoring.
If you already need to use anti-snoring devices, such as the Good Morning Snore Solution, it means that you have snoring problems that disrupt sleep. Any excess noise will make sleeping almost impossible. You can avoid this if you soundproof your home theater room.
3. You will be more productive.
A noisy environment does not just break sleep. It also reduces productivity, because it ‘s hard to get work done. Those who work from their homes will accomplish more in a soundproofed office. They can concentrate without distractions.
4. A soundproofed room gives you privacy.
A soundproofed home theater room provides privacy. You may not necessarily want to let everyone know what you are watching.
5. You can be loud.
Some of your family members may require a lot of quiet. Teenagers and toddlers, in particular, have such needs. With soundproofing, you will not bother them.
6. Soundproofing reduces heating bills.
Soundproofing not only reduces noise but also heating bills. A soundproofed room reduces heat transfer and hence, utility costs.
Understating how sound travels
To make sure that your soundproofing is foolproof, take the time to find out how sound travels. You can contain it if you know how it transfers.
How sound waves move through your home
Sound waves comprise of energized pressure that moves in the air. This pressure causes objects, floors, ceilings and walls to vibrate. This vibration is mostly subtle.
As this happens, it moves through the supporting studs and joists in a wall and to the drywall of other rooms. It will also pass through the framework of your house. Thudding, deep bass energy, which you will associate with night clubs and huge sound woofers, is the worst. It has a booming effect.
Blocking sound waves
If you have a powerful home theater system, you will need to reduce the intensity of the sound it produces.
Air, distance, and mass help to stop sound waves in their tracks. Thick walls obstruct these waves because they have greater mass than thin ones. As the waves try to move through them, they lose energy.
Dense objects, such as drywalls, help to stop sound waves. Add a double drywall layer with alternating seams. Place one layer vertically and the other, horizontally. This structure conforms to the patterns of sound waves and traps them. Lightweight materials, in contrast, are useless at stopping sound transmission. The only exception is fiberglass.
Sound waves behave in predictable ways. They move through the air at 1,130 feet per second and decrease by 6 decibels (dB) as their distance doubles.
A 100 decibel sound wave that is 1 meter away from your speaker will be 94 decibels when it is 2 meters away. It lowers by another 6 dB and becomes 88 dB when it is 4 meters away. Note that a 10 dB increase in sound level will seem twice as loud.
Soundproofing your home theater room: Basic steps
Soundproofing is effortful but relatively straightforward. Apart from understanding how sound travels, you will need to take these simple steps.
1. Know the Sound Treatment Class ratings of your walls.
You cannot soundproof the walls of your home theater room without knowing their STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings. STC ratings refer to how a material affects the transfer of sound waves. Frequencies have to be between 125 and 4000 Hz.
A material with a higher STC rating will block transmission more efficiently. A dense wall that uses non-absorptive material will receive a higher STC rating. A wall that has a rating of over 65 will block most airborne noise.
2. Find the right place for your home theater system.
Soundproofing is an expensive process. You will save thousands of dollars in soundproofing if you choose the right place to build your home theater room. Choose a room that you can close off easily from the rest of the house. Never locate your home theater room near machinery, as it produces noise that is hard to block. Do not choose rooms close to bedrooms, studies or other places that need a lot of quiet. A room that you seldom use will be an ideal buffer between your home theater room and the rest of the house.
3. Build a better wall.
A typical two-by-four wall, reinforced by wood studs and fiberglass insulation, has an STC rating of 38. A soundproofed home theater room, however, needs a better wall than this. A double-stacked, three-quarter inch drywall will increase its STC rating to about 45. Staggered stud construction pushes it up to 47.
Adding a sheetrock layer on a resilient channel will decrease sound transmission drastically. It gives a standard wall a rating in the 50s.
4. Reduce sound vibration in your ceiling
Walls are not the only structures you must soundproof. You should isolate sound from the ceiling as well. Adding a drywall to its underside the will reduce vibrations. Some sound waves may escape, however, because it moves through the framing above your new drywall. A layer of green glue will prevent this from happening.
Resilient sound isolation clips will lower sound vibration. Use those made of R19 fiberglass. Add these clips only to newly installed drywalls. Doing so with existing drywalls may amplify sound waves because it creates a new air cavity for them to move through.
Add a wall channel will decouple, or separate, the ceiling from the flooring. Your new drywall will not join directly with the flooring. This way, it absorbs noise.
5. Close gaps.
Make sure that there are no pathways for sound to escape. Recessed lights and other electrical outlets create channels for sound waves to move through.
Install speakers in acoustic spaces so that the sound will not blast into other areas. If the room shares a wall with another, make sure that sound does not penetrate its stud bays.
6. Consider after construction needs
After you have finished constructing your home theater room, you will have fewer ways to minimize sound waves. Add acoustic panels or carpeting to absorb more noise. In the end your home theater room could look as attractive as the example below.
With a little bit of effort and savvy, you can eliminate most sound waves from your home theater room.
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