Newbie question on how to treat room acoustics cheaply

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by James Zos, May 5, 2003.

  1. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    The good news for me is that my girlfriend has finally allowed me to use an entire room dedicated only to HT in the new duplex we just rented. The BAD news is how my previously decent sounding HT, sounds INSIDE the new room. I knew that room acoustics played a large part in overall sound quality, but I never knew HOW large a part they played. My system was essentially UNlistenable. Just awful. Movies sounded like they were coming out of a cheap transistor radio. Flat, harsh, tinny and echoey are a few of the descriptions that come to mind. (Of course my girlfriend insisted she couldn't tell the difference.)

    The room has hardwood floors, and is square-shaped (though not a perfect square). It is also pretty small. Obviously this is not the perfect room to start with, but I don't have any other choice right now.

    First thing I did was to put a carpet down in the room, which has helped a lot. I also tacked a blanket up over the back wall, to try to absorb some of the sound coming from the front speakers. The blanket is only a temporary solution, as I promised my girlfriend I would find something more aesthetically pleasing to replace it with ASAP. I think what I need is some kind of material to mount on all four walls to absorb some of the sound. (I believe this is called baffling?) But I can't afford the professional home theater stuff sold specifically for this purpose.
    Are there any cheap alternatives out there? When we actually buy a house I'm going to aim a little higher, but for right now all I want is something I can mount on the walls that will absorb sound without looking too ugly.

    Any suggestions - as well as tips for making the room more HT friendly - would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Kevin Deacon

    Kevin Deacon Second Unit

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  3. TimForman

    TimForman Supporting Actor

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    Get some acoustic foam from Markertek. Place it strategically around the room. Then maybe pick up some off the shelf curtains and hide the foam behind them. If you don't know where to place the foam start with deadening the front of the room as much as possible first, then start looking for reflection points. Some people have wrapped mylar tape at ear level then sat in the listening position. The sonic reflection points are the same as the visual ones. If you see your speakers reflected in the tape from your listening position that indicates the reflecion point on the wall.
     
  4. joe rizzuto

    joe rizzuto Stunt Coordinator

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    i have a 10x12 room that i have 'treated' accordingly;
    the wall where the tv is has heavy curtains on both sides of the tv and also above the tv, in essence a wall of drapes. facing the tv on my right is a window that is covered with a blind and also heavy drapes. (all drapes are red and look great) facing the tv on my left, i have hung a small area rug on the wall. it has a circle pattern and also looks good. my cd's are stored in a cd storage unit with sliding doors - this is also on my left but to my rear. i have wall to wall carpeting on the floor.
    i have a 5.1 system with my surrounds on the side walls just back of my leather chair. my sub sits to the left of my right speaker.
    the sound is excellent and the 'treatments' were inexpensive. all bought at ikea.
     
  5. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Kevin, Tim, Joe - thanks a lot for your responses. I've been finding this problem very frustrating and your replies were all very helpful...

    I have been considering building my own panels for the walls, but my girlfriend insists that panels on the walls will look too ugly...(sigh). So it looks like the only workable solution, as of now, are heavy drapes, like Joe has suggested. Funny you mentioned Ikea, Joe, because we are planning to go there tomorrow to look for a couch. I'll check drapes and pricing too. Having moved to Portland from California I've just quit my job so funding is a little tight, meaning my financial options are extremely limited at the moment.

    If I can't find an affordable, girlfriend-acceptable solution, there is one other option, but it brings with it an entire new arena of problems. We have a large living room, shaped in a way that would probably be more acoustically friendly for HT. But, and this is a LARGE but, we are living in a duplex (sounds bad, I know, but it actually is a very beautiful house) and the other half of the duplex is on the other side of the back wall of our living room. Meaning my neighbor may end up listening to my HT even when I haven't invited him over to do so. Since I don't want to be a jerk, I would have to keep the volume low enough so as to not disturb him, but with a subwoofer and hardwood floors, I wonder if that is really possible.
    I may post a new thread asking for suggestions as to how to keep the volume low enough, while still being able to clearly hear it myself...

    Thanks again for all your responses!
     

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