Speakers behind black out cloth screen?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by jham1496, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. jham1496

    jham1496 Auditioning

    Mar 22, 2011
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    I am building a black out cloth screen and was wondering if I could put my center speaker behind it. Thanks, any help if appreciated.
  2. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

    May 16, 2002
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    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Jason Charlton
    Short answer is no. Not if you're using blackout cloth as your screen material. It will have a very bad effect on the acoustics of your center channel speaker, and that speaker is, arguably, the most important one of all.

    There is special screen material that is "acoustically transparent" and full of small perforations that minimize the effects of having a screen barrier between the speaker and your ears. Blackout cloth is about as far from "acoustically transparent" as you can get - since it's essentially a solid layer of vinyl.
  3. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

    May 10, 1999
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    There are other materials for "home brew" AT screens; I've made a variety over the years, to more-or-less success. If you're doing a permanent installation -- as in, the screen doesn't need to go away when not in use -- then it's not hard.

    Granted, a DIY acoustic-transparent screen will be "lossy," and won't match the brightness you'd get from a pro screen, but it can be quite satisfactory, especially if you're still experimenting with layout, and don't know quite what you're doing (which is how I spent the first several years of mine in the projector scene.)

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind for doing a DIY AT screen:

    1. the frame needs to be rigid.

    2. the material needs to be stretched "perfectly."

    3. something behind the screen needs to be black. This is true of ALL AT screens.

    4. the screen material needs to perform well.


    1 - this should be self explanatory. You'll be putting a lot of tension on the frame when you properly install the screen material.

    2 - look at some screen construction sites, art-canvas stretching, and things like that.

    1 & 2 - I was able to quickly do both of these by a very curious construction. The horizontal supports of the screen were 3/4" iron pipe. PVC Schedule 40 to PVC 90-degree corners on all four pipe ends. The verticals were 3/4" PVC pipe, that the screen material wrapped around. As the fabric loosened in the early days, I could twist the pipe and crank up the tension. Not really recommended for long-term use, though.

    3 - light goes through an AT screen through the same path the sound goes through. Sorry; it's a fact of life. If you've got a white wall behind the screen, you'll see a double image. I've got a second roller behind my drop-down screen with a very fine, glossy, even, black nylon material. It's about 4" behind the real screen. Poof; no ghost image.

    4 - I've used 100% pure cotton, either from bed sheets or fabric stores. Pick a color, if you're looking for a gray for a "high contrast" screen. It works- sort-of. But almost every cotton-polyester blend had hot-spots from the sheen of the polyester.

    The beauty of doing this DIY is it's cheap. If it doesn't work, tinker. If you mess it up, you're only out $20, and can start over fairly easily.


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