Going to the movies is often described as an ‘immersive’ experience, like you are there in the movie, completely involved. This is because commercial cinemas are constructed with speakers that surround the listener, each of which are responsible for a different type of audio such as dialogue, soundtrack and ambient noise.
The ability of the human ear to identify these sound sources and create a detailed soundscape is part of what makes going to the movies so great.
For decades, enjoying this experience has meant a trip to the local cinema. However, with surround sound systems and widescreen televisions becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, more and more of us are putting on our DIY caps and constructing full-fledged cinemas in home basements and living rooms.
The single most important factor of a great sounding home theatre is the acoustic properties of the room itself. Not the brand of speakers, not the receiver, not the bit rate of the movie soundtrack. Unfortunately, room acoustics is usually the area where most people give the least amount of attention. And you can’t blame them, because it’s a lot more fun to shop for electronics than it is to spend hours messing with acoustic room treatments. But if you want the best sound quality possible, room acoustic treatments are an absolute necessity.
The primary purpose of acoustic room treatments is to prevent echoes within the listening room. It is not to reduce the amount of sound heard outside of the room.
Home theatre setups requires a lot of acoustic damping and relies on multiple speakers to create the sound effects throughout the room. If there is too much echo in the room, there is no localization of any of the audio channels and everything gets muddied and mixed together, and the advantages of separating sound into 8 (or more) discrete channels is lost.
A home theatre room needs to have about 60-70% of the surfaces covered in acoustic absorption material. To get the best acoustic performance, you’ll want about 60-70% of your walls and ceiling covered. However, you don’t want the room completely dead. You want some reflections scattered around the room. So some natural echo, but not so much that all of the channels start to blend together and can’t be easily localized to a certain region of the room (i.e. the front centre and front right channel sound like they are coming from the same spot.)
Ideally in your home theatre covering the whole ceiling in a seamless product such as Wood Wool would be the best first step. The walls will then need to be addressed. Since the focus will be on the screen, you will want the walls to blend into the background so choose a muted colour and introduce interest with texture. A product from Anne Kyyros Quinn’s delightful collection such as Pleat in grey would suit perfectly.
Contact us now to discover how Primacoustics can help in the design of your home cinema.