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Keep it Quiet - What You Need to Know About Soundproofing

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

When you think about home theater sound, you generally think big and loud with Jurassic Park-level seismic subwoofer activity. But sometimes what’s happening on the other side of your theater walls is just as important. Maybe it’s a baby or spouse sleeping. Or a neighbor not interested in hearing the dwarves take back the mines of Moria. Or maybe it's just Mr. Yunioshi sick and tired of all that late-night racket by Miss Horry Gorightry. And that’s when soundproofing becomes important.


Another real benefit to soundproofing a room is that you’ll make the theater’s listening environment substantially quieter, which in turn will improve your system’s dynamic range. When the ambient-noise floor is lowered, quiet sounds will be more readily heard, making loud sounds stand out even more impressively. It will also likely make dialogue easier to understand and create a more immersive surround experience when subtle sounds like wind and bird chirps aren’t competing with the dishwasher and general background noise.


Before talking about sound=treatment techniques, it’s important to understand the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. According to Wikipedia, STC “is an integer rating of how well a building partition attenuates airborne sound. In the USA, it is widely used to rate interior partitions, ceilings/floors, doors, windows and exterior walls. The STC rating figure very roughly reflects the decibel reduction in noise that a partition can provide.” The higher the rating, the more noise is blocked or abated. STC ratings depend heavily on the wall’s construction technique, the materials used, and the mass of those materials. Increasing the rating can be done by adding mass, increasing air space, eliminating means of transmission, or adding absorptive material.


To give you an idea of how the STC ratings relate to real-world sounds, here’s a chart from Wikipedia:



If you’re building a room from scratch — i.e., new construction or a major remodel — you have the luxury of making a lot of decisions that can lead to an incredibly quiet room. Click here to keep reading and finding out how to soundproof your space.

Categories: April 2013, Movies

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