|Buying a New Home With A Good Sounding Media Room|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles|
|Written by Bob Hodas|
|Sunday, 01 August 2004|
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I like the look and feel of floors covered in rich Corinthian leather. No, sorry, wood, I meant wood. For the same reasons I like wood on the walls. I don’t like cement, Mexican tile, stone or linoleum on the floor because they can add too much reverb time to the room. Of course, you can always carpet any of the above floors and at a minimum I would recommend large area rugs.
Unless you plan on floating or decoupling your floor from your foundation (an expensive option), you will have to live with structure-born transmission. It is tough to control. An alternative is to treat the ceiling in the room below you with some QuietRock, but that will still only give you minimal low-frequency isolation, since the bass will travel throughout the house in the supports.
Some Reverb is Good – Too Much Reverb is Evil
As I mentioned above in several instances, reverb time is very important in your listening room. Small room Rt60 measurements are not easily quantified but common sense and simple listening tests tell us that shorter is better. My friend’s room described above had tile floors, high angled ceilings and plaster walls, with a large floor plan that incorporated a dinning room and sitting room. It was just a big reverb chamber. Rooms with long reverb times have very poor measurable coherence. Common sense says that the more hard surfaces you have in a room, the less coherent the sound will be. If you can afford it, there is a product from RPG Inc. that my friend could have used on his acres of hard plaster walls. Believe it or not, it is a sound-absorbent plaster. (Click here to check it out.) As stated above, solutions will include area rugs and draperies.
While electricity is not my domain, it is something you need to think about. How old is the house you are buying? Does it have grounded outlets? Mine didn’t, because it was built in 1956. If not, you will want to run a star ground to all of the outlets in the room. Additionally, can you run a separate circuit for the listening room? There must be enough power at the main breaker box for this so ask an electrician or the inspector. You will want to consider if there is room to put in a balanced power box or at least some power conditioning as well. Before you move in, upgrading your AC service and creating multiple dedicated circuits for your rack, amps, projectors and lights can be a worthwhile investment of a few thousand dollars. You can reduce the chance of hums, noise on the AC line and even equipment failure.
I hope this column has been informative and will help you to enjoy hours of listening in your new home. Most likely, no room is going to be perfect unless a home has a purpose-built home theater or a home studio. Compromise is going to a part of your vocabulary in every home you might look to buy. With the tips listed above, hopefully you now have an idea of what to look for in a new house, so that you will ultimately end up with a great-sounding room. Also don’t be afraid to call in a professional to get a second opinion before you write that offer. A good CEDIA dealer or local acoustician can help determining the quality of a room. I, like other studio tuners, offer off-site consultation service that include drawings, plans and basic recommendations for making your room great.