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Sound Proofing Ideas for your Home Theater

Simple sound proofing ideas to help dramatically improve your home theater.

Here are several sound proofing ideas and techniques you can use to sound proof your home theater, even if you're not starting from scratch.

Use double-layers of drywall: A single sheet of drywall on its own isn't that good at stopping sound. But double it up and you can get impressive sound deadening from it. If you already have drywall up on your walls, then you'll want to mount the 2nd layer of drywall so they cover the joints of the first layer of drywall. Even though the existing joints are already mudded, they may still be a weak point for sound to travel through if some of those joints are cracked.

You'll also have to use extra long drywall screws. Most drywall screws are 1 to 1 1/4" long, so in this case you'll want to use screws at least 1 3/4" inches long so they penetrate both drywall sheets and the stud frame inside the wall. Try using different thicknessed of drywall. The entire first layer should be one thickness (ie: 1/2") while the second later should be a different thickness (ie: 5/8"). Different thicknesses prevents both layers from having the same resonance frequency helping to reduce the sound transmission from one to the other.

Use soundproofing insulation: Soundproofing insulation like Roxul's Safe'n Sound is a good way of using up the empty space inside your studded wall to soak up some of that unwanted sound. It's similar to pink fiberglass insulation except it's quite a bit denser. Each package contains lengths of insulation that are generally 3 1/2 inches thick to fit inside a 2x4 studded wall. They're also usually available in two widths; 16 inches on center, and 24 inches on center. You can also use it in your ceiling and even in your floor.

Don't use hollow doors: If you're building a dedicated home theater, or even if you're putting together a general purpose family room, you'll probably want to close it off from the rest of the house to keep noise from movies and rambunctious kids at bay. Most homes are built with hollow wooden doors. These doors look good and are cheaper, but they also fail to prevent sound from traveling from one room to the other. Solid wood doors are much denser and are able to block out a lot of sound and are one of the cheaper sound proofing ideas you could use.

Resilient channels: Resilient channels are metal support strips used to hang drywall or any other wall covering. They create an air gap between the wall covering and the studded wall structure. This causes sound to loose more energy when crossing the air gap. Sound can easily travel through one object to another, so if you separate the two objects with an air gap, sound will have a harder time getting across. That's the idea with resilient channels.

Build a double-wall or a staggered stud wall: Many professional recording studios have been built with a double set of walls. They build a single wall with drywall on both sides. Then they actually build a 2nd wall about 6 inches away from the first wall.

Borrowing an idea from the resilient channels, if the sound has to jump through an air gap, it loosed much of its energy. Double walls are an extremely effective soundproofing technique.

If you can't spare the extra space of a 2nd wall, you can simply build a staggered-stud wall. This is like a normal wall instead the width of the wall is at least 6 inches thick, but the drywall studs remain at 4" in thickness. You stud one side of the wall, and then stud the other side but you offset those studs about 8 inches from the first set. You can then drywall both sides. The advantage here is that the studs holding up one site of the drywall don't touch the other side of the wall so sound has another air gap to jump across.

Final thoughts

Many of these ideas are best implemented when you're ready to start the construction phase of your theater. That's really the best time to use your sound proofing ideas to get the most bang for your sound proofing buck.

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