Continued from page 1
Acoustic Improvements – These encompass a whole host of different things, from acoustically treating interior of room, to quieting down your projector. Whenever you lower your noise floor, you effectively increase your dynamic range. In addition, acoustic treatments can dramatically improve dialogue intelligibility, bass response and imaging.
One of best in “bang for buck” category is to put a 1” or 2” thick, acoustic panel on two side walls of theater to reduce “first reflection”. The first reflection is sound that leaves front speaker and takes a longer path to your ears by bouncing off side wall on way. Since it takes a longer path, it takes more time and arrives later than direct sound that went straight from speakers to your ears. The net effect is a loss of dialog intelligibility.
Another, even cheaper, tweak is to optimize your subwoofer placement. For years people have been told “Bass is non-directional. You can put your sub anywhere”. That is, simply, BS. While low bass is fairly non-directional, tonal quality and amount of bass is tremendously affected by subwoofer placement.
A simple trick is to place sub at listening position (at ear height), then move around room (at sub height) until you find place with best bass quality. If possible, that’s where you put sub.
Keeping ambient noise level in your home theater is critical to maintain "suspension of disbelief" you've tried so hard to achieve. In addition, lower ambient noise will enable you to hear softer portions of movie's sound track without turning up your home theater's volume so loud. This has effect of increasing available dynamic range (the difference between loudest and softest sounds your audio system can reproduce).
One cheap tweak is to build a hush box around your projector to minimize noise from it. Make sure you use adequate ventilation to maintain proper cooling. That cannot be emphasized enough. As a partial measure, without having to build a whole box, you can place acoustic absorption material on ceiling above projector. If your projector is close to ceiling, this will kill noise that normally bounces off ceiling and into listening room. I hope this gets you started down path to even more enjoyment from your home theater and saves you some money at same time.
Steve has 15 yrs in electronics. He is a CEDIA certified designer with ISF and THX certificates. Experience includes: installer and programmer; system designer; business unit director for an a/v importer; sales rep for a CE distributor; and principal of a $1.5M+ CEDIA firm. He's now senior sales engineer for Digital Cinema Design in Redmond, WA. See him at The Home Theater and Automation Guide