Soundproofing A Home Theater: 2020 Complete Guide


Soundproof a Home Theater

If you are a home theater enthusiast, you are well aware of the constant complaint coming from either your family or neighbors. I understand, because as a movie enthusiast myself, I love watching movies in my theater room. That is why I did a lot of research on how soundproofing a home theater can be done, and luckily, after several trials and experiments, I was able to soundproof my home theater successfully.

To soundproof your home theater, several techniques can be used. Some of them require adding mass to surfaces in the room, and using quality soundproof materials, or decoupling drywall to reduce sound from escaping outside. 

With that said, I would ask you to take your tools out,  and let’s get started! Don’t worry; I will be discussing every single thing in great detail so that you know exactly what to do.

First, the basics.

Identify The Areas For Soundproofing

For soundproofing a home theater, you first need to identify the areas that need to be blocked or covered to decrease the noise sipping into the surrounding.

To begin, drywall in your theater room is not able to block the sound traveling through it, and your speakers may produce sound levels too high for the drywalls to prevent. This is why others can hear the sound even when they are outside the room.

Sound can also leak to the rest of the rooms and the surroundings through small gaps, slits, and holes in your theater walls, especially the ones around the light fittings, doors, windows, or AC vents.

Now that you have identified the places that need to be soundproofed, you can get the necessary materials to get the work done.

How Do You Soundproof Your Home Theater Room

As I mentioned earlier, if you add more mass or use suitable soundproof materials, or simply create a void between the walls (which is known as decoupling), the noise will not travel outside the room. This will result in soundproofing the theater room entirely and effectively.

To make it easy for you, I have added some straightforward techniques along with some structural changes that you can choose for better results. It all depends on your choice and budget. If you live in a rented apartment, you can go for the easy, cheap, and removable ways. Otherwise, I would suggest you go for the structural techniques for long-term good soundproofing results.

Methods Of Soundproofing A Home Theater

1. Using The Absorbent Acoustic Panels

soundproof acoustic panels
image credit: youtube.com

This is one of the easiest techniques for soundproofing a theater room’s walls. The best part about the acoustic panels is that you can easily buy them at any hardware store, and they are effortless to install. However, you have to pinpoint the areas for soundproofing and only cover those areas with the panels because it can be quite pricey.

One of the benefits of the acoustic panels is that they come in various colors, designs, and materials. This means you can choose different designs to make your theater room wall look appealing. However, if you cover just the major area and not the whole wall, the results are not so efficient. In that case, you can combine this technique with any other to achieve great results.

My recommendation would be the Acoustimac DMD stagger acoustic design pack. These panels come in a pack of 6 pieces with 3 charcoal and 3 gray colors. They are very easy to install and have really good reviews on Amazon.

Acoustic foam panels are another excellent option that you can look into for soundproofing your home theater walls. Available in two colors, charcoal, and red, you can make a classy color combination on the walls, but also soundproofing them.

Acoustic foam panels by Emerson Studio Acoustics come in the form of a pack of 12 pieces. So, if you’re planning to cover a greater portion of the wall, you can go for these.

2. Using The Mass Loaded Barriers

mass loaded vinyl
image credit:aquietrefuge.com

When it comes to soundproofing a theater room, Mass loaded vinyl is usually recommended, because it is one of the most effective soundproofing materials in the market. It comes in the form of a roll of vinyl with metal particles in it, and its only purpose is to add mass to the walls. This mass tends to absorb all the sound waves passing through it, thereby reducing noise greatly!

One thing that you must know about MLV is that it is not-at-all attractive, so you either have to install it on the interior side of the wall, or you have to paint it. Installing on the inside means taking off the whole wall, which is a difficult task. Therefore, you can just fix it on the outside and paint it with the color of your choice.

Check out the TMS Mass loaded vinyl soundproofing barrier.

3. Decoupling The Drywall

stud wall decoupling
Photo Credit: https://cutt.ly/Zoy1r96

This is one of the best techniques for soundproofing a wall. Before we start with the basic method, you need to know what decoupling is.

Decoupling, in soundproofing, simply means to create a void or space between two surfaces so that sound cannot travel through them. To decouple, you have to separate the drywall by installing another layer of a wall with space between them. The space will serve as a barrier after it is filled with an insulating material; to prevent sound from traveling to the other end.

Steps To Decouple Drywall

  1. The first thing you have to do is take down the room’s drywall. Some people suggest taking it off and replacing it, but my suggestion is to just install another double thickness wall on either end. Obviously, the thicker the wall, the better the results.
  2. If you have taken down the wall, you are left with the studs on which you have to hang the new walls. Again in this step, my suggestion would be to fill the space with suitable insulation materials to add mass and get better results.
  3. Next, you can install the decoupling mounts at the places you want to install your new drywall. This is an important step that prevents vibration and sound from passing through the studs to the other end of the walls.
  4. Now that you have filled the space in-between with good insulating material and have installed the mounts, just fix the new drywall to its place. This is easy and only requires you to attach the drywall with the mounts, and that’s it.
  5. The next step is optional. All you have to do is get paint of your choice and cover the whole wall for a new good look.

Using the two techniques of space insulation and fixing with the decoupling mounts work great for the best soundproofing results. The mounts block the vibrations from passing through, whereas the insulating material in the space cavity between the walls prevents sound to travel from one end to another, efficiently blocking sound.

For clarity, here is a detailed article for soundproofing drywall, and a video below


4. Sealing Between The Walls And Ceiling

Once you are done with insulating the primary source of noise transfer, i.e., the walls, next, you have to work on insulating the walls and the ceiling. Filling any gaps, holes, or voids in the walls and the ceilings can significantly reduce the amount of noise that transfers to the surrounding areas.

There are a lot of sound dampening sealants available in the market, but the best choice has always been the Green glue sealant. Simply identify the holes or gaps that you want to cover and apply it wherever required. This is a very easy and simple technique but can help a lot in blocking sound to transfer through these holes to the outside.

green glue sealant
image credit: abipr.com

5. Soundproofing The Theater Room Ceiling

Several ways exist to soundproof your ceiling. If you have a regular drywall ceiling, you can replace it with soundproof drywall. It is highly effective because it is relatively thicker than regular drywall. Though they have good soundproofing property, they are pretty expensive.

Another way is to add another layer of drywall to the regular drywall, doing this increasing the mass of the ceiling and soundproofs it. Similarly, you can use resilient channels before applying the drywall, this will absorb vibration making your soundproof more effective.

However, if you have ceiling joist, you can insulate between the joist with an insulating material like fiberglass. Fiberglass is cheap, easy to work with, and serves two functions; it can insulate and absorb sound waves, but it can only be used for fiberglass ceiling.

Below is a video on soundproofing your ceiling

6. Soundproofing A Home Theater Floor

A lot of times, we overlook the floors even though they are vital to adding to the soundproofing effect. The most convenient solution for soundproofing your home theater’s floor is to simply lay carpets on it. The carpets must be thick with a soundproof underlay for effective results.

If you do not want to cover the whole area with the carpet, you can place thick rugs around the more noisy areas. I won’t say that this makes a great difference, but it does help in reducing a considerable amount of impact noise or noise reflection. Just make sure that you use thick rugs.

soundproofing the floor with carpet
image credit: povodi.org

7. Ways To Soundproof The Doors

Buying A Soundproof Door

There are a lot of soundproofing techniques for the door. The best option, nonetheless, is buying a new and thicker, soundproof door for your home theater. Because this is an expensive option, let’s go through some other easy tips to fix the problem.

Sealing Up The Spaces Around The Door

The first thing you have to do for soundproofing the doors is to look for any gaps or holes in the door. Usually, there is a lot of space underneath the door that is the main cause of sound escaping. The best thing you can do to fix this is to use a weather-stripping tape to seal the gap. My recommendation would be the Cloudbuyer weatherstripping tape.

Once you have covered the major gap, next, you have to look for any small gaps in the frame around the door. To fix those smaller gaps, you can use a good sealant to fill the gaps. You can also use green glue sealant.

Another option is the jamb sealing kits, which are composed of several strips to simply fill up an area. Additionally, using the seals that come with a spring system can also help in soundproofing the home theater’s door effectively.

Use Soundproof Curtains Or Blanket

soundproofing a home theater door with a Soundproof blanket
image credit: residential-acoustics.com

Another good thing that you can do for soundproofing the door is using any extra layer of material on the door. My suggestion would be using a heavy velvet curtain that just adds more mass to the door. For better results, you can even use the acoustic curtains specially designed for soundproofing like the Moondream sound insulation curtains.

8. Soundproofing The Theater Room Windows

If you have dedicated a special room for your home theater, why would you even need a window? It would just let in the light, that’s it, right? So the better option is to just remove the windows from your room. However, this option doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you are living in a rented apartment!

Seal The Edges Of The Window

When soundproofing your windows, the first thing you have to do is seal the edges with a good acoustic sealant. As I mentioned earlier, green glue is a really good sealant to fix the edges of your windows. Next, you can use good sound-absorbing material to line the frame, preventing sound from escaping outside.

Use Double Glazed Windows

Double glazed windows are another useful technique for soundproofing windows effectively. It creates a gap between the two panels, which greatly reduces the transfer of noise from one end to another.

Window Plugs And MLV

The final option that you can go for is to build a window plug for your theater room window. A window plug is usually made with a wooden frame and fitted insulation that you can simply fit in your theater window. Covering it with MLV can serve as an extra layer of soundproofing that completely blocks the sound and prevents daylight from entering.

window plug for soundproofing windows
photo credit: images.app.goo.gl

Here is an extensive article I wrote after doing research on soundproofing windows.

9. Soundproofing The HVAC Vents

The HVAC vents have big holes connected to the metal pipes. They are a major area where sound escapes, but you cannot block them completely for soundproofing purposes. That is why you have to very careful in choosing the right technique for insulating the HVAC vents.

The first option that you can go for is to install the sound baffles. Sound baffles are designed in such a way that they can disperse the sound waves in different directions. You just have to install the sound baffles in the right position in your HVAC vents for good results.

Additionally, you can also use the flexible tubes for your HVAC vents to reduce a great amount of noise from traveling to the other end. This technique is only applicable if you’re building a new theater room. In the other case, you have to rip off the previous pipes first to install the new ones, which is not usually recommended.

Some Great Tips For You

Now that you have read all the basic techniques you can go for soundproofing a home theater, you have to make a prudent decision choosing the right options. Applying everything is technical, so you have to identify the weakest points in your theater room and soundproof only those areas for good results.

Here are a few tips for soundproofing your home theater:

  1. Choose the right technique according to your budget. Plan well before you start working on the project. Look for the best soundproofing materials that are easy to apply and very effective.
  2. You must pay special attention to sealing all the small gaps. Although they look minimal, they can be a major source of sound escape. Therefore, always have an acoustic sealant to fix this problem.
  3. Although you can use any heavy drapes, I would recommend you to use the heaviest curtains for your theater door and windows. Just remember that it does make a great difference.
  4. As we know that adding mass has always been great for soundproofing, you can simply add up furniture in your theater room such that it absorbs a great amount of sound, and it doesn’t go out.

For more insight see the video below

The Final Words

Soundproofing a home theater is definitely a time-taking job, but it’s all worth it. So that you can enjoy a peaceful moment with an even better audio quality! That is just amazing, right?

To successfully soundproof a home theater you have to add good quality soundproofing mass to the walls, windows, floors, ceiling, and doors. Adding mass reduces the ability of sound waves to penetrate through. Don’t forget to block gaps and cracks with a sealant too.

Furthermore, before you get started, just make sure that you identify the right spots, and plan everything properly.  And you are all set to enjoy the most pleasurable time in your home theater room without any complaints! Always keep in mind that, if light, water, or air can penetrate the walls of your home theater and get to the other rooms, sound can too. Good luck!

 

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