Ideal decoration materials for the best listening environment


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Nov 19, 2007
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I am approaching the time of our house refurbishment that will allow me to create a dedicated cinema/media room lounge on the first floor. I have spent many years gracing numerous demonstration rooms which have all employed various methods of decoration attempting to create the perfect listening environment. I have only tried a few of the many techniques I have seen implemented and wonder if you can advise me on simple improvements to my ideas as follows:

I plan to build solid shelf supports into the brickwork of an otherwise unused chimney breast ready to accept heavy, rigid shelves with a combination of spikes and soft silicone feet at the contact points.

The electricity supply for the HiFi/AV kit will be on its own dedicated ring main.

The back wall will actually be two interlocking stud walls (made from heavy sound block plasterboard joined to stud with a soft, flexible silicone) that don’t touch each other, isolated from the floor and ceiling and with the gaps filled with loft insulation to minimise sound transmission to the room behind.

Thick underlay and carpet to the floor laid on heavy weight floorboards laid with a soft, flexible silicone between them and the floor joists.

I’m planning on heavy weight velvet curtains and a blackout blind to cover the window.

What I am less certain of is the wall coverings. Is it worth hanging carpet or curtains to cover the walls and reduce reflections (like many demo rooms have)? Are there certain walls or sections of walls that benefit from this method or reducing reflections? Is it different for listening to stereo music and 5.1/7.1 channel surround sound? (i.e. are reflections beneficial for surround sound but not for stereo?) Should I just rely on the amplifiers auto setup to compensate? I was planning on thickly textured wallpaper as a minimum but would you expect this to make any difference?

I currently have a Pioneer VSX-AX5Ai running Mission 755i fronts, 75C centre and four 77DS surrounds for side and rear surrounds connected by QED Silver Bi-Wire cable. However, the plan is to upgrade to Monitor Audio RX6 AV12 with two pairs of RX-FX speakers and either an Onkyo TX-NR5008 or a Pioneer SC-LX83 to drive them.


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Feb 21, 2009
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Congrats on the plans for a dedicated cinema room - an aspiration for many movie fans!

As you suggest at this stage you have an excellent opportunity to set the room up for the best acoustics. Despite the fact you can set-up room EQ with an AV amp, your room will still benefit from proper treatment. EQing will set-up the speaker levels to get the best from the room you have - the better the room treatment, the better the sound (and speaker set-up) you can achieve.

Anything that soaks up sound is good. Thick curtains and carpeting are a good start. However, rather than attempt to hang carpets or fake curtains on the wall, consider tried and tested room treatment solutions like Advanced Acoustics, who make a range of both wall hung and freestanding panels to soak up sound (they'll also look better than carpets on the wall and are a professional yet not overly expensive solution used in many commercial movie theatres).

Could you post room dimensions or send us a diagram of the room dimensions? For an average sized room, 4-8 panels will be a suitable solution and in the correct positions should soak up sound waves where needed and "deaden" the sound of the room to sound stunning with both stereo and 5.1/7.1 soundtracks.


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Mar 11, 2011
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don't forget about ceiling with your redecoration plans. it's the main source of early reflections. some heavily textured ceiling styrofoam blocks will do nicely.

heavy curtains all over is a nice idea too but I'm sure you'll be able to find more eye pleasing material for walls. it'll look like Twin Peaks with the curtains all around you :). lots paintings on canvas might be a good option.

and there's bass management too. this is a little more complicated because standing waves are created with relation to room size and shape so you'll need to read a bit about room acoustics. but some bass traps is a must in acoustically treated room.

hope that helps.


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May 28, 2008
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I was reading an interesting article on this recently and apparantly plants in corners etc do quite well. I would post a link to it but I can't seem to find it again at the mo.
Based on the limited info about the dimensions and proportions, albeit you are very thorough on the construction, I'd be worried you were over deadening the room.

Certainly, curtains you can adjust and windows/doors you can open (yes, I know that's the usual way they work!) make an enormous difference to the sound. But I would be concerned you lose too much of the contribution the room can make.

If you can start without any trappings save carpet and curtains, and go from there you will (a) get a real idea of the room's sound and (b) potentially save a lot of time and money. If it rings when you clap your hands then it may to too reverberant/reflective.

Layout of equipment, especially speakers, makes the most difference thereafter. I recall the editor of The Absolute Sound magazine in the USA used to advocate a rule of thirds (or was it fifths) somewhat akin to that used in photography, for speaker placement in relation to boundary wall and listener.

I'm referring mainly to stereo, but I do not think 5.1 or 7.1 would benefit from over-damping, though cinemas are usually very 'dead', but I'd always thought that was a function of being full of seats (and people) and trying to muffle sweet wrappers and popcorn! An AV set-up can probably make an over-damped room sound livelier, but only electronically.

I'm sure an AV specialist can advise. Incidentally, many demo rooms at dealers are far from ideal, often located of necessity and not much else. It always sounds better at home!

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
I'm really no expert, but I agree with nopiano. It sounds like you've got some great ideas. Personally, I'd complete what you're doing and see how it sounds. Over damping can make a system sound quite dull. Even the above mentioned advanced acoustics do not recommend over doing it (see there panel location link their website). Good luck, sounds like it'll be a great room. Oh, and love the idea of using the chimney breast ;)