© 2015 by Christopher J. Ball. All rights reserved

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Acoustic Home Theater Design

This design of a home theater includes an in-depth analysis of both architecture and acoustics. The primary focus of the theater design was to refine the reverberation time of the space to approximately 0.5 seconds. This reverberation time is ideal for an intimate, private space. In order to refine the reverberation time all passive and active acoustic mitigation techniques were researched and utilized. Diffuser wall panels, bass traps, and reflector panels act in unison to accurately displace soundwaves in the space. A wooden alcove is used in the ceiling to defect sound waves and provide recessed accent lighting. Creating a beautiful ambiance of acoustics and architecture. The walls, ceiling, floor, and door are all detailed to identify and refine their Sound Transmission Class (STC) and Impact Insulation Class (IIC). Once the STC and IIC were refined a reverberation time calculator, created in Microsoft Excel, was used to determine the final reverberation time.


Throughout my education at the University of Colorado, Boulder I shaped my courses around the application of acoustics and architecture. This project was the final project for Acoustics in Architecture in which I received an "A" grade. The acoustic home theater design demonstrates my knowledge in the science of acoustics and the practice of architecture. Other courses that shaped my understanding of acoustics include Physics of Music and Sound, Music Technology, and Music Theory.

Final Reverberation Time Calculation Table (Micorsoft Excel Calculator)

During the process of defining the reverberation time of the home theater, this excel calculator was created. Not only did this excel document allow for the precise determination of reverberation time for this project, but it is adaptable to mostly any project in the future. 

West Wall Partition Detail  (STC -  66)

- Double layer 1/2” Type X Gypsum Board
- 2x4 Stud Wood Lumber 16 O.C.
- Glass Fiber Insulation in Cavity 
- 1“ Air Space Cavity
- 2x4 Stud Wood Lumber 16 O.C.
- Double layer 1/2” Type X Gypsum Board

North, South, East Wall Partition Detail (STC - 62)

- Single layer 1/2” Type X Gypsum Board
- 2x4 Stud Wood Lumber 16 O.C.
- Glass Fiber Insulation in Cavity 
- 1“ Air Space Cavity
- 2x4 Stud Wood Lumber 16 O.C.
- Double layer 1/2” Type X Gypsum Board

Cascade Audio - SB Model Door (STC - 56)

- Product tested per ASTM E-90
- Adjustable neoprene jams and seals
- Appx. 300 lb.  
- Heavy duty hinges 

Floor & Ceiling Partition Detail ( STC - 66 ) ( IIC - 63) 

- Single layer 3/8” Finish Flooring 
- Double layer 1/2” Plywood Subflooring
- 2’’ Kinetics Noise Control RIM-I-2-16 Rollout 
    Isolation Material (including KIP-22I2 isolator pads) 
- 6’’ Lightweight Concrete 
- 1’ Floor Joist / Truss 
- Single layer 1/2” Plywood Subflooring
- Single layer 1/2” Type X Gypsum Board 

Each of these detail construction drawings explains the layers of construction that achieve the required Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of the home theater. Using acoustic techniques and technology such as KIP-2212 floor isolator pads, air space cavities in the walls, and a specialized Cascade Audio door, the home theater adequately prevents sound from entering and exiting the space. 

Section View

Highlighted in red are the acoustic treatment elements that add additional sound quality to the space. Acoustic panels, a reflector panel on the ceiling, and bass traps in the corners of the room focus the movement of sound directly to the viewer. 

Floor Plan

The southern wall and part of the west wall are constructed against a concreate foundation in this basement theater room. This required less of a STC treatment to the construction of the theater room thank the north and east walls. Placing bass traps at the corners along the east wall (rear) allowed for an accurate acoustic treatment of the theater. As sound moved from the direct access point in the front of the room, the bass traps and ceiling reflector panel dissipated the sound before its reflection back into the viewing/listening area. Below are wall sections that illustrate the details behind each wall, ceiling, floor, and door construction (indicated by the numbers in the floor plan above).

Final Reverberation Time

In order to create the ideal space for digital entertainment and video, the goal for reverberation time is set around 0.5 seconds spanning all frequency levels. This home theater is designed to provide a balanced sound environment that controls the surround-sound speakers at the high end frequencies and the low end frequencies.