HT room new construction - room treatments, etc

I am building out a basement AV room. I want to devote as much attention to the room as to the electronics, as I am CERTAIN that most untreated rooms completely mask and/or overcome the qualities of all this high end gear we spend so much time and money on. I know this simply from moving the same system into 3 or 4 apartments and/or houses over the years, and noticing the dramatic differences in performance based solely on what's going on in the room. I also know it from playing in a touring rock band for years -the room is far more important than, for example, this high quality amplifier versus that one.

ASC makes a wall isolation system (ISO-Wall) that de-couples the sheetrock from the framing. Benefits are said to include greater noise reduction in the room, as well as prevention of all that low frequency from getting out of the room. Before I invest $2,800.00 in additional building materials and add labor costs, somebody please tell me this stuff actually works as described.

Part II - tube traps and diffusors. Who can speak to the before and after of having employed these room treatments? Was it dramatic? And by dramatic, I mean more so than, say, changing out speaker cables and/or interconnects, because my ears are generally not golden enough to consider these differences "dramatic." (For those who care, the guts of the system will be Anthem AVM-20, Aragon 2007 200x7 amp, and Paradigm Reference matched set of speakers: Studio 100 mains, Studio CC center, Servo-15 sub, etc).

Thanks for the wisdom.

Jeff Warncke
When we built our basement AV room, we used the wall and corner treatments by Kinetics Research. We got the custom color, fabric and design options to fit the room decor. I placed the speakers (Proac 3.8s) at the Cardas positions and two of the Kinetics panels were placed on the side walls at the first reflection points. I have no bass or midrange reflection problems and do not feel I need tube traps or diffusors. We also did not use elaborate wall de-couplers, although we looked into them. I am very satisfied with the room. The nice thing about it is that everything is portable to a new house if we move... we need only paint the new AV room to match the panels. We also saved the Kinetics order forms and our paint color codes for future use, if necessary. Good Luck!
First, we are an acoustical engineering company that specializes in small room acoustics. I would strongly recommend that you consider working with an acoustical engineering service for the design of your room. Every room is different, and one of your questions about should I use the following treatements is very dependent on the room and what you want to acheive out of the room. The room, when being designed from the ground up, should be comprised of certain acoustical attributes (flat frequency response, resonable reverberation times, etc), plus the tastes of the client (some want a brighter sounding or more reverberant sounding room), aesthetics of the room, and overall costs. It is very expensive to buy room treatment that does not work properly for you, and in general, a properly designed room will either need little treatement or have the treatment built into it, thus saving quite a bit of money (perhaps a greater savings than the cost of an acoustical engineering service). Please visit our website at, you will likely find some useful tools and tips, but I do encourage you to give us a call and discuss the project, even if you decide to take on design yourself.
Michael Green of roomtune fame makes a line of adjustable tuning devices called pressure zone controllers they are very effective easily installed and are available at demo prices from I thought the original room tunes were good these are considerably better. Also reviewed on audio asylum and soundstage magazine.
The 4 corner controllers are the most important part of the system

I recently constructed a sound room/HT and built my own room tunning devices. I also isolated my sound room from my family and neighbors. The best way to keep the sound from escaping is to build a room inside a room. I did this and left a 1" gap between them. I also used a sound dampening product that is carried by Home Depot. It's the same size as sheet rock and is composed of cardboard and horsehair. If I remember, the stuff was made in Canada and was about $10 a sheet. Use 5/8" sheet rock, 2x6's with R19, ton's of sheetrock screws and don't forget to leave that 1" gap.

I believe that most all room tune devices are very simple and inexpensive to make, but do take some time. Most people can build a tube trap, but will have major difficulties designing a loudspeaker or putting together an amp. I'd spend your money on electronics and have some fun experimenting with room tuning devices. The one device that made the most difference were Room Lenses. They take up little space from a room and can be very easily moved around to suit your needs. By moving them an inch or so, makes a difference in sound. It is recommened to have at least three. Here is a link to Argent Room Lens article my Doug Blackburn of Soundstage.

If you are interested in building them let me know and I'll direct you to step by step directions and pictures of my finished products if you like. I also added some wall panels that were also of the DIY nature by John Risch. Have fun during your constuction and enjoy your finished product.

I built a media room and started looking at some of the acoustic companies but was totally turned off by them. Many quoted a high fee just to tell me what they were going to sell me. When I started talking to acoustical engineers I found that most of the prepackaged material sold by these companies were no better than off the shelf products at 5 to 10 times the price. Acoustic caulk at 30 to 50 bucks a tube.
There are many techniques I used. Double drywall on ceiling and walls. Angled ceiling for sound reflection. Rubber strips on furring strips in the ceiling to separate the ceiling from the drywall. On the floor a layer of cork covered by second subfloor. Fiber commercial pad under carpet. Between studs glue in sheets of thin insulation board and use blown in insulation. Where wood meets wood use a concrete synthetic caulk. Good luck
I feel somewhat compelled to respond to Ksales. Unfortunately, what he says is likely true, and it really bothers me because this truly is the demise of acoustical engineering companies. What value are they bringing the customer, if only to charge more than what the customer could get otherwise? Our company does not sell or manufacture acoustical treatment products. We design the room--that's all. In doing this, it is our best interest to design the room with our clients best interest and budget in mind. Most of our acoustical treatment can be found at Home Depot. The raw materials for acoustical treatment are not expensive generally. The expense is in the labor and design of the products. We can provide the designs for what is needed for clients that either want to build themselves or have a contractor that will build to specifications. The acoustical products are still useful, in that frequently they provide an easy solution when a room already exists and the client does not want to build anything or have a contractor come in. In these cases, we still provide the designs, but have the client purchase the products directly from the manufacturer or local dealer. We do not take part in this transaction--thus there is no mark-up for the client.
I am glad Ksales brought this point up. I had suspected that this may have been a perception (and reality for some companies).
Rives,perhaps you can speak about these room de-couplers. My basement room is below our family room,which is two story vaulted. The entire downstairs is an open floor plan, and all upstairs bedrooms open to a bridge over the downstairs. In other words, low frequency that gets to the room above gets to the WHOLE house, and I like to listen to music and movies pretty loud. The basement is already framed with two by sixes, so I can use a good bit of insulation in the spaces around the theater room. The question is: how effective are these room de-couplers to further confine low frequencies from getting out and bothering people in the rest of the house, versus just screwing one or two sheets of 5/8 drywall to the studs with insulation in the spaces. Thanks to all of you for your responses.
Room decouplers work very well. What you need to be careful of, is that low frequency travels through the studs of the walls. So it's not enough to just decouple the ceiling, because the bass will travel to the sidewall studs and up into the house. What you need is to just about build a romm within a room and decouple the inner room. We use Kinetics products for much of our isolation work. You can really get almost total isolation, but my guess is you don't need to take it to that extreme. This is one of the areas we regularly include in our plans (and evaluate the degree of isolation needed for a given environment)--in fact probably 75% of our clients have had us design isolation for their listening rooms. Another area to watch out for is HVAC duct systems. These can be very bad sources for sound leakage, and there are some good inexpensive tricks that can be used to just about eliminate the ducts as problems.
First to comment on Rives remarks I completely agree with his sentiments. Unfortuately I was unaware of him or I would have called him or someone like him for advice and gladly paid his fee. My rub is not with experts such as rives but companies who package and sell at exorbitant prices off the shelf building materials. I was quoted a several thousand dollar fee just to be told what I was going to be sold. Many people wanting to make a major investment in audio/video rooms have been financially successful and don't have time to research these things. This does not justify a rip off. Selling special acoustical panels that are nothing more than cloth on wood framing at a high price ect.
When these people spend this money and then find out they have been ripped the image of the whole industry is damaged. In my case this is one of my hobbies and I spent 8 months researching and calling people around the country getting advice. I wish I could have just called rives and paid his fee because my time has value even though I enjoyed the knowledge. Further I took a great risk doing this myself and really held my breath when I fired up everything only to be thoroughly pleased. Certainly the room can still be tweaked, but the structure is right. Jswarncke you should consider hiring Rives or someone like him. My media room is next my master bath and bedroom. At night when I crank it up you can barely hear a muffled sound in the next rooms. With my acoustic doors closed you can't hear anything elsewhere in the house. I have Revel Studios, center Voice, 4 embrace surrounds, 2 revel sub15s. Major amps to power all. Big sound. Think about what truly good acoustical treatment can do.