Room Shape and Size

The shape of your home theater is a very important decision. A properly shaped room will dramatically improve the acoustics and help you get the most out of your sound system. Often, audio problems such as difficulty understanding the dialogue are a result of improper room design. With these simple tips you'll be able to design the properly sized room, achieve the most out of your audio system, and build an affordable home theater.

If you've ever done research on acoustical science and optimal room setup you'll quickly become inundated with technical jargon and discover that many companies want to charge you a fortune to configure your room. You don't need to hire a pro to get the best results... In order to keep your home theater in budget all you need to do is follow this simple rule and you will be off to a great start. The key is this: avoid building your theater in a square-shaped room. Sounds simple...well it is. When your room is a square, the sounds emitted from your speakers "build up" and bounce off the walls, creating an effect similar to "singing in a shower". However, if you don't have this option and you decide to keep your room square you can minimize this affect by placing acoustical panels, furniture, or other padded surfaces in the correct locations which will absorb this reflection and dramatically improve your sound quality. And...you should always carpet your floors! Hard, flat surfaces should be avoided, as they will also contribute to standing waves. If you can go the rectangular route, the ideal ratio for your room shape is as follows

Room width should be 1.6 times the height and the length should be 2.6 times the room height...


This acoustic room ratio is deemed the perfect ratio by many and it will give your room the very best acoustical properties. The dimensions of my home theater are 22 feet long, 12-14 feet wide, and 8 feet high. Using the perfect ratio, it recommends my room width be 12.8 feet (1.6 times my 8 ft ceiling) and my room length be 20.8 (2.6 times my 8 ft ceiling). My room is pretty close to these measurements; I'm about a foot longer in recommended length and my room width is right in the middle. I've minimized the hard flat surfaces with several techniques. I've broken up the large side walls by making the front of my theater narrower than the rear and incorporating trim on the walls which breaks up the flat surfaces. The ceiling height also varies, ranging from 6 1/2 to 8 feet. I was able to accomplish this by the use of a rear riser and creating two boxed ceilings surrounded with perimeter soffits. These simple and effective design considerations tremendously contributed to my room's acoustical properties; and I was able to save money in the process by doing it myself.

Achieving good room acoustics does not need to be a budget breaker. By following these simple rules on room shape I was able to design my theater properly and achieve amazing results. The room size allows me to comfortably seat 7 and also accommodates a large 100" screen with two rows of seating, the second row seating 4 on a 12-inch riser platform. The screen size is proportional to the room size and the acoustics sound amazing! In fact, I had a friend bring over his high-end speakers and I did not even notice a difference (he calls my speaker's entry level)... I hope you find this article informative. Other important considerations we'll discuss include speaker placement, screen size, and how to determine the proper seating distance.


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