Home Theater Guide

What it's all about | The Source of it all | Video Considerations | Audio Considerations | Putting it all together | Noise & Light Control

Noise and Light Control

Noise Control

There are three main considerations with noise:

  1. How much external noise gets in - obviously many sources of external noise exist, our goal is to reduce them all. In extreme cases special construction techniques, such as double walls, resilient channels, decoupled floors, etc. can be employed (on new construction projects). Typically however, using standard fiberglass insulation in the surrounding walls/ceiling/floor and the use of solid core doors will provide adequate structural isolation of external noise. Another problem can be noise generated by HVAC (heating and A/C) systems. If addressed during the construction stage, this noise is usually controllable as well. The use of flexible duct sections and large supply and return air ducts and grills can cut down transmitted and air turbulence noise considerably.
  2. How much internal noise gets out - It's a real plus to be able to listen to a movie soundtrack (or music) at the level you prefer, without disturbing anyone else. Low frequency sound from subwoofers is particularly difficult to stop. Fortunately the same measures that keep external noise out also keep internal noise in.
  3. Noise generated inside the room itself - This in usually not a major problem, however some A/V components (large amplifiers, many front projectors, etc.) may have cooling fans. Amplifiers can be located in another room (or equipment closet), The only solution for projectors is finding one with a quiet (or no) cooling fan.

Light Control

ALL display devices look better in areas of low ambient light, however some display types output much more light than others. Small screens are generally brighter than larger screens for a given device type. CRT type front projectors require a very dark room (although in that room the image can be absolutely stunning). LCD type projectors and rear projection TV systems are good deal brighter than the CRT front projectors. The direct view (standard picture tube) TV display is generally the brightest (and smallest) type of display, although some of this advantage will be lost with HDTV direct view sets.

All of this means that any room for image display generally needs some light control. That might mean only a dimmer or a few small low level light fixtures that can be turned on independent of the main room lights. Rooms with a lot of natural light can be a problem for any display - the options are:

  1. Blinds or curtains to block the natural light. On high-end systems these can be automatically controlled.
  2. Use the brightest display possible and put up with a somewhat washed-out image during daylight hours.
  3. Use the system at night

Control of artificial light is much easier - if possible the area can be designed with small light fixtures that provide low levels of defused light, dimmers can allow fine tuning. It is particularly important that little or no direct light falls on the viewing screen. Automated systems can adjust the lighting to a predetermined level when the theater system is turned on.