Skip to main content

In the below video I was asked about where acoustic panels should be placed in a home theater set up. To answer this we have to go back to what you, the customer, really want to achieve with you home theater room. We can put absorption on all the surfaces, it’s easy, it’s economical and it doesn’t require a lot of effort but you will have to decide if that is the sound that you want. You see absorption off all the surfaces has a particular sound quality to it. It’s very defined and in most cases it’s very separated, the vocals and the music you can separate. Definition is pretty good but it’s not real. It’s missing something that makes it real and diffusion is the answer to that.

Diffusion makes the sound real again

Diffusion makes it less analytical and more real if you will. So diffusion really is a great tool if used correctly. So use absorption to get your definition and separation as much as you can and then use diffusion to amplify that.

So if a company has a product and the guy creates the product he gives it to the marketing people and it’s their job to amplify what he has done (at least I’ve been told that). So it’s marketing’s job to amplify. That’s what diffusion does. Diffusion is kind of a musical instrument on its own. I know everybody’s going to yell at me for saying that but I don’t care. It is an instrument, it has tonal qualities, it has performance, issues, frequency response.

So yeah it doesn’t have a reed or a mouthpiece but it is an instrument and it adds a lot of spaciousness in definition and air in to your presentation. Best thing to do is really decide what you want because you have a lot of flexibility with the home theater today even though there’s only two treatments that you can use, namely absorption and diffusion, but it’s where you put that, in what quantities and what positions and what ratios that counts.

For example the ceiling is the great place in a home theater room for fifty percent absorption and 50 percent diffusion. Now that said the arrangement of those absorption and diffusion units must be done in a calculated way because remember we have all this energy going on in the room in length, width, height dimension and then the movement of sound energy front to back, side to side, up to down, so you got all these matrices of activities occurring within the home theater room.

We have two tools we can use, absorption and diffusion but placing them in the correct position can make a world of difference and give you a room that you’ll be very happy with if not you’ll know how to change it because you’ll hear what the balancing act of absorption and diffusion technology does for sound quality and all areas of the sound.

Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.