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Home Theater Design & Calibration for a NC, USA client

Client Profile

Mr. Parvathaneni is a computer executive with a young family from North Carolina.

Project Overview

Mr. Parvathaneni came to Acoustic Frontiers mid-way into his home theater build. The home theater was in an existing basement and had already been sheetrocked and wiring run. The client had a preliminary layout and finished aesthetic in mind as well as some provisional thoughts about equipment.

Acoustic Frontiers Solutions

We provided the following services on this project:

  • Design Review
  • Equipment
  • Acoustic Treatment Design
  • Baffle Wall Design
  • Audio Calibration


Our Home Theater Design Review is a thorough analysis of a client’s plan that includes comparison to best practices / industry standards and preparation of a written report. The report scores the plan against the design standards and suggests options to improve the performance of the space. Our recommendations are discussed with the client over a phone call and the path forward agreed. The Design Review differs from our Home Theater Layout process in that it includes no design work – it is purely a review of a client’s design.

Theater Front Wall
Front of theater at the time of client’s engagement with Acoustic Frontiers

Theater Rear Wall
Rear Wall of Theater


Theater Floorplan
Client’s floorplan


Following on from the Design Review we made some amendments to the layout and finalized the equipment list together. This included the following set of high performance, high value components:

  • Procella Audio speaker system, including P6 and P5
  • SVS PC-12+ subwoofers
  • Yamaha RX-A1040 AVR
  • Sony VPL-VW40ES projector with Lumagen 2020 video processor for lens-less widescreen projection
  • Seymour AV 2.35:1 screen

The next step in the process was completion of the Acoustic Treatment Design. The depth available for acoustic treatment on the side and back walls was minimal, and budget was tight, so the design process was a little more challenging than usual! We specified the following products, carefully placed to balance absorption and reflection characteristics of the room:

  • Kinetics Versatune used for side and back wall absorption. This product is a multi-density fiberglass panel that offers a consistent absorption of 0.7 above 100Hz or so. We really like this panel because it has some reflectivity  and absorbs lower than an equivalent thickness plain fiberglass panel
  • Kinetics TAD hybrid absorber / diffuser, used on the sides and rear of the room
  • Vicoustic Multifuser DC2 on the ceiling

Theater Acoustic Treatment Plan
Acoustic Treatment Plan for one side wall in the theater


We also created a baffle wall to improve the room acoustics and provide optimal support for the Procella Audio P6 speakers. Most of the walls we are designing now a “hybrid” type, meaning they include some solid areas and some open areas. The solid areas provide a diffraction and speaker boundary interference free environment for the speakers and provide increased low frequency output. The open areas allow air to circulate into the area behind the baffle wall which is filled with a deep layer of pink fluffy insulation. Experience has shown this approach works exceptionally well at controlling room mode resonances.

Baffle Wall Design
One of the views of the baffle wall design that we created for the client


The final step in the process, after the room was finished and the equipment installed, was to perform the Audio & Video Calibration. Our techniques for this very important phase of the project allow us to work effectively with clients that are not located locally.

The Video Calibration was performed in our shop before the projector was shipped to the client. We performed a comprehensive calibration to THX standards using the controls available in the projector as well as the greyscale and color cube controls in the Lumagen.

Gretyscale projector calibration
Greyscale, pre and post calibration.

Color Cube Calibration
Pre and post calibration color accuracy


For audio we sent an acoustic measurement kit (laptop, mic, cables) to the client. We accessed the computer via the internet and over the course of two sessions with the client adjusted the settings in the AVR (levels, delays) and EQ’d the system.

The Results

Home Theater towards scren

Home Theater towards rear

In the Client’s Words

“My initial plan was to build out a basic HT room with off-the-shelf AV equipment without any intentions to treat/tune the room acoustically. After doing a bit of research and speaking to a few local AV dealers (unsatisfactorily), I felt the need to take the extra step and speak to an acoustic professional. I came across Nyal Mellor on one of the AV forums where he is very active, and felt from his comments / feedback that he knew what he was doing.

Nyal started out with a design review (since the room work had already begun) and after a couple of interactions I was comfortable enough to let him plan/guide the rest of the build, and purchase the AV equipment from him. He took the time to understand our requirements, discuss equipment options and budget considerations, and was able to provide his recommendations without any over-selling. Nyals build/acoustic plans have been very thorough, and he always took the time to explain the details and ensure that the plans were properly executed. After the build and equipment install, Nyal was able to complete the room by calibrating the equipment remotely.

Everyone that has been to the room have had good things to say at how well the room looks and sounds. The room has turned out beyond our expectations, and it would not have been possible without Acoustic Frontiers’ home theater products & services.”

Mr. Parvathaneni, North Carolina, USA.

16 thoughts on “Home Theater Design & Calibration for a NC, USA client”

  1. Superb project!
    Small question on the baffle wall hybrid!
    What type of absorption is used behind this wall? To avoid this makes sounding!


  2. Hi Nyal,
    earlier on and on another page (THX baffle walls – design, build and benefits) a person already asked about the “tradeoffs between the benefits of baffle walls and the benefits of broadband or low bass absorption on the front wall”. ^Now you’re stating that “Most of the walls we are designing now a “hybrid” type, meaning they include some solid areas and some open areas.” so I am assuming that you are seeing a great advantage of the hybrid design. That said, if you would now have to make a recommendation to somebody who builds a complete new cinema, would you say that we should definitely go for the Hybrid design and move away from the fully close baffle wall design?
    Thx a lot in advance

  3. how was the insulation arrange behind the screen? Was it from the speaker supports up to the ceiling with the area between the subs just open space or did you have treatment between the subs also. Is the area between the subs and the speaker open or a closed space?

    1. I believe area behind speakers and subs was open with rest of area filled including between subs and above / below the drywall / MDF covered part of the wall.

      1. Hi Nyal. Great info as always and a very interesting baffle wall design. I am not clear on where you place insulation behind baffle wall. If I’m looking at the baffle wall from the front, what areas get insulated, which remain open? I see where the drywall is and isn’t, so are you saying insulate everything, except area directly behind each speaker and subwoofer, but insulate between top/sides of them? Also, how far are you placing the projection screen face of finished baffle wall? Currently, I have my AT screen about 6″ from the baffle wall (face to face). Lastly, the depth of the baffle wall itself, what is driving that? Is it the depth of the subwoofers and LCR’s specified? Trying not to encroach too much into room; pretty tight, but similar in dimension and proportion to this project. Appreciate your help!

        1. There are many ways to build a baffle wall and it serves many functions – it supports the LCRs and screen; it provides a low diffraction environment for the LCRs; it can be used as a bass absorber; it is a reflection point for many of the surround speakers.

          The exact implementation will therefore depend on the specifics of the individual home theater in question!

  4. I have to laugh at all the “barrack room lawyers” making criticisms when they probably couldnt build something with Leggo..

  5. Hi there,
    Impressive job and it looks amazing. Can I ask if the skyline panel on the ceiling is made from wood (very heavy) or a lighter material? Also how does the baffle wall support the screen if the screen has to be a minimum of six inches from it?
    Thank you

    1. The ceiling diffusers are made from a high quality expanded polystyrene. Why does the screen have to be 6″ from the speakers?

      1. sorry for delay in replying. I had read that the screen had to be a certain distance away from the speakers. Is this not the case? Can the screen be placed in contact with the baffle wall and hence attached to it without making a separate frame to support the screen? Thanks for your patience. Much appreciated.

        1. There have been studies published on speaker to screen distance. You can find them referenced in the Toole book. Basically, the more the better. However practicality plays into this, and a few inches separation doesn’t make any real difference.

  6. Hi,
    We are currently doing a limited makeover on an existing theater. We are installing a 186″ diagonal SI 1.1 woven screen. Bottom of screen to floor33″. The screen wall is a common wall to a bedroom. The new screen will basically cover the common wall,(less 7″ either side) and we are limited in how far forward we can come with the screen. So we cannot build a de-coupled wall(ideal) in front of the common wall, instead are using, two layers of Quiet Rock 530 with Green Glue between, applied to the common wall. We then are constructing a 2 x 4 speaker wall, faced with Quiet Rock, de-coupled from the newly installed common wall Quiet Rock, to house three KEF Ci5160RL speakers, in constructed back boxes of 3/4″ MDF, to a cabinet volume outlined by KEF. These boxes are going to be glued and secured to the 2 x 4 studs. We had planned to have the face of the LCR’s flush with the Quiet Rock. We were then going to construct a 2 x 4 frame, attached to face of the speaker wall, to support the screen and provide a 3 1/2″ space between the screen and speaker. We were going to apply absorbent panels approx 3″ thick across this wall, possibly leaving the top and bottom of each speaker bare. Questions;
    Are we correct in our application/placement of sound treatment on the speaker wall. Because of its thickness, the absorbent material would be forward of the speakers by approx 3″.
    Instead of Quite Rock on the speaker wall, is 3/4 MDF better.
    In keeping with the KEF’s cabinet volume guidelines, and placing the speakers at the recommended height, the speaker itself would end up being installed very near the bottom of the back box(we are limited in depth of this box, so have to go longer/wider).
    If the volume is correct, will this affect the performance.
    We have three rows of four seats, do you recommend choosing middle row for a balanced sound distribution.
    Re question above, these KEF’s have tweeter in center; is that placed at ear height.
    Can you recommend a Left and Right distance from Center, or, in from the side walls.
    Front row seats approx 13′ from screen. (owner insists on this size screen)
    Can you recommend vendor for skyline ceiling panels, and wall absorbers/diffusers panels of a minimum thickness and appearance, while achieving their goal, for home theater decor.
    Can you recommend a material, to reduce sound transmission, to be placed on rear of inside of cabinets, that are below the screen(attached to common wall), and that will also house two of four SVS SB300. Also suitable material to acoustically seal around Smurf tubing, entering one of these cabinets.
    Thank you for your wonderful forum.
    Looking forward to your response.

    1. That’s a lot of questions, and I think you might be best getting some by-the-hour consulting to help you through the design details of the project.

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