What better way is there to spend an afternoon, than having your kids help upgrade the performance of your home theater? If you're a geek dad, the list is pretty small.
There are many way to improve your home theater, and adding sound-absorbing panels is an inexpensive way of doing it. In my case, it's almost a necessity: the hard concrete walls in my basement home theater have a nasty tendency to bounce sound around in unpleasant ways. The effect was made even worse when the carpet was replaced with hard laminate floors.
The walls themselves were mostly bare, painted concrete. The walls needed decoration - artwork, pictures, whatever. Just something to make the place look less sterile.
My home theater also happens to share a space with the kids' playroom.
So what happens when you put all these requirements into blender and pour the frothy goop into a big, chilled mug? Simple, yet effective child-decorated sound absorbing panels.
Step 1: How They Work
In a room with hard, flat surfaces, sound tends to do nasty things. Mostly, it bounces around and hits your tender eardrums multiple times from different angles. It mixes in weird ways, drowning out some parts of a soundtrack while emphasizing others. In short, the hundreds or thousands of dollars you spent on a nice amplifier and speakers is wasted because the acoustic properties of the room are lousy.
The purpose of a sound absorbing panel is obvious: it absorbs sound in a room. When placed in strategic locations along the wall, the effect is dramatic. High frequency "ringing" is killed off, and bass is no longer muddy or boomy. All those sound waves that would have bounced off the walls are instead mostly absorbed by the panels, so that the primary wave from the speakers is what you hear most.
The basic construction of these panels is simple, and certainly nothing new. They are simple artistic canvases with thick wood frames, stuffed with sound-absorbing "eggcrate" foam. The panels are decorated to suit the decor of the room. In my case, decorated with the help of my wife and kids, to add colour and fun to our home theater/rec room/play room.