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Fun Room Details

In Deep

Thank you for reading the high level article, now we will go into a detailed explanation of this project. This blog expands on the details from the "Home Theater Has Come Out of the Cave" article.

The integration firm responsible for building this masterpiece is Audio Images of Tustin California. Our designs and engineering is only as good as the implementation and AudioImages came through on every detail.


The Room Shell

The physical issues that needed to be dealt with to accomplish these goals dictated a few design solutions:


Sound Isolation

The room had to be decoupled from the Great Room that is located directly above it. This prevents the sound leakage from disturbing the adults. Decoupling loosely means to build resilient wall and floor-ceiling structures with little to no connections to the house’s framing structures. The purpose is to limit every contact point that could mechanically transfer sound energy and interfere with daily use of the rooms.


Ceilings in a room like this are critical because they cannot leak noise upstairs and must also deliver great experiences. The homeowner also wanted every inch of ceiling height, which negated the standard spring-isolated construction techniques for decoupling the ceiling from the Great Room floor. The design used a new isolation bracket that performs more like a leaf spring rather than a coil spring. This new bracket saved 4” in the ceiling construction. While the trade-off meant a little less sound isolation for the 4” of additional room height, it was the right compromise for this project. Other details that reduced sound leakage upstairs included: insulation between joist bays, “Quiet Rock” drywall, closed cell foam at the walls junctions, and a myriad of additional construction details. Even the gaps between the sheets of Quiet Rock were caulked to prevent sound leakage upstairs.
Ceiling Construction Detail


Walls in this Fun Room included: two concrete walls, one wood stud wall, and one glass wall. The concrete walls would seem easy to deal with, but sound travels through concrete at over 10,000 feet/second. These concrete walls support the Great Room and will easily transfer unwanted sound upstairs. However, the right rubber bushing decoupling brackets, Quiet Rock, and closed cell foam gaskets, met this challenge well.


The front wall is a wood stud wall that has a hallway behind it and is open to the areas upstairs. This wall also had to prevent noise from the adjacent mechanical room from getting into the Fun Room. Therefore, the front wall needed isolation brackets, insulation, Quiet Rock and proper sealing solutions.


Now, we move on to the glass wall. Most theater designers will fight glass at all cost. This client made it clear that this glass wall was important to visually connect the space to the courtyard outside. The client also made it clear that a heavy drape was not acceptable. The sound isolation was addressed by the simple fact that no one outside the glass cared about the leakage. This may sound silly, but it is important to identify the lack of a problem before attempting to fix it. We will address the acoustics of the glass later in this article.

The door into the room was an issue. A normal door would leak sound like a sieve into the hallway and upstairs. To make matters more challenging, a hinged door was not going to be acceptable due to the space requirements. Unfortunately, a pocket door was not going to work either. The solution was a bi-fold glass door with coatings that delivered a relatively high STC (Sound Transmission Class) sound isolation rating. The glass also allowed the homeowners to check in on the Fun Room without disturbing the movie/game.

The Great Room TV created a challenge in the Fun Room. The floorplan for the Great Room was optimized around a phenomenal view. All the seating faces a spectacular view of the ocean. This is also where the TV should be located. The solution was a motorized lift that lowered the TV below the floor in the Great Room (revealing the views) and into the wall of the Fun Room. Every detail of this lift, the enclosure, and the lid/floor had to be built with sound isolation in mind. If not, then the lift would become a funnel for noise to go upstairs. The interior of the lift cavity inside the Fun Room walls did most of the work. It is almost a room, within a room, within a room. Whether the TV is up or down, there is very little sound leakage.



Great Experience

There is science behind understanding the way our eyes and ears collect information and how our brain interprets that data. This area of research is formally known as Sensation and Perception. Get this wrong and the experience in the Fun Room would be between average and bad. This client wanted a great experience.

Video has come a long way in the last two years. 4K HDR video displays can deliver near life-like images. Any display above about 100” diagonal is going to be a projector and a screen. This room has a 130” diagonal screen that can be sized for most aspect ratios. Our calculations looked at seating locations, viewing distances, ideal illumination at the viewers’ eyes, and the typical brightness of the room (including light colored interior design and open window) to determine the right projector/screen combination. Knowing how our eyes process information and the environment allowed us to design a very powerful image in this room.



Sound is a critical part of a movie/gaming experience. Our brains have been connecting sound to visuals for many centuries, and we subconsciously expect a certain correlation between the two. To get this right, we must manage the way sound travels through the room, and make sure to deliver the correct sounds to the listeners.

Managing the way sound travels in a room is called Acoustical Engineering. This room has various treatments all over the walls, ceiling, and even the floors that will either absorb, reflect, or scatter the sound, which manages how it travels in the room. We spent enormous amounts of time modeling the room and understanding how the sound will travel. The result sounds great, but acoustical treatment modules require placement of materials that are ugly and detract from the aesthetics in the room. Most interior designers will hide these treatments with materials that, in effect block the functionality of the sound treatment. We walk that fine line with acoustically transparent fabrics that “read” like drywall to the eye. Stretching this fabric in a track system allows for a clean looking room that sounded great.

Acoustic Treatment - Peel Out View


The Sound System for this space is a Dolby Atmos™ system that places speakers on all walls (except the window) and ceilings. An Atmos sound track will deliver the sound precisely in the room that creates a very lifelike experience. We went a few steps further and specified a sound system that has focused ceiling, rear, and side speakers. This allowed us to address the glass wall by keeping as much sound off the glass as possible. The problem we solved is that we could not put treatments on the glass; therefore, we minimized the glass’ ability to reflect sound incorrectly. Quite frankly, we are very proud of our innovation that solved this problem and gave the clients exactly what they wanted.

Interior Design

A typical home theater will have staggered rows of theater seating and a fairly dark color palette. But this is a Fun Room and the client was having none of the man cave type of colors. Light and bright colors make this room feel larger than it is, while making the room inviting and fun. The seating is more sofa and love seat style seating with ottomans to encourage social interaction and a family environment. The homeowners tell us that they use the room often, partially because the design is open and inviting.



Technology

This is not an article for the technology industry, so we will skip the technobabble. What is important to understand is that the advancements in technology allowed us to design and deliver this Fun Room. We do not have to strictly conform to older design techniques because we can deliver these great experiences in non-dedicated rooms.


  • Video Projector – 4k video and brighter projectors can overcome ambient lighting and deliver larger images that look stunning.
  • Projection Screen – Screen technology better aims the projector’s light to the audience while rejecting other light sources in the room. The net result is the room doesn’t have to be dark.
  • Audio – Dolby Atmos adds many more speakers to produce a great soundfield without being too loud at seats near the speakers and too quiet in other areas.
  • Fabrics – Our options for acoustically transparent fabrics have expanded drastically. We can even print high quality images on fabrics, and create nearly any design style you want.
  • Sound isolation – More sound isolation products have recently been introduced to the residential market that require less space while delivering great results.


Service and upgrades are also significant issues with these systems. Most of the equipment is in a remote equipment rack in a closet that has its own cooling system. The rack can be accessed for service and upgrades very easily. We always specify more power than we need for the system being installed so that more gear can be added without bringing an electrician back in. The pivotal point to future upgrades is conduit. This system has conduit access between key equipment locations allowing new wires to be pulled as new products are installed without cutting holes in the finished rooms.


Fun Room

We are finding more people want a "Fun Room" instead of a dedicated home theater. Our lifestyles have evolved to include multiple entertainment uses.  Technology and engineering have progressed enough in the last five years to allow us to deliver fantastic experiences in more Great Rooms, Living Rooms, Bedrooms, and even outside.

We encourage you to engage PMI Ltd during your design phase. Think of us as an engineering firm that creates the means for you to have great experiences in your home that fit your lifestyle.  Contact us here



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For more info on MSR's innovative acoustical solutions, please visit our website.

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