S&V Q&A — February/March 2006 Page 2

HOME THEATER CONVERSION

Q. I have a basement with poured concrete walls, a concrete floor, baseboard heating, and an exposed joist ceiling with two big supporting poles in the room. What are my options for renovating the space for a home theater? April Campbell Ann Arbor, MI

A. Ian G. Masters says: Your room sounds very much like mine (including the poles, although I have only one), and it can be a good space for a home theater, so most of what you do will end up being cosmetic. But you'll definitely have to tame the room's reverberant surfaces. Concrete is a very effective reflector of sound, and while some reflection can be good, you don't want to be listening in an echo chamber.

Broadloom carpet with a thick underpad is a good start. Heavy curtains and upholstery also absorb lots of reverb. If that's not enough, some wall treatment may help, and so might acoustic ceiling tiles - just don't expect the tiles to stop sounds from being heard upstairs.

Adding drywall to cover the concrete might make things look more pleasant, but it's unlikely to improve sound. And don't worry about the poles ... unless they block your view of the screen.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE DISC

Q. I recently transferred my VHS and MiniDV videos to DVD. Now I've been told that the CD/DVD marking pen I used may destroy the discs, even though it came from a disc manufacturer! Do I have to recopy them? And what's the best way to label DVDs? Edward Votta Roswell, GA

A. Ian G. Masters says: In the early days of CDs, many people found to their dismay that regular markers could eat through the protective layer on the label side of a disc and ruin the disc. But there have long been CD- and DVD-friendly markers that can be used with no trouble. And if you buy the marker from a reputable disc manufacturer like TDK, you don't need to worry. Besides, the surface on a DVD's label side is 0.6 mm away from the data, unlike a CD where the data is just 0.01 mm beneath the lacquer layer. The other option is to buy a labeling kit from companies like Fellowes and Click 'N Design that lets you safely put professional-looking graphics on your discs.

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