Enjoy the Sound Improvement of Decoupled Speakers
A top notch home theater or stereo system can produce sound quality so clear and crisp, you may feel like you’re in the studio with your favorite band or film. But managing a premium sound system is a precise and delicate science, with plenty of variables factored into the interpretation of audio, many of them invisible, such as room vibration, sound reflections, and even your listening position. One helpful step you can take to improve sound in your space, even in a modest multi-speaker setup, is decoupling subwoofers.
Decoupling breaks the hard bond between two things, and in the case of audio, that means separating the speaker from the room’s physical structure. This is often done with an acoustic treatment material that absorbs the vibrations of the subwoofer, keeping them from reaching the structure of the room. This vibration isolation is important for sound control, because vibrations rolling through a room can rattle doors, windows, and loose objects, creating extra noise and annoyances. Breaking the bond between the room and the vibration source, decoupling foam reduces the ability of vibrations to travel. Decoupling is also useful if you have neighbors complaining, because sometimes the issue isn’t the actual sound produced from a system, but the transition of vibrations through a structure.
Because these products need to be non-resonant and strong, decouplers often involve a two-item construction of non-resonant MDF board and firm open-cell foam. They can also be purchased pre-made, but are quite easy to make on your own as well, with only a few inches of foam thickness needed. Cutting up old foam packaging sheets and stacking them under MDF can give you performance that’s as good as a store-bought solution. Depending on the quality of the materials however, your DIY decouplers may lack the aesthetics or the stability of a professionally-made piece.
If you love the big sound of your audio setup, do yourself a favor and improve it further by decoupling your subwoofers, giving you better quality and less distraction.