Quiet isn’t a word that is often used when describing a great theater. To us, it’s one of the most important aspects of great sound. Most people euphemistically call it sound-proofing. That’s so you can have those late-night movie sessions without waking up the whole house. There’s much more to it than that. Quiet is the bedrock of high-performance sound.
Technically, we discuss the ambient noise level in a room as the low end of dynamic range. The speakers and amplifier handle the top end by sounding powerful but effortless never the less. Quiet is built into your room and there’s no newfangled component you can add after the fact to achieve it. You can’t add quiet you can only take away noise. A room is either quiet or it never will be without significant renovation.
Why is quiet so important to sound? It represents the backdrop to the recorded environment of a musical piece or movie scene. What is the quietest thing you need to hear in a movie? A pin dropping, a whisper, or perhaps the quiet rustling of leaves. Well, it’s all that but there’s more. Each sound you can name has a hidden component one seldom hears in a typical theater. It’s the echo of that sound.
The echo is a bit of sound that our minds use to determine where we are in the world. We can easily detect the size of a space and even our location in it by the echo of our footfalls or the sound of our voice. These details are recorded into every CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and Victrola recording made. It is the magic whisper that transports our reality into the new reality of the recording. It makes the listener feel like they're there. It is the pinnacle achievement of a great theater.