THE PROMISE OF DISTRIBUTED AUDIO IS that everyone in the family can have a haven where they can listen to their own, personalized music. But what happens when all the music collides and the family is unhappy with the new system?

Builders who offer distributed audio can avoid this situation by encouraging buyers to use the services of a sound expert such as NoiseOut Essentials, which offers a series of acoustic treatments that both improves the sound in a room and insulates most of the sound, so every room in the house is self-contained.

Bonnie Schnitta, president of NoiseOut, says builders typically bring her into the process during the design phase. She works directly with the home buyers, learning how they want to set up their furniture and then making recommendations on how the buyers can optimize the home's acoustic environment.

Schnitta notes that the ideal for an entertainment room would be to spend about $1,000 for a system that includes padding underneath the sheetrock, acoustic wallpaper, and extra padding between floors. She says if the homeowners have lived in the house for a couple of weeks and are still complaining about noise, for an additional $200 builders can add simple treatments such as placing acoustic padding under the carpet or sofas, behind the artwork, as well as padding behind the bookcases.

“People lead busy lives, and their homes have become their nests,” says Chris Hagberg, project super for Horizon Builders in Crofton, Md., a builder that has installed the NoiseOut treatments. “It just seems more like a quality home if you don't hear the people upstairs, next door, or the plumbing lines,” he adds.

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