TICKLE YOUR EARS WITH TWO-CHANNEL HI-FI SOUND
If you’re a music aficionado, it’s a given that you strive for perfection in your listening environment. Without the precise “tuning” of that environment, listening to your favorite concerto or rock concert will create havoc with every sense in your body, rather than providing the sensory heaven that you seek.
So, what does it take to create this heaven in your own home? There are many facets to such a project. Let’s explore them as completely as possible.
First and foremost, understand that there are many parts to this project that must interact as if they were a single entity in order to achieve the desired outcome. Lack of precision in just one aspect of this project will affect all other aspects.
At the center of this endeavor, of course, will be a top-of-the-line high-fidelity (hi-fi) stereo 2.0 system consisting of one or more playback devices, an amplifier, and two identical loudspeakers. Note that it is imperative that each component of this system be high-fidelity (capable of reproducing clean, clear sounds that are identical to the originals).
But let’s back up a step; acquiring such a system without the proper acoustical environment in which to place it spoils the entire project. In other words, your listening room must be built, or remodeled, to address acoustical issues first. Otherwise, sound simply will not flow in an audibly pleasant way throughout the room. In addition, erroneous noises from outside the room will disturb your experience.
Knowing that, build your special room “from the ground up,” so to speak. In this case, this essentially means attending specifically to the composition of the walls and the shape of the room. To keep noise out and sound from your hi-fi stereo system in, acoustical-grade wool insulation must be installed, along with sheetrock of substantial thickness (½” to ¾”).
In addition, the shape and size of the room and the height of the ceilings makes a huge difference along with the presence of windows. A small, square room with a low ceiling presents the most issues with reverberation, so opt for a moderately-sized, rectangular room with a moderately high ceiling and no windows if possible.
But don’t despair if you are limited to using a less-than-ideal room for your project, because acoustical treatments placed in the interior of the room can effectively mitigate most acoustical problems.
Since reverberations of mid and high frequencies in the room must be minimized, think “soft and natural” when selecting furnishings, carpets, area rugs, window coverings, and wall art. These soft items absorb sound rather than reflect it, serving to minimize vibrations and echoes. Believe it or not, large house plants will help, too.
Fabric on the walls, such as tapestries, will absorb troublesome reverberated sound, but it may be necessary to go one step further and put up absorptive acoustical panels also. These can be selected in various colors and patterns to match your decor, and can even resemble works of art.
One further step that can be taken to quell excess reverberations is to add a grid of absorptive ceiling tiles. These tiles come in various colors, or you can choose to go “all out” and have a “star ceiling” of these tiles installed.
Of course, a delicate balance of absorption versus reflection must be achieved in order to properly “tune” the room, so having a few pieces of solid furniture in the room or some empty wall spaces may be necessary.
Low frequencies can also cause sound distortions in that they tend to “pool” in the corners of a room, especially if it is small. To solve that problem, bass traps may be installed in the corners. These items can also be matched to your décor in style and color.
When friends or family join you in your new listening room, they will be totally unaware that the furnishings and décor of the space all around them contribute so much to the delightful sounds tickling their ears.
Finally, then, let’s talk about the hi-fi system itself. Matching the quality and attributes of each piece of this high-tech centerpiece to all other pieces is essential for maximum melodic enjoyment.
Remember that, unlike a surround sound system, your hi-fi stereo system uses just two identical free-standing speakers to produce a more personalized immersive experience. As such, speaker placement is much different. In fact, the speakers are placed directly in front of the seating area of the room, with each speaker “toed in” to aim directly at the listener. In addition, the center of each speaker is precisely positioned to form an equilateral triangle with the listener’s head (while sitting in the center of the seating area), with the tweeters at the same height as the listener’s ears.
This creates a soundstage in which imaging occurs. Miraculously, each individual sound emitted from the speakers is rendered as if coming from various locations in the room. This creates a sonic image of the original music as it was first created and recorded in the artist’s studio, without frequency distortions of any kind.
You have now achieved your coveted “sweet spot” of listening pleasure!
*** Questions? At AV Enthusiast, we have the knowledge and expertise to advise you on all aspects of such a project. We are distributors for these industry leaders: - Jaymar for acoustically friendly seating - BDI for media consoles and cabinets - Kinetics for acoustical treatments - ARCAM, TOTEM, DENON, MARANTZ, and PRO-JECT USA for high quality hi-fi components. Give us a call at 256.882.5081 Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, or drop by our office at 514 Madison Street in Huntsville any Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM. </p