I sat in the dark room and listened to a song I’d heard a thousand times before but heard more than I ever had. That’s the definition of a Listening Room. While our world of listening has transformed dramatically over the last several years, all that matters is what you want to hear. The science is real, as are the hi-end audio components. The rest is subject to the ear of the beholder.
Simply stated, loudspeakers convert electrical impulses into sound. Depending on the dimensions of your room, as well as your listening preferences, a well-designed audio system will transmit the desired range of frequencies (not necessarily the widest range). Some audiophiles swear by 2-channel, with speakers positioned at a calculated distance apart and at an optimal distance from the listener, facing the listener for a true, 2 dimensional listening experience. The 2-channel system creates a virtual sound stage. When professionally set-up, the listener is able to close his/her eyes and identify exactly where, on the “stage”, that musician was positioned. Unlike viewing a movie, there is no need for various sounds (music, voice, special effects) to “follow” around the room, so rear speakers or a full surround sound system are neither needed nor desired. In fact, some find it unnatural for instruments to be heard behind them. The perfect speaker system, in the perfect acoustically treated room, will reproduce the sound as authentically as possible. However, while science can measure all facets of sound, the listening experience is quite personal and our passion for particular brands is rather cult-like. We, of course, have our favorites.
Martin Logan sees audio as both real and imagined. Inspired by the art of emotion, like the Expressionist masterpieces, the Expression ESL 13A delivers a highly expressive audio experience. Its recognizable profile is more about sound, however, than inspirational art, although they are an art form all to themselves. The tall, slender “blade” of its MicroPerf stator technology allows for almost twice the exposed electrostatic diaphragm surface as a traditional panel. Combined with the newly-designed rear-firing subwoofer and 13-inch wide XStat CLS Transducer, the result is a uniform, harmoniously blended audiophile-quality experience. The American speaker manufacturer also receives rave reviews for its MartinLogan Motion 40 Floorstanding Speakers. Hometheaterhifi.com concludes that it is a “luxury product for a modest price having a strong musical voice to go with a beautiful, well-made cabinet.” Learn more about this incredible line of speakers.
Equally as important to the components is the room itself. The ideal listening room will be free of ambient noise and any other distractions. Acoustic treatments will absorb the vibrations of the HVAC and rattling of water pipes. The space will be free of harsh lighting, filled only with soft, relaxing light and there will be no capacity for video. This combination of exceptional components producing nearly flawless sound and the distraction-free environment, will allow the listener to hear subtle artifacts in the music that were previously unnoticed.
The room’s furnishings and physical dimensions are essential to the experience. The proper room requires some soft surfaces. Glass coffee tables and even leather couches are not suitable as they will reflect sound. Fabric seating is preferred. The height of the seat back is recommended to be below the listener’s ear level, allowing unobstructed hearing without reflection. The single seat should be positioned in what will be known as the “money seat,” as determined by the engineer’s calculations. The calculations for the room itself are also of great importance. To determine an acoustically accurate room for optimal listening, audio engineers employ the Bonello Graph, a method of calculating the ideal room ratio of dimension and volume, explained here by AcousticFields.com. In the audiophile world, this is also referred to as the acoustic amoeba.
Whether a lover of classical, jazz, rock…are you an audiophile that wants to experience all that the music has to offer? Hearing is believing! Let’s set up an in-home consultation and schedule a demo – you can even bring your own music. And stay-tuned. Part 2 will cover amplification, calibration, connectivity and content. Listen to the music! Really listen.