Crescendo home theater
Roland Hoffmann

Guide for architects and interior designers

Choose the right speakers in a luxury home

 

Stereo or Surround

First of all, it is important to know how the room is going to be used and what kind of sound experience the owner has in mind. This is not about budget – the same budget can be used for the very finest reference music system with just two speakers or can be split between multichannel speakers in a dedicated home theater. The key question is whether the room is mainly a place to relax and enjoy listening to music and maybe watch some TV, or a dedicated cinema room to watch movies and concerts with friends. Most music is recorded in stereo, while movies, concerts, and games are produced with surround sound.

 

Statement speakers or discreet speakers

Again, it depends on what the owner has in mind. Loudspeakers can be completely installed and hidden in the wall, discreetly placed on the wall, or proudly placed as an object of desire in the room like a grand piano. In the room there is more freedom to place the speakers where they perform best, as any loudspeaker creates soundwaves and interacts with the room like an instrument would. You might also choose a combination of both: Two stand-out loudspeakers in the front to play music, and accommodating speakers discreetly hidden at the sides, rear, or ceiling to create amazing surround-sound effects when watching a movie.

 

Loudspeaker sizes

The ultimate size of a loudspeaker depends on two things: The size of the room, and how close the music and movie should resemble a life-like experience. First, the larger the room, the more the loudspeakers must be capable of filling the space with sound. This simply requires bigger speakers incorporating more so-called drivers for the bass, midrange, and high frequencies. The overall technical term for this loudness or volume level is SPL, sound pressure level. Lower-quality speakers may simply not achieve the required SPL or may start sounding compressed and strained. Secondly, the bigger the speaker, the better it can reproduce the scale, power, and dynamics of real-life sound events, from a grand piano to a large symphony orchestra or from electronic dance music to the overwhelming sound effects of a movie. Apart from the volume level, both the sound quality and build quality of a loudspeaker define how realistic, pure, and enticing it all sounds.

 

HiFi shrine or separate control room

While sound is experienced first and foremost through the loudspeakers, there is a second element technically: There needs to be a music source, and the sound needs to be controlled, powered up, and amplified. This can either be designed as a traditional audio system placed on a sideboard or piece of furniture, or discreetly hidden in the mounting rack of a separate control room, with only the control interface and the loudspeakers visible. Again, this depends on the owner and family and the way the room is going to be used. An open system makes sense if traditional media is used (for example vinyl records, CDs, Blu-ray discs, or portable memory devices), while a partly hidden system is best for integrated streaming audio or video and with the complete media stored on local servers.

 

Keeping signals in the digital domain

Apart from vinyl records, all music and movies nowadays are in the digital domain. From the best high-resolution recordings to space-saving compressed audio files, digital is how everything is produced in studios, downloaded, and streamed online. In contrast to the analog world, the digital domain is much less prone to interference, disturbance, and signal loss. It is therefore beneficial if music and soundtracks are kept in the digital domain as long as possible. The best audio and video systems are based on digital players, digital sound processing, digital amplification, and digital transmission between all components. Only at the loudspeakers must the digital signal become analog, in order to be heard through soundwaves.

 

Defining the listening area

Apart from all the technology, it’s important to consider how the loudspeakers are placed and where the audience is seated. For music and surround sound, it’s all based around the so-called stereo triangle, with the main listening seat placed in the middle yet some distance away from the two main speakers, and optional surround speakers placed symmetrically around this seat. This best spot gives the perfect illusion of a musical event or soundstage in front of the listener, as well as the most impressive surround effects. In well-designed home theaters, the listening area and sound experience can spread over several seats.

 

Providing the best sound experience

Once the listening area is defined and the sound system is chosen, the ultimate sound experience in any room depends heavily on room acoustics, just as in every concert hall or cinema. There are some room acoustical guidelines, for example avoiding hard, sound-reflective materials such as glass, marble, stone, tiles, concrete. But especially in a modern home or classy living room, the room design and furniture are unlikely to be chosen according to acoustics. In that case, electronic room correction like RoomPerfect™ by Steinway Lyngdorf is the best solution, addressing room-acoustical issues entirely in the digital way, invisible to the listeners.

Perfect room acoustics

RoomPerfect™ is a unique digital sound calibration which measures the room acoustics and adapts the speaker’s sound to the room and interior. It’s one of the world’s most sophisticated and advanced solutions for adapting the sound system to the room. 

 

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Home theater with Model LS 2

Speakers to every home

Based on our vast experience in designing home cinemas and living rooms, we can select and adapt our speakers to every room space and interior design. Our AV processors and amplifiers are scalable to as many channels as required, while our sound processors allow further sound customization, meeting the expectations of the listener. Even after the installation is finished, the sound can be customized further for different listening scenarios, different listeners, or musical preferences.

More questions? Ask our experts.