Berlin. I’ve lived here for two years now. Two years in which I’ve twice completely re-arranged my listening room, tweaked loudspeaker positioning too many times to mention and, in a more general but no less important sense, got to know the room as one might get to know a friend.
And all friends have flaws. And floors. In my case, hardwood. Their reflective nature was easily tamed by a trio of LOBBÄK rugs from IKEA (€60/each). Alas, tamed too was their visual impact. Good looks rarely equate to good sound, as anyone visiting a modern restaurant can attest.
A room’s walls are even more sensitive to visual disturbances. Acoustic panels are expensive. Attractive acoustic panels can be very expensive, especially when selected, positioned and installed by a professional. (I’ll be investigating this by way of Portugal’s Vicoustic in 2019).
My own less professional attempts at dealing with my listening room’s initial slap echo meant loading it with furniture but also specifying the judicious placement of five acoustic panels from EQ Acoustics (€60/each via Europe’s largest online audio retailer Thomann).
Judicious because my listening room is also my living room and one that already accommodates an heroic amount of audio gear. Too many – or worse, less attractive – acoustic panels would ruin the vibe. Like music, the visuals arts tell us that what we look at changes the way we feel. Industrial designers are retained because we don’t buy furniture and appliances (and audio gear!) on functionality alone.
Looks matter. And nowhere is this more acute than striking a balance between the sound of the room and its aesthetic appeal. It’s why David Bowie and A Guy Called Gerald’s 808 programming are afforded wall space — visual distractions from the ‘sound lab’ connotation of acoustic panels.
See with your own eyes in this video:
Last March, this website’s readers were polled as to whether they had access to a dedicated listening room (or not). The overwhelming majority (81%) of you said not.
Today, I’m keen to find out how many of you, dedicated space or not, trick out your listening rooms with visually obtrusive acoustic treatments (as I do).
Visually obtrusive = visible