Journeys. We’re all on one. My audiophile journey in Berlin has centered around a Neubau lounge room; one that has taken me from minimalist furnishings with extreme near-field loudspeaker positioning, to wall panels from Thomann, through GIK Acoustics absorbers and bass traps to a full room treatment from Vicoustic. The Portuguese company chose what panels to put where. I didn’t get a say in the matter and not being an acoustics expert, I really didn’t want one. I only specified that the ceiling and wall panels be white. Catch up here.
The video above shows the Vicoustic installation process from start to finish. Twelve hours condensed into 23 minutes. Watch to the end to hear how my lav mic’s before-n-after clearly communicates the improvements made to the room’s reverberation in the mid-to-high frequencies.
Of course, the broader and more important message here is that your room is messing with your loudspeakers’ sound.
A full makeover like this raises the issue of reviewer relatability. Will what I hear during the review process now sit further from what viewers might hear should they choose to put the same piece of hi-fi gear in an untreated room? Possibly. But my review work is rarely built around an approximation of what readers/viewers might hear at home. How could any of us know for sure how something might sound at home when every single one of us, including me, listens in a room built from different materials and with different dimensions?
Out in the field, room sound varies more than loudspeaker sound. The latter’s designers shoot for a flat frequency response between 20Hz and 20kHz. Homebuilders do not. I’d wager only a very small proportion of this website’s audience will be listening to music in a 6m x 5m x 2.5m concrete box with a wooden floor and a whole lotta window down one side.
Do we grumble every time Top Gear (or The Grand Tour) puts a five-door family saloon around its race track that we don’t have a race track at home? My work, like theirs, is as much about the communication of ideas, product discovery and entertainment as it is about helping people form a buying decision. There isn’t a reviewer on the planet who can reliably walk you from having ‘no idea’ to the cash register in a single written or filmed review. To wit, unless you have the money to weather a purchasing mistake without financial worry, you’ll recognise that where my product coverage ends, your work begins: reading and watching other reviews, organising a store or home demo or engaging in the buy/try/sell merry-go-round.
My consumer ‘help’ (such that it is) isn’t built around how something sounds in absolute terms and/or in isolation. Instead, a unit’s audible performance is assessed using a process of triangulation: how does A compare to B (and C)? My work hones in on how products differ. After all, “How does it compare to…?” is the most frequently asked question on any hi-fi website or social media account. It is my sincere hope that this room’s Vicoustic treatment will allow me to conduct those much thirsted for comparisons with greater accuracy and reliability. And if doesn’t do that, it sure as hell sounds terrific.
And like all journeys, this one is TO BE CONTINUED…
🎥 Camera: Olaf von Voss
🎬 Editor: John Darko
🕺🏻 Motion GFX: John Darko
💰 Sponsor segment: Jana Dagdagan
Further information: Vicoustic
🎵 Song IDs? Playlists of all music discussed and heard in this video – and other videos – can be found on my PATREON.