New technology is driving a bold new age in home audio and visual — and homeowners are enjoying being part of the action
There are many components that make up the overall media room concept. Comfortable seating, ambient lighting to set the mood. The star of the show, however, is the audio-visual equipment that enables the viewer or listener to completely immerse themselves in the experience.
We tend to think of architecture and interior design as visual media but, in reality, our experience in any given environment is multi-sensory. Like furnishings and paint on walls, sound strongly colours the overall feel of a room. What if we thought of sound in our homes the way we thought of flooring or decorative accents — something that connects each room and makes them all part of a cohesive whole?
“Sonic architecture is really just about actively considering how to incorporate sound into the spaces where people live and meeting them where they are, not where we think they should be,” explains Sonos vice president of design Tad Toulis.
Sonos product manager Benji Rappoport says: “You know when you’re walking around a store or hotel and there’s music on but you don’t have to see the source or think about where the sound is coming from? We want to be able to bring that experience into people’s homes.”
Daniel Woods from Vision Living believes there are many elements that play into the success of any home theatre project. “We put a huge focus on the whole design being integrated, intuitive and offering the best performance for any budget, with a focus on quality products, materials, design and installation,” he says. Indeed, cutting-edge companies like Sonos are raising the bar in audio-visual technology, with solutions that can virtually replicate a concert or cinematic experience.
Creating a media room requires planning and professional expertise. William from Sight+Sound Galleria says the size of the available space, TV or projection screen location, aesthetics and budget all need to be considered. “Is it a dedicated audio-visual space or a multipurpose room? What are the ideal locations for the speakers? Should they be freestanding, in-roof or in-wall? And what are the types of sources, for example Apple TV/Foxtel, free to air, DVD and/or audio inputs and streaming requirements?”
Then of course there’s the surrounding environment. The design layout shouldn’t impede on any of the features within the space. Jarrod Silverlock from Soundlab, Sonos Centre, says assessing the physical space in the room is key to the success of any media room design, explaining that you need to ask: “Are there any focal architectural features in the room, for example a fireplace, feature stone walls or outdoor scenic views to be considered?”
The acoustic properties of a room also need to be weighed and measured, as these can reflect, absorb, or even transmit the sounds that affect them. “Surface finishes such as glass doors, windows, concrete, tile or timber floors, rugs and carpet coverings, flat or raked ceilings and materials used for the ceilings and, very importantly, furniture like couches, tables and artworks all have an impact on the sound experience,” Jarrod adds.
With the cutting-edge Sonos product, engineers have devised an advanced acoustic tuning tool that’s built in to the Sonos application, called TruePlay. “Through a calibrated microphone (iPhone/iPad), the acoustics of the room are recorded and sent to the Sonos acoustic engine that then adjusts the output of the speakers to provide the ultimate sound production,” he says.
Sonos is synonymous with quality, longevity and versatility. It’s also a brand that audio experts choose when they need a sound solution that’s a little out of the box. William from Sight+Sound Galleria says Sonos is often used in architectural spaces because of its flexibility and superior performance.
“It’s our go-to solution in multi-room applications due to its reliability, versatility and simplicity,” he says.
Robert MacFie from Quantum HiFi says his team has had many memorable projects installing Sonos. “We designed and installed a multi-room Sonos for clients in their Silos Apartment Hobart 7000,” he explains. “This consisted of multiple Sonos AMP and flush in-ceiling speakers. We also installed a matrix video system allowing sharing of multiple sources like Apple TV to two 77in and a 65in TVs.”
The Sonos Amp is winning accolades, not only because of its streamlined good looks but because of its design flexibility; it can basically drive any speakers. This amp has been designed to impress and it doesn’t disappoint. Sonos dealer Damian Lory from Living Sound says a recent large project put the product to the test, as it was a 16-zone home. “The new Sonos Amp was running a very large pair of Krix in-wall cinema speakers on its own — with a Sonos sub of course,” he explains.
Many of today’s homeowners are time-poor, juggling the competing demands of work and family. There’s little time left over to become a whizz at new technologies. Sonos dealers say the number-one request from customers when it comes to designing sound systems is that it’s user-friendly, that is, simple to operate. This is where Sonos comes to the fore. Daniel Woods says that even with multi-room audio, Sonos is a winner.
“Sonos allows us to provide a robust solution with an intuitive interface that integrates with our other systems and components, providing the client a simple interface with a wealth of features.”
For more information see Sonos or independent dealers in:
Victoria: Sight+Sound Galleria
Queensland: Living Sound
Western Australia: Soundlab
South Australia: Vision Living
Tasmania: Quantum HiFi