WINTER PARK, FLORIDA – MAY 2012: Storch Entertainment Systems was recently contacted by Phil Kean Designs, the builder of a luxury home, in Winter Park, Florida. The homeowner, a passionate music lover, was eager to possess a world-class media room with sound reproduction so faithful it would rival even the great control rooms of the world. Michael Storch, owner of Storch Entertainment Systems and kindred media-phile, oversaw the room’s design, calling in experts such as Michael Chafee to help make the room absolutely perfect. In addition to superlative acoustical design and top-of-the-line components, the room benefitted, in Storch’s words, “by an order of magnitude” from Chafee’s careful system calibration using a Symetrix Jupiter 8 digital signal processor that resides between the Denon surround-sound processor and the self-powered Genelec loudspeakers.
“The idea was to recreate the listening environment that the mix engineer of the source material might have experienced,” explained Storch. “Luckily, we were contacted early enough in the process that we could still alter the room’s basic construction.” Storch sent the blueprints to acoustical designer Richard Bird at Rives Audio. Bird tweaked the room’s dimensions and specified the ideal locations for loudspeakers, acoustical absorbers, acoustical diffusers, bass traps, and even the human listeners. When the builders were ready, Storch and his crew swooped in to install the equipment and acoustical treatments. “Two of the notable features of the room itself are its diffusive ceiling, which also has a cool twinkly star lighting system, and the acoustical fabric the interior designer selected,” said Storch. “The fabric is made by Knoll and is called ‘Heavy Metal’.”
Chafee helped with the equipment selection. Based on the room’s modest size and the goal of reproducing a neutral control room environment, he selected Genelec loudspeakers. Three AIW26s serve as the left-center-right, and two AIW25s serve as surrounds. A pair of Triad subwoofers powered by a Crown Xti 2000 amplifier provides the listener with thunderous low-end when needed. A Denon AVR-3312 integrated network A/V surround receiver provides the front-end user interface that selects input sources, adjusts the volume, and alters the surround sound configuration.
Once everything was installed, Chafee arrived with his sophisticated RTA gear and his ears. “Mike’s ears are the best piece of equipment he has,” Storch laughed. Chafee measured the room and found that everyone had done their jobs well. It is a remarkably flat room, “one of the flattest he had ever measured,” said Storch. Next, Chafee pulled up the sound system and loaded the “Home Theater” app onto the Symetrix Jupiter 8, which gave him all of the signal processing tools that he needed, including multiple flavors of equalization, dynamics, and loudspeaker management.
“Before Mike [Chafee] came in, we had the opportunity to listen to the room with the Jupiter running flat,” said Storch. “Given the excellent acoustics and the excellent components, it’s not surprising that it sounded really great. In fact, if we had stopped there, we would have felt satisfied that the job was well done. But then Mike dialed things in on the Jupiter and it was obviously much, much better. It was an order of magnitude better. The cost of Mike’s time and the Jupiter was a small fraction of the total cost of the room, but you couldn’t have purchased that degree of improvement with hardware alone, even if you doubled the price of the room! It’s a truly phenomenal sounding room.”
Once Chafee was finished adjusting the system, the Symetrix Jupiter 8 became a black box for the end user. “There are no knobs or dials on the front of the Jupiter,” said Storch. “And that’s a very good thing. The client wanted a well-tuned system, and there’s no way he could improve on Mike’s settings. So giving him any measure of control would be opening the door for him to foul it up. The client is free to enjoy the system, which is perhaps the best I have ever heard.”
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