The perfect home audio system is not just a collection of electronic components. It is a complex interaction between the components and their environment. If you want to design the best possible system for your home, you’ll have to understand at least the fundamentals of a variety of topics ranging from acoustics to electricity.
Consider the Purpose
As you begin to design your home audio system, the first thing you’ll need to consider is precisely what kind of system you want. If you want an audio-only system, you’ll encounter very different basic design factors than if your intent is to design a multi-media home-theater system. For example, the ideal room in which to install the audio-only system will be different than for a home theater, where lighting is nearly as important as acoustics. Having a clear idea of your wish list for the potential uses of the system from the very beginning of the design process will increase the likelihood that you’ll end up with a system you’ll love.
The actual equipment that makes up the audio system is obviously of considerable significance in the design of the system, but the best system design involves choosing components in conjunction with a consideration of the entire context of the system. Selecting high-quality components that produce the best audio is only part of the process. You’ll need to make sure that the components you choose are capable of adequate power output to fill your room, that the equipment will fit into the available space and that your home’s electrical system is able to power the components. You’ll also have to pay attention to not only major components such as amplifiers and speakers, but also less glamorous parts of the system, such as cables.
Choosing the right components is important, but putting them in the right room is just as important. An acoustically optimal room delivers just the right amount of sound — both direct sound from the system’s speakers and reflected sound that bounces off surfaces in the room — to the listener’s ears. Tuning a room’s acoustics is an extremely complex process that involves the surfaces of the walls, floor and ceiling, as well as the construction and placement of furniture and every other object in the room. If you understand the basics of acoustics, you’ll probably be able to do a reasonable job of designing the room, but a professional designer will be able to fine tune the room’s acoustics much more efficiently and effectively.
If you’re serious about designing the best possible home audio system, you should consider turning the project over to professionals who have the knowledge and experience to do the job correctly. In an ideal project with an extravagant budget, you’ll be able to hire an architect to design a home for the system from scratch and an experienced contractor to build it. If your budget is more modest, an audio-visual designer can help you through the process of choosing components and altering an existing room to optimize the system’s performance.