How does L-Acoustics Creations define ‘sound space’ in comparison to ‘sound system’?
The difference is fundamental. A sound system is designed to fulfil a well-defined audio or musical function, such as listening to music in stereo or watching a movie in 5.1 sound or other available formats, whereas a sound space aims to fill a space with sound, much in the same way as the sun bathes a room in light. Sound and light intertwine in the perception of a place; in principle, they are inseparable. For a sound space, it is necessary to equip the chosen location with a very sophisticated immersive sound system allowing its inhabitant to perceive sound in a hyperreal and perfectly spatialized manner. What kind of sounds? It can be music, cinema, sound art, interactive sound content, atmosphere, birdsong, the sea, the forest, anything that the human mind can imagine for pleasure, well-being, or passion. Any place that is transformed into a sound space extends the familiar visual space into an imaginary one, traveling beyond the frontiers of physical space thanks to the awesome power of suggestion of sound.
How does a sound space differ from a surround sound system?
A surround system is designed to reproduce an audio format in relation to a dedicated application. The 5.1, 7.1, Dolby Atmos formats were created to support the image, not to imagine a realistic sound space that one encounters in nature, in the city, or at a live concert. A sound space is designed to reproduce the perception of the human ear in its spatial, dynamic, and frequency dimensions. When you enter a cathedral, the sounds that you hear are in harmony with the architectural beauty. When we walk through a forest, the sounds surrounding us seem to come from directions that are at once very precise but random. At seaside in the summer, the rumble and crash of the waves is everywhere in front of us, while behind us we hear the happy clamor of humans on holiday and above, the cries of seagulls.
A sound space is capable of reproducing all of this, and of bringing to it such a degree of truth that by closing your eyes, you find yourself in a cathedral, in the forest, or facing the ocean.
So this is sound architecture?
Exactly! But in truth, this remains an area hitherto unexplored by architects or interior designers, for many reasons. The first is that a scalable and user-friendly audio technology capable of ‘designing’ a realistic sound space did not exist; L-Acoustics invented it. But the second reason comes from the fact that architecture has prioritized visual and tactile aspects to the detriment of acoustics and sound. Often forgotten or neglected due to its complex and invisible nature, sound is rarely part of the primary design process and criteria, with the exception of dedicated rooms, such as a home cinema. As human beings are seen as to be significantly more retinal than auditory, sonic considerations are often simply absent from architectural residential projects, as if we were hard of hearing.
It’s easier to describe what you see than what you hear. Thus, parquet flooring, bathroom elements or a wine cellar will be found in the specifications, but the sonic existence a property’s main living space remains in a void.
This is changing though, and sound architecture has bright days ahead. When visiting a space created by a great architect, you are certainly captured by its visual dimension, however your actual perception comes from all of your senses and in particular the ears: you listen to the space, its resonance, its noises; even when you close your eyes you know where you are. This is why some spaces work well, and others don’t: too bright, too reverberant or unbalanced, oppressive, insipid. And when these spaces are places destined for living, implying contentment and sanctuary, it becomes essential for the interior designer to master the subject of sound. This is where we can help.
What is the process for carrying out a sonic audit and transformation of a space?
It starts by offering the owners the range of possible sound solutions available and trying to understand their preferences. If they are looking for a great sound reproduction system for listening to their favorite music, or just to watch movies, we will direct them to L-Acoustics Creations Archipel range of sound systems. But if they want to go deeper and live in their space as if inside the heart of the music, imagining themselves on stage with their favorite artists; if they want to add an interactive atmosphere or switch between different acoustic landscapes, we will approach the project from the “sound space” angle.
As always, defining a budget will give a framework for the possibilities. A renovation or interior design project is generally costed out in a range of €2,000–€10,000 per m². A similar budget must be considered to turn the chosen place or room into a sound space. This room will then become the property’s sound sanctuary, a space for sharing and meditation, it can become many things at once: receiving area, entertainment room, main lounge, digital art exhibition space, wellness area, or a private place to escape and re-energize.