Harman International acquired an expansive space at 527 Madison Avenue at 54th Street for its flagship experience center. Designed to showcase their full range of consumer and audiophile equipment, the street level is devoted to Harman’s AKG®, Harman Kardon®, JBL®, and other respected brands. The lower level features a screening room and, behind a discrete sliding door, a private listening room outfitted with Harman’s premium Mark Levinson® amplifiers and Revel Salon2 Speakers, a CD/SACD Disc player, and a turntable for vinyl aficionados. Despite the meticulous planning and design, it was clear to the true audiophiles at the first run through demo that there was an absence of resonance, separation, sonic clarity, and warmth. The room did not sound right.
The original acoustician enlisted to test the room recommended an extensive, lengthy and, costly process, which included wall and ceiling reconstruction, and complex rewiring. Harman was committed to a November 2014 opening in time for the holidays, but beyond that, the recommendations seemed excessive and expensive. WSDG was called for a second opinion. Architect/acoustician John Storyk made a site visit in September and performed a series of acoustic modeling tests and measurements which revealed a total absence of bass control, and an astonishing lack of low frequency compensation.
The listening room displayed an uneven spacing of Eigen tones (standing waves). Re-ordering these modes with topical treatments maximized the successful linear reproduction of sound from Harman’s outstanding Mark Levinson audio components and Revel Ultima 2 Speakers. A rear wall mounted perforated wood/ Helmholtz Resonator, and suspended ceiling clouds, greatly enhanced the low frequency control. Additional broadband absorption was applied to the front wall to compliment the existing carpet and, to slightly reduce the room’s broadband/ mid-frequency reverb time (decay rate). This combination of aesthetically pleasing surface treatments resolved all of the acoustic issues in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. The Harman listening room now empowers this extraordinary Harman technology to provide audiophiles with the ultimate listening experience.
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