x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Home sonic boom is making waves

The Life: The home theatre industry is increasingly obsessed with top-quality sound. Here's why.

Ever considered calling in a pro to boost that home theatre experience?

In the US, a cottage industry has sprung up of audio and video professionals who come into homes and optimise the way speakers are positioned and installed to calibrate the best sound quality in a room.

The industry is "dedicated to the pursuit of sonic greatness", according to the Home Acoustics Alliance, a professional training organisation that teaches sound calibration techniques for the home.

As professionals such as these spring up in other parts of the world, and sound systems become increasingly popular, the global home audio equipment market is expected to top US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn) in sales by 2015, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts, a market research firm.

But not everyone in the UAE wants to invest in professional help, especially when many expatriates plan to stay only a few years.

In situations such as this, home-theatre-in-a-box systems may be a more convenient option.

These systems typically bundle together at least five speakers, plus a bass-creating subwoofer, in order to provide a surround sound effect in a room.

Dedicated audio buffs often criticise these systems for lacking the sophistication of speciality speakers, which tend to be more expensive. Yet some models, such as those from Bose, come equipped with software designed to automatically calibrate a speaker's sound based on the layout of a particular room.

"The system automatically adjusts to a room's conditions," says a representative from Bose in Dubai Mall, which offers a number of systems ranging in price from Dh7,000 to Dh17,000, depending on the size of the speakers.

Other manufacturers have been beefing up the features they provide for controlling the sound within these packaged systems. Some of Sony's offerings, which are distributed through Jumbo Electronics in the Emirates, range from Dh559 to Dh3799.

One of the most expensive models, the BDV-IZ1000W, can be controlled with an iPod touch, iPhone or Android-based smartphone via a mobile app that essentially turns these handheld devices into universal remote controls.

In fact, they can also access details from a Blu-ray disc such as jacket artwork and, of course, crank up the volume on that perfectly calibrated sound system.

The Quote: "As a youngster – I was just 25 years old – I had a Nakamichi [tape] deck, a NAD amplifier and Mission 700 speakers. I remember them very fondly." Deepak Khetrapal, chief executive of Jumbo Electronics