2-Channel Audio Installation in Maryland

By Lynn Hopffgarten.

Of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!

—Edgar Alan Poe, “The Bells”

I reported last spring about the magic Sonus faber Stradivarius speakers combined with Naim’s top-of-the-line CD Player, pre-amp, and amplifier brings to a diverse music collection. Since that time, our client has moved to a new home, which has a room dedicated for audio of approximately 18 x 24 ft. with a sloped ceiling. The room is a work-in-progress, and our next update will be when the furniture and acoustic paneling is in.

Nonetheless, we made a startling and stunning improvement this past weekend with the delivery of the new REL “Gibraltar” series G-1 subwoofer (it is hiding in the back left corner).

However, we must first clarify that “subwoofer” is a colossal misnomer; the G-1 is a sub-bass system. With its highly refined crossover and volume controls, the G-1 embraces the entire room, creating and ideal acoustic space for music reproduction.

My first—and really, only—criteria when evaluating new equipment, speakers, or even potential upgrades is: “Am I listening to music, or equipment?” From the first note of Bob Dylan’s re-mastered, “Tangled Up in Blues,” we—my assistant, Irving, and our client—knew we were in for something magical: the music just came to life throughout the room.

This is the first thing this sub-bass system accomplishes: by launching a bass wave below the normal listening range, the G-1 creates a platform upon which the music literally rides, and helps complete its overall harmonic structure.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking: “Wasn’t this what you said about the Strads last spring, Lynn?”

Yup, absolutely. The 2-pi baffle of the Stradivarius definitely creates a large and deep soundstage. But even the most refined, integrated room setup can’t fill a large volume with the low-frequency energy possible in a great sub-bass device.

From Dylan, we went to the client’s favorite recording—which has become mine as well—of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “The Pastoral.” The G-1 provided a stunning overall warmth, coherence, and three-dimensionality to the piccolos as well as strings. It was if the fast transient of these high-frequency instruments was clearer, and had greater body because the G-1 helped complete, while not damping, the overall harmonic structure.

But the most remarkable experience was perhaps with the least likely of demo tracks—AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” The G-1 created the illusion of actually standing inside the bell-tower, as opposed to listening to iron bells from a safe distance… hard not to think of Poe no longer living in silence after The University Church was built in his Brooklyn neighborhood in 1845…



How A Small Home Audio System Can Make Such a Big Difference

Home Theater Audio Visual by Bethesda Systems – A Testimonial

NFL Football in surround sound. Movie theater quality surround sound from a home theater system. It was that simple…that’s what our customer, John Leary in Chevy Chase, MD wanted to add to his home theater experience.

We had a tight budget to work with but knew we could find just the solution John was looking for. John’s existing audio system was fairly advanced; after doing a quick survey of his environment, we determined that with just a few configuration changes and minimal component enhancements that we could really make his sound system sing. We started by adding some “audio color” to his Integra DTR 40.2 receiver by adding an REL T-5 Sub-woofer to bring out the lower Hz frequencies that have become more prevalent in blue-ray formatted DVD’s. The power of the REL-5 also allows the room to become “Audio Pressurized” so every crash, explosion and thump is not only heard, but distinctly felt. This is also enhances to some of those lagging lower bit-rate MP3’s that are constantly streaming across most web-based audio transmissions. YouTube, Pandora Radio, Slacker and other popular media outlets typically run higher end audio/video transmissions but other sources like news channels, corporate webcasts or smaller video venues typically run varying bit rate transmissions.  This poorly encoded media transmission will then produce an increasingly weaker sound output over a system that has been poorly configured, but the REL-5 fixes that.

As a point of reference, the chart below covers typical bitrates and their outlets:

As a point of reference, the chart below covers typical bitrates and their outlets:

Sound Quality Table

To meet John’s need, after adding the REL T-5 Sub-woofer, we complimented the low frequency response gain / per Hz with some hi-output, mid range PSB Imagine Bookshelf Speakers.  We then took the complexity of our configuration and made it simple to operate with the Sonos controller that we set up for his Family room and Outdoor zones.  The result — an audio experience that is unmatched. Read below:

Great to hear from you!
There is not a single night that I sit down to watch TV that I am not struck by how incredible the experience is compared to what I had previously. Liz and I watched two football games on Sunday and it’s really like being there.
When we both have a minute, I will bring my iPad home and we can play with the music system.
I am telling everyone I know about the system!
Stay in touch.

Next up on our list for John: Setting up his iPad to control some devices. Similar to what we did with the IC realtime Camera system set-up and configuration.

Listen to the Music

by Mike Wilson

Recently at Bethesda Systems we starting selling the Pro-Ject RM-5.1 SE — what I used to refer to as a “record player”. But it wasn’t until last month when I sat down with Lynn Hopffgarten, our resident Audio Specialist, and he set up what I now correctly called a “turntable”, did I remember how much I used to love listening to records. And quite frankly, how much I missed it.

This was the record player that used I to have. What can I say; I was “a good ol’ boy who never meant no harm.” This was my iPod! I would sit in my room and listen to albums (you know, VINYL!) like Billy Joel, The J Geils Band, and Pink Floyd just to name a few. Some of my fondest memories are of my dad trying to influence me with “his” music — the likes of Earth Wind and Fire, Steve Wonder and Average White Band. Of course nothing was funnier to a pre-teen than playing any of the above at 45rpm.

So Lynn Sat me down in front of this turntable and began playing the re-release of U2’s Actung Baby (1991) and I was speechless. Just to hear the slight pops before the music began had my attention. Before I knew it we were half way through the first side. I was actually listening to music again. Not just driving in a car, killing time on a plane or making exercise tolerable. It was an amazing feeling. As for the sound quality, WOW buy your favorite song on iTunes play it out of your ear buds then buy the Vinyl copy and listen to it on a good sound system. I guarantee you it will be like listening to something completely different. To the “I’m not an audiophile guys or gals”…Yes. You too!

I have since set up my own little system at home and have not only been enjoying this experience alone, I have included my 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter to the party and all I could think about was how my Dad used to do it with me. No better feeling in the world.

Here are 12 great sounding records from multiple genres that I would recommend:

Top Row (L to R): Nevermind, Nirvana; Legend, Bob Marley; Love, The Beatles; Achtung, Baby!, U2; Born This Way, Lady Gaga; Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd.

Bottom Row (L to R): The Stranger, Billy Joel; The Ghose of Tom Joad, Bruce Springsteen; Thriller, Michael Jackson; Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye; Surfacing, Sarah McLachlan; Change of Heart, David Sanborn.