Top of the room

January 16, 2020
 by Paul McGowan

One of the most ignored part of the room is right above our heads. The ceiling—often flat, sometimes arched, broken up with timbers, slanted, domed, and everything in between.

We position our speakers in the room more to keep the wall dimensions and layout happiest but rarely do we take into account the ceiling. And for what feels like good reasons—there’s generally not much we can do about it.

Or is there?

In my 45 years of playing with high-end audio, the best rooms have ceilings that have been included in their design. One of my favorites was at New York City’s Lyric HiFi store in downtown Manhattan. No doubt the room is gone now, but back in the heyday of 2-channel the IRS V (and later the Genesis Gen 1) room had a gorgeous slat-wood wavy ceiling. The undulating waves of wood broke up standing waves and helped any speaker in the room sound its best.

Today, there are companies that make versions of this wavy ceiling modifications among the many choices available to those interested in the best sound. Here’s a picture from what the company Vicoustic has to offer as an example.

Working on the ceiling in our three Music Rooms is high on my list of “wanna does” but hasn’t yet bubbled high enough to the top.

If you’re looking for a way to improve the performance of your HiFi system, don’t forget the ceiling.

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