I have vivid memories of a demonstration I did many years ago in a large high ceilinged drawing room in one of Suffolk’s grand country houses. The music being played took on a sense of realism simply because the venue was the right size for what was being played.

I’ve hoped that our new ‘facility’ would have something of this quality but, so far, getting the ‘domestic’ sized rooms right has been our priority. With some trepidation, we’ve finally got around to playing an appropriate system down the length of our largest new room.

Even if we want it, there is no question that any significant level of room tuning can be in place before we have our not-so-grand opening. Mind you, we have had some speculative proposals drawn up. Our friendly local acoustics guru, Richard Vivian at Big Sky Acoustics has argued, though, that we should play with the room before embarking on changes. Given that this could involve suspending damping panels that would significantly alter an unusual space of which we’re becoming quite fond, it’s a relief to find that the room can perhaps work own its own terms. It’ll be interesting to see what our new visitors make of it.

ML focal

Listening from around half way down the room, there is certainly huge scale in terms of width, height and depth along with serious clarity and a surprising lack of clutter or clatter in the sound. I guess the uneven side walls are doing their thing. Mind you, there is substantial reflected ambiance overhead and behind you too, although this doesn’t actually seem get in the way. So far, in fact, it has felt more like the atmosphere and feel of a live event. And with enough space around you for your brain to figure that actual live music is quite feasible.

Having said that, the Focal Sopra 2s pictured are maybe a little on the small side for what is being demanded. The superb Mark Levinson 585 integrated amp and 519 streamer / CD player are fed by the new Melco N1Zs solid state server. I guess from Focal’s point of view, this system is a little ‘off message’ but it works rather well. Inadvertent use of the more basic Melco N1A, also on the same local network, showed that the 519 is very critical of server quality. Results with the new 2 tb N1Zs been very compelling indeed. Yet to try the in-between N1Zh. Oh those model names.

The plan is to have several serious systems set up either side of the room ready to drive whatever speakers we choose. Next to go in will be our Naim Statement amplification, Linn Klimax and Chord systems. That is over half a tonne of kit to come out of my living room!