Downsizing - High Fidelity in an Apartment
As cities become more congested and our schedules become more packed, many are choosing to live in apartments, rather than in houses. There are many benefits to living in an apartment - no gardens and backyards to maintain, for instance and you are often closer to amenities - but the biggest drawback for audiophiles has been the lack of space for a high fidelity audio system.
In this article, we are going to look at building some systems that will shine in apartments.
The Living Room System
One of the most logical places to place a stereo system in an apartment would be to find the largest room. And that would be the open plan living/dining area.
The problem is that the living/dining area serves many different functions, and it would be difficult to reconcile the clutter of cables and components with a room that is also used to entertain guests.
The good news is that advances in high fidelity audio components mean you can now get state of the art components - all inside a single box.
Enter the Devialet Expert Le200 amplifier. To call it an “integrated amplifier” would do the Devialet a disservice. An integrated amplifier is often seen as a poor cousin of a separate pre- and power- amplifier system - and riddled with compromises. This is not the case with the Devialet. It is a uniquely designed product that combines best-in-class phono processing, media streaming system, digital to analogue conversion mated to a unique Class A/D Hybrid amplifier.
Then, all you need is a device to supply music - a computer or a BlueSound Node 2 for instance - and a pair of speakers. And you are open for business. Clutter is kept to the bare minimum.
For apartments, we want slim floor standing speakers that take up a small footprint. A floor stander speaker is more efficient to drive and works well to fill a large space like a combined living dining area with music. We think you’d be hard pressed to find a better performer in a compact form factor than the B&W CM10 S2 speakers. They occupy only 20cm x 36cm of floor space, and stand just about a metre tall. The tweeter on top design is trickled down from the flagship 800 series, and the crossover networks use Mundorf capacitors and Van den Hul wiring.
Best of all, the CM10 S2 is perfectly matched to the Devialet using Devialet’s Active Speaker Matching (SAM) processing. The waveforms show the difference that enabling Active Matching makes.
|SAM Disabled||SAM Enabled|
The left waveforms show the original signal being sent to the speaker (in black) and the actual output from the speaker (in orange) when Active Matching is Off. The waveforms on the right shows what happens when Active Matching is enabled. What you experience is the speaker that reproduces the original recording with amazing fidelity.
And to complete the system, we have the BlueSound Node that can stream music from your home computers and network or from an online internet streaming service like Spotify or TIDAL - all controlled with a phone or tablet. We are big fans of TIDAL here - there’s just such a great selection of music - and in lossless CD quality. You could swap this out for a computer, of course, but we like the small unobtrusive Node 2 in a living area.
And for the professional touch, our team of custom installers can help you hide away the few remaining cables - for a clean, uncluttered look that makes the living and dining area an inviting place for everyone in the family.
The Small Study
The other option for a music system in an apartment is to use a small study or bedroom - and set it up for near-field listening. You sit closer to the speakers - and when tuned correctly, creates an intimate listening environment that makes you feel you are in a small jazz bar with the musicians and singers just in front of you.
In a 3m by 4m room, we’d prefer to use bookshelf speakers, such as the B&W CM6 S2s. These speakers have a great bass depth that you would not have expected in a small form factor - and in a near field listening position, the effect is even more pronounced. Like the bigger CM10 S2s, the CM6 S2s feature that tweeter on top trickled down from the 800 series.
For amplification, the Devialet Expert Le120 is the one we would choose. The Le120 provides most of the functionality of the 200 - just with a little less power. In a smaller room, where you sit closer to the speakers, you can live with the drop in power easily. All Devialet Expert amplifiers can be mounted on the wall, giving the listening area a clean and clutter-free look. Handy in a small room. And with Speaker Active Matching, the Le120 also extends the bass response of the CM6 S2 from 52Hz to 27Hz! That’s almost the range of a large floor standing speaker.
As before, the BlueSound Node 2 completes the system.
All Roads Lead To Rome
It always helps to have more than one string to one’s bow. Just as high fidelity audio does not have to mean big bulky equipment and snakes of cables around them. So even when you move into a smaller apartment or when the family grows, you can still find the space for beautiful music.
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