Best place to put a speaker: Sonos head of design gives us tips and tricks of the trade
Sonos has a mission and that is to "fill every home with music" as well as to give you "the ultimate home music experience".
To do this, you not only need to have great speakers, but you also have to have the best possible set-up for them with the best possible objects for the sound waves to reflect off and be absorbed into.
We sat down with Sonos's lead designer, Mieko Kusano, who gave us a few tips and tricks to help you create a space that will enable you to listen to music the way it was meant to be heard.
Analyse the shape and size of your room
Unless you happen to be an architect, there is pretty much nothing you can do to change the shape and size of your room, but there are a couple of things you can do to help get the best acoustics without rebuilding your house.
First of all you need to find out how the room handles sound waves. If it echoes, it could be down to a number of reflective surfaces and objects, such as concrete floors or lots of windows.
The opposite of course is dead space, where you may have carpet and a lot of soft furnishings absorbing the sound.
Improving live and dead spaces
To improve a live space, add in some materials that will absorb the sound, such as rugs and soft furnishings or dress up your windows with floor to ceiling drapes.
Wool, cotton, glass fibre and polyfill stuffing in furniture and stuffed animals (if you are into fake animals in your living rooms), are said to be the best materials for reducing echo. You could also fill the room with people to soften the space - sounds like an opportunity for a party to us.
If you have a dead space room with minimal reflective surfaces, you could try putting in a big table or a glass ornament to get a better sound experience.
Must-have objects to better your sound acoustics
It is best to try to avoid large uncovered wooden objects, larger areas of glass, concrete flooring and loose hanging light fixtures if you are trying to improve the acoustics in your room, but there are also some must-have objects you can introduce to help.
Hanging a framed fabric wall art will not only add a bit of artistic flair to your wall (depending on your selection), but it will also act as a sound wave absorber, as long as you don't add a glass front of course.
Bookcases are a key accessory to achieving an awesome sound, with books on them. The shape and structure helps break up the sound while the books absorb the sound waves and prevent echo.
Floor to ceiling curtains will help add a mood to your room as well as cover hard, reflective surfaces to balance the sound. Floor to ceiling is key here though, otherwise the bare wall will become a more concentrated area reflecting the sound waves and distorting the sound.
A large sofa made from thin material is one of the most effective objects you can include in a room to create a balanced sound. It not only breaks up the sound, but it also softens it and can reduce echo, plus it gives you somewhere to sit.
If your room has a high ratio of hard surfaces such as wooden or concrete floors then a rug or a couple of rugs will act as a great absorbent surface to reduce reflection.
Find the vibrations and eliminate them
If you hear any buzzes or rattles such as lamps, vases or ornaments that you've put on a hard surface, then putting felt pads underneath them will help.
Felt pads aren't too expensive and putting them between the bottom of the rattling object and the surface will help get rid of unwanted noises that interfere with that Girls Aloud track you are trying to listen to.
Consider the music experience you want to achieve
The room size will determine the power you will need from your speakers, but you should consider how you want to experience your music.
For example, if you are in the kitchen, you will more than likely be standing up and therefore the speaker should be placed on a counter top to enable it to be as close to your ear as possible.
If you are in the living room, there is a good chance you will be sitting down and therefore the speaker should be placed lower down.
Bring your speakers to the front
When your speakers are off, they are still an object in the room and luckily the majority of speakers available on the market are aesthetically pleasing so you don't need to hide them away.
You can check out the gallery and play spot the Sonos or - for ideas from the Sonos Sound Space we visited - on where to place your speakers so they don't stick out like a sore thumb in your house.
Not having to hide them away will also help acoustically. If you put them in confined spaces or cubby holes it will affect the sound the speakers produce because of the immediate reflection of the sound waves emitted.
The closer to the wall you place the speaker, the more bass you will receive, which in turn means if you bring them forward, you will achieve less bass. Around 10cm from the wall is recommended to get the best sound.
Double up to get the best from your speakers
Of course two speakers will be better than one if you can stretch the budget to accommodate and adding in a subwoofer to the mix will also help for boosting the bass, but that's probably a given.
READ: Sonos Play:1 review
What you might not know is popping the subwoofer in the corner of the room is the best place to influence the "standing waves" or "room modes" within the room to create the most bass.
You could of course pay thousands to get a professional to come and acoustically design your house for you, but it's worth giving these few tips a go first to see if they make any improvements.