Sound Architecture: Designing Multi-Purpose L‑Acoustics Sound Spaces to Match Your Modern Lifestyle

How does L-Acoustics Creations define ‘sound space’ in comparison to ‘sound system’?

The difference is fundamental. A sound system is designed to fulfil a well-defined audio or musical function, such as listening to music in stereo or watching a movie in 5.1 sound or other available formats, whereas a sound space aims to fill a space with sound, much in the same way as the sun bathes a room in light. Sound and light intertwine in the perception of a place; in principle, they are inseparable. For a sound space, it is necessary to equip the chosen location with a very sophisticated immersive sound system allowing its inhabitant to perceive sound in a hyperreal and perfectly spatialized manner. What kind of sounds? It can be music, cinema, sound art, interactive sound content, atmosphere, birdsong, the sea, the forest, anything that the human mind can imagine for pleasure, well-being, or passion. Any place that is transformed into a sound space extends the familiar visual space into an imaginary one, traveling beyond the frontiers of physical space thanks to the awesome power of suggestion of sound.

How does a sound space differ from a surround sound system?

A surround system is designed to reproduce an audio format in relation to a dedicated application. The 5.1, 7.1, Dolby Atmos formats were created to support the image, not to imagine a realistic sound space that one encounters in nature, in the city, or at a live concert. A sound space is designed to reproduce the perception of the human ear in its spatial, dynamic, and frequency dimensions. When you enter a cathedral, the sounds that you hear are in harmony with the architectural beauty. When we walk through a forest, the sounds surrounding us seem to come from directions that are at once very precise but random. At seaside in the summer, the rumble and crash of the waves is everywhere in front of us, while behind us we hear the happy clamor of humans on holiday and above, the cries of seagulls.

A sound space is capable of reproducing all of this, and of bringing to it such a degree of truth that by closing your eyes, you find yourself in a cathedral, in the forest, or facing the ocean.

So this is sound architecture?

Exactly! But in truth, this remains an area hitherto unexplored by architects or interior designers, for many reasons. The first is that a scalable and user-friendly audio technology capable of ‘designing’ a realistic sound space did not exist; L-Acoustics invented it. But the second reason comes from the fact that architecture has prioritized visual and tactile aspects to the detriment of acoustics and sound. Often forgotten or neglected due to its complex and invisible nature, sound is rarely part of the primary design process and criteria, with the exception of dedicated rooms, such as a home cinema. As human beings are seen as to be significantly more retinal than auditory, sonic considerations are often simply absent from architectural residential projects, as if we were hard of hearing.

It’s easier to describe what you see than what you hear. Thus, parquet flooring, bathroom elements or a wine cellar will be found in the specifications, but the sonic existence a property’s main living space remains in a void.

This is changing though, and sound architecture has bright days ahead. When visiting a space created by a great architect, you are certainly captured by its visual dimension, however your actual perception comes from all of your senses and in particular the ears: you listen to the space, its resonance, its noises; even when you close your eyes you know where you are. This is why some spaces work well, and others don’t: too bright, too reverberant or unbalanced, oppressive, insipid. And when these spaces are places destined for living, implying contentment and sanctuary, it becomes essential for the interior designer to master the subject of sound. This is where we can help.

What is the process for carrying out a sonic audit and transformation of a space?

It starts by offering the owners the range of possible sound solutions available and trying to understand their preferences. If they are looking for a great sound reproduction system for listening to their favorite music, or just to watch movies, we will direct them to L-Acoustics Creations Archipel range of sound systems. But if they want to go deeper and live in their space as if inside the heart of the music, imagining themselves on stage with their favorite artists; if they want to add an interactive atmosphere or switch between different acoustic landscapes, we will approach the project from the “sound space” angle.

As always, defining a budget will give a framework for the possibilities. A renovation or interior design project is generally costed out in a range of €2,000–€10,000 per m². A similar budget must be considered to turn the chosen place or room into a sound space. This room will then become the property’s sound sanctuary, a space for sharing and meditation, it can become many things at once: receiving area, entertainment room, main lounge, digital art exhibition space, wellness area, or a private place to escape and re-energize.

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Can you give me some examples of areas suited to becoming ‘sound spaces’?

Any place, inside or outside, which offers satisfactory or “improvable” acoustics, with width to length dimensions in a ratio of up to 1 to 2 can easily be transformed into a sound space.

Island and Ocean from L-Acoustics Creations are two systems whose integration into a living space from 70m² and up will create an exemplary sound space. Island and Ocean both fulfil the technical specifications required by the BluSpace standard and offer their hosts extraordinary performance, the best in terms of execution.

Island offers an intimate environment, a sweet spot for two and has the immense advantage of easy domestic integration and invisible advanced technology, while bringing opulence to the living space with its stature. Entering Island is an invitation to travel. We embark and are instantly transported to our musical destination.

Ocean and its 18 speakers accompanied by at least 12 subwoofers will be integrated preferably into the periphery of a living space from 250-500 m² and that observes a physical configuration specified by BluSpace. This imperial auditorium lends itself to all possible and imaginable applications, from meditative individual contemplation to large parties with friends, with live music and DJs.

There are many ways to create sound spaces – the two examples given are at the pinnacle of what can be designed and offered today. A sound space is an architectural project and, as such, requires a personal approach and specification.

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It sounds magical. What makes the creation of a sound space possible?

This alchemy, which is in fact rigorously scientific, is called BluSpace. The BluSpace standard specifies sonic, acoustic and artistic criteria, the aim of which is to create an Immersive Hyperreal sound space, so that a listener immersed in this space has the sensation of being transported to where the sound capture took place.

BluSpace is based on the ability of the human ear to discern sounds, their origins, and their trajectories. For this, the capture and mixing of the sound objects must be carried out in such a way that this spatial hyper-resolution is respected during reproduction. Next, BluSpace specifies a sound reproduction system that must be capable of reproducing this spatial hyper-resolution, across the entire audible spectrum and with the dynamics of a live concert. Finally, the location must undergo an acoustic audit and treatment so as not to betray the specific audio content created for the sound space.

What are these specific audio contents?

Before going there, a sound space can reproduce any audio content available from all types of media, some of which offer lossless quality and spatial resolution that improves from year to year. These standard contents are more and more qualitative and rely on audio-visual processors which can be extremely efficient, and necessary for playback in our sound spaces.

Beyond that, we offer the possibility for owners of an Island or Ocean sound space to commission and produce their own sound content to the BluSpace standard. These recordings, which we call Bubbles, are works of art produced by artists in limited editions. They offer maximum spatial resolution, uncompressed dynamics, hyperreal mixing and can be interactive or not. To date, these works of art have a unique experimental character, their participating artists are the precursors of an approach committed to respecting creation, mixing art and technology.

Who is your typical customer?

As you can see, creating a sound space requires volume and space. The owners of a sound space are passionate about sound and music, they are also art lovers. Our clients are affluent and enthusiastic, their curiosity for seeking new experiences is manifest and contributes to their well-being. There is no doubt that our unique spaces will one day find a place in less sumptuous residences, but we are at the dawn of a change in lifestyle and our current offers are spectacular and technologically innovative. We are at the convergence of art and technology, and the journey is just beginning.

We believe that our customers will be the first BluSpace ambassadors, that they will spontaneously promote these complete and unifying living spaces, in which sound, art and music come together.

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