Million-Dollar Media Room

Unless you're a serious audiophile, you might not know the name Goldmund. After 30 years making ultra-high-end audio components, this Swiss company is expanding into the realm of home theater. But if you think it's simply offering projectors and surround-sound systems, think again. When you contact Goldmund to discuss home theater, you'll be talking about a complete media room that the company will design, build, equip, and calibrate from beginning to end.

Starting with proprietary room-modeling software, the room dimensions are optimized, often leading to an acoustically and vibrationally isolated "room within a room" as depicted here:

Next, the components are specified and custom built while the room is constructed. Speakers are located all around the room with up to 128 audio channels thanks to a Goldmund-developed technology that is said to rebuild the surround soundfield so it's much more seamless than traditional 5.1 or 7.1 systems. This proprietary technology also allows the speakers to be located without concern for the placement of doors, windows, or other design elements—the system can even create "virtual speakers" at any position around the room as well as compensate for any acoustic anomalies.

The frequency response of the system is spec'd to encompass 5Hz to 50kHz with a peak sound pressure level of 130dB at the primary seating position. Why such a wide frequency response when humans can't hear anything below 20Hz or above 20kHz? Probably because the human frequency range is much flatter and more linear within such an expanded range than it would be if 20Hz and 20kHz were the system's extremes.

And do you really need 130dB, which is approaching the human threshold of pain? Certainly not, but again, if the system is capable of such SPLs, a more comfortable level will cause the amplifiers to operate in their linear range with very low noise.

Video-wise, the projector is 1080p with an anamorphic lens, and the ultrawide 2.35:1 screen occupies a 40-degree field of view from the primary seat. The peak-white level is at least 14 foot-lamberts, which is a bit lower than the commercial-cinema standard of 16fL, but the room is completely light-sealed, so that slight difference shouldn't be noticeable to most folks.

So how much does the ultimate media room cost? That depends on several factors, but it's certainly in the million-dollar neighborhood. Of course, you could set up a kick-ass home theater for a lot less, but you wouldn't get the custom-built components, craftsmanship, or attention to detail that Goldmund provides. The whole idea here is to have a custom media room built from the ground up by a single company that is responsible for the entire process, and that doesn't come cheap.

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Goldmund demo room in Los Angeles, which was installed in an upscale house located within a gated community. The sound was phenomenal, but the projector, which was provided by Norwegian high-end maker projectiondesign, was not completely dialed in—the black level was pretty high and shadow detail was less than stellar. I was assured that these issues were being addressed and I should come back in a few months to see how much progress had been made. I look forward to that return visit, and I will report on what I find right here on UAV.

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