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audioXpress Magazine

August 2020


Home Acoustics, New Workspaces
Editorial By J. Martins


audioXpress Magazine August 2020


  This edition of audioXpress focuses on acoustics and once again we compiled a series of suggestions of products and solutions to help improve any acoustical environment — which under the current circumstances of a global pandemic, starts with our own households. To reinforce that perspective, in our traditional Acoustic Solutions Round-Up feature, we've added a few suggestions about basic solutions for everyone to use at home or in a personal workspace.

The Acoustic Focus for this edition is reinforced with a timely article by Jim DeGrandis discussing the important challenges still faced by acoustics professionals when specifying acoustic materials. Specifically, his article discusses the need to update basic lab measurements and test data to improve the accuracy of the advanced design, modeling, and simulation tools that exist today.

In another example on how acoustic tools are evolving, Stuart Yaniger reviews the M10 Masters Series Streaming Amplifier from NAD Electronics, a compact and powerful home audio amplifier and network streamer that surprises positively for its integration of the latest Dirac Live room correction technology with Bass Control. There's still a lot of useless debate about the merits of digital signal processing for room correction versus room treatment. The reality is both disciplines have tremendously evolved, but digital room correction is now on a completely new level that needs to be acknowledged as extremely valuable and, in certain circumstances, essential.

During the first half of 2020, we were glad to see that most acoustical solutions companies have demonstrated strong resilience through the shelter-at-homes and confinement periods. Manufacturers of first-approach acoustical products managed to keep production levels and distribution steady, and quickly adjusted, as the demand for acoustical products changed. According to several of the companies we contacted, as people were forced to focus on different issues and investments in large community spaces were temporarily suspended, the demand for specific first-approach acoustical solutions, including room kits, microphone isolation shields and reflection filters, floor mats, and insulation solutions in general, increased five-fold.


audioXpress Magazine August 2020


Most acoustic panels companies have launched special kits for conference call applications at home, and many professionals have been active writing articles about the best approach to home acoustic challenges. In general, companies have been promoting easy-to-ship and install solutions.

Not always was this increased demand completely fulfilled, so the demand is still there. Logistical problems, the inability of online e-commerce platforms to support the complexity and diversity of acoustical products, led many manufacturers to realize the need to either invest in direct-to-consumer online stores, or combine an improved online presence with expanded support to distribution partners — which, in general, is the better long-term solution for acoustical product companies that don't want to be limited to serving their hometown or states.

Many of those manufacturers also realized the need to rethink their way of offering services, and refocus their R&D efforts on first-approach and easy-to-install solutions, therefore being able to better serve the market in a time when custom installs and built-to-measure solutions are restricted.

No doubt, these are challenging times for everyone, but as always, there are many opportunities available. After experimenting with having its employees working from home, many companies realized this can be a great sustainable model for their specific businesses. It's not for all, but many companies will allow employees to work from home indefinitely or part-time. This will increase the need to create proper working conditions, including a correct acoustic environment. Long term, a lot of the needs that existed for large commercial spaces will transition to more manageable facilities, where people can safely do their work.


J. Martins





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