The My Sound home theater - an encounter of the ultimate kind
Undistorted 120 decibels and a bass reaching well down below 10 hertz: Germany's best home theater is located in the Bavarian town of Starnberg – in the My Sound studios.
LowBeats was on site.
Those were the minimum requirements. So, let's briefly summarize which speakers got therefore installed, and that in a best hidden way:
- 3x Ascendo CCRM12 as front speakers
- 20x Ascendo CCRM6 (3x as front height speakers, 7x as Atmos/Auro ceiling speakers, 10x as surround
- 6x Ascendo SMSG15WL subwoofers
- as well as the aforementioned 32-inch Ascendo SMSG32 infra-subwoofer
All in all, the system comes up with 23 satellite speakers and seven subwoofers. Not to forget that these aren’t any off-the-shelf speakers and subwoofers, but highly specialized exponents from the Ascendo Immersive Audio (AIA) line of speakers.
All CCRM satellites are two-way speakers that operate with a midrange/tweeter coax from the professional PA sector. Even a single CCRM6 can reach volume levels without any distortion, where common hi-fi speakers of this size have already jumped off the train. All the more this applies, of course, for the CCRM12 with its 30-centimeter sized midwoofer.
A coax driver deriving from the public address sound technology and consisting of a 12-inch midwoofer and a centrally incorporated horn tweeter, forms the basis of the CCRM12, of which three units account for the sonically relevant front speakers of the My Sound home theater (Photo: Ascendo).
These speakers of the My Sound home cinema use an calibratable amplification (with a minimum of 500 watts per in-built amplifier unit) and are connected via a sophisticated AVB bus system to the internet and with each other. Each speaker is therefore individually controllable. Three years ago, we already described the concept in detail („3D sound world with 20,000 watts“), and still up to now it fascinates (but above all it’s a lot more practice-oriented than any other system known to me).
Before I continue, I have to say a few words about the company Ascendo. The speaker specialists from the German region of Baden-Würtemberg began to pave their path in the mid-nineties with extraordinary pulse-optimized high-end speakers until discovering almost 20 years later their penchant for home theater with best 3D sound.
From a number of cinema projects, the subsidiary company Ascendo Immersive Audio (AIA) emerged and with it the best home theater speakers that have ever been made. The makers from Ascendo have just the right touch, as they are at home in both worlds – high volume-stable home theater and sophisticated hi-fi – and combine the respective requirements as skillfully as no other manufacturer I have come across.
Yet I have not mentioned another special line of AIA’s world of products: the subwoofers. Already the inconspicuous SMSG15 WL subwoofer (with a 38 centimeter-sized woofer) is among the most stable, accurate and bone-dry sounding subwoofers I've ever heard. Of these, six find themselves installed in the My Sound home theater system. And in addition, we’ve got that 32-inch subwoofer for everything below 40 hertz ...
The 32-incher is positioned at the back of the My Sound home theater arrangement and got quickly undressed for my visit. Normally, the monster bass does its work behind an acoustically permeable cover (photo: W. Linhard).
In the past I had already experienced the cinema system without this behemoth bass, and really got thrilled even without it. But thanks to this 32-incher, which disburdens the other subwoofers in the area below 40 hertz, the whole system performs much more relaxed and, above all, reaches much deeper down...
In the AIA portfolio, there is even a 50-inch model, with which the company now based in the Frankonian city of Ansbach sets the world record for serially produced subwoofers. But that would have been too much of a good thing for the 40 square meters of the My Sound home theater. So, 30 loudspeakers already sum up to a total power output of 30,000 watts. Isn’t that somewhat exaggerated?
However, one shouldn’t underestimate the dynamic requirements in a home theater. The mastering studios only work out one sound mix only – namely that one for public cinemas. And this range of dynamics appears as well on a Blu-ray intended for home cinema use. Acoustic events around 20 hertz (thunder or cannons) quickly burst in at full level – which many systems may not even handle at living room levels.
Anyone who has always wondered why the usual home cinema sound couldn’t hardly lead him to a satisfying contentment, here is one of the answers: Most systems are simply overtaxed by the extreme dynamics of the movie sounds. But the My Sound home theater – you guessed it – doesn’t know this state of excessive demand.
Sit down, fasten seatbelts, and take off: the My Sound home theater comes alive
As you already know, I have repeatedly been to the My Sound cinema in the past. Nevertheless, I wasn’t aware of the last evolution steps within the project – especially when considering the new power supplies, the power supply system itself as well as the 32-inch subwoofer. However, I hardly could imagine that the differences would be that big – after all, the My Sound home theater already could claim the reference status even before these measures were implemented. But far from it. Well, I really am not a home cinema fan driven by that particular kind of devotion, as according to my individual perception there still is the last bit of resolution missing. This, admittedly, is not the case here. The merging of high-performance high-end speakers plus amplifier equalization, plus power to the extreme, plus a giant subwoofer, as well as sophisticated room acoustics, add up to an overall experience that I have never heard like this before: A home cinema performance offering both highest transparency and most detailed subtlety with an equally wide and realistic gross as well as fine dynamic range. This is how it works!
Every impulse gets to the point like a hammer, acoustic events move through the room as if they were tangible, nothing sounds compressed or suffers from sharpness. After Wolfgang Linhard having put me in a state of astonished disbelief using popular demo tracks starting with the Dolby Demo- Disc and ending up with Mad Max: Fury Road, I had to get down from shaking all over first. After immerging into so many sound effects and visual impressions, I solicited for some down-to-earth music videos – and stuck with Metallica's Through The Never.
Metallica Through The Never 3D: One of the first concert recordings remastered in Dolby Atmos 3D audio
(Photo: Ascot Elite)
This album is somewhat to be considered a Best-Of compilation of the hardrocking quartet and, up to me, it’s one of the first sonically fairly convincing Dolby Atmos recordings. Beyond any effects, this recording quickly shows how good the sound system of the My Sound home theater really is, as usually the hard riffs of the electric guitars quickly get annoying, the cymbals quickly get hissing. The My Sound home theater, however, sounds like an excellent hi-fi system – just a lot more threedimensional, much deeper, louder and completely free of any kind of distortion.
At some point – Linhard had already left the cinema because of the music being too loud (indeed, he expressed reservations against the music I selected) – the analytical part of my brain signed out. I suddenly lost any kind of strain, what is quite atypical as I am always chasing for all those imperfections, all those sonic shortcomings in a system. Here, simply nothing needed to be niggled. So I put my feet up to rest, turned the volume even louder and lost myself in sonic intoxication. The quality of this system throws the listener into the first row of the audience – very much close to the instruments – yet keeping a certain distance. All at once there was this clarity, this credible threedimensionality, this naturalness and ease: I just became part of the concert.
I felt lead vocalist James Hetfield standing less than two meters away from me, and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett stepping time and again down from the stage towards me and the other spectators. This is pure goose bumps. Still, the difference compared to the live concert was there, of course, but much smaller than with any of the other home theater systems I've heard along the way. Of course, the overwhelmingly colourful and crisply sharp image also contributed to this sense of realism. For over an hour I was completely captivated by the authenticity of this acoustic and visual spectacle. I didn’t even notice Linhard coming back into the room: Not until he throttled the volume down, forcing me back into reality. "What a pitty, it's over now," rushed through my mind as the bass strikes of "One" kept lingering inside me.
One of the main reasons why this system sounds so super-relaxed and effortless is certainly due to the 32-inch infra-subwoofer. Such a big-sized diaphragm produces a completely different bass than a multitude of smaller subwoofers: The lowest frequencies arise more substantial, more self-evident. As the 32-incher assumes all the sub-bass work below 40 hertz, it disburdens the other six subwoofers by significantly reducing their inclination to distortions in the upper bass range. The way this system with its giant subwoofer reproduces powerful bass drum beats has a kind of quality, cleanness and bottom-line emphasis, which you usually don’t come across elsewhere. Here, the experiencing of music is taken to the very next level, thus spectacular gunfire or detonation sounds attaining an almost oppressive realism.
Conclusion: My Sound – a unique home theater experience
Unquestionably, the My Sound home theater in its impact is even more enthralling than even large halls in big cinemas are able to offer. Anyone who takes a look behind the conception and the consistent implementation quickly understands why. No cinema operator can afford such a dedication to detail. Not even the best modern cinema sound systems are capable of modeling such a perfect sculptural sound on every single seating position.
At My Sound, there are only a few seats to which the system has been perfectly trimmed along many, many hours. Therefore, the sound is three-dimensional in such a way, that this home theater is the absolute reference also in terms of an acoustic 3D presentation.