How do you distinguish a music lover from an audiophile? BLANCHE RIVERA-FERNANDEZ hears the answer in the ultimate listening room.
The problem with going to Jack Duavit’s basement is that you’ll never hear music the same way again—and that can be depressing. How do you simulate the pure, powerful sound produced by a USD500,000 system inside a $9,500 room?
The former Rizal congressman, a certified acoustician who now runs Pure Sound (an audio systems integrator and dealer) built his North Greenhills home around the listening room, a 22-year-old dream of a boy who grew up with music-lovers and audiophiles.
An audiophile, Jack says, is someone who enjoys listening to music as a primary activity, not as something that’s being done on the background, like in a car while stuck in traffic or in a bar while chatting with the girls. They set aside time just to listen.
“A lot of people will say it’s about the music but it’s really not that true. Music you can enjoy anywhere, but in any hobby, it’s the learning part that’s fun,” he says.
It’s also not about having more money, Jack insists, but finding what works for you. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you have a lot of disposable dough, because a listening room with a system as cutting-edge as Jack’s does not go for a song.
The 80-square-meter basement refuge feels like a VIP lounge in Las Vegas but it’s actually a very technical construction that serves as “proof of concept” for Pure Sound’s clients.
“All things here have a purpose,” Jack says as he shows us around the room.
A Lao Lian Ben painting hangs on the center not for its aesthetic value (although it is a pretty piece) but for its rough surface, which diffracts sound. Behind it are two inches of fiber glass wall covering wooden slats covering four inches of rock wool.
“Normally studios are all fabric; we went for other materials… It’s basically ray tracing. The higher frequencies tend to beam; the lower you go, they radiate in omni-fashion… it’s very geeky stuff,” Jack adds, as he tries to explain the technical aspects of the listening room.
But really, who needs any explanation?
The moment Katherine Jenkins’ voice floats with an orchestra in “Angel” followed by Josh Groban’s “The Prayer,” you’re gone, transported into a private concert where there is nothing but you and the music. Everything else fades so that you are aware of every last quiver of the violin.
Even Jack almost doesn’t exist—until he stops the music to show you his collection of 2,000 records, 800 CDs and about 8,000 songs on his iMac. The records are cleaned by a fully automatic record-cleaning machine. His turntable, carefully placed on top of an anti-vibration surface, was assembled, with parts from Japan, Switzerland and Germany. The speakers alone, if bought on retail, would cost $90,000 (Jack insists he did not pay the retail price for his entire sound system, which, when converted, would be roughly about Php21.5 million).
“I won’t ever be able to—okay, yes, I can afford it—but I’ll never be able to justify it,” he says of his private sound wonderland.
Then again, this is where he spends an hour each night after putting the kids to bed, and Sunday afternoons with family, and one too many Friday nights with friends.
“It gives me peace,” he says. And who says peace doesn’t come at a hefty price?