Last Saturday, I joined a group of local AVS Forum members to visit the new office/warehouse of Starke Sound in Los Angeles, CA. The company was established in 2008 and began selling its products outside the US in 2012. It was introduced to the US market at CEDIA 2016, and its speakers and power amps are so good, we gave it one of the first AVS Forum Best of CEDIA awards the following year for a spectacular demo.
The main reason for Saturday’s gathering was to see and hear the home-theater demo room that Starke recently built inside its warehouse. Designed by Scott DeLoache, Starke’s Chief Design Director and a professional architect, it’s a room within a room that took six months to build.
The Starke Sound demo room began as a drawing with the basic dimensions. The interior dimensions are 28′ (length) x 20′ (width) x 14′ (height), with a 16-inch-high riser covering the back 11′ 8″ of the room. The front and back walls are separated from the shared walls with tenants on either side of the Starke space with an air gap. The entrance consists of a double solid-core door.
The interior walls consist of 5/8″ drywall, 1/2″ sound board, and 1/2″ OSB. The 2×4 wood framing is isolated from the interior wall and the floor with 1/8″ neoprene, and the gap between the inner and outer walls is filled with Roxul Safe and Sound insulation. Obviously, Starke was very careful about sound isolation and control.
The acoustic treatments went through a couple of iterations under the direction of Dan Wiggins, Starke’s Chief Technical Officer. The diffusers and absorbers are custom designed and modular, so they can be assembled into just about any shape and size. In fact, Starke plans to sell its treatments in the near future.
All the 2D and 3D diffusers are placed in the rear half of the room. The riser also acts as a bass trap, along with some bass traps behind the screen.
I found it especially interesting that Dan put 1D curved diffusers—actually, sort of diffusing reflectors—at the first-reflection points rather than absorbers, which is the conventional approach. Dan explained that absorbers do not absorb all frequencies equally, while the curved diffusers spread all frequencies across the listening area equally.
The curved 1D diffusers at the first-reflection points spread all frequencies across the listening area. Also in the front half of the room are some black absorbers, which are difficult to see in this photo.
Of course, the room is filled with the company’s speakers and power amps, along with other equally impressive gear in a 7.3.4 immersive configuration. See the equipment list at the end of this article for a complete inventory.
Here’s the final layout of speakers and seats in the Starke Sound demo room.
At the AVS Forum get-together, we were treated to a variety of demo material played from a hard drive connected to an Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player via USB. Clips included scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Great Wall, John Wick 2, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Also on tap were several things from the Dolby Atmos demo disc, such as “Audiosphere,” “Conductor,” and the “Bailando” music video.
In all cases, the sound quality was exquisite—well balanced throughout the entire frequency range with crystal clarity and a seamless immersive soundstage. In fact, the height effects were better than I’ve heard just about anywhere else. I especially enjoyed “Audiosphere,” “Bailando,” and the clip from The Great Wall in which monsters prowl around over the heads of the heroes in a tunnel.
All told, the Starke Sound demo room cost about $150,000 to build, treat, and equip (calculating with retail prices). And it isn’t just a manufacturer showcase—it’s also a laboratory in which the company can experiment with different equipment, acoustic treatments, etc. I’d say it was a very worthwhile investment—well done!
The Starke Sound demo room was built at one end of the company’s warehouse, which also includes a static display area and room for some inventory. The door to the demo room is behind and to the left of the display area.
Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player
USB hard drive connected to UDP-203
Integra DRC-R1 preamp/processor
Starke A7 7-channel power amps (2)
Spectro Pearl 140 (150′ diagonal, 16:9, 1.4 gain, perforated acoustically transparent)
Starke IC-H5 (3, LCR)
Starke IW-H5 (4, side and rear surround)
Starke IW-H3 (4, overhead)
Starke SUB36 subwoofers (2)
Rythmik FV15HP subwoofer
Fibbr Ultra Pro fiber-optic HDMI (20 meters)
SommerCable XLR and speaker cables
Haikoustics power cables
VIP Sofa recliners (5)
28′ (length) x 20′ (width) x 14′ (height)