The Grade II Property

Cinch Technology, a leading provider of high-end residential audio solutions, recently undertook a project to provide a comprehensive sound experience at an upmarket Grade II listed London property. Known for their expertise in residential sound systems, Cinch Technology installed K-array speaker systems that seamlessly blend into the property’s traditional aesthetic while delivering exceptional audio quality.

Situated in the heart of Vauxhall, the Grade II listed property is an exceptional example of Victorian architectural heritage. The challenge faced by Cinch Technology was to install sound systems throughout the house without compromising the property’s historical integrity. With more than 20 years’ experience of home and business installations, the team at Cinch Technology formulated a solution that struck the perfect balance between preserving the property’s heritage and incorporating digital-led audio technology.

The team say they chose to deploy speaker systems from the K-array Vyper and Lyzard ranges of Italian-designed professional products for this installation due to their exceptional sound quality, highly discreet appearance and their ability to deliver outstanding performance in a compact form factor. These systems consist of slim, sleek, and unobtrusive speakers that blend into residential environments, making them a strong choice for historical properties where visual aesthetics are crucial.

Understanding the unique requirements of the property, Cinch Technology collaborated closely with the property owners and interior designers to create a tailored sound solution. “This is a newly refurbished single dwelling in a gorgeous part of fairly central South London next to a park and near the river,” says Cinch director Werner Weber. “The unique thing about it, and the whole reason we used K-array, is that it is a Grade II listed property, and that meant that we couldn’t fix anything directly to the walls or ceilings or disturb the structure in any way, and that required a little ingenuity from our design team."

“Rather than being a fully automated home, the owners are much more into their music and into their cinema, so we designed a fully distributed audio system. All of the bedrooms, bathrooms and the living spaces have either ceiling speakers in them, or where the Grade II listing issue was relevant, we installed Vyper-KV25 25cm long miniature arrays on custom faceplates in the big open plan kitchen diner with a Rumble-KU26 subwoofer concealed under the seating.”

The team point out that, despite their compact size, the KV25 speakers deliver powerful and immersive sound across an extended frequency range, crossing over to the subwoofer at 150Hz, and are capable of filling the room with rich, detailed audio. The speaker locations on either side of the floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading out to the garden mean that their 140° horizontal dispersion pattern covers the large kitchen comfortably and projects right through the open archway to the dining room beyond, while the narrow 40° coverage pattern effectively avoids reflections from the ceiling or counter-level surfaces and provides cohesive sound with uninterrupted path lengths wherever you are in the room.

In the high-ceilinged upstairs drawing room, a pair of ultra-micro Lyzard-KZ14 arrays are flush mounted on the outside wall along with a single corner-sited Rumble-KU44 subwoofer delivering the low frequencies. Against the light streaming from the large sash windows facing the street, the 10cm tall KZ14s totally fade into the décor making their sonic richness shine through.

Werner explains, “The clients have three teenage kids and do love their music, which can be streamed anywhere in the house via the centralised Bluesound streaming services. I’ve observed that these days when people are entertaining no-one is sitting by the TV anymore; they’re all congregating in the kitchen – and this house is perfect for that with its huge open plan kitchen/diner that looks out over the very private walled garden."

“The Vyper line arrays installed in the kitchen really put out a lot of sound, peaking at an impressive 108dB, and the Rumble subwoofer with its four high efficiency 4in drivers installed under the banquette seating really rocks the room. With music very much an integral part of the owners’ leisure time and with considerable SPL on tap from the K-array systems, this property can turn into a proper party house.”

One essential part of the brief was, because it’s an architecturally designed home, that the client and the architect didn’t want the speakers to be a prominent visual feature – rather, they wanted the speakers to totally fade into the décor. With both the Vyper and Lyzard arrays 100% RAL colour matched to the walls they are hard to pick out, which makes the audio performance all the more impressive given their extremely modest dimensions, says the install team.

Audio is distributed throughout the house from a centralised AV rack in the newly constructed basement plant room housing Bluesound rack-mounted media players and DSP amplification.

“2B Heard’s (UK distributor for the K-array brand) support was fundamental to the success of this project,” says Weber, “not only in helping with the RAL colour-matching but also with providing verification of our K-array specification for each room’s size. And with Matt (Holland) recently coming on board at 2B Heard to help transition to a more residential alignment, we’ve felt really well supported throughout the whole process."

“What always amazes me about the K-array product is just how small the speakers can be. The visible element is so important in the residential sector, and the moment you actually turn it on and listen, the first reaction from clients is how good it sounds. I’ve spoken to colleagues in the industry and they’ve no other word than ‘witchcraft’ to explain what’s going on because it is unbelievable how small they are for a full range sound. It’s not all treble and bass, it’s completely full range and it sounds just so incredibly good. Drive units and DSP technology have really caught up in recent years, along with mostly lossless audio streaming, and to be able to produce a flat response across the whole spectrum is quite incredible."

“I don’t think there is any other product on the market that can do what K-array does – it’s that ultimate combination of discreet design and hugely impressive sound. You get the best of both worlds which is completely unique. For me, K-array was the only choice for this project.”