Home Technology: Arctic Audio – Design and Living Magazine

Rod Shafer, a self-proclaimed audiophile, brings his passion for creating dynamic audio and visual experiences into homes across the community. Shafer is the owner of Arctic Audio, a 2-channel audio, home theater and smart home consultant in the Red River Valley with an enthusiasm for attaining the highest quality sound possible. Arctic Audio boasts top of the line audio/visual equipment, home theater systems and expertise in smart homes and acoustics.

The prospect of installing an audio system may sound daunting, but Shafer recommended taking it slow, noting that more and more systems have amazing sound quality, are very user-friendly and have an attainable price point.

“Sonos is a great way for anybody to add music to their home,” Shafer said. “It’s super easy to run, it’s got the best interface in the business.”

Today’s audio technology is especially useful in older historic homes to install an audio system without compromising the house’s integrity. Shafer recommended starting out by putting wireless speakers above a cabinet if there is a gap between the cabinetry and the ceiling. Then put a linked soundbar on the TV and all of a sudden the entire room is easily filled with sound. For the finishing touch, throw in a subwoofer to fill out the bottom end and now you have a fulfilling sound system for your kitchen and living area. There are new options now that offer flexibility for people to play around with their audio set up without a large upfront financial commitment.

Dolby Atmos technology has also made it easy to bring high fidelity surround sound into the home by just triangulating a few speakers. Shafer demonstrated this with a soundbar that is able to create a sound in 3-D space. As cars zoomed across a racetrack on the television, revving engines could be heard behind our heads even though the only speaker was in front of us underneath the TV.

There are continual advancements and tweaks in audio technology and Shafer keeps his fingers on the pulse, finding the best functionality at the best price point.

“People just want to make sure it’s super easy to run,” Shafer said. “Ten years ago, it was only a volume control knob and maybe it wasn’t so easy to use. Now it is. And the price points keep coming down. With Sonos, you can put two of those $200 speakers together, say one is left, one is right, and then you have a stereo pair that sounds really good. The barriers to entry are much lower now.”

The equipment carefully curated by Arctic Audio creates incredibly clear and full soundscapes and ranges from entry-level to “cost no object.” Most importantly, Arctic Audio sets up the audio systems themselves, using their experience to tailor the system to fit best in your unique home.

“That’s how good music can be. Most people never know because they’re either listening in the car, or they’ve got a pair of headphones on,” Shafer said. “You just can’t get that spatial dimension without a proper pair of speakers.”

Home Theaters
In addition to providing excellent sound quality, Arctic Audio is also a home theater and smart home expert. With Shafer’s knowledge of automated screens, lighting and shade control, any space can be transformed in a comfortable home theater.

Arctic Audio’s showroom contains a fully outfitted 11.4 home theater system, equipped with a 4K Laser projector showcasing crystalline image quality and lighting placed perfectly to complement the screen.

One thing Shafer has noticed is that it’s not just the $600,000 dollar houses that are getting home theaters. Now he is seeing younger professionals buy lower margin homes and still installing entertainment systems as this technology becomes more attainable.

Acoustic Engineering
A unique service that Arctic Audio provides to elevate audio experience significantly is acoustic engineering. “The room is 50 percent of your listening experience,” Shafer said. Arctic Audio partners with local acoustic and recording professionals to adjust any room for its optimal sound quality. This process utilizes various acoustic solutions that predictably absorb and scatter sound waves. Each solution is implemented to help the room bring out the best from a customer’s speakers.

“When you have 11 plus speakers firing in a room, it can build up sound waves and echoes such that pretty soon it’s just muddy, harsh and fatiguing to listen to,” Shafer said. “You want to hear the sound directly from the speaker drivers, then you want the sound to go away. Unless you have something to absorb it, it’s not going away.”

In a properly tuned room, sound is less reverberant and more controlled. Voices become distinct and you can hear every nuance. Arctic Audio is the only business in the area that can tune a home theater by ear. Every space has unique acoustic profiles that can’t be measured with electronic tools. Shafer’s team is able to tune any room so the audio system is perfectly set to the space. The size of the room, flooring and furniture all can have an effect on the theater’s sound quality.

“In terms of home automation, I challenge you to think of anything that you would like to have done technologically that we can’t do. It really is to that point where whatever you can think of, it can be done.”

Arctic Audio
3045 Main Ave, Fargo, ND