Building a dedicated listening room

I asking for advice/help with building a dedicated listening room.  Please chime in if you have built such a room, have any experience listening to music in a dedicated room, or just your thoughts on the matter.  

My wife and I are just in the planning stages of our new home.  Our new home will have a dedicated listening room to accommodate my audio hobby. For me it is a dream come true and a chance to address maybe the most important component of my system…the room.  The dimension are based the Golden Ratio, 11’h x 17.5’w x 28’l.   I have spent many hours researching building methods and I have had the luxury of listening to music in a few dedicated rooms.  Some of these rooms cost well over 100 grand.  I am sorry to say they sounded dull and two of the owners agree.  Yes, these rooms were very quiet and the imaging was stable but the sound lacked rhythm and drive almost as if the music had been sucked out of the music.  I did read and watch the videos about Robert Harley’s experience building his room using the ASC ISO Wall method but I am not sure if this is the best method to achieving a good sounding room.  This is an important discussion because once the room is built and if I am disappointed with the sound it will be expensive to fix.



When I had my dedicated room years ago I put in a  dedicated 20 amp circuit and ran 10 gauge Romex to three, quad (2 duplex outlets) spaced along the equipment wall. I know that seems like too many outlets, however I saved money by being able to spend less for aftermarket power cords because they could be shorter.  

Good idea from Rick about the Vicaoustic products, however I am not sure you have a dealer in your state.

For floors, 2" x 12" floor joists on pier blocks, spaced every foot with cross bracing, 3/4" plywood for the subfloor. I used wall to wall carpet.

Make sure you have some absorption on the ceiling and walls at the sound reflection points. Don't overdue it, you can always add and subtract later. You really can't judge the sound until your system is setup and dialed in. You also might want to put the room away from bedrooms and rooms where the music might be a distraction to others. A stand alone building would be ideal.  

After 18 months of design work and a major relocation within the design envelope my new home and dedicated room are under construction. I did a very deep dive on size, materials, construction techniques, electrical service, the works. What I learned is that there is no end to the lengths you can go to design the "perfect" room and there is a corresponding limitless amount of money you can spend. 

One thing I can share is be sure to identify your goals. What are you after? I had three goals in mind:

1. Make the room sound good without expensive treatments and without the room looking like an audiophile man cave. I wanted the room to be pleasing to the eye and look like any normal room in a house. (Albeit one with a kick ass stereo system and a bunch of record albums);

2. I did not want the sound to migrate from the room. I want to be able to listen at volume and not disturb my family--any time of day or night;

3. I did not want noise from the house, including from the mechanical systems, entering the room. 

The room was relocated from over the garage to the basement. That was huge. Instead of a suspended floor and wood framing/sheet rock, now I have concrete floors and 2 walls with sheet rock over steel studs (Superior Wall foundation). I was able to land the golden ratio and 9'6" ceilings. 

Ultimately, I only went so far with the wall construction: Staggered studs on walls common with the interior of the house, Rockwool insulation in the cavities on all four walls, two layers of drywall (1/2' and 5/8") with green glue between, walls and ceiling. Entry door with acoustical seal, acoustic putty around all the outlets and switches.

Multiple dedicated lines on the same phase, high quality but not insane outlets (Pangea Premier Series). Siemens panel with copper buses, copper coated ground stake, orange 10 guage wire to the dedicated lines. 

I am working with the HVAC guy to minimize noise from the system and have all the mechanicals isolated in a separate sound mitigating room. 

I could have done a lot more with unlimited funds but was determined to approach this with an eye toward diminishing returns and to not overdamp the room or have it look uninviting. I'll be running Sound Lab stats so reflections are less an issue for the sidewall, floor and ceiling. I'll lightly damp behind the speakers and diffuse on the opposite wall and then experiment from there. 

Fingers crossed I made good choices. I hope this helps you to do so as well!


P.S. I had lots of help from the folks here throughout the design process and am tremendously grateful for the support!

I built a music room and theater room in a 1400ish sqft basement. You may want to have a brief consultation with someone like Matthew Poes, Poes Acoustics. The type of info you need may be outside the scope of just a forum thread.

This is an older article on @mikelavigne ’s amazing listening room, which has continued to evolve (as has his system). I don’t know it there are any more recent articles. I haven’t been to it, but it and Robert Harley’s rooms certainly must be two of the best in-home rooms out there. Enviable! I wish you luck, and I hope to do this someday, if more modestly.

Here is a more recent forum post about a visit to Mike L’s room.