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.



Congratulations on you're new project & I'm sure everyone here is jealous that you are starting with a blank slate.  I'm not sure how deep a dive you want to make on the room but here are a couple of thoughts.  

Number one would be to make sure that you don't wind up with a floating floor in the construction plans.  This will cause all kinds of reverb problems that are hard to compensate.  Something solid below or a lower floor is preferable.  I would put down a hard wood floor and then cover with area rugs to taste to optimize SQ.  This gives you flexibility and you will be able to make adjustments as different sounding equipment inevitably comes and goes.

Take care where the room's windows and doors will be located.

Have the electrician put all of the room's wall outlets on their own dedicated circuit.  15amp should be fine.

Find a Vicaoustic dealer and have them do an acoustic room rendering for acoustic paneling.  They will computer model the optimal absorption/reflection that will make the room sound as well as possible.  I did this and it's the best audio money I've ever spent.  Good luck and cheers.

I will speak for myself. I am sure everyone has their opinions, preferences and personal experiences. I wasn’t until a year ago, when I purchased my current home that I felt that I finally had “my” ideal dedicated listening room. This room is for audio only. I have a separate room for video. Here’s a brief description.


The door is located behind the listening position. All of the walls are (almost) non-resonant brick. The only room in the house with brick walls inside and out. The rest of the rooms are brick outside and sheetrock inside. The foundation is concrete. The audio components are all in a recessed (former closet) located to the left of the listening position so that they don’t protrude into the room. I removed the closet door and put a thin light filtering curtain in its place. This allows for air circulation and also acts as an acoustic panel, while still allowing the signal from the remotes to penetrate and the pretty lights to slightly show through.  I installed 6 30 amp breakers and ran 6 dedicated 10 gauge Romex wires and outlets in the closet.  I duplicated the curtain on the right side, where there’s a window. By pure coincidence, both curtains ended up being symmetrical in relation to the room. I replaced the window with a soundproof window like the ones used near airports. The carpet is not thin or thick and the fibers are dense and very close together. Both the left and right walls are free of any obstructions, other than for the two curtains. All of the media (records, CD’s) is stored to the left and right of the door located behind the listening position. I have 3 recliners in the room. The one that’s centered with the speakers is where I sit and then I have 2 others that are slightly elevated to the left rear and to the right rear of the center listening position. The room leans more toward being live than neutral or dead, which is just how I wanted it. There are two bi amped tower speakers about 4’ from the front wall, 3’ from the side walls and about 8’ from each other. I keep them projecting straight ahead and not angled. There are 2 subs, one on each corner of the front wall. The front wall is bare brick.

Out of all this, I find that the best part is that the components are in the closet and the media is all behind me so that nothing is in between me and the speakers. You are fortunate to have a blank canvas! While your room is in construction, and if I can give you my humble advice, incorporate an opening to the left, right or behind you for your equipment and media, so they don’t get in the way of the sound and preinstall cables and wires in your walls. I couldn’t hide my wires and cables very well because of the preexisting brick walls. As far as any acoustic treatment, you can always finalize that after the room is built, but I would definitely build the walls and ceiling in as resonant less materials as you can afford, as well as a cathedral shaped ceiling and a concrete foundation. I hope that at least some of this helps. Congratulations!

@randypeck  I am also about to start building a dedicated listening room. After a lot of reading I've moved away from the Golden Ratio measurements.  You may find this room calculator interesting:

Here is the full article.  There is a lot of information here:

Finally, I encourage you to watch this attached video.  It suggests the room construction used will greatly reduce the need for treatments later.  Really interesting.  IMHO

Best of luck with your project.  And remember, measure twice, cut once.  



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.


thanks @patrickdowns

when I read that now 19 year old article, I get very uncomfortable. building a room is a very exciting opportunity to do the one thing that very few get a chance to do. make the room right.

to begin with I was in lust with my room, but along the way I went through some ups and downs.

in 2004, after I built my perfect room, it only took me another 11 years to finally get it right to my ears. along the way my ego got dumped on regularly as I found I was not where I thought I was.....multiple times. yet it was a great labor of love and these past 8 years since 2015 I have not touched the room. so in the end it was wonderful.

so be humble and nimble and open minded that where you start might not be where you end up.

agree that the golden ratio is just numbers. predicting small room acoustics is not an exact science since there are just too many build variables to know. so be prepared to go through some tuning before you are home free. I was fortunate that my speaker type and overall musical compass did not change over those 18 years. my epiphany with music reproduction happened prior to my room project.

6-7 years into my new room I did reduce my built in bass trapping. later in 2015 I reduced it some more. my room designer told me he was over spec’ing the bass trapping as it is hard to add it later.

as far as fine tuning; here are links to what I did in 2015 to reach my room nirvana.


not everyone will put the time and effort into really going all the way in the room tuning department. but this whole process is like peeling an onion, and until you get to the point where you know where you are going, and you trust your ears, it’s hard to get that last few percentage points.

if you want to talk on the phone happy to hook up with you. or if you want to visit you would be most welcome.

congrats and good luck.



Thanks for not minding me tagging you, @mikelavigne ! I know your room has been an evolution. It would be great if a magazine updated a story on it, bringing it to the article that chronicles the evolution. I was hoping you would do what you did, and chime in! You are a mensch. Cheers, Pat

The trend these days seems to be going wireless. My priority would be having electrical outlets close to the ceiling because wireless (surround) speakers still need A/C, and nothing worse than A/C wires running up the wall from low outlets.

Also, a lot of seating options need A/C and floor mounted outlets should be installed under or near seating area.

Good luck with your project!

The best room shapes for acoustics are irregular shapes ones. Symmetrical rooms with parallel walls are sub-optimal due to standing waves. So a box shape room can be problematic even though dimensions fit the classic golden ratio of 1 x 1.6 x 2.56 (height, width,, length). Room treatment can overcome some of these issues.

Concert halls and commercial theaters use the trapezoidal shapes. Houses with cathedral ceilings can be relatively "better" listening environment. However, cuboids are preferable because you can calculate the locations of nulls and peaks whereas with trapezoids those locations will be unknowns. Main objective of room shapes is to break the standing waves. As long as one can work this out, pretty much any room can be designed for a good listening space.

my room is an oval, no 90 degree corners. lots of built in diffusion. the ceiling is also irregular so standing waves don't get supported.

however; it is very important to have an absolutely symmetrical room, if you want your soundstage to approach perfection. otherwise it’s by degrees a mess.

even side to side allows for the musical parts to be complete and located properly with full frequency and the bass connection to the proper part, everything seamless side to side, up and down. it’s how stereo recordings are mastered to sound.

of course very fine sound can be found in rooms that are not symmetrical, but there will be a limit to how fine it can be. when you push it hard it will break down. there is a good reason concerts halls are symmetrical. they can scale without limits. so does my room.

this acoustical headroom I speak of at high SPL’s does require much fine tuning to achieve. it’s not any sort of plug and play kind of thing. took me many years.


The biggest issue to tackle with any room that is dedicated to audio listening is controlling reverb and minimizing delayed reverb. And by that, I mean if you completely eliminate all reverb in a room it will sound dead and lifeless. As an architect I design all kinds of rooms and spaces that have specific STC requirements and none of them use carpets/area rugs as an element to control sound. Ceiling treatment is one of the most important surfaces to consider. Smaller performance spaces have very different requirements than larger concert halls. Even local music clubs that have great live performances, if you analyzed the space, would be non-starters for 90% of the crowd here I imagine because they weren't "designed" to be perfect.

There are ways to treat the ceiling (gypsum board) without resorting to acoustical panels (which are often applied after to correct acoustics). You could benefit from using an acoustical gypsum plaster finish system. Upfront it will cost more than traditional gypsum but it will dramatically help with acoustics. We use this for large areas/performance spaces and other spaces that require acoustical control without "deadening" the space.  Walls can also be built to have a good STC rating for sound transmission (out and in) but you will still want to acoustically treat with properly positioned panels vs an acoustical finish on the walls.

Soft furnishings (area rugs, comfortable seating, drapery) can all have nominal acoustical benefits but the most important aspect of them is making the space comfortable to be in. You want to be comfortable listening to the music vs adopting your body to a single spot in a room.  You should talk to an acoustician about your space and how you want to use it. They should be able to design and specify the material finishes and help with panel placement (where needed). No space can be perfect.

My forever listening room will also be my library/den which means it will be a rectangular room with/ plenty of natural light for daytime activities and a view towards the pond and forest beyond. My listening position will constantly change in that space but I will have a dedicated spot for optimum speaker performance but also won't sweat it too much as the room is for overall enjoyment of what I like to do while listening to music - read, draw, write and purposefully listening as well.

First, I want to thank you all of guys for chipping in with your own experiences and advice.  This is what I had hoped for when I began this thread.  I also hope that others building a dedicated room will find the information here helpful.  

In discussing (many times) this room with our builder he told me he wanted me to be directly involved in the entire process of building my audio room.  Amoung many aspects of the room we discussed, I told him about the dedicated lines using 10 gauge "cooper" wire and he said no problem, he only uses cooper wire throuhout the homes he builds, just not 10 gauge.  He then suggested using a sub panel for the audio room and maybe a whole house electrical filter.   

Though I have not settled on the type of wall and ceiling construction all of your input has given me food for thought.  If you are wondering the room will be on a concrete slab.  

Finally, for everyone beginning a project like this I cannot encourage you enough to do your research.  Over the last three months I have spent several hours pouring over every aspect of building an audio room and Mike, I read your article...twice.  Your pictures really helped me see what is possible not just for acoustics but ascetics too.  It is a beautiful room and I would love to visit you.

One final note.  My wife has always supported my hobby and she enjoys the music just not as much as I do.  She is not only a supporter but a meaningful contributor too.  You should know she is a quilter/sewer/stitcher and will have her own 500+ square foot room...on the other side of the house.  

Keep this ideas and suggestions coming.  



@bipod72 Good post. I much agree with your point about making a comfortable space. I will also be using my new dedcated listening room as my den/office.

I've had two dedicated listening rooms and I'm presently building the third. The first one I designed from scratch for a new house, and the second is in my current house which is a repurposed bonus room. I'm building a new house now so I have the opportunity to design and build my third dedicated room.

My current listening room is fairly large (35 x 17 x 8.5) but its dimensions are far from optimum. It's upstairs so it has a floating floor. It has wall to wall carpet and no specialized room treatment. The walls and ceilings are standard construction. I have my components on racks spread against the front wall and the speakers sit out in the room 6' from the front wall. One wall is Ikea bookshelves full of albums, books, and tchotchkeys. My CDs are in several dowel racks that tilt each row of CDs up (good diffusion). My desk and computer table are in the back of the room along with other furniture. I have a leather listening chair, a turtle shaped leather ottoman, and a leather couch. There is a coffee table, lamp table, egg chair, and other furniture. I haven't put up system photos on Agon because its so cluttered and messy that I'm embarrased when I look at other member's rooms that look like they came out of an audio magazine ad.

The reason I'm going into so much detail about my current room is that it sounds fantastic. I've had a few other audiophiles listen to my system and they all have been very impressed. The guy who sold me my Thiel CS6 speakers told me that if they had sounded that good in his system he wouldn't have sold them. The overall point I want to make is that this room defies most of the conventional wisdom about listening rooms but it sounds wonderful. In fact, it sounds better than my custom built listening room from my previous house that had all sorts of specialized construction details like stand-off brackets for the drywall and sat on a concrete floor. I had treated the room with absorbtive panels as well.

For my new project I decided to relax and not worry about audiophile listening room "wisdom." The floor is standard, the walls and ceiling are standard, and I'm going to cover the floor with typical carpet.. The one area where I will do some heroic things is the electricity where I will have a dedicated 100 amp service and several 20 amp circuits just for this room. The room is 19 x 29 x 9 so I've got quite a bit of room.

My plan is to decorate the room with stuff that will provide absorbtion and diffusion. I'll keep my CDs and albums in the room and I will put my desk, computer table, sideboard, and other furniture in the back of the room with my stereo equipment and a TV monitor in the front. Basically the room will have a lot of stuff all over the place which will provide natural absorbtion and diffusion and serve to break up standing waves. If I end up with sonic problems I will consider commercial sound treatment as a final step.

In preparing for this project I've read quite a bit of material and watched more YouTube videos than I care to admit. I've seen several audiophiles report the they built a new room using audio construction techniques and their rooms sounded horrible when they were done. Then they had to spend large amounts of money on commercial sound treatment to get things right.

I don't want to oversimplify things but the single best indicator of your listening room is the slap-echo test. Clap your hands sharply (once) and listen for the reflected sound and the decay. Do this in several places in the room. If you do this in a variety of rooms you will get a good feeling for how this defines the room's acoustics. If the echo goes dead immediately then the room is likely too dead. If the echo goes on too long the room is too live and will muddy the music. You cal also listen to how defined the echos are. A well defined machine gun echo will be a problem.

In summary, I have come to the conclusion that how you decorate and furnish your listening room will have a bigger effect than it's design and construction. Basically, fill it with furniture and tchotchkeys until it sounds good. Take the money you save from not using fancy drywall and exotic construction techniques and buy a nice big couch. If you make the place interesting and comfortable good sound wlll likely follow.



I accidentally bought a house with an outstanding audio room. My dealer says it is one of the best two he has ever heard. He has been in the high end business for over 20 years and installs many megabuck systems in custom rooms. It is about as irregular as possible. You can get some ideas from my photos.


Broadly it is a big Z with the audio located at the bottom of the Z. Broadly speaking the Z is about 45’ by 40’. There is a bar, hallway, and more than one nook in just the bottom leg of the Z. A bay window and fireplace offset to the left at the top of the Z. There is hardly a 6 foot wall segment uninterrupted anywhere other than behind the speakers. Even the ceiling is more than one level. The speaker wall and left and right sides are underground… completely dropping the noise floor to mid 20 db. Cement slab under carpeting.

There is no special wall material… or fancy / expensive audio construction. My audio treatments are heavy thickly woven wool wall hangings (oriental hand woven carpets) also, there are bookshelves and record racks I put up without thought to location only convenience.

It is also located downstairs and on the opposite side of the house from the major bedrooms. My partner is disabled and sleeps during the day. I can crank up the volume and she will never hear it.

All this serendipity, made for one in hundreds the perfect audio room..

So, I think if I had thought about building an audio room a couple decades ago, I would have researched the perfect three dimensions. I would not do that now. I would look at the whole house… the whole floor and think of a very irregular open area away from the rest of the house… below ground with halls and irregular walls everywhere to define an open audio area with lots of space and irregular short wall segments to deaden and prevent reinforcement.

@8th-note Your room sounds like a well-lived-in, well-loved audio space which is a big, non-quantifiable, aspect of its musicality. I like a room to look as if people live in it vs. a space that is antiseptically designed for one task that must be enjoyed in a certain aesthetic way.

My current room is the open-plan living room/kitchen area of our current home and it's not what anyone would consider audiophile-worthy. That's ok. Most of the time I'm playing music over the speakers as background music. There is furniture and all sorts of family stuff about. But it sounds better than my last space which was more isolated from the house. My wife likes listening to music as background music and can't wait for me to have my own space for my books and music. Primarily so she doesn't have to look at it. So I'll wire the house with wi-fi speakers for streaming background/wallpaper.  And my space will be where I'll spend some time on dialing things in but, like you, will take a laid-back approach to "treatment" because ultimately I want to spend my time listening and enjoying music vs. spending my gray years tinkering with the room. 

I’ve built multiple dedicated audio rooms in my latest custom houses. The best room was a room inside another room to get the ideal dimensions. The whole house had closed cell spray foam insulation (the attic in the south during the summers never got above 70 degrees), and the room within a room had acoustic insulation in its walls. Had 4-20 amp runs put in the room. The ceiling was 2” thick cedar tongue and groove. Door was behind the listening chair. Still incorporated audio panels and diffusers in the room from ATC and GIK. Speakers were 9’ out from the front wall and the listening chair was about 9’ from the wall behind it, and 9’ from the speakers to the chair. 


In a similar situation as you are, building a dedicated listening room....unfortunately mine will be on a tight budget. Some suggestions, many of which you've already considered.

(1) Power is crucial, you are already know this.....I would recommend using high quality receptacles like Furutech GTX-D(G - Gold), Furutech DTX-D(R - Rhodium), or Oyaide R1.

(2) If you are going to stream, make sure you have a high quality ethernet or mesh system that you can connect a streamer into via an ethernet cable

(3) Reach out to GIK Acoustics (Mike Majors is a really helpful designer), their assistance and software has been really helpful. The one thing he highly recommended is to not overly deaden the room, it's hard to overcome this failing.

(4) I'm using hardwood floors with area rugs to "tune" the room, has been recommended to use thick tight weave wool rugs

(5) When placing receptacles, think about how your cables will lay in relation to signal cables, speaker cables, and power cords; so you can keep crossovers to a minimum.

Good luck on the build, sounds like you're starting from a great place!