Listening room in Attic or Living room???

Before I spend 40-50 K on a high end system I want to make a space that will not present major problems from an acoustic matching point of view. I am still not decided on speakers (Vandy %A, Wilson WP & or Ariel 20T) The width of the living room is 13 feet 10 inches wide from base board to baseboard, about 35 feet long combining the dining room and living room and 9ft ceilings. This is new construction (thin sheetrock) but solid oak floor and a thick carpet (area rugs).

I could possibly put the speakers at the other end of the living room which is the entrance to the dining room, just in front of the two columns. This would minimize the open side wall on the other end but now how can I position the electronics to still allow an uncluttered walk through between the dining and living rooms. I suppose the CD and preamp could be to the side but how can the power amp or monoblocks be to the side? I know the speaker cables need to be the same length etc. I first thought about creating a shelf between the ceiling and the beam separating the two rooms but I don't know about heat buildup. The speaker cables would also need to be longer runs to come the 8 feet or so extra down to the floor level (just a crazy idea). I really don't want to partition off the two rooms (have to divorce wife).

As things stand, it is a long room. The speakers if positioned 7 feet apart would only be off the side walls by two feet. Is this enough? Please let me know what your thoughts are.

The second option is to finish the attic space (now no heat and a plywood floor) but opens to the second level of the house over the garage. I could build in acoustic treatment from the start but I don't know about the dimensions. The shape of the ceiling en face is trapazoidal. The ceiling height at the level of the horizontal rafters is 7 feet finished but this spans only 6 feet across. The beams then slope downward from there to one foot off the floor. The useable floor dimensions would be about 15 feet by 15 feet since the side walls slope downward from the 6 foot wide flat part of central ceiling. The actual plywood floor dimensions are 19 feet by 19 feet giving the room a big feel at the listening height. I don't know how such a relatively small cubic foot space would sound acoustically with the sloping side walls and reflections. With acoustic treatment perhaps this could be controlled. Any thoughts? I can email pictures of the space if it would help. Anyone have any dealings with RIVES Audio. Are they hype or really worth the investment?
You might ask someone like Rives. If you are going to spend 50k it is worth it. They have different levels of service some of which are in the 1-2k area.

I remain
Rives is for real. They are very knowledgable people and have enough experience to justify their advice. I have spoken with them on the phone, but have not used them yet. I have a basement listening room now, but I'm planning an addition onto the back of the house. I would like to move the listening room upstairs, but I'm not sure of my ability to compromise with my wife enough to be able to do it. That's why I have not spent the money to use Rives.

The difficult issue with a dedicated listening room is maintaining harmony, and I don't mean in the listening room. It's not worth it to move into the living room/family room if it's going to cause domestic disharmony. Which is why I have my listening room in the finished basement. If you use the Attic Option you will not have a conflict with the wife. If you use the living room conflict is likely to arise.

How much conflict are you willing to live with, or how strong is your constitution?

Either way try If I knew where things were going to end up in my house I would have done it already.

If nothing else get their CARA software and see how things pan out on there.
The most important consideration is your wife. Does she enjoy music? If the system is in the attic, will she be up there with you? If not, this isolation could be a negative thing. If the system is downstairs, how does your wife feel about all of those electronics in the living room? She may be happy to have you upstairs and have the living room nice and neat. Her input is much more important than ours.
IMHO, to spend that kind of money and not obtain the services of a professional like Rives would be just plain foolish. The only other option might be something like the TacT or Sigtech, which might be used in conjunction with professinal acoustic advise as well. Unless you plan on moving in the near future professional acoustic advise might be the single best investment in audio you make.
Rives basic costs are less than the average componant cost sold on AudiogoN. They can get very expensive if they come to your house and act as a consultant while the building is taking place.

Their basic package assumes you are doing the work. They give advice and plans for building. All things considered Rives is quite inexpensive!

Unsound offers sound advice. Go with Rives and let the rest of us know what you think when it is done.
hello do you really need to park your car or cars in your garage? If not convert your garage into your music room.
My basic question before I consider remodeling the Attic space is whether the low, sloping attic ceiling/walls can be treated acoustically to obtain an ideal listening environment. My best quess is that the finished room would have a 7 foot ceiling height but sloping side walls 6 feet at top then and additional 6 ft to the three foot high vertical part of the side walls. So the effectve room dimensions would be about 12 feet wide by 17 feet long. The listening position would be in the long room dimension. Does anyone have any experience with the acoustics of an attic room with sloping side walls? Is this a terrible situation which I should abandon in favor of a basement room with regular walls or stick with an open living room with one side wall out?
go with the basement
FWIW, I have my listening room in my attic area. It is totally 400 sq. ft. & the listening area is 19' X 17'. There is a little alcove about 11' X 7' that I share w/ my wife - this her hobby area right next to window where she needs more light for sketching, painting, stitching, etc. We mutually agreed that we did not want my "ugly" speakers (no matter which brand they are, they are misfits in her living room as a living room, according to her, is traditionally devoid of speakers) in the living room. I was happy w/ that decision 'cuz I would be able to control what goes & what does not go onto the walls for the best acoustics. So, now, we are both happy - she has her living room furnished just as she wants & I have listening room w/ all the acoustic treatments I need!

My attic room has "coffered" ceilings - straight wall for 6'3" & then slopes upwards to the ceiling for 2-2.5'. Ceiling height is 9' in the listening area & 8' in my wife's area (due to the roof sloping down). I own Green Mountain speakers & from Roy Johnson's user manual, "coffered" ceilings are one of the best to have sound-wise. It helps to "throw" back the sound into the room + there is much less parallel walls so the room effects are less intense. My acoustic treatments are several ASC tube traps only. No panels on the walls. The sound in this room is explemplary, if I may say so. Many friends have come over & exclaimed the same. I did not know what this coffered ceiling was going to do to the sound when I 1st began (but I had no choice) but now, I prefer it!

I disagree w/ the others re. consulting Rives. They are not worth your hard-earned dollars, IMO. Of course, the decision & money is yours & you can still choose to use them. What you really need is to get hold of some room measurement software (ETF or that German software touted in Stereophile), a mic & your computer. This can very easily do the job w/ infinitly less money than Rives. Apply some common sense, do a lot of research on which building materials are best for sound. There is a book on acoustics available at or Barnes & Nobles that talks ad nauseum on building a room for best acoustics. Get a hold of this book. If you are lazy, you can call Rives to do your job (& pay them some astronomical fees!).

IMO, if YOU want good sound, YOU better know what it takes to get it! If somebody else does the work for you, YOU will never learn. YOU need to train your ears to ascertain the weaknesses & strong points of your system (& others) so that YOU can grow as an audiophile. Of course, this is just my opinion. YMMV.
BTW, just checked my notes: the book I'm referring to is called "The Master Handbook of Acoustics"- by Everest. My notes also inform me that has the best price on it.
Bombaywalla, you bring up some good points. However Dbk is planning on spending up to $50,000 on this system. The cost for an expert opinon that may have greater effect on his total system than any combination of components (except perhaps for the room correction devices previously mentioned )coupled with the experience that an expert may have to keep the reconstruction hassles of his home to a minmum, seems like a bargain to me (of course the caveat about moving still applies). Rooms may effect sound by as much as +/- 10 dB, I can't think of many components that vary that much. The rooms he is considering vary greatly, are not simple square or rectangle boxes and as such would take more than the typical amount of study to get a handle on. Considering that one can not "return" self designed reconstruction efforts, mistakes or dissatisfaction could be quite costly, in both money and aggrevation. Furthermore, if one were to take your advise why stop there? Might as well get an EE degree and design and manufacture all the gear too. Heck, why stop there one could study medicine, law, you get the point. An initial consultation by an expert in a system of this cost may be less than the cost of some cables or a power purifier.
Re. studying all the disciplines & becoming a Leonardo da Vinci - yes, I see your point.
I also agree w/ you that the room acoustics are paramount to making a stereo sound its best. I never denied that in any way, shape or form in my orig. post. Au contraire, I am acutely aware of this.

However, I still disagree w/ the audio/acoustic consultant bit. Maybe we should agree to disagree??
IMHO, Dbk does *not* need to spend $40-50K to get a stellar sounding system. He can have one for much, much less & spend the remaining on music. However, the decision is his & I merely state my opinion. It is a myth in audio that more expensive equip. brings better sound quality & enjoyment. In fact, I find just a handful of manuf. to provide both ridiculously expensive gear & stellar audio perf. I'm sure you agree so we will not debate this.

Re. room treatments: I'm certainly *not* suggesting experimentation! Even I know that one cannot return self designed reconstruction efforts! That's why I suggested that audio (text)book so that he can educate himself. That text explains how to make one's room the best it can practically be w/ readily available materials. Unless Dbk is building his house to his specifications, the room(s) he is considering are pretty much set in shape. Now it's a matter of what type of sheet rock or Owens-Corning boards to use for best sound. For those lucky friends of mine who have had the luxury to re-construct an attic or basement I have seen how acoustic treatments have been made part of the construction & have been put to excellent sonic effect. For the remainder of my friends & myself who could not have that luxury I have seen how post-construction acoustic treatment has given practically the same positive sonic effect to their resp. listening rooms. NONE of these people sought an acoustic or audio consultant & most of them do not have engineering/science degrees. Lots of research of A'gon, AA (where Rives does post frequently) & Rives' sub-forum & a very healthy dose of common-sense. The last ingredient was the most important one, might I add. One needs to know when to call it quits w.r.t. treating a room otherwise, one gets taken for a ride. One can only make such an informed decision if one has some knowledge base within oneself.
As it might be clear, I'm all for self-education on this hobby IFFFFF one cares to be a better audiophile as time progresses.
Perhaps we can be of help--at least to this thread. We firmly believe that education in acoustics is the first step, whether you hire a professional group like ours to do the work, or you are the DIY type. Here is a link to our "acoustical classroom" The most important thing is NOT to ignore the room, which is so often the case. Engineering and designing a listening room are both an art and a science. The science can be gathered from text books mentioned (they are on our site as well), the art is from experience. We do more designs in a month than most groups do in year--and I'm still learning. Every design and every room unfolds something new and I doubt I will ever stop learning. So I don't think this is easily replaced by reading a few books and taking a few measurements (even how you take measurements is not as straight forward as it might seem at first). However, it's much better to read a few books, take a few measurements, and address some of the problems rather than ignoring them. You will be way ahead of the many audiophiles that have completely forgotten or ignored the room.

Here is another Q&A that talks about the difference in the art and science for one particular aspect of room and speaker design.
6 Moons Q&A