Man Cave or No?

I'm curious whether most folks have a dedicated room for their rig or have their setup in one of the main living areas of their home. Since our house is of modest proportions, with no family room, media room or finished basement, my system sits in the living room (where we actually "live"). As a result, we have tried to (have been forced to) integrate the stereo into the surroundings so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes I wish I had a dedicated room where I could go and escape the noise and distractions of "living"--a real "man cave" for my hifi and music collection. A place where I could set up the speakers optimally in the space and leave cables running here and there without concern about someone tripping (or chewing) on them. On the other hand, I wonder whether I would listen as often if I had to "go somewhere" to listen to music--it is real nice to drop right onto the living room couch and hear some tunes and sometimes my wife will join me for awhile. As long as she's not talking to me I like the company. In the "man cave" I'd be ALONE. Anyway, from the looks of some of the systems I've seen posted it looks like most audiophiles have a "special room" where they set up their rigs. Just wondering how people view the trade off between "man cave" and "system in the living area" thing.
I have both, although as a single guy I guess both of the rooms could be considered to be my "man cave". The true man cave is for the 2 channel system, and the HT sits in the living room.

Living room is listening room.
My listening room is the family (living) room. I keep everything as tidy as possible so my wife and kid are comfortable there, as well as those that come to listen to music.
Living room is listening room also. Which, as you note, leads to a complicated set of compromises. But, like you, I think I'd feel funny stuck off in a back corner room alone with all my stereo gear in a big mess, even though all perfectly positioned, etc., etc. The nice thing about the living room is that it connects right up to the kitchen, and I rather enjoy cranking up the system while I'm cooking and later eating some complicated concoction (with a glass of wine in one hand, of course).
I found this out the hard way..........for me I do feel disconnected when down in the cave and I find myself listening to much more music in the living room on a simple mass market system simply because I am on the main floor. Dont get me wrong as I love to hang out down there having close to optimal set-up and no WAF grief and its great for hosting my audio buds but I underestimated how much time I wish to be down in basement away from the sunshine in the windows and feeling more a part of life. In a perfect world I would like to have a large family room in back of house open to the rest of house yet out of the way enough that a large system would be acceptable. I have the best of both worlds so I am not complaining but feeling more a part of things with natural light would be ideal for me
I'm very fortunate to have a whole floor to myself, a walk-out lower level (not basement) arrangement. As a retiree, I spend a lot of time down here, which is fine by my wife, whose interests are in computers and video, not audio.

Works for us, real well. Dave
i have my 5.1 system in my basement so that my family and i can all enjoy movies and our nintendo wii together,its a nice large space and the setup works well for all of us,we keep our living room as formal as possible with no tv/electronics at all,however i consider myself very lucky with the room i use strictly for 2 channel,its a 14 x 14 room that is solely used for listening purposes and for our cd/dvd collection,god bless my wifes decision to let me use this room for myself,i dont think i would enjoy music quite as much without a dedicated listening room
I have both - actually 2 dedicated rooms in the basement, and I have rig in the living room. My wife really doesn't like music at volumes higher than background music levels, so I retire to the "man cave" for listening unless she's not at home. I do find it lonely at times, though often the solitude and peace is what I want. The other issue is since the cave is in the basement and windows are small, it can be a little dark and depressing. I try to address this with lighting and color, but it's not the same as the living room which has a large picture window with a view of the yard and street.

The other advantage of the basement cave is that I like to build, (which is one reason I have 2 rooms down there) and I have total freedom to remodel/rebuild as I see fit.
I guess I am a happy cave man - I have a dedicated listening room. When we had our house built, a dedicated room for audio was a must for me. The only thing in the room is my system, a single chair and room treatment. It sure is nice to have a perfectly symmetrical large room with no TV or other stuff to mess up the sound. Now where did I put my bone tool and flint?
If I did not have my own room (away from everything) to listen and obsess I would go crazy. I found this out the hard way the first year of my marriage when my wife, 2 cats, and I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment. A nightmare. My very understanding wife let me take over the bedroom for a 'man cave', knowing my 'situation'. She slept on the couch in the living room. I know it sounds like a bad deal for her, but it had a happy ending. I am now NOT in a mental institution.
My system is in the living room with an open kitchen, so I can cook to my "good" system. This is a compromise but I think the system gets more use this way (maybe to much use for my tube budget). The problem is WAF of room treatments, cords etc.
I was at a party last week and saw a real "man cave". There was a bar and game room in the basement, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall. One of the shelf units was hinged, and opened like a door into the guy's theater room.
Living room here as well.
Definitely Man Cave. This may sound selfish but I like having "one" place that is totally mine. Admittedly I would listen to my system more if it were in a family space but I guess I prefer quality vs quantity.
I had my system in a couple of small living rooms. My wife was always cool with it but there never was enough room. I did enjoy having music in the main part of the house, particularly on weekends when we have the usual beer-wine-cooking events. Now I have my system in a finished room above an attached garage. The space is nice and I can crank music and my guitar without bothering anyone. But I do feel stupid sometimes sitting up there by myself. The room is pretty isolated from the house and I have to climb a set of stairs so I don't listen as often. I think my ideal setup would be to have a large enough open living space to accomodate my system, music, and instruments.
We have a 5.1 HT in the family room.
I have my 2 channel rig in my new finished basement.
Neither of us ever use the living room.
A priority, in my opinion. You can always have a home theater setup in the family room for background/movies, but nothing beats a dedicated room for audio. Now, however, after reading these posts I want a man cave with a hidden bookcase entrance.
Nice to read posts that echo my sentiments. I'm single and have my cave downstairs but I am probably going to move my rig to the 1st room or family room...because I too find myself not going downstairs to listen as much.
Main 2 channel rig in 16'x24' den, space shared with separate A/V system. Secondary rig in my private home office. Use headphones there late. But too small to entertain others. Guess I don't have a "man cave". Just a Bat Cave......
If you have a choice- be a man and get a cave!
If not, be a man and get a good club.
I can attest to the great difficulties one encounters when merging the "man cave" with the living room, but it is a worthwhile goal.

In my house, there are two generous 'living rooms' but one doubles as a dining room and family room, so I was forced to integrate my cave into the other which we have now dubbed "the music room".

Hiding wires is always a problem and one that in general I have failed to solve. Custom lengths for everything would go a long way in fixing that problem, but for now, I would rather allocate funds elsewhere.

You can see pictures in my system link just below. Since those photos were taken I have rearranged the room and will add new photos soon.
When we moved into our current home, all I asked for was control over the "family room", which is 21x21x8. Which I got, the wife give me complete control over the decorating and media in this room and all I had to give up in exchange was any iota of control in every other room. Thankfully, at that point in our marriage, I understood, trusted and liked my wife's tastes in decorating. So, it was a win-win as far as I was concerned.

In the end, I got one large room with two separate systems. If you click on my “systems” and take a look, I have to warn you that the room has been changed since those photo's were taken and the layout now is much more 2 channel audio friendly. I hope to update them soon….

To answer your question, if you can have an audio set up in a generally occupied and functional room with as few audio compromises, I think that would the preferred action plan.

But, at either end of the spectrum and forced to decide between cave or no cave, I would vote cave.

Because some people don't understand why the stereo needs to be on 7 straight days to burn in my new ic's. Because 16 Realtraps might not be enough. Because tubes and flying footballs don't mix. WE ALL NEED MANCAVES!!
I got my dedicated room when we became empty nesters. It's an upstairs bedroom that's occupied by three chairs, the system, cd racks and room treatments. Much better for audio but it can get a bit lonely as my wife has zero interest in listening. Also, on the rare occasion a non-family member visits for a listen it feels strange walking through the upstairs.
This thread is timely for my situation as I'm considering a second system for a more public area of the house. Probably the living room as it is more suitable for a system. Lord knows there's enough extra stuff around.
To have a nice system and having your mate to listen with you from time to time ain't bad at all. When I built my "man cave", I did find myself becoming more disconnected from the wife and kids. Kids grow up so very fast and the wife,I would want to hang onto a lot longer than my gear. {did I really say that} Spending time with them both is more important. Besides when you are home alone, the whole house becomes your man cave, enjoy it to the utmost them.
08-20-08: Glenfihi
To have a nice system and having your mate to listen with you from time to time ain't bad at all. When I built my "man cave", I did find myself becoming more disconnected from the wife and kids.
Very important consideration, IMO.

Good for you.

I like variety. I have multiple rooms I share with family and a sound insulated "man cave" where I can set up however I please and listen in at any volume at any time.

Best of both worlds, though I wish I had a bigger cave perhaps.
I have a 2nd floor dedicated room. It's 15' x 22' with small area at the rear side open to a stair landing. The builder called it a "Bonus Room". I call it my "Stereo Room". It's one of the main reasons we bought the house. The length lets me to position the speakers 3.5" out into the room and place my recliner a few feet away from the rear wall. Structurally the room is soggy. 3/4 OSB T&G flooring sits on top of 18" tall 2x4" trusses. The walls are 2x4"s and 1/2 drywall on the interior walls. The exterior walls and ceiling have fiberglass insulation. The exterior walls have 3 coat stucco. My speakers sit on sized slabs of Granite. My Stereo room and the garage are mine, the rest of the house is my Wife's.
My main AV system is in my living room. My second system is in my office. My wife told me that as soon one of my daughters move out, I get a bedroom as my mancave. I'm already looking for husbands for them. Of course they are just 18, 17 and 14. But why wait? I wasn't that picky.
An interesting mix of responses. It seems like many folks struggle with the trade off between having a dedicated room for their rig and feeling isolated while there (from family, daylight, streetscape, whatever). Of course those of you with multiple systems, one in "the cave" and another in "the house" have the best of both worlds. Thanks to all for chiming in.
I have a dedicated listening room that next to the kitchen. My wife and I listen together quite a bit. I guess I'm lucky I don't need a "Man Cave". Never had a mate that did not love music. Priorities.....
We live in a 1950s era ranch and are fortunate to have a large lot that was conducive to expanding the original footprint of the house. So I achieved a devoted listening room with professionally engineered acoustics by building a new addition on the back side of the house as an extension of the main floor living space. Actually, we built on a pair of matching additions in order to convert what was a rectangular-shaped house into an elongated U-shape with an outdoor courtyard cloistered into the heart of the U. The second, matching building addition comprises a new bedroom that made the construction project appealing to my better half.

The end result is a devoted listening room that is well integrated and well connected with the original living space. I agree with the prevailing sentiment here that I would not use the dedicated listening room nearly as frequently if it were in the basement or otherwise detached from our primary living space. Of course, the downside of this sort of custom construction project is that it is very expensive - much more so than the cost to simply finish or refinish some space within the original shell of the building.

Prior to building the dedicated room, my main audio system used to reside in our living room (to the severe detriment of the aesthetics and nonaudio function of that room). An interesting outcome of moving the big system out - and evolving our living room to a much more attractive and liveable space - was the noticeable loss of music in the center portion of the house. That hole has now been filled with a much lower profile secondary audio rig in the living room. The second system plays a key role when entertaining or dining in the center portion of the house or when sitting around the living room fireplace in the cold weather months. I also find myself listening to the secondary system periodically for a change of pace.
To me, the goal of good audio is to fill a house with great music which is why my main system is in my living room.
Filling the house with music will get many in trouble on a regular basis, like that old lady in that commercial for the $20 hearing device..........."Does that have to be so loooud?"
Do you really want children around your gear?
My son never touched my stereo. I actually took the time to teach him what a toy is! And it worked. Never moved a thing and he never touched it.
"My son never touched my stereo. I actually took the time to teach him what a toy is! And it worked. Never moved a thing and he never touched it. "

Same true with my kids...they never touch my stuff...intentionally.

But remember accidents can happen and they can be expensive when they do.

Once, my daughter bumped my B&W floor stander by accident while playing and tipped it over. Luckily, the cabinet next to it prevented it from toppling and damage.

Also, all bets may be off when the kids friends come over to play.
I for one do not want children around my gear. However, for me, it's not an issue as we rarely have children in our house.
Yep, dedicated room is a must - I'm a night owl who likes it LOUD at times.
When my middle daughter was about 2 or 3, she walked over to the system and cranked up the volume. Scared her straight.
Yes, a dedicated man cave for listening to music in the basement. The whole reason for this, was so that my wife would not be disturbed when I listen to music while she tried to sleep.

In fact, we joke the house was built around the listening room, double inusulated and double concrete outer walls, soundproof door, slab with 6" water barrier increasing thickness even more, top floor heat increased ceiling height also, about 24" thick concrete ceiling.

The room is 24.5' x 18.5'. The whole back wall is covered with Ikea Expedit racks and I have room trapping and absorbers strategically placed throughout. I need to update my gallery. Worth it, yes, and also since it is large enough to have a full size couch, my wife does join me often. When friends come over, sometimes we also go to the room and listen to music and drink wine as if we were in the family room.

I can see where people feel like they are isolated from things happening above ground though.

Dedicated sound room and separate dedicated theater and separate dedicated computer room....

No kids...Lucky guy! (but you gotta see my electric bill!)