Recommendations for HiFi Listening Room


Newbie here.  Wife and I are looking to turn our Great Room into a listening room.  It’s roughly 21’X’19 and has a cathedral ceiling that is 11’ tall at the wall and 20’ tall at the apex.  Spoke to a good hifi dealer in the area who made the following recommendations/proposal and I’m curious if this group may have any input for getting maximum bang for my buck.  Basically, with a budget around 35k (or thereabouts) would you buy something similar or are there any components you’d add or swap out?

Paradigm Persona 3F

McIntosh MA8950

Pro-Ject Xtension 9 w/ Ortofon Black Cartridge 

Sony ES DSD Music Server (this one concerns me a touch in that it appears to be an 8 yr old product line).

Thanks so much in advance for your collective expertise.  My wife isn’t going to let me drop money into this for another 15 years so I need to get it right the first time. 

If it matters, our musical taste is quite varied: classical, jazz, classic rock, alternative, hip hop.  My mother complained in my youth that if i had 10 bucks I would just buy a CD with it.  She is still right. 

128x128brewerslaw

I have a similar room although a bit smaller than yours. I like the Vandersteen & Ayre recommendation. What you need to do is fill that space. I think the Legacy Audio Focus SE would be a good choice. No sub required. Pair them with a good amp and you will be delighted. Heck, drive to Springfield and visit the factory. I used to live just outside of Appleton for a while. It’s a nice place.

Very little info about the room. What’s on the floor? What are the details of the short sides (doors/openings/windows etc)...same for the long sides?

First audio component I would buy is a big 100% wool rug resting on a heavy felt liner. My rug costs more than any one of my components. Money well spent. Because the room matters more than the equipment. Many will disagree. But you’re already spending good money on decent equipment...as long as they’re well matched, the room is the key to blissfully reproduced audio.

The cartridge I currently run costs more than the turntable I had in the old house. And my current system is 6x more than my old system. I had a dedicated room for audio in the old place...nothing but air between the speakers on the short wall and rack on the side wall.

My current system sounds great...but the old system in a dedicated room edges it out.

Focusing on the room will get you further than focusing on components. Room first...then components. Or, like many of us, you’ll be endlessly chasing the subtleties and shades of component character.

What’s that you say? This component has a better signal-to-noise ratio and lower distortion than that one? Well an average silent room is still about 17-20 db of noise...it just ate up all that difference.

Ever heard the saying a man is the room he’s in?

Well, for sure, a system is the room it’s in.

Thank you all for the responses and suggestions.  It appears I have a few hifi dealers in the area so I should be able to easily test Legacy Audio, KEF, B&W, Golden Ear, Focal, MartinLogan and a few others besides the Personas that i liked.

If anyone has opinions about the above options, I’d love to hear them.  Particularly, if a particular line appears well suited for my needs (and wildly varied music taste) and/or suggestions on pairing an amp. I can say that my wife is going to be more excited about the Legacy Audio aesthetics than the Personas (and B&W would need to sound perfect for her to allow the look of them) but ultimately it’ll come down to performance for us both. 

A few more details about the room: it has wood floors that are fairly covered with several rugs and an absolutely gigantic and thick fabric couch (seats 10) that takes up a comical amount of space.  There are 9 large windows (about 30 inches wide and 8+ feet tall) spaced around 3 of the walls and a fireplace.  The entryway from the kitchen is about 7 ft wide and there is a small balcony on the top floor overlooking the room above the entryway.  Room is slightly asymmetrical and one corner more of a fifth wall about 5 ft wide.  It’s easily the coolest room of the house but we never have a reason to sit in it so we thought a great 2 channel sound system would prompt us to use it. I sent info to Gik this evening so thanks for that suggestion as well.

This group is a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate your time immensely!

Thanks for the updated details on the room and it is a good idea to consult with Gik. Are there drapes for the windows? It is possible with that ceiling height and configuration that it will need some treatment as well as the walls. Anyway, as Blisshifi said, start with getting the room right and work on from there. It is better to sort the room out before auditioning equipment. For example, in an untreated room, current B&W's will likely sound too bright.

The other observation I would make is to not let the comically large couch dictate your listening position. There's a temptation in a large room to want to use the space and to position speakers too far apart and to listen from too far away.

Looks like the dealers hands are already trying to get into your pocket. Oddiofyl gives great advice. You really should look around and try different brands, systems. I like Vandersteen Quatro CT, Ayre and Magnepan as brands mentioned to listen to. Also try open baffle and Horn speakers (Klipsch and Volti come to mind). With horns you don’t have to spend tons of $$ on amp power. A quality mid current/watt amp can fill a room with high efficiency speakers. Good luck.