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. 


Thanks for the many responses, I’ve been hard at work researching the many options you have all provided. I’ve had an opportunity to audition MartinLogan, KEF, Vandersteen, and B&W.  I’m lined up this weekend to listen to the Personas again as well as an A/B trial of Vandersteen Treo, Quatro and Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 3 (and possibly the Vs if they also have them in stock).  Then we’ll see what next weekend brings :)

One follow-up question: I have twenty years worth of iTunes purchases and an Apple Music subscription composing a library around 16,000 tracks. I recognize it’’s not Tidal, Quboz etc.. but they have a growing collection of hi res lossless.  I’m looking to maintain my ability to use Apple Music for the time-being/ maybe forever.  Rather than auditioning 50 music streamers/ servers, can I initially get a good sound by a direct USB-C to USB-B connection from my iPad Air to a high quality amp with built-in DAC like, for instance, Anthem STR?  If so, i can probably dump more money into the speakers and take my time to get the streaming right.

Sorry, no.

Think of your investment in tracks as a sunk cost.

Qobuz will give you access to probably every tune you bought and millions more… for $14.99 a month.

You can assess through an air… I did for years… sounded terrible… ok, not High Fi

My experience with streamers says you can close your eyes and buy the Aurender that is in your price range and be satisfied it has a really really high probability of being the best possible choice… and will be better than any PC or MAC.

Hmm, Anthem doesn’t sound like it is likely a audiophile DAC… but a good place to start. I would think the Qobuz / Aurender would be so eye opening that the DAC upgrade would then be obvious and net you a really significant improvement.


I would recommend giving up on Apple except for your EarPods and flying around with your Bose Quality Comfort headphones. High quality sound will come by a switch to Qobuz / Aurender (there are others, no doubt… but then you are on the auditioning route). I think the step up would likely take care of any issues with the past (allow you to let go).



Thanks for response ghdprentice. I’m not very familiar with the various music streaming services.  I believe Qobuz and Apple’s hi res lossless are both 24-bit/192 kHz.  Is there something else that makes Quboz so much more desirable amongst the knowledgeable audiophiles?



get recommendations from 2-3 other decent high end hifi dealers for equipment - be sure to get them to come see your room, and suggest treatments if needed - equipment proposals should reflect the room in which they will be used, and the best dealers don’t just sell components, they deliver superb sound in the customer’s room

the equipment suggestions made by the one dealer is suspect imho... sony server, mac ss amp with autoformer, paradigm speakers... none would be in my top 8-10 candidates for great all around sound in a reasonable room for your stated budget

hear as many speakers as you can, get a sense of what type of sound you like (sharply detailed crystal clear ... or warmer less detailed more natural ... snappy with rhythmic bass, and so on)

of the brands mentioned, i personally would lean towards vandersteen, sonus faber, magnepan (understand the special placement demands of this special speaker), potentially harbeths devores proacs in your price range ... i personally favor sound that is not hyper detailed, with some warmth and body, especially in presenting vocals, solid but unobtrusive bass - this to me is much more listenable over long stretches, sounds great with many kinds of music, sounds more like real (acoustic) musical performance

then electronics follow from speaker chosen


Quboz and Tidal are the top hi-rez streaming services.

Check Roon software interface.  Try to demo at a high-end audio dealership as it's  often available.  View an online promotional video.

Seek information and guidance from multiple audio dealers, separating truth from marketing bs including pandering fear of missing out on a limited timed deal (real meaningful bargains excluded).

Google: TAS 50 Greatest Bargains in High-End Audio to give you a good price/performance baseline to start your research.   

The very best bang for buck is to buy used.  This is what I did to maximize price/performance.  However, since this is a one-shot-deal perhaps buying your complete audio chain from a dealership may be a better option.  It's better to have a audio chain with complimentary components and MUCH better to demo before you buy. 

I'm not in any way associated with the dealer @audiotroy , but his posts are sound and his products compete with the best at their price points.  With your 35k budget, I'm confident that @audiotroy can assemble a fantastic sounding system.