The Price of A Listening Room

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Audiophiles often complain about how much top-tier audio gear costs. But for many audiophiles their hardware and software combined doesn't begin to approach the price of the most expensive component in their system - their room. When I did the math for my own dedicated listening room I felt simultaneously wealthy and impoverished.

My primary listening room measures 22.5 ft. by 24.1 ft. for a total footage of 542.25 square feet. Since housing cost varies depending on where you live, let's look at how much my room would cost at $100 a square foot. Multiply $100 a square foot times 542.25 square feet and you get $54,224. Multiply by $200 a square foot and the total cost of the room jumps to $108,450. If my room was plopped down in an especially pricy part of the world, such as Hong Kong or Paris, where the per-square-foot costs can easily reach and sometimes exceed $400 a square foot, my room would weigh-in for a minimum of $216,900. That is one expensive component.

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It's gotten to the point that a dedicated listening room is a luxury, especially in the most populous cities. As real estate values continue to escalate, fewer and fewer (percentage-wise) people will be able to justify the square footage required for a dedicated listening space. But humans still like recorded music.

Perhaps that's why the most robust new growth areas for audio firms has come from desktop, portable, and personal gear, including headphones, miniature headphone amps, micro DACS, nearfield monitors, and small USB interfaces, all of which don't require much space to enjoy. Young audiophiles are just as interested in good sound as their older peers, but they since they lack the space for a room-based system they've gravitated toward portable and personal gear where a dedicated room isn't necessary for an optimal experience.

 So, how much does your listening room cost? Do the math - the final figure may give you pause...

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