It’s the time of year for saving money!
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.
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…
I am a musicophile. My music budget is as follows:
1) Concert tickets
2) Music room, apportioned from mortgage & utilities
3) Musical instruments: three harpsichords and a grand piano.
4) Media (5,000 discs)
5) Recording equipment
6) Playback equipment *
Although I can hear differences between cables, outlets, etc. I find that
artifacts like the the spatial distortion of sharp edged speaker
cabinets and other factors ignored by the audiophile industry have
greater affect on the quality of sonic experience.
For example, you can’t buy good acoustics in a box and bring it home. I
am a certified room tuner and build acoustically optimized shelving utilizing disks, books and hand knotted carpets for diffusion and absorbtion, which would cost more than my playback system to have custom designed and built.
I keep my ears trained by listening to acoustic music daily and record live acoustic and electro-acoustic music for conservatory trained players, who hear better than people who listen to speakers. All the recording is near coincident pair straight to DSD, which is reference source material better than decimated commercial recordings.
*Sony SCD-C222ES, Ayre AX-7, Earthworks Sigma 6.2, about 3% of total
Nice equipment- I also have an Ayre cd player in my chain. While equipment is obviously just one part of the listening experience, I would encourage you to get the Ayre ‘e’ and ‘mp’ upgrades for your player- they’re reasonably priced and make a BIG difference in the presence, overall fidelity (to my ears), and sheer enjoyment of the music they help to re-create- not that the AX-7 isn’t a great unit to begin with.
haha room at Hong kong cost…USD 1300 per square foot at not so fancy location, and USD 3000 per square foot at upper market location….
OMG. I would be headphones-only in HK…
We are very fortunate in New Zealand and have fairly large houses by any large city measure, yet still costs are high at around USD $1500 per square metre – my room is 550 sq m or approx 5000 sq ft