The Perfect Listening Room

So much of making the optimal sound is “room treatment”, but what if the room is made from scratch to specifications?

With the only real constraint being 8’ ceiling height, what’s the perfect construction for a listening room for floor-standing speakers? What room width and depth, what material to make the walls (wood framing vs block, drywall/plaster and how thick), floor, and ceiling (drywall/plaster or acoustic panels), what type of acoustic paneling? What location for the chair, how far from the rear and side walls for the speakers, how far apart are the speakers and how far from the listener? What toe-in angle? How far beyond the chair for the back wall, and what type of paneling?

This is meant to be a more general discussion for any floor-standing setup, but here’s my personal setup:
Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition
Parasound Halo A23+
Focal Chora 826 Speakers

Thank you for any thoughts and insights you have!

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Start at 12 degrees, without a picture of the chair it’s not possible to proceed further.

The chair isn’t determined, it goes along with the room. Probably a lounge style chair with ear height 40-44", minimal arms and headrest.

I think the ideal is a room with no parallel walls and a sloping ceiling, isn’t it?

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This would probably be a better place for the discussion

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The larger the better, generally. (The only way to avoid standing bass waves is size; well that or active (!) bass traps; passive “bass traps” don’t do anything in actual bass). No parallel walls, sloped ceiling. There are preferable ratios for width/length/heights. See here:

A room mode calculator helps but is only accurate for rectangular rooms:

Chair one third of room length, but this depends a lot on the details because the acoustic pressure zones differ in every room (and you don’t want to sit neither in a bass null nor in a peak zone). Lots of distance should remain from back wall to ears. Speakers as far away from side walls as possible. Toe-in and precise placement has to be trial-and-errored with the specific speakers because they all have different emission properties.

The distance from speaker to the first wall reflection points to ears should always be at least 1.7 times the direct distance from speaker to ears. (Because if sound runtime of reflected sound is at least 1.7 longer than direct sound, the brain can calculate out the reflections).
(First reflection points follow the same reflection rules as light in a mirror: the angle at which the wave is incident on the surface equals the angle at which it is reflected. If you place a mirror on the wall at the first reflection point, you can see the speakers in the mirror if you sit in the chair. This is a good point for placing acoustic panels as well, but their specific configuration depends on the details again)

Drywall is often better than concrete because concrete creates hard reflections.
Acoustic panels for fine tuning.

But really if you are in a position to build your own listening room, hire an acoustics company. Plus you probably want something better than an Atom and Choras. (Nothing against either, but we seem to be talking about very different levels of spending).

Since you are Naim owner (but even if you were not), head over to the Naim forum and take a look at this thread and its 2,000 posts:


There are a lot of books and videos on this. Paul McGowan from PS Audio and Jim Smith are two of the most popular authors. It’s a complicated topic and dimensions are only part of it. Room treatment is a must regardless of the room shape or size and for a truly “ideal” room you want the floor, ceiling, and walls to be constructed using special construction techniques that prevent outside noise and vibrations from getting in and sound from inside the room from getting out. Doing this as a DIY project is very hard. Best to hire an audio room designer to help you if you really want an ideal room. It won’t be cheap either. And the fact that you already have an 8’ ceiling constraint is going to limit the size of the room significantly, because the length, width, and height all have to be done in the proper ratio to each other.

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To hire a professional is a very good idea. Try someone from the pro-audio scene that doesn’t want to sell you bs, like some small amount of foam in the corners and other things that hardly work.
Someone that has designed cinema’s, control rooms and so on. Some that knows what to expect from good diaphragma bass absorbers and where to put them and how a double bass array sounds.
Some people spend $30.000 on a new amp while they listen to room modes. They’d better spend that on acoustics. Not many people have heard what really good acoustics sound like. Rooms that are treated well, also in the bass. I have heard music playback in an old acoustically designed control room with rusty electronics and Tannoys red monitors in the wall and it sounded like “the right thing”, something no high end gear could ever match in a normal living room.
So there is a lot to expect from the sound in a really well treated room. A Naim system in such a room will outperform any ultra high end system in a standard living room.

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On the other hand most consumers would find a room tuned to sound like a pro set up very fatiguing. Their rooms are meant to be in your face (ears :smile:) so you can hear every note and feel a lot of them too.
Domestic tuning would normally be a kinder environment and tuned to operate at lower levels too.
Mind you I did the IT in a nice room that had beer taps in the wall so that was nice!

The ideal room has a beer fridge and no one telling you to “turn that down/off!”


The living it up room :+1:t2:

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I think my original question wasn’t worded particularly well. I have spare space in my basement, and the means to construct a room up to around 15’x20’x8’. I’m looking to give my setup a better room than where it’s housed in the living room, for relatively cheap (not hiring a pro to design and build it for $10k).

For a basic start though, I need to determine the room size and wall/ceiling material. The easy route would be making a wood frame wall with acoustical ceiling tiles and carpet , drywall (2 layers seem to be recommended). Run electric (a dedicated 20 amp) and 1-2 Cat6 cables to the rear wall while it’s open. Depending on room size, it should be relatively doable DIY for under $2k.

If there’s a balanced room size and construction, this could be applied to anybody’s basement.

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The answer is 42


That’s a lot of speaker toe in mate

I misunderstood! :slight_smile: I would still involve professionals instead of trying to do it yourself. Companies like offer calculators for choosing the right stuff, online consultation services, and often have dealers/installers somewhere in your area (depending)

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Or change the name from perfect listening room to very good listening room. Perfection may not be worth the expense. I think it would be a fun DIY project.

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In particular because it would involve removing the 8’ ceiling :wink:

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Have you priced the materials you will need to complete this project? Asking because last year I did a soundproofing remodel of my Living Room, roughly 17 by 24, 9 foot side walls and 11 foot center vaulted ceiling. I didn’t price the material before I decided to do it myself and was surprised at the cost. Seems like $1300.00 just for 1 layer of 5/8 Quiterock Sheetrock. It was an experience.

Good luck on your project.


So now we’re in a room inside of a room down in the basement, that’s not what I saw coming at all. This basement must be really nice to begin with I hope must assume? Can this be done and meet any code and safety requirements? Will this structure block access to the plumbing and hvac system’s?
I’ve been in a few basements, never really thought about spending quality time in them……huh. No window, humidity under good control obviously a must. You must have a great ventilation system and dehumidifier down there I need to believe.

It definitely is primarily about the width and depth of the room, if we go with a more conservative room of 12x16’ using 5/8" sheetrock brand (currently $11.98 per 4x8’x5/8" sheet at HD) I get just over $670 for 1 layer.

It’s just a room down in an unfinished basement.

If it’s a bedroom, technically it needs an egress window for fire code. This would not be a bedroom though, more like a den/family room.

In my specific planned area no, however using a drop ceiling with acoustical ceiling tiles, that issue can be generally avoided at the loss of about 6" ceiling height. The area is also sealed and has a sump system, no humidity issues.

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