How to create your own listening room

Find sound serenity with this handy guide to building the perfect home audio set-up

As the world spends more time at home than ever before, it’s never been easier to buy a high-quality audio and turntable set-up to create your own audio room – no matter what your price range is.

Technology aside, it is also essential to consider various elements about the space you’ll be putting your set-up into: how big is the room? Are there any items of furniture that will obstruct the flow of sound? What style of music will you be listening to on it? What formats will you be listening to your music on – vinyl, digital, CD, etc?

By no means comprehensive, this guide to creating your own listening room will give you a solid starting point on how to build a stellar home audio set-up. As ever, if you’re looking for a vintage or secondhand model, make sure to buy from a reputable seller. Audiophile bar Brilliant Corners’ Idle Moments website is a wonderful source of inspiration, as well as a handy guide for what brands will stand the test of time.

Speakers

KEF speakers
Image: KEF

Ultimately, your set-up will only sound as good as the speakers you have. Many new models combine analogue and digital functionality, meaning you can play your records and digital music on the same speakers. For high-end, you can’t go wrong with KEF – passive or active models alike. In terms of budget, Dali’s Spektor 2s or Kanto’s YU6 Wireless will serve you well.

Turntable

Investing in a great turntable doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Audio Technica combines top-tier, affordable quality with digital accessibility, while Technics 1200 series remains a gold standard for DJs or vinyl aficionados alike.

Absolutely avoid any cheap, all-in-one models, and suitcase turntables, that have non-adjustable tonearm/needles. These record players come with an extremely high, fixed, and unchangeable pressure. This means the needle scrapes the grooves of the record to play it, destroying your vinyl with every spin.

Hi-fi placement

Apartment S in Paris by Heros Architecture
Image: Apartment S in Paris by Heros Architecture. Photography: Schnepp Renou

The location of your speakers in a room is key. Place them adequately apart, at a height that’s well above floor level, and a location that is unobstructed by large objects, walls, or furniture, if possible. Where will you be most likely to listen to music in your space? Can you direct your speakers so they’ll be ‘beaming’ the sound to that place? Is there interference between the two sound sources? Play around with where the speakers are located until you’re happy with what you hear.

Amplifiers should also be placed next to your turntable, rather than on it, to minimise interference. Remember: the more solid your turntable and hi-fi base is, the less interference and shaking will occur, and the clearer your sound quality will be.

Amplifiers

Clinton Hill Townhouse designed by Abruzzo Bodziak Architects for design couple Devon Turnbull and Kassandra M. Lao Pietri. Photography: Naho Kubota
Credit: Clinton Hill Townhouse designed by Abruzzo Bodziak Architects for design couple Devon Turnbull and Kassandra M Lao Pietri. Photography: Naho Kubota

An amplifier is the sonic hub of your set-up, ‘receiving’ sound from your audio input and ‘directing’ it to sing out from your speakers. Some turntables will come with a built-in pre-amplifier; however, a standalone model will elevate your sound quality further still.

Ambience and accoutrements

Image: Casa Verde in Mexico City by PRODUCTORA. Photography: Onnis Luque

Lighting can go a long way to create the ultimate audio haven of your choosing – whether it’s your own mini-club thanks to a small yet effective laser or a zen audiophile locale via the warm glow of small lamps. Plants can also lend a similar effect if greenhouse boogie is your style.

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