Man builds $1 million stereo system in his home

Homeowners should add this to the list of $125,000 bathroom upgrades and $550,000 kitchen remodels – items where you’re unlikely to recoup the cost upon the sale of your home.



Excellent home sound reproduction of superb music is highly addictive.

My Dad’s obsession with electronics and especially “Hi Fi” music was a hugely formative part of my life. Originally he came at it purely as an engineering obsession. At age 4 when, curious and wanting to hang out with him, I asked if I could help, he taught me how to use my little hands to solder tiny components into insanely tight tiny spaces on circuit boards he was upgrading. While we worked together over succeeding years he slowly walked me through how to think about information theory (Shannon’s Law!), its "mystical and mathematical relation with thermodynamics, and how it applied to musical recording and reproduction.

He put a titanically huge and magnificent Altec A4 “Voice of the Theater” into the corner of our tiny living room. We kids hid behind it when playing hide and seek, and never referred to it as “the speaker” but always as “the screamer” even though we rarely played it at loud volumes. Because of it I was entranced with classical music by the time I was 6.

In high school, in a larger home, I helped him custom design and build a stereo pair of built into the wall speakers based on altec lansing components, but with the exit curve of the horns greatly extended by hand built wood cabinetry, and the bass cones with elaborate tunable resonant chambers. Dad was an early solid state convert, and we had one of the first Harmon Kardom 330s.

My godfather and his son, my best friend, lived four doors down from us, and he was a McIntosh tube fan with first year of production Bose 901s. The four of us would often choose some vinyl LP to trek back and forth between the two houses listening to tiny nuances of sound…argue ferociously…Insane and wonderful.

Rubbed off on me happily and well, and to this day I consult locally on acoustic analyses of churches and concert spaces with great pleasure.

The world’s relationship with sound since those days has largely deteriorated.

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(sick in bed wtih a nasty cold, and so posting more…)


He looks hard of hearing.

He died shortly after being interviewed for the article from Lou Gehrig’s disease.


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Interesting story. I smiled at this.

Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3. It’s a favorite. Famous for its glorious pipe organ, it was the last symphony finished by the great French romantic composer.

For almost 50 years, that has been one of the pieces of music we have used to evaluate every piece of audio equipment we’ve purchased.



Me too, and the imprint it made on me at age 7 (French Canadian baby sitter brought her album over to play for me) was immensely powerful. A college roommate I had turned on to it ten years later told me that having his mind blown when hearing it had seeded his doctorate thesis in anthropology on the intentional use of cathedral organs as highly successful vehicles for propagandizing an auditory version of the “beatific vision”.

:innocent: :crazy_face: :smiling_face_with_tear:

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david fb

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Ok. Fine.
I pulled it up on YouTube, Bluetooth to the sound bar.
Now, ensconced in the recliner, the radiant heater glowing.
A cup of coffee.
Outside T 22F.
Crescendos and diminuendos.

Life is good.


No kidding! My dad and his brother had good systems. Then sometime in the mid-70s, while I was in the 7th grade, I managed to get a used Rotel receiver. My dad worked nights in a repair shop and this unit went unclaimed after a repair. The owner let me buy it for $50. It wasn’t until I got into college and into campus radio that I realized how good a name Rotel was. Then I got introduced to Carver, NAD, Sennheiser, SoundStream, etc.

In the oughts, while in my first home, I got full-blown addition. Combination of no neighbors to worry about plus lots of disposable cash and I eventually got what was my best system ever. Arcam CD-23 and AVP-700, B&K 5x200W amp, Dali Ikon 7 speakers and Nordost cables. Heaven!

But the problem is one so many fall into, I started using music to listen to my system, rather than the other way around. Fellow addicts will understand this. I would choose music that was very well recorded, produced, engineered because it showed up the imaging, or the detail, or whatever. And I stopped listening to music I loved if the recording was awful. It’s not supposed to be this way.


The best treatment for that disease is pilgrimage to a superb concert hall** when a fine orchestra and conductor are bringing heaven to earth. No music system comes close to that. But you have to remember to move your head a little so your ears are drinking and your auditory cortex processing the insanely complex deliciousness of a live acoustic space, an acoustic of a sort no electronic system can duplicate.

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**my favorite halls are Boston Symphony and Los Angeles Disney, but there are many more.