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Winston Ma's Remarkable Listening Room: Images and Some Design Notes
(All photographs and digital image processing by Robinson)
Any experienced audiophile will tell you that one of the most important components of all is one that is often overlooked: the listening room itself. Having owned and done some very limited design consulting on a couple of dedicated listening rooms (with thanks to friends like George Cardas, Michael Green, Jennifer Crock, and others), I can appreciate what a fine room can do for ones audio voyage.
One of the most impressive listening rooms that Ive ever seen is the one that Winston Ma of First Impression Music (http://www.fimpression.com) designed and built. Positive Feedback Online has been sharing an extended interview that Rick Gardner and I conducted with Winston a while back (see Issues 1 and 2 of PFO). As an adjunct article, Id like to share some photographs and dimensional specifics of Winstons extraordinary effort, so that our readers understand more of what he has done.
I asked Winston to contribute some notes for this article. His edited comments appear below.
The foundation of my listening room was so designed to achieve the following:
The foundation for the music room was constructed to try to achieve the above perimeters in the following way:
The Dimensions of Winston Ma's Listening Room:
Front wall (loudspeaker end): 10 8.37" high
These dimensions had to be absolutely accurate, and so were checked by a laser measuring device. Note that the "golden ratio" of 1:1.618:2.588 (height x width x depth) is employed which is more precise than the normal golden ratio commonly used, i.e.: 1:1.6:2.5 (direct proportional calculation).
Some additional room photos and notes
There is a landscaped garden and pond outside of the listening room, which helps to prepare visitors for the experience of relaxed listening. Winston explains that achieving a calm mind and spirit for listening is very important to him.
The listening room is separated from the rest of the house by a very attractive and appealing sunroom. This not only gives guests a place to converse without disturbing those who wish to listen to music (the bane of audio clubs everywhere!), but acoustically decouples the listening room from the rest of the house. You can get a sense of the room in this photograph.
The view from the listening position towards the rear (speaker end) of the room is very fine indeed!
So is the view in the other direction! This view is from the rear towards the front (listener) end of the room.
Heres a close-up of the equipment rack and Paul Weitzels glorious amplifiers
A number of room treatments are in evidence in the room. The positioning of these devices was approximated by calculation, and then was fine-tuned by ear.
Fully dedicated power, carefully installed with dedicated panels, is in evidence at key points in the room.
Paul Weitzels stunning Tube Research amplifiers provide extraordinarily beautiful power (800 Watts per channel of pure class A!) for Winstons room.
Winston uses a separate climate control system with exceptionally quiet air flow. The thermostat is placed in his media room, seen in the photo below. (A beautiful sword hangs there dont ever think of trespassing in Winstons room!)
Winston has an imposing media storage room at one end of his listening rooma very intelligent use of the space.
Positive Feedback Onlines Rick Gardner enjoys listening in one of Winstons listening chairs.
I photographed Winston standing in front of his carved panels for the cover of Positive Feedback, Vol. 9, No. 2. What we didnt mention at that time was that this beautiful woodwork doubles as a cover for an ingenious acoustical trap behind it!
I can personally attest that the results in Winstons room are nothing less than truly magnificent. Emerging from a profound silence, the sound of the music (Winston has LP, SACD, and CD playback in his system) is awesome: clear, clean, rich, and extended. The mids and high frequencies are spot on; the bass is deep and effortless. At the time of our last visit, Winston was using the Avalon Eidolon as his speaker; it is my understanding that he has since upgraded to the Eidolon Diamonds. In this photograph, a pair of Paul Weitzels Tube Research monoblocks is behind the Avalon.
While most of us cannot achieve this level of accomplishment in our rooms, Winstons design encourages audiophiles to press for every advantage feasible when they have the opportunity to constructor remodela dedicated room. Meanwhile, his work will remain a benchmark worthy of admiration and emulation.