Best music room ideas: how to create the perfect listening space
Easy chair, hi-fi, vinyl displays: here's how to furnish your own listening paradise
If you love your music, you probably dream of having your own quiet refuge where you can listen to it at peace and undisturbed. Music lovers are discovering the joys of a dedicated music room for listening, and they're not the only ones. Even for non-music aficionados, the ability to go to a room in your house and sink into some music without fear of disturbance is being recognised as important for wellbeing.
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We've put our heads together and come up with some easy, affordable ways in which you can turn any room in your house into a dedicated music room 0r listening room. There are a few steps you can take: one or two very comfy chairs and some decent listening equipment are the most obvious items on the list, but after that you can begin turning your room into a real audiophile's paradise with other items such as shelving for your favourite vinyl records, or even (if you like to crank up your Beethoven or Wagner) some sound-absorbing wall coverings.
Here are our top tips for creating the perfect music room.
Music room ideas
Best sound systems for a music room
Let's deal with the most important thing first: the music, and how to listen to it at its very best. When it comes to the different ways to listen to your music, you have quite a few different options. You will probably want to start with a decent hi-fi system, and we've taken a look at the best hi-fi systems for classical music lovers elsewhere on the site.
Essentially, you can ask yourself: do you need a CD player? Or a turntable for your precious vinyl? Or both? Or will you be streaming music from your phone, and just be needing some decent speakers?
If you're a regular radio listener, will internet radio be OK, or do you want DAB/FM? Is hi-res streaming (Wi-Fi) important to you, or will Bluetooth be acceptable? Whatever your particular requirements, you'll be able to find a wealth of audio systems out there, at various budget points.
For example, among our list of best turntables for 2023 you will find the excellent SONY PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Bluetooth Turntable, which can stream audio to as many as eight compatible speakers. This turntable is fully automatic, so it'll return the tonearm back to its support as soon as the record's over: no need to get out of your comfy chair (more on those in a moment) as soon as the record finishes. It also, like all modern turntables, plays records at both 331⁄₃ rpm and 45 rpm, so your entire vinyl collection right back to the 60s is covered.
If, on the other hand, it's a really decent CD player you're after, we'd definitely recommend the Marantz CD6007, which is a simply brilliant piece of audio equipment for the money.
With a wonderfully quiet power supply, superb dynamic range and crystal-clear sound, the Marantz will give you an audiophile performance of any CD you care to slip inside it. Its stereo imaging is beautifully focused, and you can have fun fiddling around with its selection of digital filters to get the exact sound you want.
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Typically retailing at around £350, it's not the cheapest CD player out there - but it's very far from being the priciest, yet it will give you some of the best audiophile results.
If you're looking to spend a little less, the Panasonic SC-HC302EB-K Micro Hi-Fi is a hugely capable and well-reviewed machine, typically retailing at a very wallet-friendly £129 or so. You can even specify it without DAB Radio, bringing the price down to a very attractive £79.
Best speakers for classical music
Once you've decided on what sort of sound system you want, your next (very enjoyable) decision is what sort of speakers will work best in your dedicated listening room.
Many of today's hi-fi systems, including the turntables and CD players we mentioned above, have Bluetooth capabilities, so a decent Bluetooth speaker or two (or more) should be top of your list. We recently picked out some of the best active speakers, and any of these would make a great choice.
What is an active speaker?
Essentially, an active speaker is one that you can stream music directly to, thanks to their built-in powered amplifiers and wireless capabilities. In other words, active speakers give you high-resolution streaming and audiophile sound quality.
Is 'active speaker' simply another name for 'Bluetooth speaker', then? Well, not quite. Most active speakers will include Bluetooth streaming, but the better ones will also offer other inputs such as 3.5mm, RCA and optical. These will allow you to connect a CD player, turntable or other device.
Best active speakers
For a pair of active speakers on a budget, we'd recommend the Edifier R1000T4.
Priced at around £70, they are hugely impressive at the price point. Some 77% of Amazon reviewers have given this speaker set the full five stars.
If your budget can go a little higher, and you like the idea of a floor-standing speaker, we'd point you towards the superb (and extremely elegant) Q Acoustics 3050i floor-standers, one of the best floor-standing speakers out there and yet much more affordable than many competitors.
Available in black, white, walnut or grey, these hugely capable speakers come with a special bracing structure that helps minimise unwanted vibrations, while the clever Helmholtz Pressure Equaliser tubing technology helps to eliminate resonance. 'They’re warm, engaging and offer plenty of punch and, impressively, don’t complain too much if they’re positioned in less-than-ideal spaces,' enthused our audio and tech specialist Chris Haslam.
Other speaker options you'll want to consider include voice-controlled speakers. And, while you're here, why not take a look at Chris' article on how to get a quality hi-fi system on a budget?
How to decorate a music room
If you're like us here at BBC Music Magazine, you don't just love the way your classical collection sounds: you love the way it looks too. Classical music album covers, especially in vinyl format, make wonderful works of art on their own: think of the moody skies on the cover of Bernstein's Mozart symphonies on DG, or the frosty beauty of Colin Davis' LSO Live Sibelius cycle. Album covers like this deserved to be proudly displayed in your listening room, rather than squirrelled away deep inside a CD shelf.
A great way to show off a vinyl collection is to display your records on the walls. And one neat design solution here is to fit some slim picture ledges to the wall. Take a look at these elegant pine record shelves on Etsy:
Or how about this very affordable and well-reviewed Hudson Hi-Fi six pack of steel and plastic wall mounts, from Amazon:
Best coffee tables
You'll also want a stylish but ergonomic table to rest your coffee, reading matter, CD liner notes and the rest. We love this John Lewis Anton coffee table.
We're also very taken with the Habitat Cornelia Coffee Table.
The design has a simple elegance that would do any listening room proud - and there's that handy extra shelving underneath for all your back issues of BBC Music Magazine!
Best seating for music rooms
It's easy to spend thousands of pounds on the very best high-end audio equipment. However, can you be sure that all that crystal-clear musical information is reaching your ears correctly? In fact, it's easy to lose some of the crucial details if your head is buried in a plush reclining chair.
Having your headrest at ear level or above can cause field sound absorption and diffusion. Result: the three-dimensional soundstage width will be distorted, while some high frequencies will lose tonal balance as well.
Instead, you should treat yourself to a listening chair that can be positioned below your shoulders or can support your back, so your ears are free to absorb all the musical detail.
A recliner chair is a great solution here. These can be rocked and adjusted easily, and are a very comfortable place to while away a few hours while you lose yourself in your favourite Mahler symphony or Verdi opera. Add in a footstool for extra comfort.
The HOMCOM Recliner below has plenty of good reviews on Amazon:
Or, if you prefer to appreciate your classical music from a fully horizontal perspective, among budget sofas the Dunelm Jacob Cord 3-Seater is one of the best out there. Simple, elegant, comfortable and - at just under £400 - certainly no bank-breaker.
How to soundproof a music room
You may want to pump up the volume on your Wagner or Beethoven. How can you do so without fear of annoying the rest of the household - or the neighbours?
Some form of soundproofing is a great solution for a music room. Soundproofing comes in various forms: for example, you can go for some acoustic tiles, which will typically absorb around 80% of the noise from your listening room. These tiles from Office Reality are available in a range of colours and sizes, meaning that they can fit perfectly into your current listening environment.
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.