Accepting that you are repeated loser can be a tough pill to swallow when you have any modicum success in your professional life, but this is where I stand today. The reason for my malaise is that, no matter how hard that I try and no matter how much money I invest to solve the problem, I just can’t seem to win Powerball. Not even once, despite my repeated attempts over the years. It is a well-proven fact that I wasn’t ever very proficient at Math in school. The fact that I got through two levels of Calculus in college was simply an academic miracle. With that said, I tend to believe that coming out on the right side of 292,000,000:1 odds seems perfectly reasonable, in that my wife and I met a family at my older son’s preschool that won $134,000,000 when the dad (who worked as a checker at Ralph’s grocery store in Reseda (home of The Karate Kid) bought a $2 ticket on his lunch break If he can win, why can’t I? It’s only fair.
The amount of time I’ve spent thinking about my post-Powerball win strategy would have my investors quite upset with me – which would be a something much more serious to worry about in the event anybody was actually willing to invest in one of my businesses. Moreover, I’ve actually read not one but three books on lottery winners. The last one was by a money manager based in Nashville who only deals with lottery winners. This advisor does some smart things, too. His strategy starts with extracting you away from your everyday life for a few months. As he says “you can’t dream of how resourceful the mother of a seriously ill child is and how she can find your number for an unsolicited call that will leave you wanting to give her money.” This lottery-winner whisperer also has you move to some exotic but relatively isolated locale for a few months. His firm then routes all of your phone numbers to a high-end call center so that you can have some time to comprehend the gravity of your new reality.
What I learned from all three books was that nearly all big lottery winners end up with the same problems, which include: entitlement from old friends, more than the average amount of drug and alcohol addiction on the winner’s part, but most disturbing is how many of the winners end up stone-cold broke at the end of story. This specialized money manager suggests that the winner take the structured settlement versus the one-time, lump payment. I wouldn’t follow this advice, but I fully understand his reasoning for long-term wealth prevention for most of his clients. With yields on tax-free municipal bonds much higher than they’ve been in years, the amount of non-taxable income that you could generate has the ability for you to pay for as many hours on the old Gulfstream as you could ever use.
With that kind of money, you can get into some seriously strange, Howard Hughes-like behavior. In my case, I would have plenty of money to pay for Ball jars to save my toenail clippings. I would have enough free cash flow to move into a hotel full time as well as then buy the hotel when they got sick of me and demanded that I move out. Hell, I think I could even land my Global Express 7000 on the eighth fairway at Bel Air Country Club when going to visit my golf buddies without even getting in trouble with the authorities. As I mentioned earlier, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this.
Now, the key question is: what would I do with my audio system when I was loaded with a silly amount of Powerball money? The first step would be to buy a new house. A big ocean view would be a starter for me. I will need storage for a modest exotic car collection but the real pride and joy will be my new, world-class audiophile listening room. We harp on the importance of your room over your gear all the time here at FutureAudiophile.com, and we likely will never stop, as the concept is as relevant to the audiophile rocking a pair of entry-level Paradigm bookshelf speakers as much as it is for a schmuck like me (or who I hope to be) who is flush with a deep nine-figure net worth.
Before visiting the custom installer trade show CEDIA Expo this September, I went to visit Boulder Amps, about an hour outside of Denver. The company has a listening room designed by founder Jeff Nelson that is a lot like how I would like to construct my Powerball room. It employs studio doors, whereby a set of two doors with an air gap between them keeps exterior sound out of the listening room. Jeff designed the HVAC system vents and piping to be much wider than normal so there is no real measurable sound from the air conditioning or heat when it is on. That’s a brilliant idea. He then commissioned a poured cement floor that was decoupled from the rest of the factory. Many of the interior walls are not 100 parallel, which can help with overall acoustics. As I remember the space, Boulder’s listening room also had varied textures on the walls and ceilings, be it hard flooring, carpet, fabric walls, and drywall. That’s all an excellent setup for room treatments, and there needs to be plenty of those, but they need to look great too. I’ve always loved RPGs Modex plates, which are like an ASC Tube Trap (meaning that they eat ugly standing bass waves) but are built and hidden into a stud bay in your room and located in each of your four main corners. There would be cityscape-style diffusion likely on the ceiling and possibly the back wall, absorption on the first order reflections near the front of the room by the main speakers, and more. The lighting design might include products from Ketra (an award-winning lighting company recently bought by Lutron) that could be configured to nearly infinite settings. They also automatically shift their color temperature based on the position of the sun in the sky during the day.
One of the best features of the cost-no-object rooms that I’ve been blessed to see include keeping the electronics in a whole other room. If I wanted a turntable, I might have something physically wild-looking like a Goldmund Reference out in the main room to function as much as object d’art. Cables would be routed in conduit and hidden to the eye whenever possible. The interior design would be modern and professionally done in a way that is not just an audiophile man cave for me but a room that people would want to congregate in to enjoy music.
I am a fan and collector of 20th-century pop art. I would acquire some bad-ass new works but mainly stuff on canvas as to not create any acoustical issues. Power would come from the sun and be stored in battery backup with enough reserve to power my music playback system so that if the end of the world came, I would have a few days of reserve power to keep Steely Dan’s Aja playing while watching the fallout settle over West Los Angeles.
Before we get to what audio gear that I would buy, let’s talk Powerball-level video. I’ve written about how audiophiles can (and need to) embrace video, as today’s television programming is some of the best art being made. Not music, not Hollywood movies, but TV shows like Billions, The White Lotus, Ted Lasso, Succession – the list is basically endless. The solution to my video needs is a micro-LED video wall that isn’t some pedestrian little 100-inch flat screen. A puny-ass sized video monitor is for scratch-off winners, not big ballers Powerball winners like I plan to be. A micro-LED video wall can be basically infinitely configured in terms of size, and mine would be big because the space between my speakers will be big. I don’t need the whole wall, but I’ve seen that at CES and CEDIA and it is very cool. Maybe my outdoor TV by the pool will be like this, but this video wall will be floor-to-ceiling and also hidden by a retractable hidden cover that will allow me to watch Flyers games while breathing the air of the Pacific Ocean and listening to one outrageous audiophile system. I like how this room is shaping up before we even talk about the actual equipment.
In traditional audiophile circles, buying the most luxe, most Oligarch-tastic audio gear is the first place many go to, but the actual gear is the least of my concerns. One rule that I have now and would keep when my pending Powerball numbers hit is that I would buy zero products from manufacturers who are run by assholes. Sadly, we’ve got a few real unique folks in the audiophile business. Hell, I just banned one of them from ever getting another review in FutureAudiophile.com because of his childish, arrogant, and narcissistic behavior during the fact check of his last review. His behavior makes this the last review that he will ever get, and people like that are simply not invited to be part of my new system, as they lack the joy in their hearts to be part of what we are working on here. This kind of coin in the bank allows any of us to create and uphold these types of rules, and good for us.
What specific audiophile components would I pick? I am not really sure at this point, as I want to design the room as a wholistic solution. The loudspeakers are the most important and there are many out there that are worthy of consideration. I would likely spend a good amount of time doing research before I started cutting checks. My acoustician and I might need to gas up the plane to visit any number of companies around North America and likely Europe to find just what speaker is the best for the room. Without question, I would have big subwoofers. They will need to be finished nicely so that they looked the part in the room, but could also play sub-sonically when I was in the mood for some organ-rattling organ music or to find out how low a Roland 808 can really go when blasting some 1990s EDM.
In terms of electronics, I have some personal favorite brands from tippy-top level manufacturers, but none of them actually crack the $50,000 per component range. Some don’t even come close to those price points. Just because you have crazy money doesn’t mean that you need to spend it like you are bat-shit crazy yourself. (I might have lost this earlier argument with the Howard Hughes like behavior early in my Powerball winning era, but I digress). Cables would be excellent but only from companies that design cables without a sonic fingerprint. Room correction would be a very real possibility depending on the room and its many configurations. The walls of my modern audiophile room would, in a perfect world, have windows that nearly fold into the wall, making indoor space actual outdoor space. The acoustical nature of that room configuration is likely very different than if the windows and doors were closed, and a flick of a perfectly programmed remote will allow me to have then best of both worlds. Streaming would be the source of choice as it is today, but I likely would have fun building a library of first-pressing or new vinyl. I know the physical limitations of LPs but the analog nature of the medium is appealing when seeking a Zen state of audiophile bliss, and with Powerball money, I/you/we can have the best of both world, can’t we?
In the end, the system of my dreams has more to do with acoustical design, interior design, lighting design, room treatments, and the ability for more than one person to enjoy the system with me when the situation presents such an opportunity. I don’t want a screening room for an audio room (there can be a Bel Air Circuit 4K movie theater elsewhere in the house), but I do want to be able to enjoy whatever content I want with the ease of one-button access from the remote. The most important part of the system isn’t buying what other people tell you as much as enjoying the process of building the room into what you ultimately want from your dream system. And you get to make the rules without making any excuses for why they exist. The joy that comes from realizing your dream audiophile system and sharing musical art with others is the real value over collecting any specific gear, in my eyes. In fact, I could see me starting the entire process over after a few years just to repeat the fun of the build all over again. Why not? The yields from my bonds more than pay for everything needed.
So now it is your turn! What would you buy? How would you design your system? What would you need to be truly in love with your audio system? Would you ever be done or are you in the hobby forever like me? What would you have to have in your rig? What products or concepts can you live without? We want to hear from you below in the comments section. Get creative. Get crazy. I sure as hell did, as I need to be prepared for 291,000,000:1 when it happens. We expect the same from you…