Gorgeous McIntosh home theater

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I'm no audiophile, but I do love McIntosh hi-fi gear. I have a vintage McIntosh tube amp, and while I think it sounds warmer than today's digital systems, it's really the design that brings me the most joy. I was browsing the McIntosh Labs site where they feature a couple of McIntosh true fans, including Ivan Messer of Miami, Florida. Messer's gorgeous $1.1 million media center now features almost 100 McIntosh products, according to a profile in Electronic House magazine. Messer's McIntosh treasures aren't all vintage, but they still have the beautiful blue glow that defines the brand. From Electronic Home:
 Images Uploads Dsc00014 300 (Messer's) obsession with Richard Gray and McIntosh products weren’t the result of a bunch of impulse buys. It started much smaller, many years ago. “I had what I thought was a good, cutting-edge-type of stereo system,” he says of his 1970s system. It was around that time, 25 years ago, that he bought his first McIntosh piece. Then he waited until he could afford another one. Overall, Ivan says it took about a year to wire everything up and turn it on. “As things advanced technologically and financially, I was able to expand.”

Expand he did. With his first Richard Gray product, Ivan saw an obvious improvement. “Obviously than, two must be better than one,” he says. “I just kept pushing the envelope with more and more power, more and more McIntosh.” Today, he buys them up as fast as they make them. In fact, Ivan didn’t even blink when it came to the $100,000 price tag of McIntosh’s XRT2K speakers; he was too busy placing an order. 

The current breakdown on his room has about $800,000 worth of McIntosh gear, which is predominantly source components, amplifiers and speakers. Then, there’s about $125,000 on the video side. The rest is cosmetic–decorating, seating and woodwork. Then, he has maybe another $80,000 in just software, which includes 6,000 Blu-ray movies, CDs and DVDs. 
DIYer Spends $1 Million on Audio


  1. That woodwork is really really ugly.

    I didn’t click thru, but after spending all that loot why did he get such a small TV?

  2. The TV isn’t small by any means (it’s a 64″), it just looks small next to that massive cabinet. Speaking of the TV, I’d say it’s really due for an upgrade. It’d probably look ho-hum compared to a current-generation 64″ plasma or LCD.

  3. How incredibly self-indulgent. How many people would $1.1 million feed? How much illness could be cured?

    This kind of waste of money in the name of one person’s entertainment should be ridiculed not lifted up.

    Maybe BoingBoing could make post about how somebody had a idea that was completely cool and geeky, but then when looking at the potential cost, used that fortune to do something good for humanity instead.

  4. One of the items in the equipment list is a 120″ screen. Many people choose to use a regular TV and a drop down screen for various reasons, such as saving bulb life on the projector for casual TV watching.

    What really doesn’t make sense is why he has 3 SACD players and 2 CD players unless that’s covering multiple rooms.


    So shocked to see this celebrated on BoingBoing. This is the opposite of everything that is nerdcool.

    1. Extreme audiophilia is total junk science.

    2. It’s the complete opposite of do-it-yourselferness.

    3. It has absolutely no style or taste of any kind. The furnishings are truly hideous.

    4. Total social redemptive value of spending $1.1 million on ugly audio equipment that probably sounds as good as a $200 stereo? Negative infinity.

  6. If someone ends up with more money than they could possibly put to reasonable use, they will put it to unreasonable use instead.

    We all do it, to a certain extent. Possessing money of any quantity comes with a subconscious impulse to find some justification for spending it. Gadget companies are happy to oblige.

  7. Oh dear god that’s horrible, horrible woodwork. And a horrible waste of money.

    A guy who spends $1.1m buying premade modules isn’t a DIYer. He’s a rich audiophile idiot who has got people to write lustful articles about something that has become a demo lounge for a company he runs. (Although searching google for ‘”Legend Home Video” Cape Cod’ only brings up articles refering to this ‘story’.)

    What’s next? Articles about $500 speaker cables?

    BTW, anyone want to place bets on how many comments here avoid disemvowelling?

  8. If plugging in speaker wires and audio/video cables into the back of AV components makes you a DIY’er, then I must be Norm freeking Abrams.

  9. @BHILTON, you wrote:
    “Maybe BoingBoing could make post about how somebody had a idea that was completely cool and geeky, but then when looking at the potential cost, used that fortune to do something good for humanity instead.”

    Ok! Please post the link here!

  10. Bhilton — How much did you spend on the computer you are using, and is the time you spent reading and commenting on Boing Boing better spent than time you might have spent volunteering in a food pantry?

  11. @mark, #14: Are you implying that both bhilton and the audiophile in the article should be aware of and change their unnecessary and wasteful consumption habits?

    Or are you saying that we should tolerate an individual wasting >$1M on trivial, selfish gadgets because we ourselves are sometimes wasteful and selfish?

    It comes across as the latter to me, so I thought I’d ask.

  12. Seems I’ve made Boing Boing mad at me :)


    I would love to post a link. Sadly, I know of none. Not to say there isn’t any, but the world is wrought with greed and the likelihood of that scenario is nil. That statement was intended as sarcasm really, not a reflection of my opinion of Boing Boing, or even you David. I’m sorry if you took it that way. My issue is with people wasting so much money on frivolous things while others suffer and die.


    Your logic criticizing my post escapes me. I’m not the one the feature post is on so comparing me to the “audiophile”, maybe isn’t too fair, but I have nothing to hide. I spent $400 on this laptop. I use it to manage my life and support my wife and kids. One of which has Autsim. I use it to research and seek help in caring for him. If I had spent double that on my laptop, it would still be a drop in the bucket compared to the $1.1 million dollars that the subject of you article wasted. If I had blown that much on myself for no good reason, then I would be at fault too.

    One place I have spent time volunteering is http://www.blanchethouse.org/site/ . There are other places as well.

    I’m sorry you guys are so defensive on this. Again, I am not criticizing you guys with posting this article. I just think the rich guy in the article and anybody else that does things like that is the main problem with humanity.


  13. I don’t see any reason why people complain on other people spending $$$ on things they enjoy… isn’t that why most of us earn money….

  14. Jeez, take the log out of your own eye before worrying about your brother’s. That’s Mark’s point. We all waste our time and money, and you’re no exception. (You meaning every person reading this, including me.) Criticizing others is easier than critiquing yourself.

    Sure his $1mm could’ve been spent on humanitarian causes, but so could the money you spent on coffee yesterday, or a fancy dinner last month. Simply changing the scale doesn’t make it any more wrong.

    Also keep in mind his $1mm didn’t get burned up in a fire, it was spent with a company that employs people – and those people are paid with money earned by selling this equipment. Why do you want to put them out of a job? ;-)

  15. He could have spent the money on something other than sonic dinosaurs.

    And if you think Mac fanboys are bad (disclosure – four Macs in the family), tubeheads are much much worse.

  16. Sure, the guy absolutely could have spent his money on other things that would better serve humankind. But that’s not what struck me about his A/V system. I just like McIntosh tube amps and so I found it interesting that he has such an extravagant McIntosh system. Fortunately, the only filter I need to have when deciding whether to post something is if it’s interesting to me or not.

  17. @dculberson: Simply changing the scale doesn’t make it any more wrong.

    That’s a pretty weird philosophy you’re flogging there. If squandering $10 is worthy of the same outrage as squandering $1,000,000, does it follow that one wrongful death is morally equatable to the deaths of thousands? Or maybe volunteering at the orphanage for an afternoon is just as “right” as spending your whole life working there?

    I agree that we should each be aware of the ways that we waste the resources we’re lucky enough to have. But the fact that this guy is carelessly wasting more resources than many of us will ever touch in our entire lives shouldn’t be dismissed so casually.

    If anything, acknowledging how fucked up it is that we live in a world where some people can squander so much can help us to understand how us average first-worlders must appear to the majority of the world’s population.

  18. Obviously the people on this board have never had the pleasure of actually listening to a McIntosh system.

    People, get over yourselves. If this guy has a million to burn on an entertainment center, he probably has 5 million to give to charity.

    To the people who knee-jerk accuse nice audio systems as audiophile quackery: It is not a black and white as you imagine, and your ignorance is showing a bit.

  19. By spending $1MM on stupid audio equipment, this guy is helping prop up the economy. Instead of ridiculing the guy for wastefulness and bad taste we should be THANKING him for helping keep all those McIntosh employees, distributors and dealers employed so they can re-spend his money on “more important” things. You know, like dinosaur fossils and vintage arcade games.

    Besides, even the haters have to admit McIntosh comes about as close as it gets in the ready-made world to a steampunk aesthetic.

    Just sayin’.

  20. There are legitimate ethical concerns about this sort of wasteful “lifestyle”. This $1.1M system wasn’t magically created from thin air after all. How much metal was extracted from the ground to create this system vs. the $200 Sony? How much crude-oil-derived plastic? How much cheap labor was exploited? How much electrical power is drawn by the over-spec-ed amps, burning how much coal and natural gas?

    And think of how much the tacky cabinets have contributed to lowering home values in the area.

  21. Still searchin’ for that sound…

    You spend money to warm it up or cool it down.
    Mackies monitor. These ‘things’ are for the deaftones.

  22. I don’t know if they were really that fool to waste so much money or those systems were paid for by McIntosh as advertising disguised as customer projects, as it is often the case, but that impressive gear won’t be recognizable to a bunch of $1000 pair of active KRK or Event, just because everything he’s feeding to them is digital and lossy-compressed (MPEG 2 and 4).
    The human ear associates high volumes with higher fidelity (hence the infamous “loudness wars”), still the best amplifier coupled to the best box in the world will never give back what lossy compression took away.

  23. @ZikZak: “If squandering $10 is worthy of the same outrage as squandering $1,000,000, does it follow that one wrongful death is morally equatable to the deaths of thousands?”

    Nice hyperbole. Sure, spending money is exactly the same as killing people! How could I be so wrong!

    Dragging death into a discussion of overspending on audio equipment just shows you’re engaging in a fairly pointless exercise. Someone squandering their own money is just not something you should be morally outraged by. Save it for actual moral outrages.

  24. @ mypalmike #24:

    I’d wager that the setup probably uses less raw materials than the average luxury car, which is what most rich people squander their money on. Seems like a pretty innocuous thing to get worked up about compared to the other vanity projects out there.

  25. From the article in Electronic House:

    “While he’s a financial planner by profession, he’s been messing with wires since the age of 15. “I’m a very hands-on type of guy,” he says.”

    The man is a financial planner…

    I can sympathize with an obsession with perfect audio but I quenched it by buying a nifty set of headphones, this is just sick.

  26. @dculberson, #27: Well, spending money in constructive ways is the exact same as saving people’s lives. I’m sure you’re familiar with how many people die from poverty-related causes which can be prevented by access to resources we can easily afford to provide. You know, pennies worth of vitamins, a couple bucks worth of mosquito netting, a $50 water purifier…that kind of thing.

    So there’s certainly an opportunity cost in human lives whenever money is squandered. That’s not to say you or I (or McIntosh fanbois) have to care about it, but I’d say money is a lot more closely related to matters of life and death than we’d like to think.

  27. This stuff is seriously a rip off. You wont find any professional recording studios using Mclntosh monitors to mix on. Why? because this equiptment reproduces sounds to make them pleasing, not accurately. The funny thing is this guy could have bought a whole recording studio for that amount of money, or hired musicians to just play him the damn music live. And he doesn’t have a record player. FAIL.

  28. As was originally hinted at above, I would really like to compare what this person HAS contributed to charity and other good causes like hunger and disease before I criticize him for what he spent on himself.

    I think there’s a good chance he’s contributed more and done more actual good than the rest of us commentors combined.

    Or maybe he hasn’t done any good at all. We just don’t know.

  29. Stupid amounts of money aside

    Ivan’s motto is: the newer the better. “It wasn’t so long ago that you’d buy that car for that 250 horsepower, and that was considered fast. Then there were 300 horsepower, then 350. Today, we’ve got Corvettes with 550 and 600 horsepower. Clearly, more horsepower is better,” he says. “More power, regarding an amplifier, is better.”

    I don’t know much about McIntosh systems, but this quote makes the guy sound like a complete idiot.

  30. Why? because this equiptment reproduces sounds to make them pleasing, not accurately.

    If he’s wanting to listen and watch surely he wants pleasing. Studio equipment is just that, you use it in a studio to get everything sorted out, then you master the tracks so they sound good for everyone else.

  31. #31 is right. For that amount of money he should have an entire studio, or an acoustically beautiful conservatory practice room. With plenty left over for good speakers and impressive electronics. I don’t object to the guy spending his own money, he’s just not any good at it.

  32. and even at today’s prices that much money buys you over 1,000 gold coins, enough to fill a bathtub 2 inches deep.

    (I made that up, and why not – Rob Cockerham ain’t got the dough to myth-bust me. )

  33. @#5: Anybody who would spend $100K on speakers shouldn’t be trusted with $100K.

    If these speakers were actually worth $100K, I personally would consider it money very well spent!

    However, I doubt there are, will be, or have ever been any speakers worth that much. My modest home studio has a pair of monitors that cost MUCH, MUCH less and which have very accurate reproduction over a huge dynamic and frequency range.

    It’s a quaint display of brand loyalty, though. View this guy as an obsessed collector, not a sensible consumer/audiophile, and it becomes kind of cool. Thanks for the post, David!

  34. Wow… I’m loving all the strong opinions reflected by these comments!

    First, some disclosure…
    I’ve worked with McIntosh Laboratories for over six years.
    I also own quite a bit of McIntosh gear.

    To the point of @dculberson (#18) and @Micah (#23), there are a few things I’d like to share about McIntosh…
    It’s a small lab and factory in Binghamton, NY
    McIntosh equipment is made (not just assembled) in Binghamton, by American workers, most of whom have been there 10+ years.
    There are 1000+ American workers (including me) who directly earn a living with McIntosh gear.

    I’m curious…
    How many here have actually had the chance to listen to music, or to watch a movie, through McIntosh gear? Are those who quickly dismiss its audio capabilities, doing so through experience? To the critics who are comparing it to $200 stereo systems (#8), please arrange a visit to your local dealer. You don’t have to be an audiophile to notice the difference.

    @CharlieLesoine (#31) @Ernunnos (#37) You’re right. Recording equipment, used by engineers and musicians, can be very neutral in tone. Though, I suspect you’d be surprised by how many of those same musicians and recording engineers, whose names I know you’ll know, use McIntosh gear in their homes because of its build quality and sound quality.

    If you have questions about McIntosh or audio, in general, I’m happy to answer them. :)


  35. @CJGuest

    Shhhhhh! You’ll startle these fragile creatures, laboring to end all war and stop third world suffering, with nothing but the power of their own self-rightousness…

  36. @ZikZak, I certainly don’t disagree with you there, but I’ll try a more coherent way to express my point. (I get a bit worked up over hyperbole, sorry for my reaction yesterday.) If wasting $1mm is so much worse, morally speaking, than wasting $10, does it follow that a billionaire donating $1mm must be morally superior to an indigent person donating his last $10? I would disagree with that.

    But yes, money can be a way to ease suffering and preserve or prolong life. But that doesn’t give us free reign to criticize others for doing the exact same things we do, just at a different scale. I try to hold myself to the same standards as others, and wish that everyone would.

    The killing thing is a false equivalency. It’s just not comparable. But then, if I was killing people left and right, wouldn’t you find it hard to listen to me casting aspersions upon someone for killing a few more people?

  37. The main reason I see this type of spending as crazy is, a pair of $100,000 speakers do not sound 100 times better than a a pair of $1000 speakers. They might sound twice as good, but that’s pushing it. However, I do give Kudos to Mclntosh for developing the prestige of their luxury brand and thereby convincing the wealthy to dish out.

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