Featured Member Jrosenth: A Real World Family Room

We saw user Jrosenth’s family-oriented, “real world” room posted in the Audiogon Forum and found that it garnered a large response from the Audiogon community.  In regard to the picture featuring his daughter and dog, he wrote, “Rather than a close up of the system, the picture is of it in action, which represents our experience and the point of this system and the post.”

After seeing all the responses, he commented, “To be honest, I was sort of surprised about the reaction that it’s generated, too.  It’s amazing.  I think folks respond well to the meaning around it as a call to examine the role of their own systems and this hobby as a source of happiness for themselves and other past and present.”  Let’s take a closer look at this system located in Louisville, Kentucky, the land of bourbon and bluegrass.

Audiogon: Could you give a little background on what you do for a living and how you got into audio?
 Jrosenth: My wife and I have a healthcare analytic software to help different entities improve clinical care and patient satisfaction.  So we spend some periods of time at home listening to the system or when we’re traveling and come back home, we have specific family time largely centered around music. I probably got into audio in high school when a physics teacher walked us through some basic theory and equations and had us make speakers from magnets and ice cream containers.
A: How would you describe yourself?  Are you an audio expert or a beginner?

 Jrosenth: Although I’ve dabbled for a while, I’m definitely a beginner.

A: How did you get your room the way it is?  Explain the process of how you’ve tweaked your system and room to get it to where it is now.

Jrosenth: I had a reasonably nice system in another room, mostly dedicated, but the family was always out front in this odd shaped little room.  The house is a “shotgun,” which is a traditional layout for this part of the region, so it posed a number of challenges.  Basically one day I woke up and it occurred to me that I should bring the music out to the family, even at the expense of the system’s quality and sound.  Yes, it looks like the worst layout you could imagine but it performs fairly nicely, albeit is admittedly KISS inspired.  Due to the spacing, it meant either little satellites or some very narrow towers.  The Voight pipes have the advantage of actually leaning back to keep little fingers out of them (although note that the fostex drivers do have grills).

A: How much did your setup cost?

 Jrosenth: I bought everything either from Agon used or similar places.  Total cost is well under $2k.  I’d been toying with it for several years beforehand, but once I made the decision to bring it out into the family room and go “real world” I stopped toying with it.

A: What is your favorite component and why?

Jrosenth: The turntable would be our favorite piece.  My eldest daughter has been fascinated with records since she was a toddler using the Fisher Price record player toy I had when I was a kid, so I knew we needed to have a turntable out front.  So we replaced the TV and pushed a little system in the corner.

A: What is your favorite music to listen to?
Jrosenth: It’s cliche to say, but our listening is very mixed.  The kids basically select all the music, although I slip things in to expand their repertoire.  Christmas music is a major affair and not just limited to wintertime and we have a wide variety – from bluegrass (ancient stuff to Alison Krauss) to country (leaning towards Cash) to old organ/hymns (old Luthern stuff) and some more classical (Bach, Preatorius) to really silly stuff the kids call “crazy music,” which basically covers everything from 16 Horsepower, David Byrne, They Might Be Giants and stuff that’s too embarrassing to mention.  Music listening tends to be an active affair, with the girls almost always dancing (with each other, stuffed animals, the wiener dog and us in various permutations and from time to time we’ve been know to break out the strobe light for ‘dance parties’).
A: Do you have any protective coverings that you would recommend?

Jrosenth: Well, there’s actually another baby gate I put behind the baby gate that screws into the wall and of course the grills on the drivers are metal (they would simply shred grill fabric) and the turn table has a fairly solid dust cover.

A: Do you think listening to music has brought your family closer or created a special bonding time for you and your kids?

Jrosenth: Most certainly.  Basically a system was always my hobby – something I spend my time on, both online and listening off in a corner.  With the move to the real world, it’s become collective – a shared activity the girls look forward to and ask for.  It sure beats lumping around in front of a TV for a family activity.  We talk about music, theory, instruments, history, and meaning.  We also spend some time talking about components and what they do – how it makes music.  Even as a toddler who can barely walk, each of them was mesmerized by putting on a record and hearing music come out.  The eldest looks through catalogs with me, and we have plans for putting together her own system – building the speakers from a kit (pretty purple with butterflies on them) and so on.

A: Is there any rule, theory, or advice you abide by with the set up of your system that you’d like to share?
Jrosenth: On the technical set up, I’ve found it helpful to go with things that image well with good off access response.  I could have lived without a sub but the girls are held in rapture by the lower octaves.  Pro Tip: WAF becomes nonexistent if you make your system a family affair.  In general here, the technique is not to focus on what you would like to have, but what will actually work in the real world.  Close your eyes and ask yourself if it will really work – if it can survive and if it’s easily usable (grills, remote, auto-return, etc.).  Embrace your constraints and things fall into place rather easily.  Aesthetically, the best thing we did was rather than trying to have the system blend in, making it a showcase that pops out (canary yellow pipes do the trick).


Thanks for the insights, Jrosenth!  We’re sure you and your family have many years of listening and dance parties yet to come.  Have you adapted your room to your family’s needs?  Do you have a more practical set up like this one?  Comment below to give your tips, and submit your pictures and info here to become our next Featured Member.


  1. I have 5, 3.5 and 2 year old kids.  Music time in front of the stereo is the highlight of the day.  I have an Oppo BDP 93 and we listen to Pandora through it.  The girls get to call the shots on the music and dance like crazy when the right song is on.  My favorite saying from my girls is, “turn it up, daddy!”.  I have some floorstanding Soliloquy 5.3 sitting behind two massive, primary colored baby barriers.  My equipment is behind a plexiglass window pane covered equipment rack.  Making the system a part of the family and not something I tweak and listen to by myself is the best thing I could have done with the system.  

  2. This is brilliant – an a example of how music can be integrated into the family space. Frankly a dedicated listening room is a luxury few of us can afford these days and being an audio hermit is not what my vision for music. How to bring the joy of music to your children and grandchildren in shared spaces has proven challenge and something that we struggling with (my anxiety for the gear and compounded by that of my children who are now parents and their concern over electricity and damaging said gear).  Good on you making this work.

  3. I boxed up my floor-standing Epos speakers and rolled up the thick cables crossing the floor a few months ago when my (now) one year-old was was starting to cruise. I knew that a tumble into those solid, immovable speakers would mean a trip to the hospital for stitches, not to mention what a poke in the tweeter might do. 

    I couldn’t give up great sounding music, so I replaced the Epos with two Totem Acoustic Tribe Vs mounted on the wall. I fished the thick cables through the wall behind them.  Going to have to do something to protect the rack soon, but so far my little guy is still too short to reach the knobs of my preamp, which I strategically moved to the top shelf.

  4. My main system is in a room that gets used by the whole family,
    including my 7 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter.   In contrast, all the
    gear is unprotected and accessible by all.  The kids seem to have
    learned that speakers are for hearing, not touching, and that misuse of
    the volume knob is a very frightening activity!  Perhaps they’ve been
    scared into respect!  But this has allowed me to find a solution to my
    V-DAC’s lack of remote source-switching:  I ask my youngest to ‘flip the
    switch!’  She loves it.  🙂 Problem solved!

  5. Well done – keep the music playing and the kids happy, I did the same thing when ours were wee, we had an alcove and I used the same gated treatment with Klipsch heresy’s in the high corners on frames I designed and had made. The kids loved the music and danced all the time – we captured our son’s first steps on VHS to the Beatles, he couldn’t resist the beat! Kind regards…

  6. It double-warmed my heart everytime my 5-year old daughter would ask, “Daddy, can we go downstairs and listen to some Beatles and Hendrix records?”  She’s 17 now with her own taste in music… but when Blackbirds recently came on the radio her face lit up and we sang along just like the old days.  Get them hooked young and they’ll never forget.

  7. I have no kids but I do really rate parents exposing their young ones into music, there are much worse hobbies than being a hopelessly addicted audiophile. There are many ways to child proof the hifi until the children are old enough to respect it and operate it themselves.

  8. I find it funny and very loving, That my daughter who is now heading toward 21, Will post on face book about thimes that her my son and I would listen to music. and how varied the music was. and she to remembers the Beatles and Al Jarreau and Pat Methney.  and soome carzy stuff like anamanics. such wondeful times with lots of dancing which both kids to this day say dad can’t dance.

  9. Terrific idea. Always great to include the family when they are willing, and they look willing!

    I am not familiar with those speakers and I don’t see any markings. What kind are they?

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