Ivan Messer is not your typical DIY guy. Instead of tweaking every nook, cranny and cable, he sunk all of his energies into the audio side of his system.
He also sunk about $1.1 million—but that’s just part of his story.
It’s not just about the money he’s spent, but what he’s spent it on. At last count, Ivan currently houses 50 Richard Gray’s Power Company products and almost 100 McIntosh audio pieces. Some might think that Ivan must be stopped. “It doesn’t mean that I’m a psycho,” he jokes. Then again, they must have rehab for audio addiction, right?
“Ultimately, this past 5 years, building this theater to what it’s become today, it’s become both a labor of love and really I joke… I say it’s just a total disregard for the value of money,” Ivan says. “It’s pushing the envelope to see how far we can go. It’s not a question of how many boxes we can put in a room, but how good can we get the audio? How crisp and clear and real can we get the video? How can we increase the overall enjoyment?”
The now-51-year-old has been experimenting with this system for quite some time. 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.
His 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.
While Ivan enjoys adding the latest and greatest, there are certainly older pieces that he holds near and dear—and in active duty. His HT2 subwoofers, for instance, are the room’s oldest pieces, at eight- to 10-years-old. He even gave his TV a second life, as a menu for his current music server.
However, when it comes to everyday equipment, 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.”
Despite all of the power, Ivan doesn’t crank this system to 11—unless it’s for a demo. He got so involved in his theater, he actually became a dealer for his two favorite brands, operating Legend Home Video out of his summer Cape Cod home.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.