DIYer Spends $1 Million on Audio
Ivan Messer sunk a fortune into over 50 Richard Gray products and almost 100 McIntosh products -- and he’s very happy about that.
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May 19, 2008 by Rachel Cericola

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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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

Equipment List

Alchemy2 D.DAD Digital Line Delay
Audio Authority 1154A AutoSelector
Audio Control SA-3052 Analyzer
Audio Control SA-3052 SE Analyzer
Bright Star IsoRock 4 (Assorted)
Bright Star IsoRock 5 (Assorted)
Bright Star Little Rock (Assorted)
Bright Star Little Rock 4 (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Balanced Blue Interconnects (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Coax F Video Filters (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Quantum AC Chargers (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Quantum Force RCA Filters (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Quantum Purifiers (Assorted)
Bybee Technologies Super S Video Filters (Assorted)
Camelot Dragon 5.1 Jitter Plus Filter (4)
Camelot VPS-1 Crystal Vision Comb
CinemaTech Custom Reclining Seats (8)
Custom Mahogany Wall Unit
DirecTV Dish 3-LNB (3)
Furman IT Reference Power Units (2)
Grace M902 Headphone Amp
JBL 18-inch Subwoofer & Cabinet
JBL BX-63A Crossover
Kaleidescape 3U DVD Media Server
Lumagen Radiance Video Processor
Marantz RC-2000 MKII Remote w/ RF2 (4)
MartinLogan ETC Spikes (Assorted)
McIntosh C-15 Pre-Amplifiers (2)
McIntosh C1000-C Controllers (2)
McIntosh C1000-P Pre-Amps (2)
McIntosh C1000-T Tube Pre-Amps (2)
McIntosh HT-2 Subwoofers (2)
McIntosh HT-3F Dipole Speakers (2)
McIntosh MC-162 Amplifiers (2)
McIntosh MC-206 Amplifier
McIntosh MC-275AG Amplifier
McIntosh MC-402 Amplifier
McIntosh MC-501 Amplifiers (4)
McIntosh MC-602 Amplifier
McIntosh MC-1.2KW Amplifiers (24)
McIntosh MC2KW Amplifiers (4)
McIntosh MCD-201 SACD/CD Players (2)
McIntosh MCD-301 SACD/CD Player
McIntosh MCD-1000 CD Transports (2)
McIntosh MDA-1000 D/A Converters (2)
McIntosh MLD-7020 LaserDisc Player
McIntosh MR-85 AM/FM Tuner
McIntosh MQ109B Environmental Eqs (2)
McIntosh MS-300 Music Servers (3)
McIntosh MVP-871 Universal Players (2)
McIntosh MX-135 Processor
McIntosh PC-2 Power Controls (3)
McIntosh PC-4 Power Controls (2)
McIntosh R-778 Dealer Displays (2)
McIntosh WS350 In-Wall Speakers (2)
McIntosh XCS2K Center Speaker
McIntosh XCS350 Speaker Systems (2)
McIntosh XCS350 Speaker Trim Black (3)
McIntosh XLS-112 Powered Subs (2)
McIntosh XR27 Speakers (3)
McIntosh XRT2K Speaker Systems (4)
McIntosh XRT30 Bass Cabinets (2)
McIntosh XRT30 Speaker Systems (2)
Nespa Pro CD Finalizer
Niles IRC Repeater & Sensors (Assorted)
Panamax MAX 5400-EX Fan Control
Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray Players (2)
Parasound ZBreeze Fans (Assorted)
Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD Blu-ray Player
Pioneer Elite Pro-700HD Rear-Projection TV
Pioneer Elite DV-09 DVD Player
PS Audio Noise Harvesters (10)
Richard Gray’s Power Company 400 PRO Line Conditioners (4)
Richard Gray’s Power Company 600S Line Conditioners (12)
Richard Gray’s Power Company 1200S Line Conditioners (30)
Richard Gray’s Power Company Pole Pig Line Conditioners (4)
Rotron Whisper Fans (Assorted)
Sennheiser HD650 Headphones
Sharp AQUOS 13-inch LCD
Shunyata Black Mamba Cable (Assorted)
Sony Bravia 40-inch KDL-40V3000
Sony Bravia XBR 52-inch KDL-52XBR4 LCD
Sony 50-inch Grand WEGA KDF-E50A10 LCD
Sony HD Digital Receivers (2)
Sony VPH-G90U Projector
Stewart Filmscreen 120-inch Screen
SurgeX SX20-IR2 (Assorted)
SVS Lift
Symposium RollerBlocks Series 2 (4)
TiVo DirecTV Receiver
Wireworld Audio & Video Cables (Assorted)
Wireworld Gold Electra Cables (Assorted)
Wireworld Gold Eclipse V Bi-Wires (Assorted)
Wireworld Gold Eclipse V XLR Wires (Assorted)
Wireworld Gold Eclipse V RCA Audio (Assorted)

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