Chris Covello's
Date of "Visit":
07 January 2001


room view from the speakers


Linda & Bruce Springsteen

Linda in her Hi-Fi free room


e-mail to:
Chris Covello


I am 40, married, with a son Joseph (10) and a daughter Ann Marie (8). I live in Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA for the past 13 years just outside the gates of the late Doris Dukes' estate. Have been employed in the field of printing since 1977. As a family we are all very much into music. My wife Linda has been a lead vocalist in several bands since 1982 and does a good deal of studio work; my son who seems to be following in her footsteps as far as singing,  lands all the solos at school and my daughter listens, sings, and dances to music all day.

I guess the music bug hit me at around 5 when every weekend my father would crank up the Grundig stereo console with music from Hank Williams, Johnny Rivers, Herb Albert, and the great Roy Orbison just to name a few. When I reached my teens and early 20s it seemed it was more an interest in the equipment than the music. Always trading in, buying new, looking for that better sound.

Then I met my wife Linda, a singer, very heavily into music. This was going to be great being with someone who was into music as much as I was,  We got married in 1988 and I learned all about WAF, which I knew nothing about, shortly after that.  As much as she was into music she was even more into style and looks of her home.  So my system had to suffer  being pushed up against the wall and not setup correctly, but it looked nice.

Then 1998 we had a house built across town.  Bigger, more rooms, I would get to set up my system correctly. I had the family room wired and outlets put in where my system would be setup. We moved in Jan. 1999 and by March the WAF was in full steam coming down hard and this time with my mother in law who is a decorator.  They had other plans for that family room.

By Sept. I surrendered and decided I would finish the basement and make it a dedicated sound room. Before I started I wanted all the info I could get. I started with my audio dealer and friend John Rutan of Audio Connection in Verona NJ, who is a master at system matching and setup. Then searched the internet and whatever I could find printed on the subject.

So what took place the next 5 months, on the weekends and any free time I had was basically the construction of a dedicated sound room constructed around and specifically for my system.  The only thing I did not do was put the carpet in.  Everything that went into this room had sound in mind.  As good as this room was going to sound,  I also wanted it to look just as good.  I wanted it to be an extension of the rest of the house; to be inviting, relaxing, and make you want to sit down and listen.

Now came the tuning and setup of the room. Being basically 4 walls facing each other I knew I would have a lot of echo and needed to acoustically treat the room. This is where David Naidu of The Sound Exchange in Somerville NJ came in. I discussed with him what I needed and wanted to do and he found the products. I then setup the equipment and room treatments according to the research I had gathered. What emerged was something I was not ready for;  a system that sounded better than I ever thought possible especially since the equipment is not the most exotic or most expensive. Over the years I tried to use components that were known for their ability to produce the best music for the most affordable price for my budget.  I have since heard systems more elaborate and costing much much more and not coming close to the sound I have which leads me to believe that the room and set up are the most important factor, which many people do not incorporate with their systems.

My one last addition was to add home theater capabilities for "quality family time" for my children, in-laws and friends.  This way, everyone gets pleasure from the system.  This I accomplished quite inexpensively with unbelievable results. Many say I should have a large screen TV but I feel this would degrade the sound which is the main priority of this room. If you use the standard: (diagonal size of screen x 4) this gives you your viewing distance for best image which I'm right in line with.

Oh, by the way, WAF is very high.

Listening preference:  Always changing. As of right now: Blues 40% Rock 20% The Standards 20% Country 10%, Classical 10%.

Favorite evaluation CDs: 
Any of Mighty Sam McClain CDs on Audioquest. Very good imaging and sense of space.
Bonnie Raitt: Luck of the Draw. Good vocals and punch.
Rickie Lee Jones: Traffic From Paradise
Bob Dylan: Oh Mercy.  This is a must.
Johnny Cash: American Recordings & Unchained. Most powerful vocals you'll ever hear.
Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Session.

LPs: James Taylor: Flag. This one has dropped many jaws in my basement.
Jimmy Rogers: Blue Bird
Rickie Lee Jones: Pop Pop. True audiophile recording
David Bowie: Station to Station
Ramones: Pleasant Dreams
These last two might seem strange but on vinyl they are fabulous.

DVD: Terminator 2. You knew that already.
Saving Private Ryan. Although visually upsetting at times a great movie. Sound wise the best.
Toy Story 2. Both sound and visually a masterpiece. Great for the whole family.

Since this site is about 2 channel I will only  include a component list on 2 channel. I will include a photo of the HT end, ( with my wife & her idol Bruce Springsteen ), any ?  you can contact me. I will say nothing beats the magic of a properly setup 2 channel system. I also feel too much emphasis is given to the loud special effects, (explosions, crashes etc..). Although impressive all who see a movie on my system comment on how quite and clear the small sounds are and placed where they should be. (gun shells hitting the ground, foot steps, ect.). I feel this is the sign of a good system.

System's Components
Room: 26'9"L x 11'4"W x 7'5"H,  Dedicated 20 amp circuit, Berber rug over felt padding and concrete floor, Front, Right and Rear walls 5/8" drywall over double and cross studded 2x4s, 12" fiberglass insulation, and concrete block. Left wall 5/8" drywall over double and cross studded 2x4s. All outlets hospital grade Hubbell.
Room Treatment: AcousticsFirst: 8 Respond wall panels, 2 1/4 round Geometrix Broadband sound absorbers, 1 Double Duty Diffuser. All made to match color of speakers. Golden Sound Acoustic Discs in all corners and other recommended spots.
Analog Source: Music Hall MMF-5 w/ Grado Reference Sonata cartridge.
Phono preamp Creek OBH-8SE
CD:  Rotel RCD-991 w/ Synergistic AC Master Coupler
Line preamp: Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 w/ Synergistic AC Master Coupler
Power Amplifier: Sonic Frontiers SFS-40
Speakers: Vandersteen 3A Signatures
Power Conditioner:  Richard Gray's Power Company on front end.
Interconnects: Kimber Hero, Goertz Micro Purl Silver, Synergistic Research Alpha Sterling w/ discrete shielding.
Speaker Cables: Kimber Biwire 4TC
Accessories: Plateau Ultra rack loaded w/ 95lbs. of lead shot, Golden Sound DH Cones and Squares under all components, 16x12x1.5 oak drilled and filled w/ lead shot for mass loading, VPI HW-16.5 record cleaner.

Chris' comments about his System:

AA: "Chris, how would you describe your system's sound?"

CC: "I would describe my system as very revealing and musical. No listening fatigue at all. Very easy to hear changes in wires, cones, etc... Extremely holographic, on most music speakers totally disappear. Very strong, a lot  of weight considering the size of the amp. Vocalist is right there in the room with you." 

AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"

CC: "Is there room for improvement? I guess there is always room for improvement but it won't be much. I think I tweaked just about every thing I possibly could with this system."

AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"

CC: "At this point NO. I feel, and so does everyone who has been here, that changing anything will only take away rather then add to it. For the first time in a very long time I am into the music rather than the equipment.  Isn't that what it is really all about?"