Small, Medium, Large—What Room Size Means

To Doug Schneider,

Thanks for all the information you and your collaborators have been providing over the years.

Over time, I have built a system that is very musical, with a mix of Bryston, NAD Electronics, and Simaudio Moon audio components powering an old pair of Energy Veritas 1.8 loudspeakers.

When I read articles about speakers, room size is quite often described as small, medium, or large. My room is 6 meters by 4 meters, with vaulted ceilings and two large openings on one wall. Would that be considered a small, medium, or large room? I ask because my next investment will surely be in better speakers.

Thanks again for the great work.



That’s a good question that also brings up a valid point about hi-fi reviewers. Many of them—me included—are guilty of using the words you mention for room sizes without defining what those words really mean, most of the time. Perhaps I can explain what I mean by those terms.

Converting the dimensions that you gave me to feet (because so many of our readers are in the United States), your room is around 19.5′ × 13′. To me, that’s a medium-sized room, like mine, which is about 18′ × 16′ in the listening area. Both are between 250 and 300 square feet. If a room is much larger than that—say, approaching or exceeding 20′ for width and depth, and therefore about 400 square feet or more—then, for me, it’s a large listening room.

What I haven’t taken into account is ceiling height, which can be important as well. I have a standard, 8′ ceiling, while yours, being vaulted, would far and away exceed that. But I usually look more at width and depth when classifying size.

How did I arrive at medium for my room, and for yours? In North America, a small bedroom is considered to be about 10′ × 12′, or 120 square feet. Room sizes vary, obviously, but that’s a common size. People often use a room that size for their stereo—I did, back in the early 1990s. As a result, that’s what I think of as a small listening room. And just from personal experience, you could use a room that’s smaller than that, but it would feel really small.

When I moved to a place with a bigger room—14′ × 16′, or 224 square feet—it still felt a bit cramped. Even at the time, I didn’t consider that room to be medium-sized; it was somewhere in between. But the room I’ve been using since I moved into my current home, about 18 years ago, felt like a step up in size back then, and it’s still my definition of a medium-sized room.

I hope that helps.

Doug Schneider