Some time ago, Rives designed and built a room for a friend (Level 3) that turned out superb. He had just bought some land and was designing a house from the ground up and wanted a new listening room. Rives designed a room within a room and the results were/are spectacular.
As a result of his experience, I contracted Rives to do a level 1 or 1+ or something (don't recall at this time) and the results from 100Hz was the best room I have ever heard. It was an already existing theater/two channel room. The thing, however, I thought quite odd was that he had me build soffits that were not bass traps. The response below 100Hz was no better than before I made the changes and were it not for some very serious digital room correction, would have been unlistenable.
I sold that house, bought another and again contracted Rives to design a new room only this time, it was an almost blank space (studded walls in an unfinished basement).
Once the room was completed it became quickly obvious that something was amiss. There was an upper mid range glare that made listening to music impossible. To eliminate all variables, I tried 4 different pair of speakers, 3 amps, 2 DACS, three preamps, all kinds of cables, power conditioners, etc including moving the speakers to the other end of the room. Nothing helped.
When it became obvious that it had to be the room I contacted Richard and I got the first of many it can't be the room responses. I had another acoustical engineering company come in and they said it was the room. The speaker designer came in, and he said it was the room. A local company who sells acoustical products (GIK) said it was the room. And every time I mentioned this to Richard, he commented: "It can't be the room".
Both GIK and Mark Seaton seemed to think it was the ceiling and when I mentioned this to Richard, I got the response: we've used this ceiling hundreds of times and there has never been an issue.
So no matter what overwhelming evidence I provided that the room was in fact the problem, Richard refused to agree. During this 3-year period, he was in Atlanta twice for CEDIA and refused to come by to listen. All I would get was It's not the room and it's not the ceiling.
Well guess what? Through the data available on AVS and other sites and incredible on-site assistance from GIK, we have fixed the problem. It was the room and it was the ceiling.
The fact that the room sounded horrible is not my primary problem here. What I find totally and completely unacceptable was his refusal to even admit the possibility that the room was the issue when all of the evidence demonstrated otherwise. I could go on but I won't. I wasn't even looking for free. But since he designed the room, I felt (and still do) that he should have owned up and helped me find the problem. He did send me his test equipment which I used and sent him the files and he again said it's not the room!!
While I am sure Rives has lots and lots of satisfied customers, Richard's approach to (no)Customer Service is unacceptable.
Knowing what I know now, I would never consider him for anything other than a level three (and given his approach to customer service, probably not even then). There is more than enough information and resources available to anyone who cares to look at places like GIK, Real Traps, AVS, HomeTheater Shack and no telling how many other places to not need to rely on a company such as Rives for a project the scope of mine.
If I were to ever have another room designed by someone, I would insist on a customer satisfaction clause.
Buyer Beware !!!