$25k vs $200k

Can any of you audiophools relate? For the longest time, (maybe 10 years), I wouldn't go to a high end audio store (living in NY, this was, at first, very hard to resist) to listen to, what I knew, would be better sounding systems. I feared that after listening to a superior system, I wouldn't be able to go back and enjoy my humble audio, after a tympanic tango with some, true, audio greatness. Well, quite the contrary, since I found out, (this is what you do on a rain delay Yankee game, with boring basketball on the Olympic station, and not a book to read in the house) that listening to systems much costlier, and better (for the most part) have given me a deeper appreciation for my system, especially related to cost vs sound quality. This was, perhaps, most reinforced, with my last go 'round at Sound by Singer. Any audiophools out there have similar experiences? peace, warren
Warren, I did that when I first started out in serious audioville. I had a Bryston/Thiel setup that, when I listened to some pretty expensive stuff in Boston, sounded very fine for the money. The subtle differences weren't worth it to me and I felt pretty good about my modest system. It is a mattter of taste and synergy.

The problem began when my year grace period for super deals on upgrades started to expire. It started with moving from the 3B-ST to the 4B-ST. Then from the smaller Thiels to the CS-6's. On and on ;-)

It's great to listen to other systems because it really does open your ears and mind. Everything is about trade-offs and there's always a lot to feel good about with the system you have. It might be better to actually listen to some "better, more expensive" systems so you're not always wondering how much better it can get. You get to know the specific trade-offs and improvements. Good post.
I was at Sound by Singer not too long ago Andrew was stuffing his face, I have never seen anyone inhale a sandwich that fast before. No wonder his ads now cover 2 pages in stereophile. As he is really rounding out to be the Biggest Man in Hi-End Audio.

Anyhow salesman Roni (Not much of a People Person once I only mentioned a 15G Budget) after I only wanted to listen to the JM Labs Micro Utophia Be, went ahead to let my Fiance, & I listen to the Utophia Grande Be first, driven with the new 750wpc Vtl amps, & Dcs gear. Afterwards listening to the Micro's in a hole in the wall size of a listening room, driven by a BAT 300x intergated wasn't the same.

As we left I asked her if on our next visit to NYC we stay at the Motel 6 instead of the Plaza, I could budget for the Grande's? Heck Honey Motel 6 even leaves a light on for you. The answer was still NO!
Boy Warren, you're going to alienate yourself from half the agon community with this thread.

The scenario you present is certainly not always the case but yes it is rather easily attainable. Well, maybe not easy.

But it requires much time, dedication, and perhaps most of all knowing what works and what doesn't thru much trial and error.

Warren, I however did NOT return home to enjoying my system any LESS, or feeling it was SUB-SINGER!

Frank, would you believe the last time I was at Singer was to hear the Micros, as well? Tiny room, I know. Not enough room to really let those babies breathe, but still, I loved 'em. Later, I heard the Jmlab Altos with some serious electronics, and was able to come home to my baby, without a problem. I begged, but I couldn't get him to play the Grandes. It would cost me the price of the Micros, I'm sure, to get a listen.
I've said it many times, I know...and that's that "It all comes down to BALANCE!"
I've worked in 4 ultra high end salons, as well as 2 audio/video chain stores (higher end ones at that). And in that time I've come to realize that MUCH OF THE TIME, systems are either "down", in a constant state of "change" and fluctuation of gear combo's, and/or are "ill-set up" to begin with!
Many many many times the gear in an audio showroom is NOT MAXIMIZED, or the stuff just doesn't go well together. I've 2channel complete systems consisting of Wilson Watt Puppies, driven by Krell or Audio Research, Nero, whatever, with some high end digital front end and Class A preamp combo, all running over $80K dollar wise (2 channel) SOUNDING AWEFUL!!! Actually, this is quite common. Then, in the same store, you could have a small Theil system that's so well balanced and cohesive, that it's just WORKING!
Still, with the right combo of high end gear, properly set up and dialed in, you can pull away from the lesser system, no problem.
Warren, take a look at this thread from earlier this year.
Warren, what were the Altos setup with?
I am in NYC and can show you a system that will rock your world for $ 5,000.00 or $ less than $ 20,000.00
Warren, Well when you travel with a beautiful long curly red haired Irish lass who's intrigued, & after 2 years with me now uses audiophile lingo (burn-in, soundstage, clarity, imaging) you get to see a little more! Other than the Mirco's we went to hear the Cary 306/200 24/194 cdp. The thing about visiting Audio Stores is just to audition items you've read reviews on, or see what's new. As otherwise you better have really deep pockets to try it all in your listening room. Overall the $30 cab ride to Singer allowed me to see some neat gear. Yet with mentioning my measly $15,000 budget for a new digital front-end, & monitor speakers. Singer's crew made me feel un-welcomed, & too much like a second class citizen for not wanting to build a $200,000.00 system. Therefore I feel the need to put Andrew on a diet by spending my monies elsewhere!
Velo, I believe it was Burmeister amplification. Serious $$. I will say this: They sounded excellent, but for $17k? I guess I expected more. ( I don't have a lot of experience listening to ULTRA expensive speakers) Although I have a sub woofer, my Caravelles (in my set up, of course) without the sub, had prodigious bass, not to mention mids and highs, that went tete a tete with the Altos. ($5.5k with stands vs $17k) I didn't give (couldn't) the Altos the time they deserved to really get down, like I did with the Micros, so my impressions may be based on the limited listening experience and particular source material I was listening to. I did feel good, however, about my speaker choice. go figure. peace, warren
no comment on the singer folks but on the base question raised by the title: I have a system at about $25k retail that IMO smoked the local high end shops $90k ref system. Maybe their system produced a bit more detial but for pure listening enjoyment there is no way i'd trade except to sell their system and rebuild mine the same way but with a larger amp using the profits i made.

min: dunlavy athenas, vtl mb185s, vtl 5.5 pre ARC CD-2 strung together with harmonic technology pro9 speaker cables and pro silway II and truth link

there: revel salons, mark levison 33 monoblocks, model 39 cd player and corrosponding pre strung together with transparent reference xl throughout
Rock on Piezo!