Am I wrong to feel satisfied???

After 30 years in this hobby, and almost constant experimenting, I am now totally and unconditionally happy with the sound that I've acheived. This is an uncomfortable feeling, I don't really know where to go from here. I'm so used to twaeking this and upgrading that, that to just be happy and listening to music is a strange and unfamiliar disposition. No longer do I have the feeling that my analog front end needs upgrading, or my digital front end, or preamp, amp, speakers, etc......

Where do I go from here? Just step off the merry-go-round and leave the hobby? Hand in my Audiophile Anonymous card? It's a strange feeling, that I cannot recall experiencing before...............Maybe that new Shunyata V-Ray is worth the hype. :-)

Psyche! It can't really get any better...........can it???
I'm sure I could get different, as I have before, but I don't think I could do better, at least according to my tastes. Now, the trick is can I just leave it the f&*# alone??

What to do....or what NOT to do....that is the question.....

one day at a time
Hey, John... everything changes... enjoy the calm while it lasts. I'm in a lull myself at the moment. Dead DAC, can't decide to get a new one or sell the transport and get a player. TT is sold and the right replacement is somewhere down the pipe. That leaves the tuner and the tape deck... good ! Haven't used either for a while.

Nice post. Audio peace. Congratulations, and happy listening!
John,'ve finally graduated! Pop that champaign and let's's to ya! Leave it alone and bunches of new records and celebrate...ummm, I am assuming you have an analog rig, no?

I am basically in the same boat; I'm finally satisfied after 25 years of doing this and I can unconditionally say that you are not wrong for feeling this way too. Is it not great to get off the merry-go-round and just listen to music all teary eyed?

What? No power conditioner? I won't tell if you jump back on for just a fleeting moment...shhhh
Congratulations, that is a place few people will see. My suggestion, leave audiogon. Don't come back, even once for atleast a year. That will cure most if not all of the temptation to upgrade, or change.

Instead, head to amazon, or discount cd's or wherever you want and view new music. Use that system you spent so long building.
John I wish I had your "problem". I guess I really don't fit the mold as a true audiophile afterall.

I've been too busy lately and all I really want to do is listen to music and enjoy but I'm not. Also I am tired of spending endless amounts of money for, as I see it, very little return. I have been in this limbo for a few years. I have neglected the system for so long I'm not sure where to start but I have a sneaky feeling that the biggest culprit is the room.
I agree that you should get away from all audio sites and magazines for a year to just enjoy your system. Yours is an enviable, and indeed the proper, position to be in.

Then when you realize your room is your limiting factor, you may have saved enough money to buy a new house!
I think I can speak for those who are still in the hunt for ultimate satisfaction with the music emanating from our speakers:

Are you wrong to feel satisfied???

No, you're not wrong to feel satisfied. Feel happy to finally be satisfied! My goodness what a foreign concept! You don't want to be where I am (and many of us are),still spending $1k here and $3k there trying to solve the riddle of system-building. Not wanting to spend too much because I've already spent too much! Wondering if maybe I need to sell my speakers and take a loss on my investment... Wondering if my latest AC tweak will make the final difference... thinking that I should finally just stop spending and enjoy what I have regardless... It is very frustrating if I allow myself to dwell on it. I just keep looking and hoping that the last purchase will finally bring out the metamorphosis. Save the rest of your money, be thankful and quit this. Keep your system for 20 years!
I think I just arrived to that same state of contentedness also. Can't think of something to do now that wouldn't seriously ignor the laws of diminishing returns, especially considering the space I have to work with.

"What to do" - Start exploring new music forms or revisiting old ones. Buy lots of recordings with your 'newly' disposable income. I have a large collection so I'm going to spend my 'spare time' purging out the dead weight. Maybe I'll find some golden recordings I've forgotten about. Maybe I'll set up my TT to listen to some old vinyl as well.

"What not to do" - Stop reading posts discussing equipment on the forums unless you are responding to a specific request - then do it by E-Mail. Don't read magazine or on-line reviews about equipment. Thats too tempting for audioholics.

Be happy!!!!!!!:-)
i think the angst and dissatisfaction that is often expressed is often the result of a lack of awareness of one's sonic preferences.

if you are not in touch with your preferences you may be unhappy with the sound of your stereo system, because you don't know what you like.

if you are satisfied with the sound of your stereo system, but don't know what you really like, the statisfaction may be transitory.

the insecurity regarding upgrades may be the result of feeling that you can achieve "better" sound by replacing a component(s). if you don't have a concept of what better sound is based upon your sonic preferences, you may never be truly satisfied.

i can speak from personal experience. my ideal stereo system is stcaked quads with an appropriate tube amp. the rest of the system is less important. i try to minimize timbral inaccuracy. my problem is a desire to get closer and closer to the sound of an instrument and recognizing, that at some point, it is not worth pursuing a marginal reduction in timbral inaccuracy that costs too much.
There is nothing wrong to feel satisfied...But like alot of the audiophiles here in Audiogon(including myself), we barely scratch the surface in this hobby. They are so many things I want to try and there are so little time. Of course, it take alot of $$$$$$$$$ also.
so, tell us....what components make up your system ?
I am very pleased to hear that you have reached that ultimate plateau. I am almost there myself. I was going to tell you about this new, unknown brand power cord that will absolutely transform your system,( You ask, "Is it better than Elrod, Electraglide, Dream State, Stealth Dream, Nordost, Siltech,NBS,Purist Audio,Shunyata,etc.?) Yep, but I will refrain so as not to tempt you. Enjoy the music.
Now is the time to share your hobby with someone else! Invite over friends for dinner and play music. Ask a neighbor kid to bring over their favorite CD's. You've reached a rare place -- share it with others!

My Dad was a big stereo fan until his left ear went, but he got me started with a good mid-fi kit for a 1970's teen -- Infinity Qe speakers, Dual 1019 turntable, AKAI reel-to-reel. BUT-- once I stepped into a store that had a great system set up -- it was a revelation. I thought it sounded all wrong because I had certain recordings that played will with my bookshelf system. But the memory of how some of the instruments really sounded real stayed with me. I kept coming back to the store until I understood what a good system could do.

I'm still very far from reaching a state where I think I'm done, although I am at a state where I can really enjoy my system and consider its flaws to be relatively minor.
Wish you had listed gear.Maybe you want a one name system like Meridian or Naim.Some companies like Sagura 47 you can get from soup to nuts.Some folks like a system that's a "piece".Beyond that divert yourself into another hobby or sponsor a child in 3rd world.If your serious (ad sound slke you are) you have put together a balanced system that appealed to you.I have gone log streches not listening (all the while still collecting LP's/CD's) and enthusiasm comes back
Good luck
The feeling will pass.......
I'll give you six weeks.


Otherwise, please turn in your Audiophile membership card.

Perhaps a 'satisfied' audio enthusiast is just like re-incarnation.

You go away and then you come back, you go away and then you come back. You keep coming back again and again until you finally get it right. Of course you can't remember any of the previous incarnations.

I'm not sure which iteration of re-incarnation you may be on. Shoot for all I know in a previous iteration you had Cleopatra's ears and in this iteration you have a cockroaches'. Or was it the other way around? :)

Talk like that makes me nervous :) To date, all of my gear has been purchased as a result of audiophiles suffering from the itch to upgrade. I encourage you to remain unhappy and in turn I will continue to take your high end gear off your hands at ridiculously low prices.

I may know the answer-
After 30 years of spending more and more moolah, our hearing goes bad. And ta-dah, it sounds GREAT!!!
John, That happened to me also. And for two years I just kept listening to my system (solid state) and building my LP collection.

So having said that I next ventured into tubes to build a second all tube system, which is where I am now listening to vinyl of course. If you are space constrained then it's possible you can remain happy in single system la la land for much longer than I did.
If the consensus view is that your feeling of satisfaction will pass, then are we to conclude that being dissatisfied is central to being an audiophile? At an emotional level nearly all music works as a series of tension build/release sections. I would imagine that audiophiles who truly love music would also have these periods of tension release or satisfaction. I conclude that it is not wrong for you to feel satisfied, it is simply a stage in an ongoing cycle. I address this topic at length in my book "Audiophile Profundities, Vol. III".
09-18-07: Onhwy61
If the consensus view is that your feeling of satisfaction will pass, then are we to conclude that being dissatisfied is central to being an audiophile?

Interesting. I believe it's not that we audiophiles become dissatisfied, but rather that we become bored when the quest is complete. Boredom breeds the desire to tweak and change. At least that's been my experience. Am I alone?
Tvad, good points. Sometimes the process becomes more important than the actual result.
tvad, you may be alone.

assuming the quest is complete, we look for another quest. we leave our audio system alone and try to fulfill our need for achievement in some other area.

i believe the need for achievement is a strong motivator in this hobby. hopefully each of us determines his/her own goal, not being influenced by others and then tries to achieve it.

the journey is more satisfying than the end result.
Tell us this around Christmas and then again when you receive that 2007 tax return.
"If the consensus view is that your feeling of satisfaction will pass, then are we to conclude that being dissatisfied is central to being an audiophile?"

In response to the above Tvad wrote:
"I believe it's not that we audiophiles become dissatisfied, but rather that we become bored when the quest is complete."

Tvad just hit the nail on the head. No, you are not alone with this boredom concept. The notion is not just an audiophile phenomenon - it happens to most people in everyday life. Things that we buy, no matter how expensive, eventually become tiring. This is what economists refer to as "utility". No matter what we buy to improve our lives, it's never enough because most everything has a certain lifespan that fulfills a "want". But these wants, once acquired, get old and we are ready for something different and new. We never get enough; we are never totally satisfied with what we have indefinitely.
hi seasoned:

is it possible that it is only necessary to climb the mountain once ?

after achieving a desired goal, sonically speaking, there may be another quest, having nothing to do with audio.

i assume that not everyone is so fixated on matters audio, that there aren't other interests which are equally or more compelling.
A 'big up' to whoever invented the credit card. Another 'big up' to the Japanese for inventing the disposable market after a year product. The biggest 'big up' to the Chinese for allowing good quality hi-fi to become cheaper and more readily available for the masses.
Jmcgrogan2, how can we answer your question if you dont offer what you are using?...not that it would change your view or happiness but many here may look at your gear and offer ideas on potential improvements you may or may not want to entertain. I have been pretty happy for sometime now, not because I know I have the best or even close to it, I simply find it silly to always ponder the what if's, and I enjoy the music.
There's PLENTY wrong with your system. Your just not hearing it yet :-)
Lol, I have to agree with Cdc, geta runing start when you jump back on the merry-go-round and wait 45 minutes after a big meal!
Many people have purchased audio equipment and many still have their original purchase, never having changed a thing. Perhaps it is only the inherently dissatisfied types who pursue it into the high end.
I remember how it was when I was young and hi-fi was aborning. Now I am in intermittent, semi-lacadaisical pursuit of a redux of that time.
If John has abandoned the quest for audio viagra, we should congratulate him and let him rest in peace.
Congratulations, John.

I was remembering the slogan for Motel 6. Something about we'll keep the light on for you.
Well it's been 48 hours and still no desire to 'upgrade'. 8-) Yes, I know that I've had this feeling before, but the 'upgrade' itch has cost me to ruin it. In other words, I buy something else that I think sounds better, only to find out later that different is not always better. Yes, I know that I am inflected with the disease, which can be driven by sheer boredom, but as I get older I'm hoping that I can understand that it's boredom and not the quest for better sound that drives me to 'upgrade'. I now believe that my system is perfectly balanced between transparency and musicality, to me at least. I'm sure that if I had another $100K to spend I may do better, but maybe may only be different.

For those that need to see a list of components that has lifted to this level of enjoyment, keep in mind that synergy means a lot. These components/cables just work like magic together, and yes, I am a vinylphile at heart.

So here is what I'm now happy with forever? ;^)

Analog front end:

Basis 2500 Diamond Signature turntable w/ Calibrator base.
Basis Vector 3 tonearm
ZYX UNIverse S-SB cartridge
Walker Audio Signature phono preamp
Walker Audio Motor Controller

Digital front end:

Marantz SA-11S1 w/ Ultimate mod from Underwood/pcX. It also has been modded by Joseph Chow of Audio Horizons (power supply, wiring, digital output and Siemens tubes).


ARC Ref 3- 'nuff said.


Jeff Rowland Model 6 monoblocks


Verity Audio Parsifal Encores (2004 edition)


Jade Audio Hybrid and Vermeil

Speaker cables:

Stealth Hybrid MLT's (bettered PAD Dominus to my ears).
Jumpers are Audioquest Kilimanjaro.

Power cords:

Stealth Dreams (5 of 'em)
RSAD Poiema!!! Signature (2 of 'em)

Power conditioners:

Shunyata Hydra (Original) w/ Anaconda Vx cord and Tara Labs AD/6


Various from Symposium, Walker Audio, Audio Points, Quicksilver Gold, etc.

That's about all I can think of at this point. I thank you for all of your feedback, and I do hope that I will stay 'happy' for many more years to come. I do still think I can change the sound, as years of experience has taught me. However, the same experiences have also taught me that different is not always better. Sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to spin some more Licorice Pizza (Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong are currently playing).

You'll be back John, wait till the MK-2 versions start hittin the threads !!

I still have the original Hydra Pat!!

You should be happy, you have some really great gear, as long as it is in a good room I have no doubt you may be off the Hamster wheel for some time to come.....but never say never right?
Jmcgrogan2, I kinda’ bit my lip when I first came across your thread and I refrained from saying what really came to my mind. However, it still troubles me when I see the thread pop up so I’m going to be a little more forthcoming in my response here.

You asked, “Am I wrong to feel satisfied?”

I don’t want to offend but surely you are aware that the so-called experts in this industry and a slew of enthusiasts will attest over and over again that we are lucky if the very best of our playback systems can capture 5 or at most 15% of the magic of a live performance. Not only does anyone seem to bat an eye whenever this declaration is made, but it seems to be universally agreed upon and propagated. Never does anybody seem to consider what may be holding our systems back or even question this industry-imposed glass ceiling.

Nevertheless, with those kind of low performance levels (15% at the very most), even if your system were at 15%, it must be deemed a lo-fi system at best simply because achieving only 15% out of 100% performance in any industry must be considered weak and insufficient.

So I’ll ask with that perspective in mind, have you truly become satisfied with owning a lo-fi system? Or have you, like so many others who have given up perhaps out of frustration, trained yourself to become content and/or satisfied with such a low standard?

When Alexander the Great reached the ocean he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.
Stehno, FWIW, anyone who has as a goal the replication of a live even in their home is a fool. It is unobtainable!

If you think that continuing to throw money to extend the 15% factor you mention by a couple of % so be it. Its your money, your intitled, but to imply that anyone who settles at 15% is accepting a low fi system makes you sound like a salesman selling tweaks which might, if they work, take your system to 15.5%. Sounds like, to me anyway, you want to keep angst alive and well so the money keeps on rolling in. Sounds like. IMHO of course.
I don't feel like it is 15% like live...more like 95% IMHO. Live performances rarely have good acoustics but they have great dynamics. I have been able to achieve the dynamics of live performance at home - that is why I feel 95% there. A lot depends on recording quality and I would agree that perhaps only 15% of recordings are convincingly good. This is a serious limiting factor, however, it is not equipment related.

My litmus test is that I remain awestruck at the start of each listening session, after an hour or two the effect wears off. However, so far, it has never failed to hit me at the start of every listening session...gobsmacked everytime! How long this can last I don't know but for me it is realistic volume levels and effortless dynamics that seem to do the most for me to create the illusion of a live performance. Many systems I have heard sound great at background levels and with good imaging and timbre but it took me a while to find gear that works at realistic levels without sounding flat...anyone who listens to live music will obvioulsy know that a full drum set is pretty exciting and incredibly loud/dynamic - so is a trumpet or trombone - play these instruments in a small room and you have people covering their ears - for me live performances are exciting and the dynamics between loud and soft are an essential part of the musicians pallet - unfortunately this is so rarely reproduced with even the slightest degree of realism by modest sized speakers.

For example, the most popular speakers on the market today are small two-way boxes, whilst sounding great and detailed in a near-field configuration and miles ahead of a simple radio; these simply do not sound like live music, they sound like a recording, a certain dullness or politeness to the sound. You may think it is simply about quantity and pure loudness but it isn't...something to with compression and limited headroom is what I believe is a dead give away between most live music and a recording. Just my two cents... and I respect that others may see it differently.
I couldn't disagree more with Stehno's conclusions. Live music is live music and any form of reproduced music is not. From a listener's perspective they are distinctly different experiences. It's like comparing a novel to the movie version of the novel. Nor do I think most audiophiles are trying to recreate a live music experience. Have you ever been in a room with a high gain guitar amp at full volume? What is possible in the home environment is to reproduce what is heard in the mix or mastering room and for those willing to push the envelop, actually go beyond that standard.
hi stehno:

i agree with you 100 percent. but if i carry your argument to its logical conclusion, what is the purpose in trying to get closer to a live performance, when it is unlikely ?

i think the point of the thread is to acknowledge that a listener can be satisfied with the presentation of music in the home, without feeling the need to "upgrade".

such a state of sound quality falls short of a live performance.

as far as i am concerned, the closest one can get to attaining timbral accuracy is 4 quad esls. using the original quads, with a decent digital source or analog source is very statisfying as to recreating a semblance of natural timbre.

recognizing and accepting the premise that one will never achieve the sound of a live performance in one's listening
room should determine the extent to which one will invest in the attainment of sound quality.

it is indeed frustrating and sobering that as good as we think our stereo systems perform, it pails in comparison to the experience of listening to live music in a decent acoustical environment.

thus, it is not unreasonable to be satisfied, but it is realistic to acknowledge that the sound quality one has achieved is far removed from the sound of instruments in acoustical space.
I would say a great sytem is half as good as live, so most any live performance is twice as good as at home, I think that is pretty fair. That also means most systems are not at the 50%level, but the best ones in the best rooms can get half way there.
I am confused. Stehno, Chadnliz and MrTennis are you talking about sound quality or about the whole event?

If you are talking about the whole event then I agree...visual impressions of watching the artists at work, large spacious hall filled with expectant people and longish reverb times, the tension and air of excitement around a live performance; all of this together far exceeds playing music at home!

If you are talking about sound quality, realism, timbre etc. then I totally disagree. Perhaps I have tin ears but from a reasonable distance from the stage, say 12 rows back, a good stereo system does an excellent job and 5.1 can be amazing! I will admit that excellent recordings, however, are a distinct minority.

I can't believe audiophiles are saying this sacrilege, "only 15% as good as live"? If this were true then sound reinforced performances would never sell.

For those new audiophiles who are just getting started and are reading this thread, don't throw in the towel; I believe you can actually get a lot closer to live performance than 15%! You can achieve satisfaction.
hi shadorne:

it is impossible to recreate the sound of a symphony orchestra in a major concert hall, in a room of the size, say 13 x 20, with any degree of realism.

while you can enjoy the sound of a symphony in your living room, it certainly won't resemble the sound of that symphony
in carnegie hall.
I'm not comparing reproduced music to a live event. Though I will admit that I prefer the reproduced music, because I can control the artist, playlist and the volume. The live event certainly has it's advantages too. All I can say is that when I listen now, I have a sh!t-eating grin on my face. I'm please don't try and rain on my parade. Yes, I'm familiar with the audiophile pitfalls, happiness turns to boredom, which leads to change. However, I think I've been around long enough to know that 'different' is rarely 'better'. All I'm saying is sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone, spin some vinyl and just smile.

Know when you're happy that it's alright to walk away and stay happy. Why spend another $100K to get from 15% to 16%?


While I agree that there are differences in acoustic reverb...these are not meaningful enough to me to negate all degrees of realism. Many of the venues are actually lousy....Carnegie Hall may be an exception!
Shadorne: "How long this can last I don't know but for me it is realistic volume levels and effortless dynamics that seem to do the most for me to create the illusion of a live performance"

Keep that up and I bet it won't be happening for much longer... 1 to 2 hours at realistic SPLs will do wonders for your ENT doctor -lol
All kidding aside, I hear you about the dynamics. When i'm at a live show, say something at the 930 club in DC, i'm blown away by the percussive energy and raw power that fills the space. I don't sit there and think about imaging or timbre or any of this hi-fi nonsense (although sometimes I say there is no way home audio comes close,cripes, just listen to attack of drums up way!)... and there is so much more of a physical aspect to live sound--who jumps up and down at home?..o snap I need to keep my head 6 inches w/in the sweet spot...when i'm there I can listen to that music sheet paper turn, and that wrinkle in Diana Krall's upper lip causing the texture to change ...even better than the real thing...?

So aside from me ripping the hobby I love,

John: hats off to you!! Though i'm not there quite yet I aim to be off the hampster wheel soon...