An unscientific poll: How often are you happy?

What percentage of the time do you just break out in a smile and thoroughly enjoy the music *and* the sound when you fire up your system? 10%? 50%? 99%? (The other times: you hear something wrong, something lacking, needs tweaking, needs upgrading, colorations, distortions, you hear a noise, a tube might be going, not musical enough, can't suspend your disbelief the way you want to, your expectations are disappointed, it doesn't sound like you remember the dealer's system did, doesn't sound like you remember your friend's system did, you made the wrong move with the last upgrade, you doubt the money you recently spent really made a difference, the recording is too flawed, you wonder what it would sound like if you changed this or that, you enjoyed it more in the car, you question whether you've truly got your priorities in perspective, etc...) Give your %, and list the approximate $ investment you have in the system (specify new or used valuation). Mine: happy about 15% of the time, valuation around $17,000 if all bought new. Conclusions - if any - drawn later...
I am happy 99% of the time and the one percent Im not is usually because I am in a pissy mood. I am up to about $65,000 retail and most of it I bought brand new. I started off with $500 klipsh speakers and added a component at a time until I got to where I am now.

Everytime I hear it I am suprised in how good it sounds. I think going brand new was money well spent. I would have done better financially to go used but I wouldnt have had their recommendations on components and synergy.
I'm blessed to have 2 systems and a good woman who understands audiophilia. Both systems each about 40-45K at retail.....yes I do have it bad!

All in all I'm happy with both systems all the time, they both do well with a good source. Those are the keywords here: "A good source". There is no audio magic that can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. Yes, I am talking CD here. There's where my disappointments lie. I buy whatever catches my fancy as well as stuff I read about that others have enjoyed, however every time I go out on a limb and buy an unknown artist I feel that I'm having a spin of the CD roulette wheel. The wheel has 5% excellent, 15% very good, 30% good, 40% poor and 10% unacceptable. That is how I would describe the music purchase quality. Am I the only one that feels as I do, or do you all feel that you never know what kind of crap recording quality you'll get when you unwrap that new CD?
Well my rig is about 45k(plus or minus a little) retail new, and the times it brings me joy are increasing nearly daily, ie I used to be dissapointed with my system often-knowing that it can be much better- however now it is sounding good(to me) most all of the time. I would say I have a dumb smile on my face about 85% of my listening time, everyone has bad days and nothing will sound good on those days.

Beemer hit the nail on the head!! with his music purchases, random purchasing is not a good way to find new music! I am finally learning this.
99% and would guess around $5K (new and used) in the current living room system. It sounded better before I downsized (lost a nice SET amp and a good DAC), but it still makes me happy. I do not concern myself with audiophile quality recordings (though don't pass them up either if the music is good) and purchase lots of software (mostly older material) on the used market (how good does one expect a recording from the early 1900's to sound anyway)?. I do not buy just anything and am somewhat selective as this morning I finished sorting and grading an LP collection of 500+ (for a friend to sell opn Ebay) and only found four that we wanted. I left her with all of the Japanese pressings, Living Stereo's, Half speed masters etc., as the music did not interest us. There are so many things beyond my control in our lives lately that it is sometimes a bit overwhelming, but happiness is not one of them and never will be if I can help it.
Hmmm....hard to quantify isn't it? I guess I'd put it at about 75%-85% right now. I think I'm pretty happy when the cd I put on is good more so then if my sytem isn't quite right. I've got about $5,000 in the system now and know that a few more tweaks will make a difference and bring it that much closer to giving me satisfaction and pleasure all the time. New wires.....that's the biggy in front of me right now. I truly love to listen every time I put something I love on, so.....I'm close.
50% or less.
95% and about 12K with mostly used equipment. It's a 5 channel system so that isn't too bad. I'll be happy with this for quite some time. I'm not really an equipment buff, and for what I want it sounds just about perfect to me right now. The little tweaks I do, like cabling, just bring it closer to perfection (In my biased ears), but aren't required, I usually weigh equipment versus software and go software. The last little bit I would like to change would probably lower my wife's enjoyment of the system more than it would improve mine, so I don't think it'll ever happen!

Geez, I'd have to say darn close to 100% - my system is off in it's own room and when I'm in there I'm a)not at work, b) not listening to somebody tell me their problems (work, not wife!), and c) often have a beer in my hand. And, oh yeah, the music usually sounds really good too. I often hear the phone ring when I'm in listening to the music with a cold one beside me and I think, "now what's the point of answering that? There is NOBODY that could be calling that would improve my current situation!".

I'm actually happy close to 100% of the time even in the spirit of the question. It almost always puts a smile on my face to listen to my system. Without question, thoughts run through my mind occassionally during any given listening about what might be improved, but it's more intellectual than emotional, hence I remain happy but inquisitive. As stated in some of the other responses, my times of being less than happy are when the music I'm listening to isn't a particularly good recording. If I could get all the music I love to listen to in a recorded form that was equal to the best recordings I have, I'd never be unhappy. Which is not the same as saying I'd never upgrade again.

I have a combination audio / HT system - total cost is probably a bit over $30K retail, a bit under $20K of my $$ actually in it. -Kirk

Z; an interesting if esoteric question to an audiophile. But I think a big part of happiness vs unhappiness does not necessarily have to do with the stereo system per se, but rather with the individuals prevailing state of mind (mood) at the time the ol' big rig is fired up. Atleast this is true for me, and as I have a tendency to be negative, depressive, introspective, obsessive, analytical and realistic, I'm in agreement w/ Drubin, and would go with 50/50-- while recognizing that my dis-satisfaction does not necessarily have to do with my systems performance, but rather with MY performance.

I have about $50K (MSRP) in my big rig and an another $12-14K (MSRP) in a half-assed HT system. When I'm in a good mood, and settle in to listen for awhile, it sounds fantastic and I'm very happy with it. But when in a foul mood, I have a hard time finding anything that sounds good.

But I'll add this: I'm damn glad I have (especially) my main stereo system, and on balance it brings me a great deal of pleasure. And the happiness includes upgrade planning, auditioning, tweaking etc. There certainly are times that I'm disappointed in my system, but I've now gotten to the point that I agree with Audiogon Arnie when he said "I've gotten to the point that I can make a system sound however I want"-- that's a paraphrase, and I hope Arnie doesn't mind me using his observation. I think it's an astute observation by a confident audiophile, and I've thought a lot about it myself.

Beemer makes an excellent point too-- sometimes it's both scary and disappointing when buying new music. But sometimes it's exciting too, and I find that one of the most appealing aspects of this affliction is finding new music that really turns me on. Cheers? and good luck w/this thread. Craig
Well thought out posts and it always bugs me when my two cents have already been mentioned by Craig and Beemer.
Still, here goes...I do have trouble finding music taht really wows me. I have gotten a bunch of music from other people's posts and these have varied for me along the lines of Beemer's posts. I wonder if it is part of a transition to listening and audiophilism (nice word huh) that we accept that we may buy alot mediocre stuff to get to the stuff.
As an addition to Craig's zenlike post, I would that in a way my stereo gets the brunt of my moods. It makes me happier when I am sad, relaxed when I am tense and adds to my happiness when I have enough brains to realize my good fortunes.
Now having said all that are there any audiophiles in the san diego area who want to go disk shopping?
Zaikesman, good thread! My investment,if I were to calculate store prices, is about 200k, spent in the course of the last two decades about. Satisfaction percentage is about 10%. But those 10% are pure bliss. Why so low, you may ask? Well I'm cursed with absolute pitch and am an avid concert goer. Live music is the benchmark and the goal for my efforts. A rather poor return you might think for all that dough spent. Not for me though, because there have been moments of rare rapture, which I would not miss for all the money in the world. This happens, when the mood is right, the performance musically outstanding and the system doing what it should.
Throughout the years, I have raised my satisfaction ratio to ~50%... through self-imposed leniency rather than system performance level. As I, too, attend many live performances, my pure expectations from a home system (mine is ~60k) had been inordinately high with an inversly proportional satisfaction/ music enjoyment rating...

On the one hand, I cannot hear all the music and performers I want live and on the other, I NEED to enjoy the music at home, too -- and get away, get transported... what have you. Hence, the Pavlov trick: it works as a catalyst, keeping sonic considerations from putting too much of a damper on my enjoyment of the music. Cheers!
Greg, I envy you for your percentage, oh Wise One, myself , I suppose I've become a grumpy old curmudgeon. To wit:

JD, as a brother in arms as far as Spectral is concerned, I am rather curious in your case about the two factors this thread is about and which you did not touch upon sufficiently clearly, as far as my understanding of them goes: How much did you spend on your stereo and to what percentage are you happy with it. Without that input, your post seems to me a tad off topic. Regards,
Detlof, yes you are right. I didn't read the original post closely since I am at work and can only do this for short bursts. My apologies but I try to fit in a response when I can.
My rig runs about 40k and I since I have never added it up before it kind of shocks me. It was all used otherwise I would probably have to have a good stiff drink round about now.
I would say happy 80% overall. Truthfully my hearing is not as acute as many others here and I have trouble hearing what many others hear obviously can hear. So I still go with Craig on this one. It is my own performance that is not so good and that is probably worth most of the above missing 20%.
Dear Detlof, it's all a matter of psychology (said Anna to Dr Freud)..:-)
All I do is pretend MY system sounds like YOURS. And when I fail the pretence, I go Craig's way: MY bad mood is at fault. Simple.
Cheers, all!
Dear Greg, thanks for the flowers, however after much professional hums and haws and much thoughtful twiddling of thumbs, I'd suggest that in actual fact you rather pretend that your system sounds like REAL MUSIC !! And that is the best of illusions we unfortunate audiophiles can have. If that doesn't work, it is indeed Craig's formula which is the most beneficial!! Cheers from the curmudgeon's listening chair! (o; Detlof
I'd have to say that my happiness is near 100%. I can't imagine spending all that money if it were a lot lower. That's not to say that I don't constantly hear things that I'd like to change or improve, only that my system is now at the point that those things don't spoil my listening pleasure. As I've noted before, I listen to the music, not to the sound so when I find bad recordings I just don't play them. As an old codger neighbor once said to me, "Just because there'll be a better sunset someday doesn't mean that I can't enjoy this one." Wisdom there.

Detlof: I, too, am plagued with perfect pitch. I've learned to live comfortably with off-pitch performances so long as the relative pitch is consistent among the players. It's when the damned viola is 15 cents off of everybody else that I go crazy.

What I don't comprehend is the situation where a fellow audiophile is rhapsodizing over the wonderful, nirvanic sound and yet the performer is doing a lousy job of playing or singing or whatever. But we're all different.

Combined retail cost of my two systems is about $60K.

Going through all these great responses makes me want to clarify a little something about my original post: I didn't mean to imply that the remaining percentage of the time (about 85% in my case) that we are apoplectic or despondent - merely that we are not completely satisfied and blissful (with the system/sound/music, that is) to the point where there is no perceived impediment to enjoying the moment. So far, no clear correlation seems to be emerging between $ spent or represented, and % of pure joy (maybe I should have also specified $ spent on recordings?). Many mentions of one's pre-existing mood being a determining factor in peoples' response; this interests me because I've frequently regarded my music and system as a balming counteractant to the exigencies of everyday BS. I want to be so arrested by what I hear that I literally forget what I wasn't feeling good about!
Excellent thread and responses! I have about $50k (MSRP)in my main system. If the recordings are good to great quality, I'm very happy about 60% of the time. That rises by about 5% with each scotch. After six scotches, even the bad recordings start sounding good. I do not have perfect pitch (what is the opposite of that?) but think that about 75% of my recordings are good to great quality. The rest don't get spun very often.
90-95% of the time. i'm only ever not happy when the recording is subpar, which doesn't happen too terribly often. if it were all new, it'd run about 40k.
Six scotches for me and it wouldn't matter what it was sounding like because I'd be unconscious :-)

Zaikesman - even with your clarification, I'd say I'm happy nearly 100% of the time - the two things I can count on being happy about are climbing into my car (I've never been a car hound, but currently drive an M3 and every time I get in it I think "this is nice!", even three years into owning it), and when I turn on the audio system. The % goes down with poorer recordings, which (I agree with the others here) are the source (no pun intended) of most of my dissatisfaction. It's still rare though. -Kirk

Unsurprisingly, this kind of discussion indubitably leads to recommendations for audiophile approved Scotch! My vote goes for Lagavulin -- but I won't turn down a Laphroiag (sp?) or any other single malt in the offering...
After the 8th scotch, the home system sounds BETTER than live (-- not that I can tell the difference anymore...)
So that's my problem - I never guessed that being a teetotaler would prevent me from getting the most from my costliest hobby...
Youv'e got it Zaikesman! Time to repent and make amends now. Greg's taste in Scotch is very highly recommended!
Cin-Cin, Detlof
Actually Scotland is stealing millions of dollars from the audio industry. I can't tell you how much more I'd be spending on tweaks and upgrades were it not for Dalwhinnie, Balvenie, Aberlour and MaCallan. Wine works too!!
I'm never happy. Even prozac doesn't help. But wait a minute.... SCOTCH !!..... now there's an idea....err... excuse me folks.
Tibina, Serotininereuptakeinhibitors like Prozac are stongly contraindicated, since (amongst impairing other pleasurable things ) they reduce listening acuity. Scotch is excellent for hearing on the other hand, but as is the case with sidenafil or haldoperidol, you've got to get the right dosage to make it work best. The right dosage has to be found by experimenting: You have to drink and listen, listen and drink until one of the two is impaired. If you exibit a strong detrimental reaction to both, you've gone too far and should reduce listening by about two CDs or 5 LPs a day until you can hear that wind (flatus) again, bursting out in a sharp transient about three feet below and behind the second cornet in the third opening bar of Wagner's Overture to the Götterdämmerung on the blue garlicflower Deutsche Grammophon 123456 with Herr Professor Dr.Dr. von Karajan and his Berliners.(Bad luck for those, who do not listen to vinyl. They'll never know the true Nirvana, because this test is vital for the right dosage.) Statistics show however, that complications may occur with those subjects, who need more Scotch to get through the entire opera until its very end.
detlof -

that was one of the better things i've ever read in life.
Doctor, I must take pains to point out that the offending coronetist had undoubtedly been drinking beer (beir), not scotch, before performing his percussive exclamation! Wouldn't it be indicated only to imbibe spirits that are like in kind to those consumed by the musicians themselves, if one wants to stand a chance of most closely approaching the absolute sound? (Thread's dead anyway, may as well bury it...)
does this mean that i should shoot up copious amounts of smack the next time i listen to any of my velvet undergroung/lou reed lps? maybe there *is* a hidden meaning in metal machine music!
Zaikesman, what offense pray, are you talking about ?In fact, the coronetist, in his noble efforts, venting himself, so to speak in true stereo, both Wagnerian and eisbeinish with Sauerkraut ("bier" being released rather in upwardish ventriloqy)gives a true pivotal point between the ethereal of music and the ethyreal of Scotch. If we were, as you suggest, to emulate the drinking habits of orchestral players, we would all be soon lost in brutish debauchery and be quite unable to find the right balance between palate and ear.
Besides, I feel the thread is anything but dead. Our detour into baccantian pleasures will, I hope, enable us to tackle those poor percentages in a fashion befitting a seasoned audiophile.

Thanks Laz28, maybe I should fool around more...its hard to be music lover and audiophile all in one person (-;
Well, if nothing else, Detlof may be on to a new criteria for establishing the benchmark in system resolution - that is to say, simply being able to *hear* the passage of said wind emanating from that particular location in the orchestral ranks, as recreated within one's suberbly extended and layered soundstage, can no longer be quite good enough. No, one must actually be able to *sniff* out the precise constitution (sorry) of the hornist's discomforture before he may lay claim to the acme of world-class, reference-level reproduction!
I'm having trouble taking this a step further since I'm laughing so hard, but here goes ...
Let's face it -- the electronics, mechanics and acoustics of our systems and room won't exactly reproduce the live sound for all types of recordings. With the right dosage of scotch, the imagination fills in the missing details. Detlof was kind enough to share the perfect test album. When you can hear "said wind", you've got a great system and you are still coherent enough to know it! When you can smell it, proceed to a maintenance level of drinking (or let out the dog): This will take time to achieve and I would strongly recommend meditation exercises. If you can hear it and smell it and the system isn't even on, seek help but you probably have a great artistic career ahead of you.
Well it seems, that Zaikesman's excellent thread has given birth to a new benchmark in audiophilia, involving more sensual markers than ever before. Thanks to him and Ozfly we can now reach a level of certainty, which was quite impossible before this breakthrough. I was but the humble catalyst in this matter. DG 123456 will be much sought after from now on. Possibly they will now even bring it out on CD. Remains to be seen, if Redbook is capable of reproducing flatulent bursts really true to their very specific nature. I don't mind, if the good Scots will now collect more revenue. But I doubt that the folks at DG will use the new income to produce better sounding recordings. They'll probably spend it on more microphones and consoles to ruin the music with. Obviously they have a secret deal with Glasgow or Edinburgh. Herr Karajan was often at the festival there. Well, I'll sign off now, before I become fully paranoid. I'll rather go and see if there's still something left in the bottle. Good sniffing to you all! Detlof
Detlof, didn't Walter Piston write a sonata for trombone and farting flautist?
Dear Will, wouldn't know, but not be surprised at all: After all, nomen est omen, no?
(An afterthought: I feel really sorry for the unfortunate flautist, having to eat all those beans and onions with garlic before every performance and all that slavery to discipline the spincter! Just goes to show, composers can be bruthish beasts in their creative narcissism. The vita of Wagner comes to mind. Only Ludwig and Nietzsche didn't have to fart in helping to create the Gesamtkunstwerk, though in both cases those infamous flatus vocis did occur now and again.) Excuse me, must go get another bottle....Cin-cin, Detlof
80% of the time I am happy and 20% of the time I have wondered about all the points you mention. My system could be better even after retail price worth $50000 give or take, but I am probably gonna call it a day untill some components break-down, besides law of diminishing return has already set in. In all I am very happy most of the time.
(SLAP!!) Thanks Nil, we needed that...
I love/need the music. My $4500 2-channel audio system delivers recorded music just fine for me (and my budget). 99.95% of the time I'm responding directly to the recorded music, rather than to equipment issues, which I guess means (for the purpose of this poll) I'm happy about 99.95%.

Among the music that gives me joy are old low-fi Ellington and Parker recordings. So fidelity isn't everything, but it's sure nice if you can get it. And there's nothing like hearing music performed live.

I spend time at various audio and music websites and enjoy listening to music on some friends' higher end/priced systems. I've also appreciated the dramatic improvements in sound from the upgrades to my audio system that I've been able to make over the years. But it's my connection to the music that would probably make me "happy" over 90% of the time, even if I could only afford to get it via a "boombox".
Nil & Sek brought us back, and Sek's last paragraph probably echoes many of us. Just thought I'd inform everyone that I upgraded from Lagavulin to Lafroiagg, for the jazz/blues music. The upper range is definitely better, and p.r.a.t.t. has improved. Cheers!
I know it's not allowed here, but I did an A/B comparison between Dalwhinnie and Lagavulin on jazz/blues. With the Dalwhinnie, the midrange seemed to expand a bit and had more air. With the Lagavulin, the bass seemed to have a bit more heft. Switching back to the Dalwhinnie, it appeared that the soundstage seemed ever so much broader. Switching back to the Lagavulin, the bit of congestion in the upper end seemed to lift. Switching back to the Dalwhinnie, the pacing sseemed to improve. Switcching back to the Lagavulin, thngs seemed to shift toward the lwoer midrange a bit. Dalwhiine, a bit more sluggish in the upper end. Lagvavuln, jst stlighty off key. Dalvin,m, basss very goog but candt seem to get all the powere of the vocals. Lavgmuln, just not cocomming togehter. Dalvine, music shchumsic, where's my wife ... ?
80% of the time I'm very happy with my system while understanding and accepting it's shortcomings. Some inherent with the SOTA, the technology chosen while others reflect specific component choice/synergy.

My situation is some what weird; with my old system there was a pervasive feeling that something just wasn't "right", regardless of the high level of performance. With my new system, I feel almost the opposite; that there is more of a "rightness" with both the presentation and my enjoyment with it. Though with the new system I have a whole new set of areas to fine-tune. Unfortunately they involve core components - my new 2wpc Moth SET amp and my existing dynamic 93db Silverline speakers - and are not easily corrected w/o major changes. The Sonatinas are just on the boarder of a realistic pairing with the Moth. The upside is that the Moth clearly bests my old pp triode VAC.

I was aware of the potential for problems when I ordered the Moth, luckily I've been pleasantly surprized and musically satisfied with the result IMS. Though I must wonder just how much of the Moth's performance is still unrealized. Considering my current satisfaction, this is a pleasant dilemmia to have. So, untill I'm able to explore other speaker types I'll make minor, inexpensive adjustments to better my situation: DIY 24awg silver/teflon speaker wire for example.

Retail value of my system is 25k.
Beautiful piece, Oz. Well written, too. There are positive facets A/B testing after all. The post above serves as an example! Clink!, here!!!!!
Damn, that mid-driver, ITS MY WIFE!!!
100% happy with my system. In fact, I can't wait until Friday, so I can power up my system and ready for SAT and SUN enjoyment. My amps are class A, don't want to waste electricity and heat up the room. :-)
Happy for the moment, defenitely, YES! Let's see how long it lasts!
Just came on this post, as usual with Zaikesman a good one. I'll add my recent experience which may be of interest. My Jadis JP80 is currently out of the system for repairs and a modification, and my dealer has been kind enough to lend me a Lamm LL2 (non-deluxe version) for the past month and a half to use while the repairs are being made (a good argument for a good dealer, I'd say!). The LL2 is a superb unit, easily better in most respects than my Jadis, particularly transparency, high frequency extension and retrieval of low level detail. I would seriously consider buying it, in its deluxe version (the bigger power supply would improve the unit's dynamics, which aren't as good as the Jadis) as a replacement for my JP80 if it continues to break down on me. And yet, I would say that I am virtually 95% to 100% happy with my system's sound with the Jadis in the system, but I am maybe 90% happy with the Lamm in there. I miss the HUGE Jadis soundstage and bloom, I don't mind the lack of the last word in low-level detail, and I think the Jadis is the more involving unit. Colored, yes, but in a way consistent with music and music as I hear it in the concert hall. The Lamm, I think, is at times revealing more than I want to hear when I listen to music, perhaps making me listen to the system or the technical shortcomings of the recording itself, and that may be the cause of my slightly lessened satisfaction. I will also note that I gave up on my JP80's phono stage (a non-fixable noise problem) and substituted the Lamm LP2 phono stage, again a far more revealing unit, but in that case running it through the JP80's line stage only hightened my enjoyment of the music. Curious; I wonder if any of you out there have enjoyed your systems a little less as they became more revealing?
Thanks for the input, gents, glad to see this thread revived (Detlof sez, Let's see how long it lasts!).

RC, is it your system you wind up enjoying a little less, or maybe your recordings? Does the difference matter? Should it?

As for me, both my room (I moved) and system have changed substantially since I first posted the thread, so once I finally figure out just where exactly I've landed myself, I'll have to update my $ and %.
I think it's the recordings, and all of them are CDs. SACDs sound terrific and involving, as do LPs. Some Cds, though, with the added high frequency extension, seem a little too threadbare harmonically, even upsampled. After listening last night, I'd maybe move the satisfaction level up to 95% with the Lamm, as I thoroughly enjoyed a few SACDs I had time to listen to last night. So I guess the Jadis is kinder to my CD collection than is the Lamm, as it adds a lusher sound to the midrange.
Rcprince, Zaikesman nice as always to be on a thread with you. Yes, all Jadis Preamps cheat beautifully in the midrange and what Rcprince found with the Lamm, I experienced with the Aesthetix IO, which is far more revealing, has better soundstage LAYERING and moves you closer to the event. However, I've found, that listening through the Aesthetix is always a capturing and thoroughly satisfactory experience, but with the Jadis, I stop listening critically and am drawn much more easily into the music. This especially since I equipped them entirely with Tele NOS of the 302s and 303s series. Yes, I'd also say, that the Jadis is kind to the software, whereas the Aesthetix, as obviously the LAMM gear as well, is more revealing and less coloured. However, the Jadis is like a beautiful women, who - although you know that she's not always completely truthful and above board - will enrapture you in such a way, that you don't much care about what truth is and enjoy the moment (to get back on topic ) 100% in complete bliss and happyness. Cheers,