Are You Content With Your System?

I have a Mark Levinson 335, Mark Levinson 39, B&W N803s All Harmonic technology cables and Slamander synergy racks. My audio room is only 17x13. In the future I want to change my N803s and get my Favorite Revel Salons or the Studios. I have wanted them for a long time. And I also want the Levinson mono blocks. But knowing that I sit back and turn my system on. I turn down the lights and light a candle I pick a nice new age cd that is well recorded and close my eyes and wow! My system sounds so great I am so content with the sound and the looks.(levinson gear is beautiful) Well the point Iam trying to make is even though we all know that we can do and have better are you content with what you have? If I never got another peice of gear again I would be happy with the system I put together.I know there are better systems than mine but I also feel Iam at the point of diminishing returns. But there is always room for improvements. Well now that I got off the topic what are you guys using and are you content? What is your dream system? Regards DANIEL
We all probably would be content if we stopped reading all the high-end magazines and coming to sites such as this one.
lev: i think this is a zen question, equivalent to asking "are you content with your life?" the answer, of course, depends upon your perceived (or actual) state of enlightenment. as for me: i'm still tryin' to figure out which mantra is truly my very own. . -cfb
I think I will be after one more change! :)
As a sort of generic response, I think a lot of A-gon folks have indicated their satisfaction with their systems by listing them in the "Virtual Systems" section. There is a lot of food for thought in those posts, and I commend them to anyone who is looking for ideas on building a synergistic system.
Yes, I am content with my "big" system down in my listening room. I love it, in fact. I have never heard anything like it. Thank the Lord I do not have access to the sights and sounds of the systems of the others on this site, or I'm sure I would become discontented. To satisfy my never-ending curiousity about other products, I have two other systems in other rooms, not ideal rooms or ideal systems, but different, and enough to give me a flavor for all the rest that is out there. However, I have still never owned or heard electrostats in my home. I'm sure I'm missing nirvana. Do yourself a favor and stop cruising the classified ads every day (as I do), and you will keep relishing those lights-out moments w/a glass of wine while an incredible new disk is playing on the system you already have.
PS why don't you add a vinyl rig to your system? Even a modest one would give you much more food for thought (and tweaking).
Very difficult to grapple with, but a good question. I guess we've all got the same disease to one extent or another or we wouldn't be cruising and perusing here on the 'Gon. Like Sarah above, I love my "big rig".

But, as an example of this goofiness, I've had a Sonic Frontiers Line 2 pre-amp as part of my system for nearly 4 years now, and keep telling myself that it's likely my "weak link" musically, so I keep trying to replace or upgrade it. I tried the SF Line 3-- didn't like it-- three different sets of tubes-- didn't like them either and keep going back to the stock Sovteks.

In the context of the "high end", the SF Line 2 is modestly priced at $3300., but when I'm totally honest about it, I'd have to say that this pre-amp is excellent in my system, and I can't actually describe why I want to replace it, or what music quality music quality I hope to improve.

And you clowns aren't helping;>) Cheers. Craig
After attending a live jazz / "world music" performance last night, i have to say that i'm VERY pleased ( and kinda shocked ) at how well one of my systems does. For the last few days, I had been listening to a reference level live recording of the same performer that i went to see. Low and behold, there wasn't any percievable difference between what i heard at home and what i heard at the concert hall ( in terms of transients, timbre of instruments, etc..). If anything, i would say that vocals are cleaner and clearer at home than they were via the PA system. Someone REALLY needs to go into business designing and building "hi-fi" ( or at least something that sounds "natural ) sound reinforcement cabinets.

Keep in mind that most of what i was hearing was direct off of the stage with a small amount of "reinforcement" fed through the PA. This is a very small venue and can hold appr 200 seated people comfortably and 300 people somewhat packed with a lot of them standing. Last night, it was completely packed with 400 people in attendance. Somehow, people still made room enough for a large part of the crowd to start dancing.

It was a good show and really helped confirm that i've been on the right track. I've still got work to do on this and my other systems, but it doesn't seem like as much of a chore now : ) Sean
I'm at the early stage of the disease... 6 months so far. When did upgradeitis plateau for you guys??? I've been buying and tweaking like crazy lately!!! But it seems to be working out nicely, the system is sounding less bright and very musical compared to 4 months ago.
Ok, I will toot my own horn. I am not at all "content" with my system. However, it's better than any system I've listened to at hi-fi shops in my life time. I do have the advantage of having a decent size living room to house my stereo. But, my stereo a fraction of the retail price of those I compare with in stores. Nevertheless, it's still only 80%.
Lev, Yes I do enjoy my system and in that respect there is satisfaction. As you say there is always room for improvement and what that is will vary from one to the next as cf notes ya gotta find your own thing, and in this hobby experience and experimentation will take you to different places, but I do not believe it will get you to virtual reality, if nothing else the vast majority of recordings just aren't good enough.

My thing is the real thing. When the system can accurately reproduce a live acoustical instrument, orchestra or voice. "Is is live, or is it..." None do, there is always the veil and various degrees of colorations. So what it seems to boil down to in the long run is finding new ways to spend money :), with the hope that the next step will be better than the last.
My state of contentment varies and neither side of the amplitude is particularly easy to objectivise, complex as my system is. Sometimes its the system, sometimes myself, sometimes both. Guess, my system and I are both complex systems. However, if I've just been to a classical concert or unplugged Jazz live, I sometimes live through a similar state of amazed contentment, when I start up my music, as Sean has described above. Mind you, I am generally much more discontent with baldly recorded software than with the system as such. Seems CFB, that I've more or less found my mantra though the years, or perhaps have become just too old, to want to find new ones. Cheers,

You should be content with your system!!! I do not know how long it took you to get to where you are at today, but you have arrived ... and be thankful. The folks in this forum make constant tweaks without meaningful returns using complex and odd equipment. Do not second guess yourself, you are on the right path. There is a law of diminishing returns for reasonable $$$. Only make your next changes for dramatic increases in sound quality at reasonable $$$ increases. For you, lucky one, should only consider the following 3 future steps (in order of impact assuming technology stays comparatively static): 1) move from the 335 to 33Hs, don't consider the 336 or 436s, under the "needs to have dramatic impact to justify $$$ spend" 2) upgrade to the N801s ... they are sensational (the Revel products are a step down and I would avoid the diversion) and absolutely stunning under the control of the 33Hs 3) go to the 390S.

A simple stunning system ... then enjoy your listening time with full knowledge moving anywhere else makes no sense and is a waste of time ... and then do what I do ... enjoy all the other obsessions life has to offer.

By the way, and I hate to admit the "experts" are right ... the N801s were Stereophile's 1999 product of the year and the 33Hs were the co-amp product of the year with the CJ ART preamp (an incredible piece of equip) ... the CJ took product of the year (confusing .. but w/o the CJ the 33Hs probably would have taken the honor).

You owe me countless hours of wasting your time on these forums and review reading.

Compared to many, my investment is small, though compared to many more it is large. I've spent the equivalent of US$6500, but on two complete systems, one in the living room, one in the office/study. I've heard systems in which the preamp alone cost more than I've spent on everything, and while these megabuck set-ups have been superior in one or more ways to mine, overall I haven't been tempted to go into debt to duplicate them because, like Daniel, I feel I've reached the point of diminishing returns (i.e., doubling or tripling my investment will only bring a few percent of improvement--if such things can be quantified).

With respect to upgrades, I will, when and if finances permit, (1) acquire a pair of Tannoy DMT 15 or DMT 15 II or DMT 215 and sell one of my pairs of DMT 12s; (2) purchase a universal SACD/DVD-A/Redbook CD player; (3) buy a Technics SL-1000 Mk II turntable system (I sold mine and have regretted it ever since).

And while I troll the waters of eBay and Audiogon and Digibid as often as anyone else, it's more to see what people are up to, are keen about, are getting rid of, rather than as a prospective buyer. Similarly, when I read Listener or Stereophile or any number of other mags, it's to keep abreast and informed: no plans to purchase a $30K Accuphase digital front end. . .

FYI, my two systems are as follows:

Living Room: Thorens TD-125 Mk II, Grace 707 arm, Reson Reca cartridge; Sony CDP-X779ES CD player; SAE T101 tuner; Meitner PA-6i (factory upgraded) preamp; Meitner MTR-101 mono amps; Tannoy DMT 12 II studio monitors; XLO Pro 1200 biwire speaker cable; Museatex "Cryogenic" and Canare StarQuad interconnects; no-name 14" heavy steel, lead-shot-filled speaker stands; home-brew rack with 1.5" MDT shelves; no power conditioner; no aftermarket power cords.

Study: Systemdek (the original, with 11 lb. cast platter), Signet arm, Reson Reca cartridge; Pioneer PD-91 as transport with Monarchy 18B DAC; no tuner; Bryston 11B preamp (with mods to phono stage and second set of outputs); Meitner STR-55 power amp; Tannoy System 12 DMT studio monitors; XLO Pro 1200 full-range speaker cable; Canare StarQuad interconnects with Neutrik ProFi RCA plugs; no power conditioning; no aftermarket power cords; speaker stands made of cedar four-by-fours and sheets of MDF.

I do also have a pair of Tannoy 3836 drivers for which I've built crossovers and for which I'm contemplating building new "DMT 15 clone" enclosures from a schematic published on the Internet. At the moment, however, these are not in use.

Overall, I think the most cost-effective investment for me to improve the quality of recorded music in my home would be to have a studio professional undertake a complete acoustic room treatment. However, I move too often to make this investment worthwhile.

Happy listening all!



YES YES YES! It sounds better every time I listen to it.
The audio realm is a dark and personal genre. Each person has their likes and dislikes some of us agree with each other and some of us never will. But sonic nirvana is what we are all after. I will be changing my N803s and getting a pair of Revel Salons or Studios which ever will suit my room correctly. and I feel at that point I will be in contentment for some time. I love my B&Ws but lets face it the Revels will smoke my N803s. So as I venture on my next quest with hopes of reaching that final plateu. If there is one. I will be looking forward to finally getting the speakers I have been wanting for some time now. and what better gear to have with the revels MARK LEVINSON
........reassessment of question. Yes. Cheers. Craig
Dr Joe, I want the same speakers!
I am not sure that my ultimate goal is to be satisfied with my system. I am sorry to say that if I ever did find sonic nirvana I would eventually screw it up by changing something. I am very content with this being my only obsessive vice. If I did not focus on this I might find something that would be much more harmful. The advantage of this hobby is that music is beauty and that I am always listening, though sometimes for the wrong reasons.

All that being said, I am content with my tuner. I have a Fanfare 1A and it has been the greatest audio investment that I have ever made. I listen to it more than any other source that I have and it provides me with great joy. I live right outside of Manhattan where there are a number of great radio stations and I never took advantage of them until I purchased this tuner.
I'm pretty sure I'll never be happy with my system because I'll always love music and will always want to be 'touched' more by it. Better equipment has always allowed the music to affect me more, drawing me closer to what can be a heart rendering experience - good equipment can bridge the gap between hearing music and experiencing a real event.

I recently had to offload a very expensive and very satisfying set of speaker cables for financial reasons and replace them with a pair a quarter the price. The decline in the quality of the music was immediate and all too obvious. I have to say I don't look forward to listening as much as I did. I used to throw disk after disk into my CD player and listen for a couple of hours with my girlfriend over a bottle of wine. Now, even she can't wait till my system is 'back in action' as she says.

Were my last few upgrades to result in scant improvement, I'd likely settle for what I have and think that I'm missing nothing. But my upgrades have yielded results. I've little doubt that improvements in equipment and consequent experience/musical appreciation await me as I invest more in my equipment. I can't wait.
Drewfidelity, I also listen to my Magnum Dynalab Etude Tuner more than my digital source. If you've got a good station locally with an uncompressed signal it's VERY good quality with the right tuner. I'd recommend the Magnum or Fanfare models Etude or 1A or above to anyone looking to discover new classical/jazz.
I've only been a balls out, crazy ass audiophile for a little over two years, and for the first twenty months wasn't very close to what I thought I could achieve sonically. A lot has changed recently because I switched to tubes and found power cords that are doing the trick for me.

For a long time I lived with bright, closed in, unmusical sound, that is now transforming into open, glorious music. About a month ago, I actually spent close to fourteen hours listening to my little system. I didn't have anything to do that day, but I was well rewarded.

So the question is, "am I content"? I don't know how to answer that, but I'm pretty damn happy!
I would listen to more radio if my digital preamp allows me to input an analog source. My tuner and turn table has been sitting sadly in the corner of my living room

KCRT of Santa Monica is a great station that I always listen to in my car. I would listen to it at home too if...
Viggen you live near Santa Monica? I work in Culver City. What is the dial number for KCRT?
Gunbei, sorry I meant KCRW, I think. It's 89.9, I think. You know, the public radio station broadcasting from SMC.

I can't emphasize enough how much I like this station. It has ethnic music, ecletic music, news, commentaries, a different mix every day, every hour. I love the Saturday is Eclectic. Lounge and downtempo music is my style.

I used to work near Culver too at some crappy AV store.
Viggen, yes I listen to KCRW once in awhile too. I just saw and heard some VERY neat ethnic music this weekend at Cal State Long Beach. I was there both days for my Maya Certificate course and CSULB was having a Native Amercian Pow Wow all weekend. Cool food, dance, music and people.
I hadn't listened to my system for about 3 weeks. I braught home some electric fence insulators for cable risers to replace the foam risers which had significantly lower WAF. I turned it on and was stunned. The system sounded killer. A) the insulators made all the difference a $20,000 amp could make or B) i was used to what i had and didn't get the thrill factor going again until i had been away for a while. B gets my vote. I need to upgrade my phono preamp (useing an old B&O reciever now so this is a need not a want) and want to add dedicated AC lines...then i'm done. VTL 5.5 preamp, VTL MB185 amps on poly crystal stands, ARC CD-2, Dunlavy Athenas, Chang 9000 conditioner for the front end, Harmonic Tec cables with BMI EEls doing duty on the front end power and probably destine for 2 more for the amps. Front end stuff is on a DIY flexi stand. At about $15k used it has IMO out performed a $90k ML, Transparent, Revel system at a local dealer based on openness and overall musicality. A great tweak...take a vacation then come home and listen.