"I love the way my stereo sounds and if I could never do another thing to upgrade it I could listen happily the rest of my life. But I do enjoy tweaking it, working on it, and finding ways to improve the sound."
Nicely said. I'm with you.
My wife frequently asks the same question, but I'm sure the tone and intent is entirely different from that of your son's query. I'm down with your response - well stated. I have to say that as my system as evolved further, and as I get older (coming up on half a century in April) the tweaking aspect has been loosing its luster and I'm preferring just sitting back and enjoying what I've got more and more. At the stage my system is in now I'd have to throw copious amounts of cash to yield very small increments of improvement and I'm just not willing to do that. Life's too short and there's too much music that I haven't heard yet! Most efforts of late have just been in trying to find WAF-friendly ways to tame the room my system is in.
I'm always satisfied...until I hear something better. So I plan on only listening to my system, and others that don't sound as nice.
If you actually enjoy tweaking it, why not do it?
Now, if listening to the equipment distracts from listening to the music, I would suggest a reconsideration.
Some months ago I thought I was going to be tweaking and manicuring a new system that I was putting together for a long time. But when the last piece went in place, it sounded so fantastic (and improvements, if they exist at all, are bound to be far too expensive) that I conciously decided against it. Now when the thought flashes past my mind, I shoot it down with a "just listen to the music dammit!". Now I'll just add to that the excellent advice by Abucktwoeighty.
"Don't worry... Be happy"
Some call it hobby, I call it "Gardener's Syndrome" (gardener always has to find something to trim or re-pot).
Jax2 - I'm with you. Now, I have decent system (I think) and only something really great would make me spend money. I'm afraid to go to audio shows for that reason.
Unfortunately, room is the most expensive part and "taming" it is completely new (and expensive) game.
I stopped tweaking my stereo many a moon ago and I am becoming completely convinced that like real-estate Location Location Location and room treatment are the way to go.I mean spiking and isolation are fine but all that don't mean a hill of beans if your room treatment with speaker placement are not up to snuff.
Depends on when the question is asked. I am inclined to be happy to listen until something goes wrong. After that, sometimes it takes quite a while to get the "magic" back.
After my recent purchases yes!...........for now. Just kidding I don't see any changes off in the future as I finally have a sound I'm very happy with. I'm ready to spend more money on music and follow Abucktwoeighty's sage advice. I do enjoy working on the system so I'll always adjust, tweak and just play with it!!
Come on, you know you want tube amps and preamplifier.
I'm down with Jax2's reply. Maybe it's because, like Marco, I'll also turn half a century soon (in June), and I also find tweaking losing it's luster. I'm happier just listening nowadays....life's too short.
My wallet tells me when I'm satisfied.
"Life is that which ever must surpass itself". Remember, never being satisfied was what saved Faust in Goethe's version of the story. If it true then the devil won't get me either.
To be totally satisfied is to be dead. But then again, fear of death is the ultimate sign of an immature mind. In other words, it ain't all about the journey -- the endless tweaking and equipment changing that sometimes even results in an upgrade in sound quality. Sometimes you have to know when to stop and "smell the roses" and just enjoy what you got.
Most of the time I'm satisfied.
"Moderation in all things, including moderation" -- Mark Twain.
Here's my experience. I don't expect yours to be similar, but I feel strongly about what underlies a compulsion to tweaking. Srwooten, you said in your system description, "I have been putting my kit together for approximately 7 years making many changes as my listening and finances improved." You may feel satisfied, but I can certainly see why your boy would consider you to be dissatisfied if he sees a parade of equipment over time and his dad hovering over the rig trying to coax more out of it. A kid knows when he's not happy about a toy and he tries to futz with it to make it more enjoyable; he's seeing the same behavior in you. :)
I have had habitual gamblers tell me, "It's not about trying to get rich, it's entertainment..." Delusion comes in all forms. It's very similar to the audiophile who tweaks incessantly saying, "I'm satisfied..." I believe discontent is at the heart of both habits.
I used to tweak constantly, and it was because of periodic dissatisfaction with the sound. I see no other reason why anyone would have to "toy" with a rig. Doing so for curiosity's sake? Maybe, but behind that action is the hope that something good will result. Having a principle of "Always onward and upward," in terms of performance? A recipe for regular dissatisfaction.
The primary reason I tweaked was in hope that somehow I could get an above average outcome in sound from an economical adjustment to the system. Experience taught that it's not possible. You have to pony up the money to get the right components to get the dream sound you want. Only when I invested enough in the rig to elevate the performance way above any potentiality from tweaking did I largely give it up.
I do not consider working with cables, a component, to be tweaking. I still spend time on matching and trying cables for different influences to the rig. But if I'm not happy enough to enjoy a rig without sticking blocks under things or weights atop of speakers, etc. then it's time for a major change, not a minor one.
I found that tweaking KEPT me from making big advancements in the sound quality. It had me valuing puny, nearly insignificant changes to sound quality, rather than seeking out vast, huge differences. I was deluded by thinking that I had reached nearly the pinnacle of sound quality. What a joke. There were many levels of BIG improvements to be had, and I was farting around with stupid little adjustments which did virtually nothing. Once I realized that the real game is in the component selection and integration that was about it for tweaking. And for the whole game of fostering periodic discontent with the rig.
It's one reason why I don't spend much time reviewing tweaks. My view is that they actually trap a person into a limited view of what's possible in building a system! I'm sure there will be some who will strongly disagree, saying that tweaks yield huge results. I did not find that to be the case, and I would much rather put my money on a component, cable or speaker change than piddly adjustments. :)
Meanwhile, through the years it became evident that I was not going to be satisfied with one speaker, no matter how high the quality. I have a desire to hear different technologies, and thus radically different presentations of the music. No amount of tweaking could resolve that perceived need. I'm glad I figured that one out, because my satisfaction level is worlds higher than when I was tweaking!
Satisfaction is not something in the human condition.
Douglas - You are absolutely right. I tried to tweak my speakers by putting much better tweeter and expensive xover components. I could not properly integrate it (not easy) and gave up. I ended up buying better speakers and realized that tweeter was only part of the problem. Now I'm sorry, that I spent all this money for expensive components instead of selling speakers before any mods.
I'm surprised that people go for expensive mods to their electronics. For instance there was a company making mods to improve Benchmark DAC1 performance. Result was very good, according to testimonies, but it was completely different DAC - non jitter rejecting (non-upsampling). Why to even buy Benchmark if you want to have NOS DAC?
I agree that saving money and making big step is a way to go unless tweaking itself is a main goal.
We should distinguish between "tweaking" and careful set up. I find that most audiophiles are prone to buying new equipment rather than maximizing their present set up. Most never get the maximum out of what they have, I agree with those who think set up is 40 or 50% of your final sound. The effect of removing vibration effects has to be heard to be believed. Some degree of tweaking is necessary;that said it can get obsessive. I have heard Pierre from Mapleshade demonstrate that you get better sound by carefully separating each cable and aligning it in a unique direction. Alas, my own cable array looks like a drunken snakes convention, I lack the time and energy to set them up as he does. We all have to reach a compromise between possible improvement and expenditure of time and money. We have lost sight of the whole purpose if we spend more time fiddling than listening. Of course as the poet said " A mans reach should exceed his grasp, or what's an Audiogon for?
No, there is always something better out there. When the system sounds better than it ever has, as it currently does, I want to find some way to improve it.
This usually involves messing something up first, then getting a very small, if any, improvement after much time, effort and in most cases money.
So, I'm off to mess it up again!!!
In short, no.
I know I can never be satisfied because the stereo is just, well, a stereo. Sure, it sounds pretty good sometimes & although I haven't had every component known to man, I've had enough in my room & have listened to so many other systems that, at least IMO, all someone is doing with their system is dialing it in to what pleases them.
My system now is pretty simple really. I play around w/it & change gear, tubes, cables, etc. because I like to, meaning it is fun for me & takes my mind off whatever else is going on in my world.
As for tweaks, some work & some don't. You have to try them & decide for yourself, although I will say AC and the room rate as #1 & #2. Again, just IMO, however, I will add that I do pro sound work & the same thing applies. If you have bad AC, you're going to get noise & if the room is bad, you can't make it sound good w/o finding out what the problem is & fixing it.
I play around w/it & change gear, tubes, cables, etc. because I like to, meaning it is fun for me
it is fun, I love to play music, and I love to play with the gear as well. It's a double positive!
I am sorry I didn't get into vinyl earlier, because there is more stuff to mess with, and of course I like the sound much better.
Yes, then I stsrt building a new system.