Audiophile x 5 months.

I got my hi-fi system about 5 months ago. First one I've ever owned. Some of you probably know that it was essentially an inherited system. I got it with no current knowledge of hi-fi. From what I've read it is a thoughtfully matched system:

Audio Research LS-16 tube pre-amp.
Transparent XLR cables
Madrigal Proceed HPA2 Dual Monaural 250 watt amp.
Transparent Super Bi-Wire 8' speaker cables
Aerial Acoustics 7B tower speakers
Arcam CD92 CDP w/ Transparent RCA cables (DAC dead and now just a transport)
Sony PS T2 TT (cheap) w/ Grado's lowest end cartridge.

Got a lot of help here on Audiogon. My intentions (some of you may remember) were to enjoy the system and not spend ANY money on it at all and definitely not get drawn into expensive audiophile nonsense.

I did not succeed. I have been drawn in. Thought I'd take stock of what I've done. Mostly for myself but thought I'd share. Below is a list of the ways I've spent my money so far and how well I feel that money was spent:

Denon Tuner with remote. Used. $120. Pretty big waste of money. Charlotte, NC has no decent radio stations. Broadcast SQ on most of them is poor. WDAV is the exception. All classical. I occasionally listen on Sunday mornings.

Various cables. Some decent. Some average. Maybe $150. 

Monoprice Monolith component stand. $100. Had to have it. Pretty sturdy. Will soon be replaced by built in shelves.

Various raw materials to make spikes for the speakers. Originals were lost. $25. Do they make a difference. I don't know.

Sorbothane pads for various components. $20. No SQ difference that I can tell.

Art DJ Pre II phono pre-amp. $50. Probably commensurate with the low end turntable. Probably should have skipped it.

Grado Black phono cartridge. $50 after original needle broke off. Probably another waste of money. Should have skipped LPs until I decide to get into it more seriously. Between the old TT, low end cart and pre it really doesn't sound all that good.

Schiit Modi 2 Uber. Used. $110. Great purchase. Has opened up playing ripped CDs from computer as well as streaming. Now allows me to use Arcam as transport since its DAC died. Generally happy with SQ. Exploring upgrades.

Logitech Harmony programmable remote. Used. $20. None of the components came with original remotes.

40 or more used and new CDs. $250 or so. Best money spent in the whole 5 months.

So, all-in-all close to $900 in about 5 months. Way more than I ever intended. If I had skipped trying to get the TT running and skipped the tuner I'd have saved maybe $250.

Enjoying the hobby. Especially the music. Will probably be spending some more money in the future but not tons. Considering a DAC upgrade and still researching inexpensive streaming options. Running through Apple TV is okay but not great.
You should consider yourself lucky.
Though I would ditch those speakers, asap.
How many times have I said I am done spending money on this hobby .. Lol.

Welcome to the nuthouse!

Seriously what you have apart from phono side sounds pretty good to me and should be giving you some enjoyment.

Glad you found these forums helpful, generally a very good crowd in here.

gdnrbob said: "Though I would ditch those speakers, asap."

I would but they're too heavy.

uberwaltz, agree about the forums. Lots of good help and advice here.
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Most of us learn by mistakes, trial and error, and steps forward, backward and laterally. It usually takes time, effort and money to get to a place that you want to be. Writing out the big check isn't always the right answer.
Part of this game is the relentless quest to keep improving, trying to extract one more iota out of the source, make it sound better, more real. So much has to do with set up in the room and the source material, which varies so widely in SQ. I really thought I got off the treadmill a while ago, focusing on buying more records and exploring 'new to me' music (mainly through older pressings). 
But, "necessity" always seems to call. I moved. I "had" to upgrade the electrical system and install a subsystem for the hi-fi;
I "had" to buy an isolation table for my turntable. Neither of these were intended to be "oh WOW" improvements- just meant to address system installation in a residential environment with potential for noise, vibration and interference.
I finally jumped into digital for the first time in my main system- I didn't go crazy, but am actually pretty happy in terms of performance, particularly because I didn't go crazy. 
Some is just usual maintenance- some NOS small tubes for the amps, I will eventually need to replace my cartridge. 
When it's all working as it should and I'm in the right mindset to enjoy it rather than listen with an ear to what's wrong with it, it is an immense source of pleasure. I also take great pleasure in learning about recordings, performances and artists that I've missed or ignored. 
The only thing that may be more rewarding is making your own music. Do you play, @n80?
It's too bad but there is very little in the way of FM radio that is worth listening to. Mostly college stations that play something other than the stuff every other station is playing. I would never bother to buy a tuner.  I grew up listening to rock music before it was known as "classic rock". Back then it was called AOR or Album Oriented Rock and was obviously very good. I became a diehard prog rock fan due to our local station. A steamer is a good option because then you can listen to pretty much anything you can think of. I certainly do like the spontaneity of FM radio though, too bad it's all pre-programed now.
@n80 I'm on a similar trajectory as you down the sonic rabbit hole.  What's amazing is how your sense of price and value change so quickly as you sense the separation between components at certain price points.  I find that any tangible benefit is worth paying a premium for.  I'm trying to set some hard stops for myself once I get into an upgraded speaker.  
I stopped spending money on this hobby in 1978.

Err ... how much is that new SR Blue outlet? 


"What’s amazing is how your sense of price and value change so quickly as you sense the separation between components at certain price points."

I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I have no easy way to actually listen to anything else to compare it to. There are some hi-fi shops within about 30 minutes of where I live but I have no reason to visit them. I have no friends or family into this stuff to compare notes or systems with.

And for me, I have no reason to want anything more than what I have in terms of amp, pre-amp, primary cables/interconnects and speakers. So unless they break or the original owner decides he wants them back I will have no need to spend money there.

As far as room setup goes, well, its pretty much set. There are a few minor things I can do but not much else.

So my frontiers will have to do with media. Even though I’m satisfied with the SQ of my CD and server playback, streaming is not at the level I would like it to be. And the whole CD/DAC/Server/streaming set seems a bit messy to me right now (old iMac, Apple TV, DAC, cell phone etc). In that regard something like a Vault 2 has its appeal in that it is an all-in-one solution. And that is $1200! I know there are other and cheaper ways to do it but that seems like a fairly elegant way. Unlikely to happen any time soon.

And to be honest, if I were to cut back on the ’demands’ of several other expensive hobbies (that I also try to do on the cheap) I could take a serious plunge into this......but I’ve always tended to be a jack of all trades, master of none.....and that still suits me.

Edited to add: Even when my wife and I were on a seriously tight budget we agreed that there was no budget on books. I've extended that rule to music. So CDs and such are always on the table. To me a house full of good books and good music are a joy.
You can't take it with you ($) when your time expires.
The important concepts here as far as I'm concerned is spend within your means and enjoy yourself;-) 
You have inherited a very nice system and I believe your correct in not wishing to replace components. Take advantage of the gift given. Get to know what you have, put your money into the music. You are wise not to spend on a TT until you know that is a source you wish to pursue. A quality TT setup is expensive and requires a considerable knowledge base to do right.

Continue to explore options regarding digital sources. I would be hesitant to replace the Arcam/Mani combination until I had a clearer picture of how I might take advantage of digital audio.   
Once I get my built in cabinets done I may purchase a basic U-Turn TT. I still have a few albums I like to listen to. It might not be any better than the Sony but the Sony is starting to make a mechanical hum and the dust cover is broken.

I'll continue to stew on my streaming/digital game plan.

Does anyone know if the basic BlueSound Node 2 can play music off of a regular external hard drive?