"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.