Best Way to Approach System Building

I've recently been doing a lot of cable experimenting trying to find the right cables for my system. And a lot of system rethinking.

Honestly, I'm a little worn out.
1) The A/B'ing, how does interconnect A synergise with power cord B?
2) Should I upgrade my tubes?
3) Better outlets anyone?
And the list could go on and on.......

We all have these characteristics in common:
1) Want a satisfying experience when we listen.
2) Have limited time to spend on system building and this hobby. We do have families and jobs.
3) Have a certain amount of money we can devote to our systems.

I believe that given everyones audiophile budget the most musically satisfying system does exist for each person. It's seemingly impossible though to figure out where is the best place, i.e. components, cables, room treatment, conditioners and so on, to spend this money. Certainly this is what drives this hobby/obsession.

I would propose/opine that a rational way to go about it is to stick with one line of electronics and one line of cabling.

For instance Zu makes speakers and cables. BAT/Ayre make amps/pre's/cdp's. So, start there.

Any other opinions or experiences on how you handle this hobby would be appreciated.

Well, first off I do not make it a chore to do.
I use the system I have to LISTEN TO MUSIC.
IF I see an item I might want to try.. I think about it for awhile, look at the stuff being written about it, etc.
Then I let it sit on the back burners in my mind for another while. (Do I really want to bother?)
Many of my choices are limited by my own past realizations: I do not buy 'company of the month', "the latest thing", or substitutes of dubious value beyond cachet.
I try to buy products from companies with a good track record.
I only change something every few years.. that is ONE THING every few years.. (usually!!!)
anyway, I learned a LOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time ago to stop judging and being critical while listening (unless I am in the process of BUYING something)
Wasting time being critical is the worst problem audiophiles face. It is a CURSE!!!
I pretty much subscribe to Elizabeth's school of thought. The exception is I went through a significant system swap out last year that started the year before. But I view that as making up for lost time, having made virtually no changes the previous 10 years. I'm somewhat finished with that and am now just listening . . .
You could invest $29.99 in Robert Harley's Book -
Complete Guide To High-End Audio.
Now in its 3rd Edition I think..
Sorry, but I am having fun and loving my music all the while!

I'm sure the complete guide to high end will help you spend lots of money in a short time.
The only place where I have found consistency across all brands in staying with the same brand, is between preamps and power amps.

I think that a well designed source, and well designed speakers should work well with a lot of different brands.
I've been involved in this hobbie since the early 70's and I've tried many components. I've come to the realization that a very satisfying system can be put together using electronics which are 15-20+ yrs old. One thing I have found that using good/better IC's/spk. wire has made difference in bringing out the best that these Int.amps/amps/CDP/Tuners are capable of. System snergy within the size/space of the room is critical. Having used mainly Int. amps, I have not found that staying within that same brand has always been best w/regards to CDP/tuners etc. I just try to fing the best component sonically for the money. (There are some unbelieveably great sounding pieces which can be be bought for a song if you know what to look for!) Elizabeth said it very well. Try not to be overally critical and enjoy the music. Bill
Give your attention to real components. Let the so-called components find their way into your system slowly and cheaply. Listen to music and relax: it's only a record player.
Get in where ya fit in...

In other words, just start. The audio nut curse, finances, and good values will keep you moving along quite easily there after.

I set out to simply upgrade my quite good BAT VK5i preamp early this year. that was all I wanted. A newer preamp and one that was fully remote. I got one too, but with no greater functionality, just far superior sound and less money to maintain/play with. I could have quit buying stuff right then and there, the sound was that good!

Then I decided to follow a dream of having an all tube system. Low powered tubes, high eff speakers. Ditched the flea circuit notion as I quickly found out how amp & speaker specific that match needed to be.

Still I wanted all tubes and no hulking amps. While looking for tube amps I wound up buying speakers! Go figure. Then I got back onto the tube amp treadmill. Read about this, ask about that, talk, talk, talk, read, read, read, then I bought a pair of Gary Dodd's 120 wpc mono blocks. made a few tube changes to suit me, and now in just a few months have changed out all but my main source, and IMO, now have the best sounding system I've yet owned, or for the money, yet heard. New or used.

it didn't start out the way it ended up. That's all I'm saying. Now however, I have done what I should have done seven years & four system building efforts ago.

Were I to start fresh now? The "Follow your dream now to that end you are able to do it" is definitely where I would begin. Do that thing which you feel will suit your tastes best, and if the notion aint' popular, so be it!

Personally, I feel the preamp is the "BIG" deal if you're gonna use multiple sources frequently. thereafter I see sources & amps as a coin toss. the more that can be spent there yields good to great results usually... and thus being a what's up front sort, I see speakers last. Not least, just last. Usually, but apparently not always. I would recommend getting some that allow flexibility of amp usage. Good eff 90 db & up, with as even an impedance as you can obtain. Lots more paths to follow if one goes that way on speakers right off.

I've seen and had moderate performing speakers with disporportionately priced gear in front of them give outstanding results. Again popularity contests are not my bag unless I'm just dipping my toe into the waters and don't plan on keeping them forever, but who bhuys pieces as temps anyways?

It'll take a major change of perspective for me to get off the pieces I have now simply for "a change of pace". I would only make a move now to step up in quality... with what ever piece.

Cabling, IMO, is far more temporal. Till you hit the right one (s)... and if pieces change (and they will) so do the wires as a rule.

So just jump in and follow your hearts desire with good designs from the better designers/companies you'll not go far wrong, if at all.

Other than some wires, since using the Audiogone buy & try shuffle, I've bought and kept only one component that I had actually auditioned. All the pieces I went to listen to have come and gone and I'm glad of it. Weird huh?