Biggest bucks = Satifaction? Hmmmmm...

With a self-classification as "rookie", "newbie", or, best yet, "audio ignoramus", I ponder the signifigant satisfaction fellow members have enjoyed (or failed such) with their highest dollar acquisitions.

Before "The Fever" got me, my biggest buy was a $1k Kenwood rack system bought from Circuit City (jeez, I hated that salesman...but it was Circuit City or Sears, can you blame me?) 10 years ago. That system was fine until I heard a MacIntosh at the local high end shop (just by chance - I buy my CDs there). I was blown away, not just by the sound, but by the cost factor as well. I knew I had to start upgrading, so over the past two years I have, in my humble opinion, built a fine beginner system. My highest dollar buy has been a pair of B&W CDM9NTs, and even though I paid full retail for them, they have rewarded my expenditure twenty-fold, delight to the point that they rank very low on my near-future upgrade list.

How about you? What single audio component most severely damaged your pocketbook, and was it worth it?

Cheers, Steve...
My speakers are my largest expenditure and my most rewarding investment as well. They will be very difficult to upgrade. I do look every year at CES for candidates, but have yet to be tempted. Mine are the Soundlab Ultimate Ones, currently retail for $29,700.00.
Speakers for me, too. I've got Talon Audio Khorus'. I bought them used at a good price, but they still set me back quite a bit.

I'd love to hear Albert's Soundlabs. We've got to plan an Audiogon BBQ at his place one of these weekends. ;-)
I think speakers are going to take the cake here. Hands down. My upgrade from Paradigm Studio Monitors (yeah... the "Originals", not the newer, "Reference" crap! What a waste of R&D) to NHT 3.3's. That was a nice step up. Demo's for $2K. Not a megabucks upgrade, but definitely the most pleasurable.
I have the Paradigm Reference crap. The Studio 80 v-1's (floor demos) to be exact.Crap sounds pretty damn good to my ears! And yes, I gave you the negative hits.Watch what you say about other peoples choices here.Lots of people feel NHT is crap too but to each their own.The Paradigm Reference series has received awesome reviews,as have many NHT speakers.Peace!
As to the question regarding this thread.My Rogue Audio 99 preamp (new) with phono and NOS Russian 6SN7 line stage tubes and NOS Telefunken and Radiotechnique phono stage tubes and BDR Racing cones #4's for it to sit on hurt the pocket book profoundly and keeps me driving a Hyandai Excel :( I want an older classic black BMW!!!
I agree with David double 9. When I was selling Paradigm a dealer down the road sold NHT. I lost count of how many people traded in their NHTs for Paradigm.I was underwelmed by the first series Reference, The series 2 was a whole different animal..They were a product that really sold themselves. You could put the Studio 100s up against speakers costing 4-5 grand...and we did. 70% bought the Paradigms. And almost all of them were looking for speakers in the 4-5grand range.
ML 32. I am not sure whether it was a good thing that I bought it though. That thing is so good and refined, I started having doubts about rest of my stuff - primarily power amp & speakers. It's predecessor - KRC-HR is no slouch either, but, 32, IMHO is a class of its own.

So Stereophile is on the money...all audiophiles secretly wish to drive BMW's!

As to what made the most profound changes to my system, I'd have to say my VansEvers PLC. Pretty cheap too, compared to other stuff bandied about.
If gear, equipment, hardware, etc. call it what you will fascinates you, you will probably also want to drive BMW's.
Biggest satisfaction was with the Rega Brio and JPW Millenium 510 speakers with rega speaker cable as my 'second system'. Inexpensive equipment but really great sound per what I spent. I spend as much time with my second cheapo system as I do with my higher-fi rig.
The most expensive piece I bought for my system, both retail and what I paid for it, is my Jadis JP80 preamp. It has paid for itself many times over in musical enjoyment.
This year I upgraded to all Krell: FPB300, KRC-HR, and a KAV1500 for my H/T. It was very expensive and very satisfying! I replaced all Classe equipment: CA300, CP-60 preamp. It forced me to upgade the other components as well.
Avalon Acoustics....need I say anything more. Anyone who has a pair can say loudly and proudly they are the most expensive component in there system. I am sure there are other's here that will agree(right kelly), though like most have said above worth every penny, it is a damn good thing this stuff is legal or we would be the biggest junkies out there. Cheers, Tim The Tire Guy
tim: you're mostly right. up until two weeks ago, my avalon eidolons in myrtle cluster burl were the most expensive component i owned. then i got the rockport technologies system III serius turntable and tonearm ($73,750 msrp). i haven't played any lp's on it yet. all i can do is stare in wonder at the gorgeous thing and ask myself, over and over, whether it was worth my soul. what'll i do if a system IV is produced? -kelly
What cartridge do you plan to put on the Rockport Kelly, or do you already have one? Did you get the base and the Rowland power supply?
albert: you mean to say this thing didn't come with a needle? man, i'm really screwed. -kelly
Kelly, I didn't mean to needle you.
My speakers were also my farthest reach. But as all others have concurred, it was very much worth it. I was a little dismayed when I brought the boxes into my living room. They were so very small compared to the $3,500. I can't imagine ever getting rid of these Dynaudio 1.3 Se's. The thought of upgrading to something better makes me wonder what better is going to cost me though. Dale
Wilson Watt/Puppy's 6.0! Wife has left me (although i think spekers were just a pretext) and bankrupcy lawyer is next...! Was it worth it? Yeahhh!