Critical listening or a reason to keep tinkering?


Hello knowledgable ones, opinions would be appreciated. I am new to the hobby and trying to get the most out of what I have. Thanks to all the information on this forum I think I am getting close to the unobtainable perfection in my listening world. I can get chills listening to dance of the tumblers but the question is..... At what point can I, or should I, stop tinkering, spending, inventing ways to make my system sound better? The War Department is starting to question some of my purchases because she can't hear a decernable difference, when I clearly can (placebo or not!). Please help, my affliction is getting worse ($30,000 for speakers doesn't seem unreasonable now!!) I need a cure, and no, mono blocks are not the answer..... Well maybe.


inmyroom
Just accept that there will always be a faster gun, a prettier woman than your current or another war to be fought.  Stop when it feels good to you and you'll probably realize you should have stopped a few years earlier.

Thanks for acknowledging my knowledgeablenessosity.
If you can let us know what gear you own, we may be more helpful.

I have reached the point where I'm happy with my main equipment, because I can now hear real differences with just about anything I try, and I like what I hear. I may explore adding subs, but that's kinda fading as time passes. The one thing that I do have left, is to upgrade my cables that are twenty years old. BTW - My new mono blocks were the component that made the most difference.
Kenny
Everyone's situation is unique to them. I have optimized every aspect of my system, such as I can afford, without going overboard. I have reached the point where to make worthwhile improvements, a considerable amount of money would need to be spent, money I just don't have, now that I'm retired.

Other necessities come into play, a new roof, heating system, etc. You have to work within your own set of priorities, but, if you're lucky, or careful, you may find exactly what you need before running out of money or WAF.

Good luck on that last one.

Regards,
Dan 
Dan presented a very good and wise perspective that based on genuine experience. Is your goal realistic and emotionally involving music listening experience or is it the quest for "perfect " sound?  This is what must be determined as the pathways are very distinct. If you become obsess with achieving perfect sound you risk the possibility of never being fully satisfied with what you have. In my opinion there is no such thing as perfect sound regardless of how much you spend or how devoted your search may be. 

On the other hand seeking a system that provides pure  listening joy, emotion with an emphasis on your music is very obtainable. You can do this with the realization that "best" component or perfect sound isn't the objective, just deep lisstening satisfaction and appreciation of music you love. Two different routes. My 2 cents worth. 
Charles,  
Spend more on your music library than your system.
Different parts of my system have evolved at different paces and have reached varying degrees of completeness in the sense that you are asking about. For example, over the past 20 years, I went from moderately inexpensive monitor speakers to moderately inexpensive floor standing full range speakers to high end expensive monitors paired with a high end sub to finally a pair of high end expensive floor standing full range speakers.  The loud speakers in my system are now where I want them to be, there is nothing missing, they leave me wanting for nothing more.  Audio happiness!  Ok sure, if I find myself with a winning lotto ticket, I may move up the line in the speaker I have now, but for all practical purposes (even audiophile purposes), there is no reason for me to change my speakers.  I feel that they have reached that sweet spot in my auditory expectations and their place on the diminishing returns price ladder.  I have a similar story and similar feeling with my power conditioner, power cables, phono cartridge, and amplifiers.  There are a few areas of the system where I feel less of this level of completeness.  My speaker and interconnect cables for example, have evolved, but still seem to be holding me back.  I feel the same about my tonearm and to a limited degree (compounded by its technological nature) my DAC.

My suggestion is to try to tap into this feeling of completeness, a philosophical appreciation of what your system does and doesn't do.  If you can get a handle on that, hopefully you will change a component when it needs changing and be satisfied with the components that do so much to bring that sonic smile to your lips. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
In the infinite, well, almost continuum of sound quality, no I'm not talking about measured performance but the *perceived* performance, how it sounds to you, there needs to be some method of figuring out where in the wide wide world of sports your system stacks up.  it's worth trying to find a system of high performance, one that is significantly higher performance than yours so you can contrast and compare your system.  Only then can you have something to shoot for. Otherwise you're just shooting blanks in the dark.  If it's any consolation, there is no standard for sound quality, perceived sound quality.  There are no limits except those you bring with you.
You said, "Thanks to all the information on this forum I think I am getting close to the unobtainable perfection in my listening world."
You are likely showing naivety in this matter due only to inexperience. The levels of improvement are endless, quite literally. There are dozens upon dozens of significant, powerful changes to systems, and they don't stop coming if one wishes to pursue them. Even when one has spent $100K on a rig there are many levels of sound improvement available. The escalator of sound quality reaches a goodly number of upper floors. 

One alternative is to pursue variety rather than chase "The One," as though there is a perfect rig out there. Even cheap alternative components with adjustments to the system can provide a relaxing variety which is tremendously gratifying. It allows changing things but not with severe escalating prices. As a System Builder I love this aspect of the hobby, and it is as valid as Mediaphiles who amass media. But, you can pick your "level" of expenditure to operate within. 

I strongly suggest you make a habit to have agreement with your wife on any changes. If she is uncomfortable with them, do not do them. The marriage is far more important than any system. You can find many pieces of gear to satisfy curiosity at all price points. But broken trust or losing love for unilateral decisions is far too expensive a price to pay for such things. If you keep to a certain price point you can still make changes which likely your wife will hear and appreciate (if she cares beyond protecting the budget or together time). 

Read a book while listening. Distract your analytical side. It works for me. When I do not wish to be critical, I relax and meld listening with other activity. 




Some people simply love to listen to music out of a very inexpensive small system while others get into the expensive system.
Sometimes as you are learning part of the hobby and fun is various types of upgrades and/or tweaks.
Stay within your budget and do lots of research before making a purchase.
Those posts above in this forum make a lot of sense.
Lastly check the internet in your local area for an Audiophile Annomus Group and if you find one please post the website for the rest of us ;-)!
OP-

what gear, including cables/cords, is in your system?
I agree with what @geoffkait says...go and find some other systems to create a contrast to your current rig. It could help to ease the "paranoia" :)

I’ve heard some setups that I thought were great..after several upgrades of my own, I go back and listen to some of those setups and some seem fatiguiging, dull even.

I’ve even heard some systems that on paper should sound terrific but did not please me. Sometimes they were what I thought was too technical and bright. Maybe this does sound great to some but didn’t do it for my ears..I came away with an assurance that I like my sound and the upgrades I have made along the way.

So so many factors to consider. Maybe you have a killer setup but your room or placement needs work.

if I think my setup sounds better, it’s not because it is, it’s just because that’s what does it for me.
Agree with bdp24, more music.

As audiophiles, we have an inherent drive (maybe NEED) to analyze, tweak, and pursue. Average just won’t do for most of us. And that’s fine—but it’s preciously easy to get carried away. That’s why it’s smart to have your priorities and expectations set before jumping in. I didn’t have my priorities set. At least not at first. I was on the component-of-the-month merry-go-round for a long time, and as exhilarating as it seemed at the time, in the end it wasn’t very rewarding. And it cost me a LOT. I have no illusions that the rig I have now is the end-all/be-all, but I put it together relatively slowly and intelligently, guided by firm goals and helped by a manufacturer friend of mine, and it has proved its worth over the long haul. It’s lasted by far the longest of any of my systems. 

BTW, I echo the suggestion to buy more music. That always makes me less anxious about audio stuff.