Did you ever take a step back

and put in perhaps an old component or cable in your system and go WOW...my CJ premier 14 preamp blew the left channel the other day so I brought in a sub - my old pv10 and I must say it has been quite enjoyable. As I have upgraded everything around it since it was in service, plopping it back in has been really cool! That rounded warm textured groovy tube sound is back (OK colored). I can hear into guitar amps that sound tubed and sweet themselves, acoustic guitar floats around sweetly, man. I have been missing that texture and didn't know it.

I think for me at least I have been in search of the holy linear grail to try and bring as much realism into the room as possible and lost some of the musicality of my system. The PV10 in the system with some fairly revealing components around it has brought some real enjoyment. Now for some tube rolling, awe there I go again!
Yes but always pleased with the new. I had some problems with my 5k CDP (approx 2 yr old) and had to send it in for repair. I got back my old CDP back (approx 19 yr old) as a backup and even though at the time when I bought the new one I wasnt sure if I made a wise choice. The difference seemed so minor at the time. All I can say is I'm glad its back because now those differences were a lot more than minor.

That being said I was demoing speaker cables and did get new ones which also improved on the sound of the new player but brought out more flaws in the old one.

So I have to say yes I've taken a step back but glad I upgraded the things I did.
I'm about to.

Taking delivery tomorrow of a Lamm LL2 Deluxe preamp, which is considerably less expensive than the reference linestage that's presently installed.

I have fond memories of the LL2 Deluxe in another system configuration, so I want to hear how the LL2 Deluxe performs in my current system.

I know what you're talking about, though. Several months ago, I tried a Juicy Music Peach. $700 used. Are you kidding me? Wow...texture forever. It lacked some refinement compared to my reference preamp, so I couldn't see myself keeping the Peach as a permanent replacement, but it sure made great music.

So, I'll see what the LL2 Deluxe brings to the party.
I did, when I traded my much loved and holographic ARC LS2B for an ARC LS25.
I'm still not certain that my present ARC Ref 3 - jury still out until the hours of necessary(???) burning-in are accomplished - has all of the qualities of that much loved and much missed Line Stage.
I am wondering about the same thing from the other end. Is a step forward really worth it. I listen to arc equipment several generations old now-ref one, ph3se, classic 60. The music is very enjoyable. Despite what I read about the wonders of newer components can they really sound so much better and justify the time energy and expense involved in changing. I guess part of the answer lies in how much disposable income and free time you have to play with this hobby.
So much good sounding stuff...so many different flavors.......so little time to experience them all......
The biggest problem I have with spending long dough is the inability to audition components in my room to really determine if can get long term enjoyment on my investment. I don't have anyone around me willing to loan components, not even cables and I live in a fairly large metro area. Thank goodness for the cable company, if they have want you are interested hearing in stock.
Auditioning is a problem. However, when it comes to cables, it is a non-problem, IMO. Buy used wire. Listen. Resell. It's a zero sum game (or a very small loss...consider it a rental fee).

The same applies to electronics. Carefully buy used gear. Listen. Resell. Often, one can resell at no loss. Sometimes, one takes a small loss, but it's a minor price to pay for the ability to hear something in one's system.
If you like music, it doesn't matter what you listen to it with.
Pops, I'm in complete agreement that the search for the linear holy grail can lead you straight into a point at which there are so few things you can listen to on your system (because so little source material can stand up to a mercilessly revealing approach) that you may as well just chuck it and start over. I went over to Holland 2004-2005 with only a modest Linn Klassic system. Virtually every CD I played on it sounded at least pretty good, if not quite pleasurable. When I came back to my Wadia, Vandersteens, Audioquest cable, etc., many of my favorite CDs in Holland were suddenly unlistenable. That led to a great quest for a detailed, yet forgiving sound in a system, and virtually nothing of the old system remains. Ironically, I'm now using a CJ Prem 14 with a modified Prem 11, and liking it quite well...though I see that you stepped back further from the Prem 14. For what it's worth, I didn't like the Prem 14 until I put Mullards in it. Then it sounded really nice.
Regardless of the pieces used or their cost, its not a step back if the music sounds better afterwards.

A cheaper system with good synergy overall can outperform a way more expensive one lacking synergy.
If you like music, it doesn't matter what you listen to it with.
Markphd (Answers)

As noble as that sounds, I believe if everyone here answers honestly, we'd all admit equipment matters.

After all, this is an audiophile website, and if it weren't for the equipment, very few of us, if any, would have visited.
I like music and it matters.

I also like to see beautiful things clearly which is why I wear contact lens.
Most definitely with dig amps
Great point Tvad and I have bought and sold a few items but mostly cables. Eweedhome, I do like the premier 14 and have used Mullards but not in a long time. They warm the midrange up but are still not as sweet sounding, what I would characterize as tubey as the PV 10 with the 12AU7's. I need to look under the hood and see what brand they are, I got them from CJ many moons ago. I am also driving Thiel 3.6's, a revealing speaker to say the least. I'll get the premier 14 fixed but at least I'm in no big rush!

Also a great point Mapman and spot on!