Emotional rollercoaster

I think I've been slowly improving my system over years. Starting with garage sale finds and tip finds to eBay and ultimately spending serious dollars on some decent amplification and speakers. I was even going to post recently about how the journey has been worth it.
Then this afternoon I tested an old Akai AA-5200 that I'd retrieved from under my ex's house (left it there 8 or so years ago) and I connected it to some old magnat 10p speakers I picked up for about $40 ages ago.... and behold.... I was listening to about $60 of hi-fi equipment that sounded extraordinarily nice and made me wonder why I'd spent a hundred and fifty times that much "improving" my main system over the years. 
It's left me disillusioned and fragile. Is spending big bucks a sham. Where have I gone wrong. It's an emotional rollercoaster. Help.

Think of it . What is music made of . Apart from the obvious which is sound it has tempo , rhythm with melodies , submelodies . All this with a particular tone .
If you can get the playback equipment to play the elements that make up music you'll have a musical system . The capability of comunicating these element does not have anything to do with the price of the equipment but rather the synergy between the parts .

During my life I've had small portable transistor radio capable of comunicating these elements and heard thousands of dollars worth of equipment that has left me cold . 
Its not that expensive equipment sound bad in its ability to comunicate music , they can sound great but the fact that its expensive does not garantee excellence in comunicating music . 

We of course play a role in all of this . Many lose sight that its all about the music and get so involved buying and changing equipment that they end up spending thousands looking for something and never finding it . 
This mentality makes certain audiophile easy prey for unsrcupulous dealers who know that you don't have to spend tens of thousands in order to enjoy good music replay .

You seem to have stumble upon a good combination that makes music , thats great but in the event have learn a valuble lesson . 

"British magazines had comparison tests of speakers. I am not sure how believable they were and if they ever had high end"

In my experience they were never high end. No one does high end group tests - for anything. It can’t be for lack of interest, can it?

Hi-Fi World (prob the most quirkiest of the bunch), Hi-Fi Choice, Hi-Fi News (best for vintage gear) and What Hi-Fi? (though I’m not too sure if this one is an audio magazine - nice pictures though!) all do feature the odd loudspeaker group test.

These are always current flavour of the month budget designs. You’ll find never a top model from the likes of B&W, Harbeth, Monopulse, Kerr, Spendor, ATC, Tannoy etc featured in a group test - let alone anything from abroad or the pro audio market.

They will also never include a familiar classic design such as the Quad ESL, LS3/5, Spendor BC1 etc for comparison.

In a word or two these tests are mostly useless. At least for any meaningful critical evaluation purposes.

As entertainment, they have their purposes. Ken Kessler for example, in person or in print, is always interesting.

When it comes to sound quality, some of the reviews here on Audiogon are far more relevant.

In fact it was initially stumbling on something that @prof had written about his Thiel CS3.7s timbral and textural qualities that led me to sign up here.

Here was someone posting online on a forum about essential sonic qualities that hardly any journalist had ever considered worth writing about!!

The only one exception I was aware of was the one and only Harvey Rosenberg.

I guess, like most of us, the best we can all hope for is that our words are of some help or interest to others out there.

So yes, my thanks too to @mid-fi-crisis for sharing his experiences. I’m certain they could be of great benefit to those still at the lower end of the audio ladder.

Or is it just a never-ending merry-go-round?
another plus one for room acoustics. I have large 38X22 room and a high end system well tweaked and some room treatments such as in front of speakers and first reflections that I can get away with in a family room. Sounds really good. We are having wood floors put into 3 upstairs bedrooms rooms at the moment so all that extra furniture, mattresses etc is now crammed in my listening room, resulting in even more absorption and diffusion, and guess what - sounds even better!
@millercarbon " Money is just the very crude indicator we use as a substitute for performance. Its a crutch. Its not really the cost that matters, its the performance. As long as everything performs at about the same level then your odds of finding magic go way up."

Chuck, couldn't agree more.

I have spent considerable time, energy and treasure building stereos.
Interestingly, I have always been satisfied with the result. You may ask "If the first one was that good why move on?". The answer is as simple as the stages of life we all go through. But my tastes and desires have not changed in 50 years as far as stereo/music are concerned.

I'm not on another upgrade path....this is it, the last rodeo, just like every other time. Time to sit back and and reap what I have sown.

Music is not the first thing, it's the only thing.  

'I'm not on another upgrade path....this is it, the last rodeo, just like every other time. Time to sit back and and reap what I have sown.'

Yes, but what if a loudspeaker finally comes along that does most things right?

Texture, timbre, dynamics, bandwidth, dispersion, vanishingly low distortion esp through the 'presence' zone.

What if it can also pull off that all-important disappearing act too?

I guess we'd have to start saving up!

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