Have I Hit The Point Of Diminishing Returns?


System ... Musical Fidelity Nu Vista CD, Bat VK-3i Preamp, Musical Fidelity A300cr power amp, Magnum Dynalab MD-102 Tuner, B&W N804 speakers, Cardas Golden Reference speaker (bi-wire) and ICs. I realize my rig is a bit dated, but it sounds great. If I were to upgrade, how much better could it get? Have I hit the point of diminishing returns where a lot more $$ gets only a small % increase in sound quality? If not, what component would you suggest upgrading and why? Thanks to all.
rlb61
well sort of .... but not exactly "diminishing returns " but rather a new level of "constant returns".

With a quality kit like you now have, you have reached/ will reach your new upgrade point level. It will now be subservient to that time-honored and inalienable rule that your next "upgraditis" will fall into an inverse trap generally known as the "Rule of fifths"

You have to start shelling out approximately five times the present cost to get the next 20% increase in performance.

That is why this hobby is a journey and not a finite destination.
I've always found Cardas to be very colored try some cables that "get out of the way more". Also, I love the electronics you have. You could always look at changing speakers...Unless you really love those B&W's.I would look at some Dynaudio C1's, or the Contour series. Dynaudios love power! I think you are correct that It will take some $$ to better what you have and its probably not that better. I would add vinyl, this would open a new world and your wallet! LOL.
I totally agree with Mattmiller....tried all the Cardas permutations, and they all don't work in my system....I exchanged my B&W's for Vandersteen and am still smiling after all these years.
No, you have not hit he point of diminishing returns, not even close! There are many, many levels/steps of quality and dozens remain above where you are now.

I am not saying this to belittle your system; you have great gear and I'm sure it is great sounding. However, the steps of improvement are literally endless. In my system also I do not see the finish line, that is, at a level which cannot be improved. Regularly I have dramatic improvements and have for years.

I strongly disagree with the perspective that you must spend multiples more to achieve a 20% change in sound quality. I would nearly reverse it, and suggest that in trying many different components you can achieve a seeming "100% improvement" in not all that much increase in cost, perhaps twice what you would get for the sale of any given component. i.e. sell for $1K, add $2K = $3K new component. And that is potentially at the upside of what you might have to spend. This is because there is a HUGE variance in component quality from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Example: Some of the new DACs are mind-blowing in terms of improvement of digital quality sound, and you can have these for nowhere near nosebleed prices. The new DSD capable DACs are "affordable" as considered to be truly High End, where some components are priced by the multiple thousands.

I encourage you to do some shopping/listening and experiment with your rig. My experience is that the "point of diminishing returns" is perceptual, not actual. And, yes, changing cables, for instance, will alter the rigs sound most likely in a profound way.
I don't think it has that much to do with money, but it certainly could end up that way. You are in a position now where you have your system tuned you your tastes and you enjoy it. I wouldn't think in terms of "better", but instead, think of "what would I have to do to get more enjoyment from my system". IMO, you would need to home demo components and cables individually to see if they really make you want to listen more or less. A supposedly better component might upset the balance of your system and diminish the listening experience for you. It would also be an idea to speak with a good dealer and let him make some recommendation based on your taste and existing system. A good dealer can do this - a box mover is just going to try to sell you what they want to move, so be selective. Good luck.
We all have - long ago.

Here's a bug in the ear suggestion. Take it for what it's worth to you.

Grace Design M920 w/remote --- $2300
Neumann KH310 active monitors - $4450
Balanced cables of choice --- $ 500
------------------------------------
TOTAL $7250

You can use your tuner as before and use your CD as a transport. Mission accomplished. You will never look back.
You know that it has been written many times before that the latest gear is not necessarily the better sounding gear - most often it's just different sounding gear & at other times it's worse sounding.
You electronics is all good stuff. I'm not a fan of B&W anymore but if you like the sonics then I'd suggest keeping it.
The thing about B&W is that it needs a lot of current to make those speakers come alive. So, from my personal B&W experience, I'm going to say that you are perceiving hitting a ceiling with this gear simply because you do not have sufficient power for the N804. If you can manage it budget-wise I would recommend getting a high current amp - even a class-D power amp. Something with outrageous output power - I'm thinking 400W/ch.
I was never a fan of Cardas cables - too rolled off for me. I believe that this is not helping either. Several inexpensive but supposedly very good sounding brands to try such as Morrow Audio, Signal Cable.
FWIW.
I wouldn't so lightly dismiss Cardas as "rolled off", as if that's a bad thing. From what I see, many, if not most of the complaints here concern bright or forward systems. Many audiophiles fall into the same trap - they construct these "accurate" systems and then bitch about the brightness. It's a delicate balancing act. The room has a lot to do with it as well. If you're in a big room and sitting pretty far from the speakers, a more neutral "better highs" cable may be the thing to balance out the degree of softening the room may have. But if you're sitting 8 feet away from the speakers, those cables/components may tear your head off. This is not a simple thing and you have to let your ears be the judge. There's an old saying - the more you open the window, the more garbage flies in. That's why I'm saying that upgrading has to be done carefully and preferably with the help of someone who knows the gear and whose ears you trust.
Interesting views. My power amp is 225 wpc dual mono, so I THINK it's powerful enough, but I could be wrong. Love how the B&Ws and Cardas sound in this system, although I agree that they may not work in some other systems. Essentially, there seem to be two opposing points of view: (a) marginally "different" sound can be had for a significant price, but it may not be "better" sound or worth the money; and (b) it is possible to achieve 100% improved sound for a reasonable cost, but is component/system synergy dependent. Confusing, no doubt. BTW, my new listening room is a sucky 12x12x8, but I have treated it with GIK Acoustics products which have helped tremendously.
Looking at your system description leads me to ask if you are connecting the Velodyne sub at speaker-level or at line-level. If you are connecting it at line-level you could undoubtedly realize a significant improvement, at minimal cost, by connecting at speaker level.

I say that because, as I mentioned in another recent thread in which you also participated, the output impedance of your BAT preamp rises to very high levels at deep bass frequencies. The input impedance of the line-level inputs of your Velodyne sub doesn't appear to be specified, but typically powered subs have relatively low impedances on those inputs, which would result in significant deep bass rolloff when driven by your preamp. Reproduction of higher frequencies by the main speakers could be adversely affected as well, if the sub is loading the outputs of the preamp.

Regards,
-- Al
Al - I sold the Velodyne and am running the B&Ws full range. Sounds much better ... I will revise my system description.
I think you need to isolate what you are trying to achieve. It's a small room, so you can only do so much. For example, one could be looking for more realism in the human voice, more bass impact, better sound at lower volume, etc. You can't just walk into this without a goal. In my experience, the biggest part of the puzzle is finding a pair of speakers that work in your room. When you find it, it's an amazing upgrade. The bad part is - IMO, this is nothing but trial and error and there's no way to predict the speaker that's going to work best. It's like the errors in the room combine with the errors in the speaker to somehow work out. My current speakers were fairly expensive (for me) and I wouldn't buy them without a home audition. Fortunately, it worked out great. But if you like those B&Ws, you could probably buy a used Harbeth SHL5 and sell them at minimal if any loss. I think that might be an alternative.
Go out and listen to as many systems as you can. Join an audio society, attend some hifi shows, and listen to some friends systems. This will give you a better idea of what is possible. You may not hear one system that does it all but you will certainly hear things that can be improved upon in your system.
Yes, you past the point of diminishing returns as soon as you go past your first boombox. The laws of diminishing returns hit early and hard, just as in any other hobby. A $10,000 watch is not 1000 times better than a $10 watch. Same goes for audio gear.

You have stated twice that you are very happy with the sound of your system. My advice would be to buy more music and just enjoy it. Don't let others spend your money for you, unless you are just dying to throw money around. If you are happy, there is no need to seek out unhappiness.

Cheers,
John
John - Thanks for that. I was just curious as to how much
better it could get versus cost. Perhaps I've got
"upgradeitis." However, to pay a significant amount
for a de minimis improvement or difference in sound, makes
little sense to me. It just may be time to get off the roller
coaster and focus on the music rather than the gear; being a
gear geek, that's not so easy.
+1 Doug Schroeder. Best of Luck
My listening room is nearly identical to yours and I recently tried something that made me sit up and say whoa.
I set my system in a diagonal configuration after reading this. The increase in soundstage depth alone was worth the effort. But honestly, as far as I can tell there were improvements in every sonic attribute of the system. And yes, my room has significant treatment going on.
If your system is movable you really should give it a try. I'm usually not much of a fanatic but I am a convert and am spreading the word.
Rlb61,
You've gotten two very different perspectives from Jmcgrogan2 and Doug Schroder. You specifically state that your system sounds "great". If it does truly sound that satisfying for you then John's comments are more applicable in your situation. It would make sense to avoid the High End merry go round and upgrade mentality. Expand your music library and continue to enjoy the great sound you've achieved. What is the goal or target if you do decide to upgrade from what's already great sound?
Charles,
I agree with John and Charles. In this hobby the word "dated" is irrelevant. Just listen to some great vintage gear
What John says is true, but if a particular switch or upgrade is worth it to you then that is all that matters.
Charles - yes, I think you're right. I was curious as to price/performance ratio after one gets to a certain point in the "journey." Perhaps I have a case of "upgrade-itis," but it is dissipating quickly. After asking myself the question you posed, I couldn't come up with a rational answer. I think that, in and of itself, speaks volumes.
Rlb61,
You're happy with your sound. If you read many posts on this site you'll realize some folks never seem to reach that point. Thus the constant and frustrating "upgrade" pathway.I'm not suggesting nothing can be improved upon, but what's being improved? Clear objectives would need to be solidly determined/defined.
A thought to consider: Rather than fixing what doesn't seem to be broken (i.e., "upgrading"), consider adding a high quality pair of headphones and a headphone amplifier. I find having both speakers and headphones available (Stax electrostatics, in my case) to be nicely complementary. For several reasons:

1)Having two (very different) sonic perspectives adds interest from a musical standpoint.

2)Headphone listening takes the room, the speakers, the power amp, and most of the preamp circuitry out of the picture (assuming the headphone amp is connected to the preamp's tape outputs), which can be helpful in diagnosing system issues and/or providing reassurance when audiophilia nervosa strikes.

3)Headphones, of course, can make it possible to listen when listening via speakers would disturb others in the household.

Just a thought. Regards,
-- Al
07-27-14: Rlb61
Interesting views. My power amp is 225 wpc dual mono, so I THINK it's powerful enough, but I could be wrong.
For B&W speakers it's not only about Watts/ch - it's about how much current the amplifier can provide to this particular brand of speakers. B&W are well-known to love high-current amplifiers.
I searched hard on the internet to find some A300CR specs but all I could find was A300 & A3CR specs. In particular I was trying to back-calculate the size of the A300CR transformer & the amount of current it could provide.
B&W speakers have a terrible impedance & phase curve in the low freq which gives most amps a lot of trouble because the amp is forced to output a lot more current than what the impedance-only curve informs you.
If you look at purely watts, you might be OK but you probably are shy on output current & that might be limiting you. FWIW.
Bombaywalla - Here are the specs from the manual:

225 wpc into 8 ohms

THD @ 100watts, 1 kHz < 0.005%

Frequency response - 10Hz- 20 kHz +/- 0.1dB
10Hz -100 kHz +/-1.5dB

Channel separation - Immeasurable - below noise floor

Input sensitivity - 1400mV for 225 watts output

Input impedance - 31 kOhm

S/N ratio ref. 225 watts output - > 110dB unweighted
> 120dB 'A' weighted

Power consumption - 1150W Max

Your help on this would be most appreciated. Thanks.
Thanks Rlb61.
I surfed the web last night again to see if I could get some dope on this amp but it was hard to find anything. So I'm still guessing at the input power transformer size.
Looking at the A300 amp profile I'm thinking it's a 1KVA transformer.
if so, then, I calculate something like 11Amps/channel. Further, you have the plus & minus rails so each rail gets 5.5Amps. That's a very low amount of current to make a floor-standing B&W really sing. You'll get pretty OK sonics using such an amp but the speaker is capable of much more which could be unleashed by using an amp that has a 2KVA or higher power transformer (which would double the current output). Now you are talking of an amp that it pretty tall - like 10" tall - and much more expensive.
Class-D amps get you high current in a smaller chassis & for fairly reasonable price.
Unfortunately, that's the nature of the (B&W) beast.

one serious thing to consider is to passive dual-amp (I'm not using the term bi-amp as bi-amping implies xternal x-over) using a high-current, low-impedance capable, reasonably priced class-D amp to drive the bass (you've biwired them so they have 2 pairs of binding posts). Then, 225W/ch of the A300CR should be plenty for the highs & mids. FWIW.
Bombaywalla - Thank you so much for your effort and advice. It is appreciated greatly.
You can make price-wise lateral moves and maybe find a sound that really is quite nice. It is all about synergy. For instance I run a Rogue Cronus Magnum with Lessloss original power cord, Tekton Lore speakers fed by Clear Day shotgun speaker cable,DAC is the Metrum Octave with Tel Wire power cord, Digital cable is the Stereo Vox Ultra II,and cable from the DAC to Rogue is Audience AU24. All power is plugged into a BPT power strip fed by Lessloss original and Audience AR1P wall power conditioner into a Furutech outlet.It has taken several years to find the synergy in these components. Except for the Tel Wire power cord most of these items are reasonably price new or used on Audiogon

Sounds super at all volume levels and plays loud.
+1 Doug Schroeder.

Yes, you past the point of diminishing returns as soon as you go past your first boombox.
I disagree! Once one experience what's available, they will upgrade or change. Sometimes it's good NOT to know what's available.
The laws of diminishing returns hit early and hard, just as in any other hobby. A $10,000 watch is not 1000 times better than a $10 watch. Same goes for audio gear.
Nobody buy $10,000 watches to keep time but an accessory or enjoys collecting them. Same with cars ... The equivalent in audio is always on a journey and never reaching a destination ... enjoy cycling through gear.

Bottom line is if you are happy with you system, just enjoy the music and stop worrying about upgrading.
Joecasey, do you understand what the law of diminishing returns means? I never said that spending more money would not improve a system sonically, most times it does. However, it is not on a linear scale. A $20,000 system does not sound twice as good as a $10,000 system. It's more of a logarithmic scale, which would indicate that there is diminishing returns on money spent.

I have listened to many systems priced from $2,000 to $500,000. Yes, the $500,000 system was great, but it wasn't twice as good as the $2,000 system. It could have been....if the $2,000 system was defective, or poorly assembled. Obviously, YMMV.
Have you ever spent time with a good tube and analog system?
Jmcgrogan2, I guess I didn't clearly state my position.

I don't believe in point Of Diminishing Returns. It all depends on the individual component, system and how badly you want it. All subjective.

If I prefer the $500,000 over the $2,000 system, then it's worth it. Who knows and who cares if it's 2X, 20X, 100X ... superior. How do you measure it?
Take this advice for what it's worth-
i have a much bigger and more expensive system than you do, and it sounds
very very good. but... i still look around at new gear and would love to check it out anyway. but other than a nicer looking pair of speakers or some other aesthetically attractive component, there is no SONIC rationale for spending any more money. once you have a combination of "sweetness" and functionality, you're essentially done. OTOH, you "can" get a more "startling super-realistic" sound that sweeps you away, but it could also get tiring after awhile, or reveal
subtle flaws in source material you were better off not knowing about.
a system should help you relax and enjoy the sound. Funny, when i had a mid-fi
set-up years ago (SAE-2 electronics, a Thorens turntable, and ADS speakers, cheap wire) I was strangely happy. BTW, this was before those cursed CD's came
along and replaced vinyl in the record stores.
08-06-14: Truemaineiac
Have you ever spent time with a good tube and analog system?

I assume you are talking to me? If so, yes, my whole system is tube based, phono stage, preamp and amp, and vinyl is my primary source.

My point is simply this: I have owned $125K system previously, but due to economics, I have cut back and I am currently running about a $30K system. Was the previous $125K system better? Yes. However, if one were to try and quantify the difference, which I agree Joecasey is ludicrous and ridiculous, there is no way the $125K system was even twice as good. I would say maybe 10-20% better....for 4X the cost. That, in my humble opinion, reflects the point of diminishing returns.

I have also heard quite a few less expensive systems, and the only way something sounds twice as good, regardless of price, is if one of the systems is defective. Now I know that many folks will quantify improvements they have made in their systems over the years, this was a 5% improvement, that was a 10% improvement, heck, I even used to do that myself. However, after disassembling my $125K rig and going back downstream did I realize that those dozens and dozens of 5-20% improvements I heard over the years were mostly imaginary. Since I could scale back to less than 25% of the cost and only lose a small percentage of performance. I was quite stunned actually, to find out just how good a much less expensive system could sound.
Jmcgrogan2, no I was referring my question to the OP. I should elaborate that in my experience, going to tubes and vinyl was a game changer in bringing up many levels of enjoyment. There are too many threads regarding the virtues and trade-offs of this approach to elaborate here, but it would be worth at least casual investigation if someone's exposure was limited.

I think that a really highly capable system can be had for the $30K level you mention if you can find the right used components.
I personally do not nor have nor ever had the ability in assigning a numeric value to an increase in performance. It either is one of two things

1) a lateral move, maybe different but not and improvement but may initially be perceived as an improvement because it's different.
2) an improvement that can vary from small but noticable to substantial but is quite apparent.

I have had conversations with a manufacturer that places a numeric value on the % of improvement he has made on his products. He actually told me that I could expect a 135% improvement over what I had to what the current model was. I think he just added up these improvements over the years and came up with that number but it meant absolutely nothing to me other than I could expect a BIG improvement.

The law of diminishing returns to me is when you aren't gaining more enjoyment listening to music through upgrades even though they may be improvements. I don't believe there is any way to quantify it or measure it. At some point, different for some than others, it simply comes down to whether or not it is worth spending the money for the gain. When the point is reached where spending more isn't worth it, if ever (we are audiophiles after all), the law of diminishing returns has arrived.

As far as your system goes RlB61 only you can answer that question. If you are throughly enjoying the music your system makes it might be better to leave it alone until that stops happening. If you are not satisfied about something and are distracted because something doesn't sound right you have NOT hit the point of diminishing returns.
The law of diminishing returns to me is when you aren't gaining more enjoyment listening to music through upgrades even though they may be improvements. I don't believe there is any way to quantify it or measure it. At some point, different for some than others, it simply comes down to whether or not it is worth spending the money for the gain. When the point is reached where spending more isn't worth it, if ever (we are audiophiles after all), the law of diminishing returns has arrived.

As far as your system goes RlB61 only you can answer that question. If you are throughly enjoying the music your system makes it might be better to leave it alone until that stops happening. If you are not satisfied about something and are distracted because something doesn't sound right you have NOT hit the point of diminishing returns.
Thanks Tubegroover, this is what I was TRYING to articulate but failed miserably. :-)
I realize my rig is a bit dated, but it sounds great.

It sounds great until you hear something better. Try a new dac. The Chord Hugo opened up my eyes/ears.
If you can't articulate what if anything bothers you about your system, you are at a loss to "improve"it. Take your money to Fidelity and have them invest it for you.
08-07-14: Stringreen
If you can't articulate what if anything bothers you about your system, you are at a loss to "improve"it. Take your money to Fidelity and have them invest it for you.
You talking to me? Read the WHOLE thread before offering advice. You're in the WRONG context.

BTW, I have 3 brokerage accounts investing all the $$ MYSELF. Otherwise all I can afford is Anti-Cables.
Joecasey - it appears to me that Stringreen was addressing the originator of the thread, not you. Perhaps if you read the whole thread and allowed for the possibility that it was not all about you, the same opinion would have kept you from embarrassing yourself.
As for this elusive point of diminishing returns that has a number of you stumbling all over yourselves with absolution and compensatory illogic, here is the hard to swallow truth:

Once you have purchased and installed a basic system that conveys the sounds to you intelligibly, you have reached the point of diminishing returns. If you choose to follow the audiophile nonsense beyond that point, you have voluntarily entered a place where your further investment is rewarded at a lower rate. This puts you on a curve whereon you receive ever less for your dollar as you progress. Whether you feel justly rewarded by your outlay or not, does not alter the economic reality of what you have done from an investment standpoint. Philosophical renderings aside, you have not invested well. Now, of course, the option to pay more money for less improvement is an option afforded the hobbyist and it could be argued that act defines the word " hobby". Who could argue that point?
So, I would submit that what I said earlier stands. We all passed the point of diminishing returns long ago. The question now is: Do you care? And each of us will have to answer that one for ourselves. It would seem that none of us cares enough to stop - so that means do whatever the hell floats your boat now and keep a bucket handy for bailing.
Personally, I have an eye toward downsizing. Reading online audio threads has me believing I am not alone in that thinking. In other words, I am interested in moving backwards toward the original diminishing returns threshold. Anyone else? O.P.?
08-08-14: Macrojack
Joecasey - it appears to me that Stringreen was addressing the originator of the thread, not you. Perhaps if you read the whole thread and allowed for the possibility that it was not all about you, the same opinion would have kept you from embarrassing yourself.
Macrojack, Perhaps you should allow the possibility it was addressed to me and not embarrass yourself? I can't ask Stringreen to clarify? As you can see, I have an insecurity problem.
I was pretty sure I was at the point of diminishing returns until I plugged in a pair High Fidelity interconnects. Those cables are the real deal.
Macrojack, I agree with you on your position concerning diminishing return in audio. If one wants to make improvements on a current system, the desired outcome need to be defined and addressed.
Once you have purchased and installed a basic system that conveys the sounds to you intelligibly, you have reached the point of diminishing returns. If you choose to follow the audiophile nonsense beyond that point, you have voluntarily entered a place where your further investment is rewarded at a lower rate. This puts you on a curve whereon you receive ever less for your dollar as you progress. Whether you feel justly rewarded by your outlay or not, does not alter the economic reality of what you have done from an investment standpoint. Philosophical renderings aside, you have not invested well. Now, of course, the option to pay more money for less improvement is an option afforded the hobbyist and it could be argued that act defines the word " hobby". Who could argue that point?

Excellent post Macrojack. I also agree with your first paragraph. No way Stringreen was addressing Joecasey. I'd bet one of my four "brokerage accounts" on it. Sheesh.
20k upgrade would be good.
Excellent post Macrojack. I also agree with your first paragraph. No way Stringreen was addressing Joecasey. I'd bet one of my four "brokerage accounts" on it. Sheesh.
Hey Timmy, sure you can afford to lose your lunch money?
The point of diminishing returns starts with your very first system. I have always belived in the doubling rule, you need to double the price to get a clear audible improvement. It's a crude generalisation I know.

I have another suggestion. If you have a system you like, try to improve what you have. It's depressing I know, but you need to factor in tweaks to system cost. Unfortunately, price matters hear too, you seem to need to spend a significant amount for a good improvement. Here are some I have found very helpful:

First, a good power conditioner and power cables. I use a Bybee stealth and lessloss and Sablon audio power cables. You really don't have to struggle to hear the improvement.

Second, supports, a good rack and isolation devices are a must. I use Stillpoints, but Herbies'S audio lab has a good range of effective, low priced devices.

In no paricular order, here are some other Gizmos I have found, work for me:

Nordost Quantum QX4 or 2
Bybee golden goddess speaker bullets
Stillpoints or Track Audio feet under the speakers.

All these I found worked in my system. They may not in yours. Try and borrow them from a dealer or buy second hand.Some have clealy given equivelant improvement to a new, more expensive amp, CD player or speakers.
I would respectfully disagree that improvement means spending a lot more.

Its more about getting the right stuff working the right way in your space. Lots of ways to do that and it can even end up costing less over time, especially if one takes an immediate plunge into the high end audio deep water.
I drive a Toyota Camry, and I'm happy with it. Thus, there is nothing more to gain by buying a fancier, more sporty car.

This is infallible logic, as applied in this thread to audio systems.

Of course, this vehicular and audiophilic logic is driven (pun!) by one thing, a desire to save money. When the OP's question is viewed in this fashion it becomes immediately obvious that one's current satisfaction with the sound has no relation to potential for improvement of a rig, nor to the cost of the system as an absolute predictor of sound quality.

Yet, we have mass delusion in this hobby in that everyone thinks their rig is right at SOTA sound. No one wants to admit they are a long way from the upper echelon.

I'll go on record with this one, given how many CD Players and DACs I've used, old and new; the OP was told in a nutshell that what he's got is good enough. Ok, that's a 2001 era 108kHz 24 bit player - not bad! However, If he takes that advice, he'll neglect the fact that he could go out now, and for about $1-2K, and some at $300-$500, get a 32 bit/384kHz or better DAC that would blow the doors off of the MF player. Have heard it? No, and I don't need to, as my opinion is that having heard it against several 24/192 players/DACs holistically the technology is so far superior to the old that one can nearly universally be assured that the new DAC will vastly outperform, with of course consideration needing to be given to the tonality of the particular DAC as it's integrated into the rig.

Oh, my, that's a real budget buster, an example of what would likely be less than what he spent on the MF player, and a boatload of improvement!

And that is but one example of the types of improvements - enormous improvements - he could have had. :(

Now, if the OP's left the building, taking along the smug assurance that he needs never look again for something better, he'll miss out on it all. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Yeah, he's got his "Camry" and there's really nothing better in terms of performance out there. :(