How do I let go...the “D” word

A major life change has me contemplating selling my gear and “Downgrading.” And I don’t want to let go of anything. Last summer I lost my job due to the budget crisis in California. My wife of 29 years and I split and divorced. She got the house, etc., but not the stereo. I decided to fulfil my dream of going to Brooks Institute for my MS in Photography. So now I live a half a block from the beach, am unemployed, and going to one of the top photography schools in the world. Life is good!

Here's my dilemma: My old living room was 44’ X 30’ with high vaulted ceilings. The walls were rough cut wood and I had huge plants in every corner and other key refractive spots. Now I rent a small house in Santa Barbara and my listening room is small and has plastic walls and ceilings and glass windows all around. My Dyn’s are so toed-in that they’re more like headphones. I know I won’t live here forever, and that someday I will again have a great listening room. But for now...should I “Downgrade,” and to what; or keep it for better days?
I see how your system might get cozy in your new space. If it was me I would downgrade. I would see it as a chance to try some new things and see what a small system can do (plus I don't like clutter). There are some really nice small components out there! You could try a small SET system with a pair of Abbys for something completely different. You could try an integrated with a pair of monitors like Focus or Harbeth or Spendor. Check out my smaller system here on Audiogon. It's tiny but I love it!

When you do move to a larger space you can change again if you want to. But have fun for now and explore some new ideas and products. There should be some good dealers down there.
Now if I were you I would hold onto my gear until they try to pry it out of my cold dead fingers.
I feel your pain. Financial obligations are forcing me to sell the majority of an expensive system. I am parting with speakers and my amplifier in the hopes of raising $15,000+ to pay some pressing bills. I don't like the idea, but the looming debt is equally unattractive.

Maybe you can just go with a smaller, but still very good monitor, and retain most of what you have grown to love.

Good luck on your degree!
Budrew sums it all! I agree. Although I would add that downgrading does not always mean "less quality". Have fun with this journey. Who knows by the time you're ready for the upgrade again (because you have become the new Leibowitz or Adams or Arbus or Atget or Lange or W.E. Smith or Avedon...:-) ) there will be other components that might peek your interest.
Hey Rosstaman - Congratulations on a new start...sounds like some exciting and difficult transitions. I'm sorry for the difficult part and hope the good stuff makes it worth it. So my question is not at all about stereo gear, but rather your decision to go for an MS in Photography. Are you wanting to teach or to shoot professionally? If the former, definitely go for the degree, but if the later I might suggest you may take the time to get some input from working pros in the field(s) you are interested in pursuing. Perhaps you've already done this, in which case this query is a moot point. The reason I ask is, like the rest of technology-dependent fields, the face of professional photography is changing and shifting at a very rapid pace. With the developments in digital technology, professional photography is not what it used to be five years ago. I'm not at all wanting to discourage you to pursue your dreams...I guess I'm just wondering about your expectations there. Having been a professional photographer for over twenty years I've watched with some personal disillusion at the directions my chosen field has been taking of recent. Pretty much follows the dark path the rest of our "culture" has been taking towards homoginization and cookie-cutter medicocrity. Nothing Orwell missed so many years ago.

Anyway, Brooks is indeed an excellent choice being an outstanding school. I have a BFA from R.I.T. which is also an outstanding school, but a long way from your home. There are many many outstanding and talented pro's out there who never went to photo school, and the lack of the paper was not a deterent. I cannot think of any case where the degree I earned really got me anywhere on face value, though I don't regret the four years by any means. If you have adequate skills presently you can learn a tremendous amount by hiring yourself out as a freelance assistant to other pros. A good assistant in my area (Seattle) makes $ 225/day. Down in your area it's probably a bit more. You will learn far more practical, real-world information from assisting than any school will be able to teach you, IMO.

So, I'm rambling on off-topic here. If you want any more input feel free to ping me off the list. I wish you much success following your dreams.

Sounds like you have had some major changes on in your life. Giving up something by choice rather than perceiving it as having been taken away might mean that you are indeed enjoying better days already. The fact that you describe whatever system change you are considering as the dreaded "d" word- as a downgrade, would provoke me to encourage you to reconsider the words you choose to describe change. After all, how much of your old life is being retained in your new surroundings? The old marriage and employment might be at odds with the beach and time and schooling you have included in your life in the time since the changes you described took place. I would suggest that you are simply making appropriate adjustments to the life you are very much in the process of creating. The old system was all that in the life you had- within the limitations of the environment that was created specifically for it. But now you are here-a place apart, and your ears wont lie. Perhaps all that is called upon are modifications- some way to address your systems requirements in this new environment. Nothing seems as extreme as better days when they are placed some place as distant as they are sometimes placed. You know what I mean? If an entirely new system is called upon then it need not necessarily be a lesser system. I hope you wont mind if I say I admire all the positive changes you have made in what must have been a difficult transition. Your post reads to me as from someone who has got a hold of their life and is headed in a direction that makes them happy. You are fortunate and I am happy for you.
Becareful, if you downgrade you will upgrade with a vengance (past your current amazing setup) when you move to a large place...

By choosing to pursue a lifelong dream, it sounds to me like your entire life just got an upgrade. I'd sell the components that don't fit right now, and buy those that do.

Nice website Marco. I'm going for my MS to teach. I'm 53 and not willing to compete with the 20+ year olds that graduate and are willing to put in 80 hours a week. Been there, done that! Teaching will allow me to "focus" on fine art, wildlife, travel, and undersea photgraphy while I teach. Besides If I teach I can get medical insurance, which I can't now due to a pre-existing condition.

If I sell my stuff, I'm thinking of going tubes. The VPI TNT V with table is huge and about 300 lbs. The Pass X600 are 175 lbs each, I think I'll keep the preamp and cd player, Any suggestions?

Rosstaman- How about giving us some kind of a budget. Assumme selling your TT, amps and speakers for $XXXX, keeping your CD and pre, banking $YYYY and spending $ZZZZ for new amp and speakers. And good luck.
Let go. It's really easy, just choose a smaller well thought out system and don't look back. One thing about this hobby is there are MANY ways to acheive good sound, not all are large and expensive.
Good Luck!
My budget will probably be around $8000-$10,000 give or take a few. For amps, speakers and TT. Obviously, I'll look to A'gon for the best. So what I need are smaller TT : possibly a Basis 2100. Tube monoblocks? Speakers that are easier to drive than the Dyn's.
My budget will probably be around $8000-$10,000 give or take a few. For amps, speakers and TT. Obviously, I'll look to A'gon for the best. So what I need are smaller TT : possibly a Basis 2100. Tube monoblocks? Speakers that are easier to drive than the Dyn's.

I have a very eclectic taste in music. Classical, rock, motown, reggae, jazz (pre-fusion), world beat, etc.
Based upon the buzz 'round here, you might want to have a listen to one of those new DK Design amps. 150W per channel, and two 6922 pre-out tubes. They retail at $2995, and are all the rage, as they say.
All the best,
How about Berning ZH-270 (used $3K), Merlin VSMs (used about $2.5-3K). That leaves $2-2.5K for a TT/arm. I would recommend getting a re-habed SOTA from Kirk and Donna. Add an OL-Silver arm and you would be ready to go, at approx. $8K. You could do lots worse. Or used Atma M-60s for about $2.5-3K leaving you more for the TT if its your main source. The synergy of these amps with the Merlins is well documented throughout this site. I'd be happy to let you audition either amp at my place with the Merlins, but the weather here in CT in November is no match for Cal-e-four-knee-ah and it would blow a bunch of your downgrade $$ ;~). Or if you want to keep running power hungry speakers, I know where you can get a good deal on a near new Llano Trinity 300 with mega-current output capacity.