How Do You Live The Audiophile Life

I don’t really have the credentials to be on Audiogon. Kef Q150s and new NAD equipment that replaced my stalwart Arcam Solo. Maybe I can peek over the fence.
So I’ve have a question about the new equipment. I’m browsing the forums, looking for an answer. I know as much as about audio as anyone who isn’t an audiophile. But I was astonished at the number of brands I’d never heard of. And I know the price of the stuff I have heard of.
I’m in NYC. Maybe there’s five high-end dealers here. I’m guessing that number drops off quickly once you cross the Hudson.
This is a long winded way to ask how you live the audiophile life? How do you get access to this stuff? I’d want to hear something before dropping a car-like sum on it. Do you buy blind? Do you travel? Go to the industry shows? Help me, teach me, inform me.
I guess this question applies to speakers as well. Maybe more so. But I was in the amplifier section so . . .
You need to go to some HiFi shops and listen. Since you’re in NYC, you'll find some fine shops in NJ. Some members here can chime in with names and locations. It’s always good to call ahead.

Get subscriptions to The Absolute Sound and Stereophile! 
IMO the UTMOST importance is to know what actual musical instruments sound like in various venues..If you don’t know what the real thing sounds like you will NEVER have a really good system..
After you know what to listen for start with reviews reviews reviews..These will help narrow down the list of suspects that interest you..After that you either travel to a store for demos OR buy unheard from a dealer that has a strong return policy or gently used at a price that you can recoup if you don’t like what you bought..
Kef Q150s are fantastic. I just got a pair myself when they were on sale.

I’m lucky. I live in a metro area with several nice hifi dealers and have built relationships with all of them. That is part of living the audiophile life.
Don’t worry about the cost. Worry about the sound. It’s different (the sound preferences) for everyone. And that’s what makes it so neat.
It is totally realistic that you could legitimately, and I mean stone cold legitimately, prefer the sound of a component or system that costs 5x or 10x or less than something else.

It’s about the sound. That’s the audiophile life.

Back to those Kefs. I keep them in my third system along with two other sets of bookshelf speakers. Why? Because I’m odd or dorky or obsessed with “the sound” enough to want to rotate thru them and understand and appreciate and really cherish the differences. That’s the audiophile life. It’s about the sound.

One of the most important lessons is diminishing returns. Those Kef 150s are 4x less expensive than one of the other speakers in the rotation, but to me they sound 97% of the way there. Doubtless to some they would sound better (to me on some songs they do). It’s about the sound.

My first real amp as an adult twenty years ago was an NAD. It was probably one of the least expensive pieces the dealer displayed, but to me at the time it was a ton of money and I was so proud to own it. I still have it and always will. It’s about the sound.

You say you don’t know the brands. You will. 99% of the consumer crowd doesn’t know NAD. They just know what’s at Best Buy. Dude, you’re already here! Welcome! It’s about the sound.

Enjoy the sound. Enjoy learning about the sound. Enjoy recognizing when you hear even better sound, because many people either cannot or don’t care if they do. 

We care. That’s the audiophile life. It’s about the sound.