How much are you worth ?

I know. I know. It's none of my business. Bear with me. I know people who have $200K in the bank & their system costs
100K. I've also seen people living in dumps listening to 50K systems. So please tell me. What is your limit? How far will you go? If someone has $100, how much does he/she have to spend on audio equipment before you'd tell him/her to cool it. An accountant once told me that pertaining to the States as a whole,up to 1/3 of your net worth can be spent on housing, 10% on transport (cars), 5% on furnishing, etc.
Wonder if there's an indicator for high-end audio.
Well let's see now -- using the formula you've provided , that would leave about 52% of the budget for high-end purchases. I'd say that's just about right. :)
I'll answer for most of us here.

Got $30K system and $30 bucks in the bank. Well, actually the ratio's not that bad, but I do have some Nortel stock I paid $126 a share for last year and now it's worth ....uh....uh .... if only I would have sold and bought those Levinson 33's!

I once read in Sterophile that you could increase your net worth by investing in interconnects that were too short, too long, or too bright... and that those Black Diamond Racing things are very collectible. Wait, let me look in the drawer ... by gosh, I'm rich!

(Sorry Ryllau, I know you were asking a serious question -- but I couldn't resist -- besides, this a HOBBY and as such, it transcends many demographic and psychographic boundaries -- and in many cases, boundaries of common sense. That's what makes it so much fun.

To answer your question: read the post "who am I" and you'll get a real feeling for the kind of folks that inhabit this place we call audiogon. --Lorne
My system cost the same as I have in the bank which is too little. My vehicle was bought outright new and cost twice that. I don't own a home, have no real debt besides month to month expenditures and come and go as desired without quarrel or expectation. My life is that of a businessman and adventurer, two things with much in common.

Having bought most of my gear last year it has taken until now to learn enough to begin to know how to get the most from it. There is still more to learn which is exciting. Someday my knowledge will justify even better equipment, but not until this set is maxed out. Tonight the sound is superb.
BR>Guess that makes me wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.
my system would cost more if i hadn't lost 75% of my money in tech stocks over the last 12 months :-(
If money in the bank includes 401k's and equity in your home, then my systems as a percentage of my net worth are negligible. Being a contrarian I stayed way from tech stocks last year (even though I work in the semiconductor business) but find there's money to made in the tech stock market now. So rather than plowing money into an overheated stock market in 2000 I spent it on some long overdue system upgrades I decided I "needed". For the life of me, I can't think of anything I want or need for my audio system, this is disturbing. I'll keep buying records until the hardware need becomes obvious. Jeff
Ryllau, Well my accountant has different philosophy
He believes that:
3 yearly income should be allocated into housing
1 year income for a car
1 month salary for a fine watch

And for Audio Hmmm, I would say I 'd go for "up to" your yearly income. (at a retail level in terms pricing) Is it good or bad...let me put it this way I 'd rather drive Ford but listen to Mercedes-Benz in my room if you know what I mean.

It also depends are you really into the music and do you have a really big record/CD collection

Good listening
My system turned out to be one of my better investments. I was fortunate to have participated in a biotech IPO about a year ago and invested 75% of the returns back into the market, bought the requisite sports car (10%), etc (5%) and bought a really nice system here on Audiogon. The market dropped shortly after knocking my market holdings down by 70% (bad days!!!), cars always lose value, but I could still sell my system for about what I paid.

By the way, this was not my first high-end system so please do not label me as nouveau-audio-riche. Prior to the IPO, I sold my Levinson/Classe/Joseph Audio system as part of the downpayment on my house.
Not much, and in the last two months I spent 5% of my yearly income in a CD store. My wife took the credit cards, but I have some great new stuff to write a review about!
I am worth NOTHING if I do not get my daily fix of exquisite quality sound from my $40k (retail $US) system(s). Should I happen to miss a day of listening then I feel like I am deeply in debt. As for the bank, stocks, cars, and the like I don't care anymore.
I'm worth about 30k per year.... have 6 in instruments and probably the same in audio.... still can barely make ends meet
Ahem....before I read the posts I assumed the question had a less monetary complexion. My answer was "I dunno...ask my wife, my daughters, and maybe a few close friends...."
That being said (not too cloying, I trust), I'll join those who lost a lot in the markets, and my used Subie biz is taking it on the chin lately (can't figure that out!), so although I spent $15k asembling my ref system last year, I'm finding it difficult spending $$ finishing it with a suitable digital front end. Finding and justifying said component is work in itself, but for me it's compounded by
a real difficulty spending money on myself (especially withthe uncertainty of self-employment, daughters' tuitions, etc.) Thanks for the forum. Ernie
My system is worth $30K and I alternate between top ramen and mac/cheese every other nite for dinner....Like many of you, I my stock option was worth ~$2M last year...not it's barely worth ~$2K. My only savor thru these hard times is my system....and the wife of course. I should have cashed out and live a little instead of being so damn greedy. Oink Oink..
I'm close to fpeel in the arithmetic -- excepting the vehicle which belongs to my company. My present system retails for a fraction (35%) of my previous one ($+100k) that I had to sell, along with stock, to meet a dire situation. At least, I got a reasonable price for the stock which helped shelve the problem and I can still enjoy listening to music (I kept my software)-- so I can't complain. I also *discovered* friends who supported me, that I had been too blind to notice before.

Overall, I believe I'm worth more than my bank account and system indicate!

I'm with you Metaphysics. My equipment (first real system, combo HT and 2-channel) has depreciated WAY less than the rest of my assets in the last year. I'm trying to use that as an argument to my wife that we should invest more in this stuff. For some reason it isn't working...
Over 40 years ago, when in a HS chemistry class, I was informed that I was worth $2.78 in chemicals. So allowing for 10X inflation since then, I am now worth $27.80. My main system is worth about $40K (U.S. retail). After doing the math, my main system is worth 1,438.34 times as much as me. I feel that is about right for a card carrying audiophile of good standing.

Like so many others, we do have some mutual funds that got hammered in the market and don't amount to much now. I strieve to stay in debt audiowise and usually manage to achieve this goal on a monthly basis. I am presently in debt for at least 10 months and feel good about that-- so I can relax for awhile and just enjoy the music. I do make sure my electric bill is paid each month so I can keep the "big rig" up and running. ;>) Cheers. Craig
I realize that this thread has a "tongue in cheek" flavor to it, and I chuckled at several of the responses. Since I became active on this forum about 18 months ago, I've actually spent a good deal of time thinking about where our hobby is headed. Even some of the really famous names in the business like Mark Levinson are concerned that the hobby is becoming too cost-oriented.

Earlier today, I made a final post to a lengthy thread that got started last weekend, and I thought I'd share my post. I'm not trying to rain on the parade here, but Ryllau's topic is timely and relevant given some of the recent posts on this forum. For what it's worth, here is a portion of the post I made this morning:

"To carry this thread just a bit further, my current opinion about our hobby is that we need to seriously evaluate our values and what is important to us as a community of hobbyists. For many years, from the 1950's through the 1970's, audio was about the equipment in service to the music, although there was certainly a strong element of interest in the "system qua non". Over the past 10-15 years, there has been a clear trend toward megabuck audio systems, many of which have been acquired by techno-wealthy people. Somehow, the challenge and satisfaction of building a system, finding the right pieces that work well together in one's own listening room, has become secondary to simply buying equipment that is, in my opinion, insanely expensive. Years ago, I was an avid Porsche owner (still love 'em, but can't afford them anymore). The serious enthusiasts did a lot of their own mechanical work, learned to drive their cars well, competed in club events, etc. As the cars become more expensive and turned into status symbols for the affluent, some of the long-time owners observed that anyone with enough money could buy a Porsche, but that didn't mean that you could drive it well. Before the suspension and handling improvements of the past 15 years, Porsches were a true driver's car that could be notoriously hard to drive well at high speeds, due to the rear-mounted engine. Today, what seems important to lots of Porsche owners is to be seen in one, not being able to drive one well. That's not the best analogy, but it captures my concern about the direction I see high-end audio going."

I believe that the extraordinary performance of the stock market during the 1990's caused a major change in many people's perceptions of what constitutes wealth. A recent New York Times article had an extensive discussion of wealth, and noted the results of a survey that asked people what level of income one must have to be considered wealthy. When the first survey was conducted in the late 1980's, the average annual income that was regarded as making someone "wealthy" was just over $1 million. The survey done last year said that the new level of annual income required to qualify as "wealthy" was $3.3 million.

Some of the "paradigm shift" about wealth has, IMO, invaded high-end audio. There's certainly nothing wrong about having an expensive system, but it would be a shame for younger people who are joining the hobby to feel that their "status" as audiophiles is tied to the cost of their system. Men (much more than women) seem to have an inherent need to compete -- as warriors, as athletes, as intellects, etc., and I have a philosophical problem about turning audiophilia into a competition.

I think it's really important for our hobby to attract new participants. Were it not for the advent of home theater, this hobby would be nearly dead at this point. I'd like to re-frame the discussion and instead ask "how do you judge value in an audio system"? In finding an answer to that question, we may be able to offer some real assistance to the "newbies" that would like to develop good audio systems.
Yes, Gregm, the "1438" factor is really important, given that "from ashes to ashes, dust to dust, etc." is all that we are here for, besides listening to music, that is. This morning at 3.50am (on CHUM 104.5, of course) I caught a song "Babylon" on my Ford Clubwagon's FM sucky radio and had a great time with the volume UP as far as distortion would allow! I still have to find out who the artist is. But Sdcampbell to the rescue AGAIN...this guy has insight that Albert P. will never have...the ability to wring out the last drop of potential from a it a used up Porsche 911 or a Dynaco ST70...brings a joy to US that those who "buy a ride" will NEVER understand. N'est ce pas?
I judge Value in Audio by asking myself 'Can I afford this piece and at the same time get the performance that is advertised?

Is there a similar piece of gear but at a smaller price that can provide similar performance and build quality?

Does the build quality surpass what you would normally get at the price paid? In other words? Do you find yourself asking 'how did they manage to build this thing at such a high level of performance and build and keep the price this low.

Can it be modded or is it upgradable?


Does it hurt to listen to my favorite songs?

I follow these questions and I usually come away feeling satisfied with my purchases and except for a recent experimentation with tubed pre amps (still not sure on SS or tubes) my system hasn't changed very often over a couple of years.

*** Good sound is addictive and if you hear good comfortable music once it will be hard to go back to the mass consumer products that we once thought were the end all be all. However, when do you say that the music sounds good enough to you and stop letting these magazines tell you that you need to upgrade?
My wife and I are nuts about music. When my we got out of grad school we had good jobs but we lived in a dump, ate noodles and spent 50-60% of our income on live music(classical), audio equipment and LP's. We spend more now in absolute terms and adjusted for inflation. However that was over 25 years and about 10,000 LP's ago. With no kids and two very successful careers the percentage is much lower. We evenviewed our house purchase as an audio system upgrade since the primary factor was a better listening room.
My system is worth 10% of the worth my home, 20% of my yearly income, and 100% of the worth my car.
Well I guess I live in a dump,dont own a home,pay rent,buy used,drive a 1991 2 seater,not MERCEDES,worked for over 21 years listening to a supervisor who was at one time the lousiest worker at one time,I was blessed not to be involved with the recent stock market crash,blew my loot when I was younger,dug high end,and blew a ton on it.In new value,the system i have now is worth over 25K,but the effects of depreciation,like used cars is worth now about 10K,so thats about 20% of my yearly gross income plus the losses i incure when i trade in stuff to the high end dealer plus add when I sell my stuff on e-bay and use the end result to get other high end stuff,and you see how the cycle goes,wear a Rolex because it maintains it's value better that stocks for now.Drive the wife crazy every time I get something new to the point that I sneak it in and hpoes it blends in with the system until she notices OH that a nice looking piece is it new??,and then laments about her expenses.So right now I'm probably worth nothing but fully loaded with a system that sounds great.So i'm worth my weight in audio until i see something that I think might sound better to throw me off unti
stereokarter: i'm willing to bet the "babylon" you heard this am is by david gray; the best version of this song is on the kbco studio c , vol. 12 cd. very difficult to find but well worth it. otherwise, just buy the "standard" version. -kelly
sdcampbell: i think you're making things much too complex and judge your last post as close to pendantic. fact is, when i was a kid, we had "the $64,000 question"; now it's "who wants to be a millionaire?" -kelly
Your opinion is noted, Cornfed. I still stick to my guns on this one, however. Sorry, however, that you took my point of view as "close to pedantic". My comments were a summary of a point of view that's based on observing what has happened to our hobby over the past 20 years. The point introduced by this thread wasn't, I thought, about who'd like to be rich, since I think all of us would prefer to have lots of money. Do you have an alternative point of view to offer about the nearly prohibitive cost of better quality audio equipment?
My wife agreed after we were married that I should have the right to spend as much on my stereo as I did on her engagement when you get ready to propose, you may want to remember that little bit of info...but then again, she is unique and loves to listen to music.
sd: in your analysis of the current state of highend audio, i think you attribute too much to perceived changes in our economic value system brought on by the now rapidly disappearing "techno-wealthy." there are a number of other variables that i believe are worthy of consideration to explain how the audio hobby has evolved to its present condition from the advent of "hifi." i'll highlight some of these, in no particular order:

> in the dawn of hifi, there were many fewer competitors in the entertainment market. radio was still a viable medium but was beginning to be eaten up by television. if you wanted to see a movie, you went to the theater or drivein. games were mechanical, big and clunky-- shuffleboard, pinball, pocket billiards.

> solid state electronics begot cheaper and smaller hifi gear and, more importantly, cheaper and smaller computers. as more computing power came to be put on ever smaller chips, ic's found there way into the entertainment market. pong begot pac man and pac man begot the acres of video & vr games drawing crowds at dave and busters. atari, apple and commodore 64k "home" games begot interactive internet and playstation 2 games 100's of times better rendered than those you had to pay a buck to play only a few months ago at your local watering hole.

> if you wanna watch a movie now, you have a plethora of means to do so. hell, if you fly direct from denver to london on a 777, you get your choice of 17 movies, each direction, viewable on your own private lcd screen. car toys now has a section in its larger stores given over entirely to in-car video systems. say you're not easily distracted? try drivin' your m-3 with its paddle shifters whilst usin' your cell phone, gps screen and built-in dvd player.

> you wanna' listen to all those thousands of redbook cd's floatin around your life pod? slip em' in your clock radio, your in-dash player, your office mini-stack, your top-of-the-line circuit city ht/av all-digital-all-the-time six channel super system.

> for highend 2-channel audio to compete for its tiny piece of the entertainment market, it has to be differentiated from all the other choices available. how is that done? simply put, by creating clearly superior means of reproducing recordings. most of us who serve as the crew on the good ship audiogon like to think we are searching for the holy grail that is the "live performance standard" when we buy our selected gear. as others have attested, tho, that standard is likely unattainable for now, at any cost. so what we really strive for is something that sounds "better" than our perceived subjective norm. if one is self-confident, he can derive what "better" means for himself. those lacking such confidence depend upon others to define the comparative.

> the differentiation of choices in a rapidly increasing universe of alternatives becomes, perhaps axiomatically, a logarithmic function. "value" thus becomes evermore subjective. if something, anything, makes your audio system of choice sound "better" to you, then it has value. how much? that's up to you if your prudent.

> in my experience, only a small fraction of the tiny market for highend audio is driven by "status" in making choices among products. who is there, after all, to impress? the recent article in the washington post that is the subject of another thread is, i think, a reality check. people who are perfectly happy with their circuit city systems think most, if not all, who hang out in this chat room are crazy. the more we spend, the crazier we are. is it good to be crazy? does craziness equate with status? damned if i know. that's why i keep coming back to this place.

as always, these are just my opinions and random thoughts that you may agree with or not. your choice. your turn. -kelly
"VALUE" is the keyword, cornfedboy, and that is entirely subject to our personal means (well, I oftentimes have felt that I MUST rob the closest bank to obtain that latest piece) and is proportional to our individual choices and priorities. Several have posted here that they live spartan lives in order to maintain their highest audio Pls1 above...that's their choice but they may be somewhat off the beam!

A negative factor in audiophiliadom is that NONE of us will let anyone else operate or even go near or touch our that many of these pieces are squirrelled away where pokey fingers do not roam! If you cannot see or touch or listen to it then how could an uninitiated be persuaded to try it.

Thus they brand us ...well, whatever word comes to them first...but it sure ain't NORMAL, j_thunders!
Karter, re: normal. Robbing banks? Of course that's not normal. Bankrobbing is very risky. Normal people hit liquor stores when they want to upgrade, they are much easier targets.
Lorne. Thank you so much for the priviledge of stealing a peek at your very exclusive club named Audiogon (for which you are the Majority Speaker)where membership is restricted to those who have $X in the bank & spend $X in their stereo.
Obviously yours truly, with a heavy mortgage, mouths to feed, bills to pay, parents to support, need not apply!
Let's see - steady income, 401k, my own half-assed attempts at investing coupled with the recent state of the stock market, all offset by two teenage kids, a non-deterministic set of costs associated for advanced education for them, a non-income-producing spouse with house remodelling plans, aging parents on both sides that may or may not need financial help someday. System is probably worth $25K, music being acquired at about $100/month, once or twice a year buying something for the system for a few K. Gotta subtract $2K since I recently did a deal with DSSMAN, at least until they catch the scumbag. I know what Quicken says I'm worth, but I really don't believe it takes into account all these unknowns, so I figure that at 40 years old I've got somewhere between 10 and 40 years of work left ahead of me before I consider myself "comfortable" and income-producing activities become optional. In the meantime, I'll keep buying equipment and music as long as those activities give me pleasure and don't cause any of the juggling balls to fall. I'll also be glad that a ski boat and a Harley wouldn't interest me even if there was no such thing as high-end audio equipment.

Regarding the sub-thread on why we've gotten to this state of expense in this hobby - there's a very interesting book called "Luxury Fever" that discusses this same phenomena in many areas. I think most of the factors described above play a part in the rising costs. -Kirk

Bankrobbing risky? Not in Canada. In fact, it is quite popular here...sadly lost a teller locally...but it seems that the robbers never GET IT. We need to fix that.
After the tech. colapse in the Nasdaq, I'm worth -$400k!
This puts my $30k stereo into a ratio of 1 x 1000000000000 to infinity % , of my total net worth. I guess I must be the most devoted audiophile ever!
I am priceless and can not be bought by money......oh, you mean material wise!
So how do you put a value on: 6'1", Adonis looks, able to run a marathon, highly educated, well travelled, fluent in seven languages (including that special language--Love!), hung, wealthy, charming, personable, with a choice of about 10 different vacation homes in various locales, a stuffed little black book, and a private jet???
Why, J_T? Looking to make a purchase? ;-)
thunders: see you still have not separated yourself from the mythical lemmy. for a reality check, pull down your boxers, look down. (do this ALONE, BTW. remember the studies of mass hysteria? or another perspective: remember how the the next-most dweeb hurled when the cootie-kid upchucked the "pizza" delivered by those large-boned women in hairnets?) -kelly
thundie, i have yet to see a smarter comeback than that one. LMAO.
Pithy is beautiful, thunders!
I can't go here, but I will say that if my accountant knew how much I had tied up in my system he would shit. Of course, I do this for a living so actually, these are occupational tools! :~)
Hey, tfta: occupational "hazards" maybe :>) {pleasant ones, at that!)
A fool and his money are soon parted... Look for bargains. Think long term. Buy quality. Don't get in over your head or please do, since your neat stuff will be on the used market were I can grab it for about what it should retail for in the first place. Priorities, what priorities? Feed your head. Don't sweat the ratios. To those who feel that the market value of their portfolio has something to do with the car, house, audio gear they can afford: a paper gain, a paper loss, it's all speculation until you cash in. Warren Buffet doesn't necessarily dance on the ceiling or hang himself in the atttic with every market change. In fact, I wonder what he listens to and with what equipment? Any friends of Warren out there?