First, ask yourself what you want your system to be doing that it isn't doing now. My driving motive was to have a system free of all the bad things about vinyl (surface noise, pops during the most intimate part of the music, etc.). I have achieved this.
Next, determine if your priorities are in line with reality. Have you been in debt more than a year to feed your system? Is owning your own home more important than good sound? Do the "grown up" thing first...
Finally, when you have a decent baseline system, budget a percentage of your income each year to do your hobby. 10%? 20%? You decide. Just remember that TV commercial where they explain that "the $2000.00 watch really costs $10000.00" If you would have invested the money for retirement...
You need to think logically, not on impulse. Develop a budget that you can live with. How much can you afford each year for equipment? How many years are you willing to wait for your dream system? Multiply the two and you have your budget. With this in mind, determine your priority for spending on each item. Next research to determine the brand and model for each unit of the system starting with your dream speakers. The efficiency of the speakers will determine which amplifier you will need in quality and power. Then determine which items to get first, second, third, etc. Once you make up your mind, relax and stick with your choices. As time goes by, buy the items on your list and forget about the stereo dealers, and magazine ads and articles. You will be surprised how fast your stress level drops. This will also ease the stress on your wallet as well. Once you get your dream system, STOP!! It is now time to enjoy your system.
We all joke about it, but it's a pretty serious issue. The next upgrade will never bring you the happiness you are hoping it will. It is the human condition to want the better thing you don't have, then adjust to that better thing as normal once you have it and crave the next thing. It can be fun and exhilirating if kept in check, but awful if you not. You've got to be able to get off the treadmill and enjoy what you have. A hobby can easily turn into a life-ruining obsession. You are seeking the perfect system, which does not exist (just as the perfect woman does not exist). Trying to obtain it is futile and will drive you insane.
Ask yourself what unmet emotional need you are avoiding by chasing the perfect stereo system.
Matt8268 is correct. As in "The Social Contract": Lacking things (audio gear) will make you unhappy, but having them will not make you happy. Learn this and spend your money on music. Read record reviews instead of audio magazines about equipment and support your local musicians.
the rule which separates music lovers/hobbyists from folks who need therapy is simple. do you spend more on hardware(components, etc) in a given year or software(cds,lps,etc). if the answer is hardware then you need to think back to why you liked music in the first place...hi fi as a hobby is like golf....90%mental..10%equipment.
I too am obsessed by Audio equipment. I have a different take on this than your other respondents. I have friends who spend money in bars and strip clubs. When they wake up the next day they have nothing to show for what they spent.
I on the other hand at least have something to show for my money. If you buy high-end pieces used you can retain the majority of your purchase when you sell.
>>Ask yourself what unmet emotional need you are avoiding by chasing the perfect stereo system.
Sounds a bit like a cliche but I think Matt is onto something.
In addition, the major audio rags are just stuffed with ads that are put together by very slick and clever folks and are intended to have exactly the effect you describe. Reading that stuff and complaining about wanting it is like intentionally sitting on a tack and then complaining that it hurts.
This is why spiritual folks(monks, yogas etc) always remove themselves from the everyday din of things. It is not because they are holier than thou, but precisely the opposite. Given human nature, they know they will cave in to it if they surround themselves with it. The Bible says the same thing about money and being rich.
If talking to yourself (asking yourself as Matt advises) does not suffice, and it usually doesn't, sometimes shock treatment is in order. There are quite a few possibilities out there but my recommendations of things that might work would include: 1) Spend a couple days of your spare time on the oncology floor of the nearest major hospital. Pay special attention to the mother's faces. 2) Find some hard hit poverty area (they are generally closer than we think)where young kids can be found and have a chat. 3) Have a dream where the Ghosts of Audio past, present and future visit you while there is still time.
You might just find yourself substituting one obsession for another, but at least it is likely to be a better obsession.
I hope this does not sound condescending, it is not intended as such. I regularly make myself make the rounds mentioned above. It's like a peculiar type of vaccination I am in need of in order to keep from being overtaken by all sorts of absolutely silly stuff.
Do you really want to keep things in perspective? If so, seek out a good vintage system and go take a listen. You'll be amazed at how little progress has been made. If you are an audio gearhead do as Taters suggests. When in doubt buy software.
Stop OBSESSING and enjoy your music!
... one of us, one of us, gooble-gobble, one of us...
Do a search for "Words from the Wise" (or something very similar). A lot of hard earned advice there. Or for that matter "How do I get off this merry-go-round" Again, I might have the wording a bit off but you should be able to find it. I have printed off both and read them on occasion. Usually keeps me in line.
Stop reading hi-end magazines & e-zines. They are like pouring gasoline on a fire for us addicts...Oh, & I must stop checking "new today" on audiogon.
I know how you feel I just spent a lot of money I saved for 3 years and while sitting in that hot desert in Mid East courtesy of George W Bush. I got the upgrade bug and cannot stop. I have used credit cards to max, and keep going with savings and paychecks. Just a few of the major items I bought in about a year. Mark levinson 331,334.336, 436 amps; Krell FpB 250 mono blocks, KRC HR preamp, Krell 20I Cd player; Mark Levinson 380S, 360S, 38S, 360 and 2 37s, Proced PMDT, Sony sacd777ES, Lexicon MC-1, Magnum Dynalab 102, dCS Purcel1, and more. Runco Sc-4200 line doubler, Sony projector, a pile of power cables, interconnects, and speaker cable. Acoustic Zen Ref II, NBS, Virtual Dynamics, Shunyanta, Transparent, Audioquest, Kimber and on and on....I am addicted...Compulsive Obsessive Dissorder maybe...any doctors out there?
Start visiting doc.
Bankruptcy isn't a crime after all:-)
I don't know, but if you find out, let me know. Quick!
Don't stop, we need to keep this hobby alive and well. Scratching the upgrade itch keeps the audio world turning.
I think you missed the forest for the trees. As in it is MUSIC that keeps your hobby alive.
don't read the "new today" classified ads
Should we stop reading Audiogon?..This is the place where I go broke because of it....:-)....
Establish your budget and make a rule. That you must have the
best possible sound system within your budget. Now, you can go
to Hifi shops and listen to their stuff all you like -- and you can keep reading all the HiFi mags -- because you are collecting information and educating yourself. There *are* components and speakers that are better "bangs" for the buck and certain components and speakers that wil sound better in some systems than others. If you make sure to buy wisely and buy used, you can have a lot of fun moving equipment through your rack without losing much money at all. But, go back to your rule -- nothing stays unless it beats what you have for the same price. As you move stuff through, you'll get an idea about the synergy between your components,
where a few extra bucks will make the most difference, etc. Stay
within your rules and you can enjoy your obsession without going
Maybe this will help... a wise old audiophile once told me that the pleasure is not in having great equipment that plays wonderful music. The pleasure is in having all that at bargain prices. The search for the knowledge and experience that makes me able to spot a musical deal-in-a-million, where most others wouldn't, is what keeps me from spending.
They're rare, even here, such deals, but they do exist. Not that I really know a lot, but there are two up right now even as we speak, and I am having fun just watching them.
I don't know how to say this politely, grow up. Don't buy into the hype, escape the materialistic advertising tcrap. Try not to over invest in fleeting joys that will only depreciate in value. Try to invest in things that appreciate in value. All this stuff is supposed to serve you, not the other way around. Make sound decisions, and live with them. Obsession is an illness. That you've recognized it, is a good start. Take long walks in beautifull settings. Good luck and best wishes.
This issue affects many of us. Try shifting your focus and obsessive compulsive desire to a related and even more important aspect of this field. One that will prove more rewarding in no time. The art of "listening ". Take all the jargon and ideas you have learned and put them to use . If you listen with your eyes open then you have a long way to go . And in your case that is good . Calm down when iistening. Follow a ritual when listening. I warm up my equipment for an hour . In that hour I read or reread an article that teaches me something. NOT an equipment review. I have a glass of wine but never too much alcohol during the session. When I am ready I ALWAYS sit in silence for a minute or two with my eyes closed . Always . I can not over state this as it opens your mind. I erase any thoughts during this moment. First I listen to a familiar track that is quiet and full of air and ambient clues about the recording space that will draw my mind and conscious deeper into the music . Keeping your eyes closed is mandatory . Concentrate and what helps me is the abstract construction of the space in my mind. I see instruments where they are suppose to be and memorize their positions as the event unfolds. I say event because your obsession should be about the musical experience you are atempting to achieve through this conquest of equipment aquisitions. Not the rush of a new piece of gear. What I am getting at is that you can be rewarded tremendously by learning just HOW to appreciate what you are obsessing over but seem to be stuck . Utilize the tools you already have. The years of reading and listening at home , the stereo stores and listening at a freiends home .The reading of these forums and exchanges as well as your ever evolving knowlege base should all tie together to set this next phase in motion and ........get this .....its free. Put it all to better use and re focus INTO your music through your mind. It will expand you intellectually and make your investment come alive. Also re direct whatever income you are allocating to stereo equipment and put it into software purchases or a nice Rado watch or whatever turns you on... and savor it .... Also Mejames is dead on . Hope this helps.
Realize your system is never going to sound like live music so what is the point of chasing diminishing returns when you can decide 'for free' that you are going to be content with what you have and enjoy it. Remember , most of the people in the world will never earn what your system cost, and there is a good possibility that they are better people for it.
Choose to be content...
and buy a racoon!
"Good evening, my name is (**88***), and I am an Audiophile!
Response, "Hello (***88***)"
Jeez, has Audiogon become AA, as in 'Audiophiles Anonymous'
I ended my long search with a Pass Aleph 5 and a apir of Totem Acoustic Mani-2 speakers. It's over. I have found the enduring combination. It's over. I bought a pair of Cary 300BSE amps just to swap out now and then, but the Pass Totem combination is satisfying.
In the old days, when someone became interested in some activity like audio or -- hell -- make it -- stamp collecting -- or bird watching -- that person was called an enthusiast and the activity was called a hobby. Now, if someone devotes more attention to an activity than the assumed norm -- that person is labeled obsessive/compulsive -- same term used to described the type of person that washes his or her hands three or four hundred times per day -- and therapy is recommended. Be a pretty boring world if not for
obsessions like music. I am not a licensed therapist, nor do I play on on TV, but IMO, there's no harm in voraciously reading Hifi magazines or hanging out in HiFi shops as long as your children aren't starving because you spent the family's food budget on a
set of interconnects. Speakers, I can understand.... heh-heh -- just kidding -- don't call the shrinks on me -- it was just a joke. Really.
Thanks everyone! This has been a facinating read. I feel kind of bad though, I was sort of kidding. But I realize that didn't come through in my tone. (That's a lesson for me as a writer. I heard my voice--sarcastic and self deprecating--you heard deperation. OOPS!) I'm not really obsessed, so don't worry about me. :)
I'm very proud of the system I've built. I feel like I have ferrited out a lot of the those really good buys, the components that can compete with products many times their price. It's just that I'm now done. The hunt is definitley part of the fun, and it's over...at least for now. (I've taken to researching for friends.) I'm hoping to stick with many of my purchases for 5 or 10 years. I enjoy visiting dealers and hearing new products, it's just that I hate taking up their time if I'm not really in the market.
BTW, I go to see live music often several times a week. My CD collection is 75% indie artists, whom I support happily. I even host a concert series in my home. I also play guitar, as does my husband, and spend much time singing off key and dancing with my dog. Music is a huge part of my life...not just the equipment to reproduce it.
This can be a serious issue I know. Some people seem to upgrade the same component annually. (You should read the DVD player threads of AVS Forum!) That's what I want to avoid. Before learning more about audiphile level equipment, I was happy with my JVC dvd layer that I'd had for 4 years that cost be $200. Now I have a $1700 universal player! That's fine if I don't feel the need to sell it next year and get the newest universal player. That's where I don't want to go. Even if I have the money, there are other things to spend it on. Hell, if Marc Michelson can stay happy with the Bel Canto for years, so can I.
p.s. Regarding high end magazines, I think a lot of them are bull. That's why I love SoundStage! It's a really down to earth e-zine with some talented writers. :)
pps. My therapist thinks my hobby is very healthy. :)
Sorry, the joke certainly went over my head. I'm glad your "healthy" and happy!
It went over mine too--although a little voice did whisper, a second after I hit the "Submit" button, when I realized I had read you before on this site. Women who both understand and participate in the hobby are rare.
I guess a lot of us do worry about being obsessed. The more so when we realize that the makers and sellers know how to get us !
So, what music does your dog like to dance to ?
My dog is particularly fond of Central/South American music. I'm not kidding. Maybe he likes the rythums. I can't even take credit. He's liked it since the day we brought him home. He also enjoys classical.
The other night, however, we were dancing to Sting. :) Not typical dance music, but he desn't know that. He puts his paws on my shoulders and asks to be twirred around the room. How lucky can a girl get?
Joy -- You seem better now -- I am glad our posts could help you so much. If ever you need counseling again in the future -- you know where we are. :-)
Joy, what kind of dog do you have?
Riley is a 10 month old English Springer Spaniel. He's black and white and adorable.
Good luck with the pup. Obviously you'll have a lot of opportunity for those "long walks in beautiful surroundings", LOL.
Now that you've found the dog you like, do you still have the residual urge to keep upgrading your menagerie of
pets, still read pet magazine and hang around pet shops, or have you conquered that?
Actually, we're thinking about getting him a sibling. :)
I can't stop upgrading AND I just got a 12 week old Golden Retriever named Maggie....God, I hope I don't start hanging around dog shows now :)
Joy, trust me one is a LOT easier than two, especially when pups. The work becomes exponentialy greater than the sum of actual dogs.
In Boston, you can join ArtsBoston and get lots of 1/2 price tix to great live music. Handel & Haydn's performance last night of Italian Christmas (Pergolesi, Durante, Corelli, et al), equalled that of the Boston Baroque's Messiah the previous Saturday...and both in our glorious Jordan Hall. Best of all, there are usually enough unsold seats so that I can obsessively try at least 2 different listening positions, but Ellen sometimes puts the brake on that audio-nervosa....Happy Holidays to all!