I’m gob smacked. What were you’re aha moments?

Had a productive couple of weeks on the used gear market and today has been digital demo day (Analog arrives next week). Added a Bryston BCD-3 and original Tara Labs Prime I/C’s to my system at very good prices. 

I don’t have “golden ears” by any stretch but I’m gob smacked at the results.

The BCD-3 is replacing an Oppo UDP-205 w/ DHL BL-1 I/C’s. Rest of gear is an Anthem STR integrated and ML Monti’s. My bass has easily doubled, maybe tripled. I can feel the pressurization in my room and it’s tight not bloated. 

I think this has been the biggest jump up in SQ I’ve experienced. What were your biggest surprises/improvements regardless of budget?

Well I just got new Harbeth M30.1's so I'm having an aha moment about every other song...Before these speakers it was the first time I tried a tube amplifier...
Enjoy your Harbeth’s. I have a pair of SHL5+ in backup to my Monti’s. I get to switch back and forth between a boxed and unboxed sound. They complement each other very well. 
That day in 1985 when I dragged home an ARC SP10 II pre-amp. My first tube product. WOW! I kept it for about 25 years.
That’s great that it was tubes for both of you. I’m still plotting/planning my way there. Hopefully another aha moment to look forward to 😎

biggest surprises/improvements regardless of budget?

Many contenders!

1. Black Diamond Racing Cones. Still the best. Thank you, DJ. RIP.

2. Hexfred diodes

3. Synergistic Research- pretty much everything. First shock was replacing $2k AudioQuest Dragon speaker cable with I forget what SR but the shocker was they were only about $300!

3. SR Active Shielding. Jaw-dropping demo.

4. Cryo. Found a local cryo tank, tested a few things, and when I heard how good it worked pulled everything from the panel to the speakers- yes everything, house wiring, entire CD player, EVERYTHING and had it all cryo'd. (Not ripoff audiophile pricing either. Cryo One. Total bargain.)

5. Anti-static and Demagnetizing. First was the demagnetizing tracks on the XLO Test CD. Then the Radio Shack bulk tape eraser on CD's. Then on records, cables. Then Cable Elevators lifting cables up off the floor. Then plain old laundry anti-static spray. Do it all some night. You will be gobsmacked too!

6. RFI. Thought this was BS. Then one day discovered its not. Flip off all the other breakers late at night some time and have a listen.

7. PHT, ECT, HFT. Absolutely gobsmacked! 

8. White Hot Stamper. Records do not all sound the same. A precious few are so close to perfect you simply cannot believe it. Until you hear it. 

@millercarbon. You’re a tweaker. That’s so not me. Not my skill set. I’m more a set it and forget guy. But gonna look into your anti-static advice. Static electricity is brutal where I live. 

The first time I visited a high end audio store and heard what music reproduction was capable of as opposed to my dad's cheapo system at home,lol!I don't recall the brands on display.
The first time I listened to a Conrad Johnson tube amp transform the music when swapped in for a ss amp.
Aloia power amp. This amp with its the separate induction power supply is absolutely wonderful. 
My very latest addition of SET mono’s from Audio Space Reference 3 (805). What a bargain, they were a blind buy and I didn’t expect them to be so crazy good! 

I swapped out the chinese stock tubes with some NOS and Sophia’s 300B tubes....wow!!!
going back to tubed amplification from a Class D amp. I'm never going back to SS.
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Hey tuberist, Which class d amp were you using. Just wondering, I've never used one except for with my sub, but they seem to be getting a lot of attention lately.
Gob smacked. Has to be the most annoying expression in the history of audio. 
Having my ears syringed.... Seriously!

Makes me wonder how many bits of equipment I have let go that must have sounded real good!
Good thread. What is GOB? Got over buying? 
Modified Sony Playstation PS1 SCPH-1000 after cheap CDPs

Reynaud Twin speakers and tube amp

Streaming Tidal with Modi Multibit using coax spdif input, Liquid Spark headphone amp and Nighthawk Carbon phones after cheap headphones directly from laptop using Spotify.
Ironically it was when I replaced my vintage MC-240 amp with an Odysey Khartago Premium. I have severe restrictions on speaker size and placement in my old house so a highly efficient pair of Klipsch were simply not feasible to keep my venerable 40WPC Mc. The move to a larger modern amplifier (even though solid state) to drive my Davone Ray S speakers was nothing short of amazing in terms of bass I simply never had before. It didn’t hurt that my vintage C22 remained in the signal path.
The first time I heard Maggies was a moment for me.  The end of box speakers in my home.

Interestingly, my wife was good with getting 20.7s, but room size ruled the day.  It was 14 years ago and we have not looked back.
It was setting up and listening to my Apogee Duetta Sigs in 1991. Still sound great today.
MIT styrene capacitors. Opened up the whole modification trail. Then the DIY trail. Now everything practical is made of air gap or vacuum caps and nude Vishay or nichrome wire resistors.
Magic Chicken’s Foot (MFT) beats ‘em all. 
First was AR3a speakers powered by a Dynaco Stereo 120.Most recent was PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium preamp and Dialogue Premium HP amp.
Going from tubes to class D. I am never going back. 
Are you saying you doubled or trippled your bass by replacing your OPPO UDP-205 with a  Bryston BCD-3 CD player?  Is this even possible?  If so, could you please explain the electronics behind this?
@millercarbon. You’re a tweaker. That’s so not me. Not my skill set. I’m more a set it and forget guy. But gonna look into your anti-static advice. Static electricity is brutal where I live.

Wasn’t always like this. Was in fact very, extremely, unbelievably skeptical of all of this stuff! Once wrote a letter to the editor telling him to quit wasting space on such useless nonsense. Then I tried a few things. Cheap stuff. Cheap as in zero cost. Elevating speaker cables improves sound? I got wood. Paper cups. Plastic. Try it out. Nothing to lose. Damn, it does make a difference!

Not all tweaks work. An awful lot do change things, but not always in an unambiguously good direction. Lots of cones for example improve some aspects but not others or even make some things worse. Same goes for interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, conditioners, shelves, all of it. Same as amps, phono-stages, CD players. All of it.

Some of these we call components. Others we denigrate as tweaks. The epiphany is when you realize those distinctions are arbitrary. A fuse is as much a component as a CD player. Don't believe me? Try upgrading your fuse with a Blue Quantum fuse. Then try upgrading your CD player by $150. And tell me which made the bigger difference. I already know the answer. A fuse is just as much a component as an amp or a speaker.

That’s just a fact. That many, probably most, haven’t come around to understanding this does not in any way diminish the truth of it.

I sometimes take the easy way out and agree that yes I am a tweaker. Because I tweak. But the deeper more meaningful way of looking at it is that I am a value oriented audiophile. I do whatever gets me the most SQ for the money. Tweaks do that. In spades. To not tweak, its like leaving money on the table. Why would you do that?
Three moments stand out for me. In each one my musical life shifted and things were never the same after...

1985, I want to buy a pink triangle turntable and go listen to it at a posh london snobby dealer. Annoyingly the Linn sounded better, but just before I prised my wallet open the dealer said "you might as well hear this new one we have just got in", put it on behind me (I couldn't see) and Whoa! What a difference. Really exciting, fast, bouncy thrilling music. Turned round to see it was a new fangled thing called a Roksan Xerxes. Bought it. I was a joy to see the old buffer of a dealer bopping along to Human League. 

2011, NYC. I buy a second hand Krell KSA 50 off eBay to replace my perfectly fine Peachtree amplifier. Put it on, it sounded nice, sweet, fresh, I was happy, then a track I know well comes up and Whoa! a wall of bass hits. I never knew the track had a base line. Room rattling stuff from my little bookshelf speakers. 

2018. After endless dead ends I end up with a Roon Rock + a Tidal subscription. Suddenly all my music is findable, with the right art work, I click on Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello, its a fave track of mine. I am happy, then I notice that Roon is telling me that lots of others have recorded this. I click on one (by Brian Case), its completely different. And there are many many others. Suddenly a new world opens. I can't go back. 
1-year ago I was having two issues 1) grounding issues with my turntable and 2) lights dimming to the beat of my SVS SB16-Ultra sub when turned up.  Installing (2) dedicated 20-amp circuits not only solved both issues but also improved overall SQ with lower noise floor.  Bonus was the picture quality on my 4k TV also improved.  Not a sexy purchase by any stretch ... but worth it.
Great post. 

David Pritchard
@Imnop My bass has easily doubled, maybe tripled. I can feel the pressurization in my room and it’s tight not bloated. 

I am not sure what you are saying - is this considered a big improvement?  Help me out here.  What about texture, clarity, dimension, tone of each instrument, black background, separation, size of instruments and vocals, placement, ease of sound?

Did I miss something?  Happy Listening.
- Switching from stranded core to solid core speaker wire, especially for tweeters
- Switching from low-quality plastic dielectrics to cotton or air, especially for tweeters (this really removed the grudge or unpleasant edginess from the highs. The same edginess that makes you want to turn the music down)
- RCA interconnects, both good quality purchased ones and handmade unshielded, cotton covered, solid core, silver wire with silver Eichmann bullets. 
- VPI brick
- Subwooder DSP and proper placement. 
- Power cords
@bri14mac, how hard was it to pull a 10 gauge wire for your 20 amp circuit? I get some lights dimming with loud bass hits which leads me to believe my 15 amp circuit isn’t enough. 
Lights dimming are due to poor splice techniques upstream. Builders usually use the backstab wiring terminals on receptacles and switches, which causes a poor connection with high resistance compared to a proper pigtail splice. This is something you can remedy yourself or with a qualified electrician. Also check the connections at the breaker panel for tightness and ensuring there are no splices or double-legging in the breaker panel. 
Just got accepted as a Qobuz beta tester and wow, so much better SQ than Tidal MQA. Strictly headphone listener with a mid-fi system, not to mention 62 year old ears, but truly an aha moment for me.
@bri14mac, how hard was it to pull a 10 gauge wire for your 20 amp circuit? I get some lights dimming with loud bass hits which leads me to believe my 15 amp circuit isn’t enough
@mkgus, wasn't hard at all ... just expensive ;)  i had an electrician run two completely new circuits from breaker to a quad hospital grade isolated ground outlet - one on each side of entertainment center in family room. was having work done for my basement so just added these to the list of requests.  lights don't dim anymore but my ears hurt from time to time.

1- My first ESL tweeter, the three RTR's in the ESS TranStatic loudspeaker, also used by Arnie Nudell in his Infinity 2000A. The TranStatic employed the KEF B139 woofer in a quarter-wave transmissionline enclosure, the B139 also used by Dave Wilson in his WAMM.

2- My first (from 100Hz up) full-range ESL, the Infinity Servo-Static 1.

3- My first Decca cartridge, the Blue.

4- My first direct-to-disk LP, Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues Volume 2 on Sheffield Records.

5- The Magneplanar Tympani T-1, bi-amped with ARC electronics: SP-3 pre, ARC passive x/o, D51 and D75 amps. Source a Thorens TD-125 MK.2 table with a Decca Blue mounted on a prototype ARC arm that never made it into production. A life-changing experience!

Never been gob smacked i bet it hurts.
Come on ebm you certainly have been many times in life,
but your nice system makes it all go away, out of mind.
NYC is a tough town. Music is bliss! 
I always enjoy your one-liner insights, btw!
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Ok, what got me was low power SET
and highest efficiency speakers @ 106 or better
Listening to Chet baker self titled out of Devore Orangutans 0/93
and audio research gear

Two recent moments.
Swapped stock fuses in my Parasound Halo A21 with Hifi Tuning Supreme units.

Set up a pair of 6" GIK Impression Regular panels at first reflection points on back wall, another pair on first reflection points on side walls, and one narrow panel in each of four corners.

When I got rid of my Preamp and dac and got a direct stream dac/ preamp from PS audio. It was like holy crap what the F just happened. How can one piece of equipment make such a difference?

My B&W 802N speakers finally sounded perfect. Silky smooth highs and mids with plenty of base that was lacking previously. 
Switching from NAD M51 Dac (very good) to an Audio Note 3.1. A week later I changed out the Bryston 1b pre for a Audio Note M3 line pre.

Just another level I guess. 
@Imnop, What prompted you to replace your Oppo UDP-205? We have (had) very similar systems. I have UDP-205, integrated (Pass Labs instead of Anthem) and ML Montis.  My main reason for getting the Oppo was the combination of transport and dac w/balanced outputs.  What are you using for a dac now?  To get on topic, my biggest and first "aha" moment occurred in high school early 70's.  I was looking to get some cheap department store all in one.  Guys I worked with hooked me up instead with AR-XA table, Kenwood integrated and Advents.  Hooked from then on.  The next was getting Infinity IRS Gamma.  Would not have sold them except for reliability issues.
I have several occasions; replacing my PS Audio Directstream DAC with Lampizator Golden Gate Balance, replacing GG Balanced with Lampizator Pacific Balance.

Replacing my Sonus Faber Toy Tower with Audiokinesis JM 2.0 + Space Generator.

Replacing my Auralic Aries with LDM servers.

It's a very long and enjoyable audio journey. :)
I was a resident physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, occasionally hanging out at Chestnut Hill Audio - one day Jack Rubinson (for all you Philly 'Philes - here's a shout out to Jack for all he did for all of us back in the day) has Quad ESL-63s out ---  Gob Smacked!! I moonlighted for 3 months, bought the demo pair, later added Gradient Subs (Gob Smacked again), sold them, missed them, eventually bought the Quad ESL-2905's because, well, you know, once you listen to Quads, nothing else will do....
Gob smacked at the results?
That's an easy one.
I was gob smacked by my beta qobuz 24 x192 on roon
My first post!! 1979 I was a sophomore in high school and had finally saved up my money from summer work to buy a pair of dahlquist dq-10’s. I loved them but they weren’t ‘aha’ because all music had been like that for me including listening to Drive my Car by the Beatles in 1971 on a rigged up Bogen receiver. Now cut to about three years ago at a friends who has every piece of equipment on the planet including Shindo et al that I’d never heard of. I had also stopped listening to music seriously for many years even though being a working soundtrack composer. At my friend’s house he put on Ella and Louis record through Tannoy Glenair 15. It was like hearing the music performed live. It haunted me and has since brought me back into the world of hifi after listening to music in my car only or on a Bluetooth speaker in my home. Now to create that experience again or at least something really good.
Directional fuses and high tech power cord.  Ha ha. Just kidding.
My first tube amp; CJ Premier 140,... from McIntosh MC7300. I listened for 4 hours straight. My first horn speaker, the Klipsch Fortee series 2. My first mono block amps, Conrad Johnson Premier 12’s. I sat and listened all day mesmerized by the everything I put on. My CJ Premier 350 solid state stereo amp. It was as if a vail had been lifted. I was transported to first row seats at the concert.  Finally my Pass Labs XA25. I quickly sold all CJ amps and found audio heaven. My Merging+NADAC was a complete eye opener to a endless quality digital world. I’ve sold my JA Michell ORBE turntable.