If you had to start all over again in this day and age


So, with the advent of different technology, sources and platforms these days, if you had to build your home stereo system all over again, what would you purchase to listen to music that brings you satisfaction?

How much of what you have would you keep, change or throw all out and start over again?
arro222
A pair of Quad 57's, a Futterman H3 OTL amp, an RGR 4 preamp, an Ariston RD11 TT/FR29 arm/ADC headshell/Sleeping Beauty mc cartridge/Bellari SUT for LP playback. For CD's a Marantz 67. And surprise! This is what I have on hand! No need to crank up the old Time Machine!
My system is so good for me now the only changes I'd make: Upgrade my subwoofers, Upgrade my speaker cable for better bi-wire and take the plunge for streaming with a decent front-end and server. That's it.
Did exactly that one year ago, starting from scratch after a 20 year dormancy in audio. Decided to go digital streaming only as to sources with streamer/dac, with a SS integrated amp, floorstanders and sub in main system. Did the same in secondary and third systems except used bookshelves and sub for bedroom and at work office. I’m probably done for another 10-15 years. Except I will look into room treatments in a year or two for the main system.
@roberjerman, I still have my Sleeping Beauty along with the Goliath head amp from my all GAS system from the seventies, it's what got me into moving coils and never looked back from that point on. Enjoy the music
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Please note, just deleted a duplicate post^^^^
I would gave gone all in on McIntosh instead of wasting thousands upon thousands of dollars constantly upgrading.  While McIntosh is not for everyone, to me it is the Holy Grail of electronics. 
Kren, you have more cajones than me far as this streaming stuff goes.
I asked the question to see if people were finding satisfaction with streaming as this seems to be the upcoming wave. 
I also recall how they said cd's were gonna be dead 10 years ago.

I'm a chicken to move toward streaming. It took me years to get a cd player. To me an audio system is still about a tt, a player and a good ole single ended.

You've trimmed yours down to what many are saying to do. Streamer/dac, integrated...done. I'm afraid to lose those "shimmering highs" however.
stereo5. Funny you say that. I used to sell audio equipment for years and never liked Mc stuff. I had it in the stores simply because many people loved their sound. I always thought Mark Levinson was hyped up stuff as well.

Now, house sounds "change". It did for ARC and I should probably listen to a McIntosh 2275 of late
My system has the best of the best including MAGICO speakers i do not have to second guess anything in my system.
OP,
I can identify in some ways with leery to digital streaming, because one year ago I was there, albeit for different reasons.

I’m into a lot of different things but I guess as I look back I have about five primary hobbies that recurringly dominate segments of my life. Usually one or two are obsessively active and the other three are sidelined but will re-emerge eventually, typically in near obsessive fashion until I lose interest and cycle to the next...

Music and hifi is one of the five, but as I mentioned was kinda dormant for most of last 18-20 yrs since my last big purchase of 2 ch and HT at that time.

Today, music/Hifi is dominating my attention span for the last year since I upgraded, like it hasn’t since I was a kid.

I started thinking about why that was, and concluded that for me it is all about quote-unquote unlimited access to music and variety.
Why do I say that? The only other time I was this enthralled in music and gear was way back in the 80s as a kid. Columbia House and the other one (forget name now - started with B I think) offering 12 albums for a penny! Wow!

All of a sudden, not only did I have 25 new albums which exponentially broadened my music view, but concurrently so did all of my friends, so between us it was virtually unlimited music in our world as we swapped and traded, and it led to massive (its all relative) investments in gear for home and eventually car, all because of the music awakening that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

Fast forward 15 years to having some money and buying first hi-end system in 2000 and playing the cds I had and it was good, but it died out fairly soon to be replaced by the other hobbies vying for my attention. I never got into the Napster file sharing and detest headphones/buds so never owned an iPod.

Well to wrap up a story that’s already too long, enter digital hi quality streaming and its 1985 all over again for me with limitless access to any and seemingly all music, and I’ve dropped the other hobbies for last year and plowing all of my $ into getting three separate systems up so I always have access to it.

I didn’t have the huge tranche of LPs or CDs or even digital download files so streaming was an easy decision for me a year ago, and it has been awesome.

Not too long at all Kren. I know noting of streaming. Don't know what to buy or where to start. Speaking of hobbies, one of mine was photography. It took me 30 years to get into digital. One trip to Alaska and 700 shots later, I never looked back.
I'm hoping streaming would be kind of the same thing.
Unfortunately, I am not a "music listener". I am a component listener which is way bad. It was different when I could listen to just about anything I wanted and took stuff home from the stores but it's where I picked up this bad habit of listening to "equipment". Hence my trepidation getting into streaming. 
Nearly 40yrs an audiophile and I wouldn't change a thing with the budget I've had over the years. I ha e what I think sounds best for my taste, room, music, and the money. I think a better question would be: if cost was no object what would you change (room stays same)?
I’m good.  Always considering technical innovation when buying. 
I'd go with smaller main speakers.
I'd have at least 4 subwoofers, maybe 6.  
I'd go with Class D amps. 
I'd own no vinyl or cd's....streaming only.
I'd keep my tube preamp.
I'd spend more money on a DAC.
I'd own a 10 inch reel-to-reel just for show....as audio art.
I'd own a late model Oracle Delphi turntable just for show...as audio art.
I'm good right where I am.
If I were doing it all over again I would totally skip CD and all digital, as digital is a bottomless pit of wasted time and effort and money. I would also skip the phono stage and go straight to the strain gauge. That’s the big technology that wasn’t even there in the beginning.

I would, if I could, get a Schroeder arm. But if not then I would have Ledermann make me his Schroeder designed arm. This I would put on the Onkk Cue turntable. These are all new technologies, or else so massively improved and refined they might as well be new.

You didn’t mention budget but if there is one then I would use my same rack only with some cool improvements. Otherwise this being sort of fantasy then I would figure out some way to cajole BDR into making me a turntable rack and amp stand.

Tube integrateds still are and probably always will be the way to go, and so I would have Dave Thompson build me a Raven Reflection MkII. Speaker tech has improved and today it would have to be Tekton. Moabs on a budget, otherwise Ulfberhts. Either way the DBA is totally the technology for state of the art bass.

That just leaves wire, and tweaks. Ted has been the leader in wire technology for like 30 years and running. His newest is always the best, usually even for the money, but money definitely is a factor. If we take all the money not thrown away on digital it would buy some pretty nice SR wire, HFT, ECT, and PHT too, of course. All new tech undreamed of 30 years ago.

So far, so good. Now we get to the meat of it. Which unfortunately only a very few of us comprehend. Even then... But the whole point of the OP is
with the advent of different technology,

which is frustrating as can be. Because the answer were I to give it is a major trigger, so I won’t. So there.
I wouldn't change anything very happy with my collection of old and newer equipment, I also do not plan on going into streaming, I'm old school I like to own my audio albums/cd's and even cassettes.
I second alucard19.....I would never change what I now have! I absolutely cherish all my forms of media, lp's, CD's and of course my cassettes! I have a musical fidelity dac which sounds fine to me for my streaming, but mainly used for my CD player and audiolab transport. I have lifetime speakers in my Tannoys....and of course  my venerable wharfie 225's. Still using my 1983 Aiwa three head cassette deck! So no changing anything for me for a long time.... .
OMG  - what would I change in 2020 vs. what I listened to 10, 20 or 30 years ago? That is too easy - streaming is the future - I have been using a LUMIN D1 for 5 years. This gave me access to new sources of music beyond my ‘ear drums’ could ever dream of!!! Music is the reason for this hobby! Tidal Hi Fi with MQA is the best. Solid state integrated amps solve multiple problems (I am a Krell guy), Speakers are personal taste and room dependent - a Maggie guy for 30 years. Just bring enough power and enjoy the music!! You want more bass - add a Maggie bass panel and bi-amp it. Just upgraded to the LUMIN T2 - OMG - the sound stage - the detail - the vocals are amazing! 

Streaming is the future!

enjoy the music - Happy Listening!

Tom8999

Hegel 390
Magnepan 1.7s, Fritz 2 Ways,
or powered Elac Navis with a preamp/streamer/Dac. 
Innuos Streamer
Kimber Cables
Dedicated Power
No LPs, Cds or DVDs
All in for $10k.



Started from scratch again, building my fifth system in 60 years.  To enjoy great music, I started with a pair of ACT SRC50's-active, and PS Audio electronics from the regenerator (great), direct stream DAC, direct stream transport, BHK preamp (Amprex inside) and excellent interconnects by Vertre.  It's a simple system, not one that fills the room with hardware, and totally enjoyable.  Next step is a Innous Zenith MkIII, and maybe a pair of REL subs.  I have used a myriad of great equipment in the past and I think I have bettered all of it.  BTW, I got out of vinyl because of the constant tinkering and "tics".  Took too much time away from listening to great music.
Would keep all my kit. Moon by Simaudio 390 streaming Pre. Moon 330A, Rega RP8, Raven Audio CeLest Towers and all Raven Cables.
I would do what Kren0006 suggested. 
I'm almost to retirement, and I just got my first streamer and HI res streaming service.  Now I wonder why I waited so long!  I can get music however I want it: Playlists, albums, genres, etc. 
Half your money on speakers, half on the rest. ...ish...

Interesting question to ponder. 
Life is a journey and I like my current system. I also have all the music I have ever bought - vinyl, tape, CD and digital with the exception of albums stolen while in college. 
Streaming is awesome and a great way to get exposed to different music by other music lovers...
I would not change a thing in my system. I am very pleased with my speaker and headphone setups. 
I would not start at all.

Of course, there would be something to listen to. A nice Walkman with decent earphones and $100-200 Bluetooth speaker. iPod Touch for Internet radio. Which is what I mostly use these days anyway. All the music I have fits on microSD card. In Walkman and in the car.
Just did this process after downsizing. I sold my Passlabs X-250 and am selling my AR Ref 1...couldn’t fit these components in a new BDR cabinet and couldn’t expose the new grand baby to the heat!. I chose the Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe which is in my opinion a beautiful piece with integrated amp, phono stage, upgraded DAC, and excellent streaming capability. I am very happy with the level of performance and versatility. I kept my Vienna Acoustic Mahler speakers, and Teres Audio turntable rig. I love my vinyl but am not opposed to entering the hi-Rez streaming world either...
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@aero222 Interesting post.  As a former shop owner, I am with you.  We sold Mc because doctors liked the looks of it, and yes, it sounded horrible.  We made stands for the ML HQD system, but his stuff sounded worse than the Mc, and that is going some. Same with many other brands, but I was not in business to change people's minds unless they asked for help.  Mc owners wanted Mc, period, so that's what I sold them.

ARC had the best stuff, so if I started again today, I would listen to the new stuff.  If it was not as good as the old stuff as you intimate--I have not heard any of it--I would just buy the old stuff and be happy with the newest Maggies and a combo of a good CD player for background music times and a good TT and moving coil set-up for real listening.

As for other sources, a R-T-R would be nice if I had access to master tape rundowns, and a Nak Dragon--I guess it was the best of these things--for any cassettes that showed up.  I would pick a comfortable chair to sit in when listening as well!

Cheers! 
It’s funny on the media ownership vs streaming decision. Funny because I myself am in conflict when it comes to music v movies on the issue.

With music, I have blissfully moved to digital streaming, acquired a relatively modest (in this company) but supremely capable streamer/dac (Teac NT-505) and I think nothing of the hundreds-ish cds gathering dust.

With movies, I’m not there. Yeah the kids stream Disney+ thru tv using tv speakers and I’ve spent hours trying to get the sound thru the ht AVR and it just isn’t meant to be for some reason. I’ve had it dialed in once or twice and tried explaining the procedure to the kids but of course the next time they do it themselves it’s all mucked up so I’ve given up. They’re satisfied and life’s too short. 

So for HT still buying the 4K Blu-ray disks and playing them thru my Atmos 5.1.2 system and its all good.

Perhaps it comes down to I have less curiosity in deeply exploring new movies versus deeply exploring new music?
Don't cut yourself short Kren. Music is in the ears of the beholder. Audiophilia is a sickness with much based on the "perception" of the listener. For those well healed and can spend $250,000 on a system, more power to them. Would this person be happy with a 5 or 10K system? Nope. But I'm not sure if the real added nuance of the music or the expectation that such a system has to produce $240,000 better nuance is the driving force. That last scintilla of quality higher priced stuff gives you is priceless to some. It does not mean in any form or fashion that cheaper stuff does not give joy. 
From my experience in the 35 years of selling this stuff, many told what they should be hearing from magazines, took precedence over what they actually were hearing.
The poster stating he would be happy with this Walkman is on to something. The snobbery and bs in this business is astounding easily rivaling egos found at horse and dog shows.
I'm admittedly an audio cheapskate, I just can't bring myself to spend tens of thousands on top shelf gear, but if I had all the money I spent on audio stuff over the years, chasing good sound, I would get a good TT & cartridge, and replace digital with LP's. I grew up with LP's, RTR &  cassettes, and wish I had a Mulligan, I would have just improved my analogue gear over the years and kept growing my LP collection. I use a tube integrated now, but wish I had not waited so long. 
richopp. You have taken what you think as my "intimation" wildly incorrectly. For me and to my taste, ARC sound has actually improved from yesteryear.
The best system i have ever heard was at a show in Las Vegas in 2011 or 12. It was comprised of all ARC componetry with Verity speakers.
If one is into what they perceive as "actual timbres" with a "you are there" perception, this did it for me.
Haha, OP, yeah that’s true. But I’ve been tested for the audiophile virus, and, sorry to say, I did not test negative. I’m guilty of wanting better sounding components and despite just upgrading the three systems and dropping well into five-figure land on the combined projects, I’m already thinking the bedroom system could sound a lot better if maybe I got that top Luxman integrated for my main system and moved my used circa 2010 ARC integrated to my bedroom........so yeah, I’m no pure white dress bride (ha!) in this consuming hobby (sickness?).

But it is all fun and I am enjoying it, the music and the gear.

But I can’t help sometimes thinking something that I’ve seen MillerCarbon state one way or the other several times over the last year (I’ll paraphrase): "Blessed are they who cannot hear the differences in equipment [like my wife and my kids, for example (parenthetical is mine, not his)], as for them life passes blissfully without the worries of how one’s system may be somehow deficient"

(apologies to MC if that isn’t close enough but that’s kinda what I took from your renditions)

As I type this, I’m at work. Not working, mind you, but because it’s early on a Saturday and the building is mostly empty, I can crank the budget system and listen to differences in the three (yes, it’s true) bookshelf speaker options I’ve collected and rotate thru .... just because. Audio sickness, maybe? Or is it pushing the boundaries and exploring a passion? Depends which network you watch I suppose, so to speak. My wife thinks for sure the former, I’m arguing the latter but, you know, she may have a point.

So alas, I’m not there. : )
But it’s all good. Enjoy the music, and stay safe.
Just put together a $10k system from scratch, so I guess I’ll chime in. VPI Prime, Hana SL cart, Bob’s Devices SKY20 Integrated VPI SUT, Don Sachs tube MM phonostage, Musical Fidelity M2Si integrated amp, Audioquest Rocket 11 speaker cable, Tannoy XT 8F speakers, and a set of Drop/Sennheiser HD650 headphones. Got everything brand new except the SUT, which is in mint used condition with lifetime transferable warranty. 
Will probably add a DAC, streamer, and headphone amp at some point, but pretty stoked at how well this turned out, and I haven’t even heard the Sachs phonostage yet as they are built to order. 
I once let a brother-in-law hear a $100,000 system in one of our stores.

He turned to me and said, "this doesn't have anything over my Bose system" and added, after I told him how much this system would cost; "people who buy this stuff must hate money".

.
arro, your bro-in-law did and does make a point to be considered.  If we were to 'begin again', would we have what we know now in mind?

Likely not...so a Bose 'system' would be perfectly acceptable.

We're 'victims' of our eras....and errors....*s*  It's taken all this time to get 'here' from the 'there' behind us....

I, for one, might be 'where' I am 'now', considering the $ of 'hi-end'...or just another ear budded smartphoner.....;)
The merry-go-round over the last 50+ years of multiple systems and upgrading, has gotten me to a point where I’m ‘almost’ completely satisfied with my sound. What I did not quite understand in those earlier years of changes, is that you have to find your sound first. That takes getting off your butt and listening, like going to shows and dealers before buying a damn thing. If you can’t hear the difference you’re probably lucky. Get something pretty at your price point and be done.

Patience, can be a bitch. I was too impulsive then. You know, when you have money to burn or you’re saving up hard for something specific from reviews or whatnot.

I am lucky to have finally found the sound that I love about ten years ago, and it doesn’t matter what others prefer as well. This doesn’t mean that I’m done. I still want to replace my line stage, because it’s not the best match for my other gear. So, I’m working to match the level of quality of my equipment to the sound that does it for me.

So, if I were to start over again, I would take the time to listen to all types of systems, find that sound, then go after it, and build upon it.
Kenny
Kenny: prophetic "if you can't hear the difference, you're probably lucky".
I've been cross country twice on motorcycles. Lost about 25%-30% of my hearing as a result of the constant cacophony of the exhaust even with muffed helmets. 
I no longer hear the nuance details in components as I used to. That might indeed be "lucky".
With the same amount of money, I will buy the same pieces of equipment and do the same control methods for the embeddings....Only more refined perhaps if I must recreated them, because now I have learned how to do it.... :)


I think that top Hi-Fi S.Q. is much more in the hand of the acoustician than in the hands of an electrical engineer...Not many people know really that,  and it is especially true if you dont have money to spend.... But it is true in all case....
It’s sooooo true that it’s important to find “your sound” right from the beginning as mentioned above. Before my upgrade I listened carefully to over two dozen speakers over six months to find what I liked. Not 5 minutes, ten minutes. Minimum of half hour to one hour each, over six month period. With the finalists probably at least 2-3 hours over several sessions with different electronics.

Figured out that a Spendor D series was what made my toes curl, and its all been fricken musical bliss since. Put the D7’s in my reference system and the D1’s in my bedroom!


Gonna give somewhat counter intuitive answer ;)

Have thoroughly enjoyed building two systems around a pair of freshly serviced Crown PS200 pro audio amps from the ’80s. Two different approaches, one with minimal processing inbound and an investment in good new towers and an REL sub. Went the opposite way on the other, with full 6U rack of modern inbound processing and vintage speakers I already owned from years ago....Cerwin Vega bookshelf units (!) and really warm little 60W Jensen powered sub. Roughly the same investment in both.

The "rat rod" system with only a streaming DAC input and the better newer speakers is the stronger one - wider sound stage and happier at higher volumes. But the processed input system through old speakers is very warm and rich at lower volumes and provides a nice backdrop for hanging out in our 1924 side gable bungalow cottage in the Maryland Mountains.

I enjoy them both. But I’ve learned from this that I am not a totally discerning listener, LOL. So if starting over, I confess to trusting PS Audio a lot from the enjoyable (if somewhat rambling) Ask Paul series. If starting over, I would buy the bottom, Sprout/Elan system and call it a day. Fun question, though!

https://www.psaudio.com/product-category/system/
@aero222  MY BAD!  Clearly misinterpreted your post--glad to hear that the products have improved.  Obviously, I have not had an opportunity to hear their new stuff.  The D-150 was the last big thing I heard from them and it was outstanding...I would buy one today if they were not so old. and unavailable!

As for the newer gear, I recently got an SP-6 preamp--old, yes, but it is new to my system and it is wonderful!  Looking for a used ARC amp, but found out from ARC that many older ones are no longer eligible for service, so I am looking carefully.  Wish I could buy one of the pairs of $17,000 (used) 600's now being advertised around...oh, well, something will show up eventually that is in my price range..

Thanks for straightening me out on this.

Cheers!
...  turntable, CD transport, streamer, top-of-the-line Integrasteds (1 tube, 1 hybrid, 1 SS), Totem Mani ll bookshelfs bi- wired with really solid stands
Its only been a few months for me since I started acquiring higher end equipment, but the only “what if?” feeling I have had was over the purchase of speakers.  I didn’t know when I started that Martin Logan made their name with electrostatic speakers, and I bought their 60XT’s.  Then, some weeks ago I saw a pair of used ML electrostatics for sale at $1500 (less then what I paid for the 60XT’s). I thought that it might have been better if I would have purchased the electrostats instead.  But then I recalled that those speakers need to be positioned out into the room to get the best sound, and space is my biggest limitation.  So, I think I am better off with what I have.

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richop
Coupled with your ARC pre, I believe you’d be tickled pink with their Ref 150 se. Very reasonable used.

Also, their all in one Gsi75 is no slouch either if you wanted a one box solution. As neutral as the 150 and can deliver the crystalline highs I like without being cold, thin or "whiteish". Can find these used once in  awhile.

Now all of my blather is based on if your tastes run as mine do as described in an earlier post. In short, I'm not into "beautiful sounding" as I am into "reality" sounding. I would say the "bloom" of the old ARC stuff is about gone nowadays and you would be disappointed if your tastes still run in that direction.
Ok, so back to my original question. As I am "chicken and ignorant" to get into streaming, for those who have listened to both: how does a streamed delivery compare with a "burned cd"? 

I have the Arc CD-8 and it's darned good or I should say "I like it".
arro222 OP
  ... how does a streamed delivery compare with a "burned cd"?
As with so many things in audio: It depends. However, a high quality hi-res stream can better the CD equivalent. CD can't match the potential of something like Qobuz.