Insanely Expensive....and Worth Every Penny


There are many threads which discuss things like "80% of the performance at 20% of the price", how overpriced certain components are compared to others, and how some components fail to hold their value on the used market.

So here is a cheerfully optimistic question:

What component, accessory, set of speakers, or tweak have you purchased - preferably new - that was wildly, insanely expensive, and in your honest opinion really WORTH IT?

Something that was delightful to own, and demonstrably superior to anything less expensive...

(I hope this is not a very short thread.)
cwlondon
"Wildly, insanely expensive", I don't know, but my SP10 wasn't exactly cheap in 1984 terms, close to if not SOTA, and was the core of my main system until recently. Its still worth on the used market 2/3ds of what it cost. Zero regrets.
Carver 2000 receiver, I paid $1,500 back in 1983. It was the heart of my sytem for about 20 years.

It's looks and performance was in a class of it's own.

It was definitely the best looking piece of equipment I've owned. There was alway something great about the "Carver" sound that never left me wanting.

I still miss it sometimes.

Also, 3DBX expander, 400 route selector, and single ended noise reduction unit. The three ran about $1,400 back in 1984 and they all still look and work "as new".
As a tweak I think the Harmonix Golden Toe TU-210 zx tuning feet. 900.00 per component but jewel like finish is one of a kind.
My feeling is that those terms are mutually exclusive... i.e., nothing "insanely expensive" is worth every penny! You're lucky if you even get a perceived value of 50 percent when it comes to super-expensive gear.

On the other hand, I have a lot of gear that is incredibly inexpensive that I think is worth at least twice its MSRP in terms of performance per dollar.

I mean who cares how good something sounds if you have to pay over $50k for it? No matter how much you pay, you can't change the basic laws of physics. But as soon as some prescient company offers a unit that can do exactly that... well, that would be worth pretty much any price...
Buying a soundproof apartment in the UK to savor the delights of 240v of 'real' juice would be worth every penny...............lol
"Wildly, insanely expensive" implies madness or folly and by definition this is mainly a pleasure to own for its snob factor or for what it says about the person who owns it (for example, a Ferrari or a wife's insanely expensive diamond solitaire. Both are a statement of commitment/passion/wealth/success and the symbolic meaning is much more important than its actual utility).

Like the peacock's impractical but impressive tail, you only have to look to some tube amplifiers (where the tubes are purposefully displayed) to realize that audio has its fair share of "statements".
I purchase much of my equipment used. However, both my Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE loudspeakers and my Moscode 401HR were purchased new. The VR4 Gen III HSE have been worth every penny...and much more. I am also extremely happy with the Moscode, but it has several years of being in my system before it reaches the level of satisfaction the Von Schweikert's have provided.
Newbee

I would say that the price of ARC in the 80's was pretty insanely expensive.

I bought my SP-11 years later, when I could better afford it on the used market.

I, too, have no regrets - its the last component I would ever sell.

This thread was in part inspired by a proverb which says:

"Buy the best - only cry once."

Lets hear more about expensive components with no regrets.
My Jadis JP 200MC preamp, which I think retails at about $30K, has been worth every bit of its price (as was the JP80 I owned before it), as are the Lamm ML 1.1s I bought. And the EMM Labds CDSD SE/DCC2SE combination is something that gets better every day I listen to it, well worth its high price. These might not be insanely expensive compared with other products that are out there, but they are to those not in this hobby and they are pretty close to that to my way of thinking too.
the chocolate watchband lp-'no way out on tower' , still sealed.
two items - my Lamm ML2s and Avantgarde Duo Omegas.
Insanely expensive by my terms, my audio aero prestige which I bought used for a reasonable but still unbelievable price in my world. I'd say however that it is indeed worth every penny. The one component that I would regret to let go.

Of course, being attached to anything, especially electronics is "wildly insane" I should be able to loose everything and be just fine.

Peter
since no component is perfect, the idea that, regardless of its cost, it is worth every penny is relative, and may be perceived, subjectively, by its owner at a point in time.

thereafter, after some duration, the "very expensive" component may be exceeded in quality by another component, by the purchaser of the original component. Thus, does the 2nd component render the first component, "not worth every penny", once the second component is acquired ?

obviously two audiophiles may differ as to the value or worth of a component.

in addition, supposing the second compoent, cost less than the first component. i would say that renders the first component not "worth every penny", because its value to the owner is greater than the first component and it costs less than the first component
Years ago I purchased the Levinson top loading transport, the ML31 I think, it was an amazing sounding piece. I was shocked a "transport" could make such an amazingly positive difference in the sound of CDs...
More recently, I have been playing almost exclusively LPs. The Boulder 2008 has had the same profound effect on the sound of the music in my house...I did buy the store "demo" so I was spared the "truly" absurd price, but I think the purchase sill qualifies...for me at least.
If it isn't worth every penny to you, why would you buy it?
Of course Mrtennis, you are discounting the value of time and the enjoyment from the purchase until the release of the subsequent component.

The question by it's nature is subjective as worth in its purest form is simply supply and demand. There is nothing else that makes anything have value.

Frankly, when I purchase something it better be worth every penny or I won't buy it, expensive or not. I believe every component that will end up in my system, no matter the price, is worth every penny, or it wouldn't be in my system.

btw, I love that quote above from the OP; it's perfect and my philosophy that I've learned the hard way - buy quality and cry only once.
No one has said their divorce to improve WAF of the other insane expenditures.
My amps, Audionote Kagekis, are quite "insanely expensive," but I have not heard anything like them, except for some even more insanely priced amps. If considered on a price per watt basis they are truly insanely priced, as I think the amps put out about 6-watts per channel.
The Walker Audio Turntable my wife and I purchased. Very expensive, but worth every penny for vinyl nuts like us.
transparent cable prices vary by, even in the opinion of the people who manufacture them, "a VERY ILLOGICALLY LARGE amount of money". but i got hooked on upgrading them over several years, primarily because i felt my speakers had an almost limitless potential for improvement (eggleston andras). so, when i bought (traded up to) a 20 foot pair of balanced REFERENCE-MM (one step below opus), while the rest of my wire consisted of transparent ultra (they're okay but i can't get no respect from owning those), my speakers gained another octave of bass and the stage opened up like i was overlooking the grand canyon or something. it was pretty magical, and the effect did NOT fade over time; it was like buying a new preamp or an amplifier. neither is this simply a plug for transparent wire, since there are other ways to
get large improvements; this was simply a way that appealed to me, as i was satisfied with most of my other components.
and if i told you what i paid for the andras vs what i have now laid out for interconnects and sp.cable, you would have to agree that an appointment with a mental health professional might make the biggest improvement of all...
While not quite IE;-- but WEP, I give you the Adept Response conditioner.---I live in a 95 unit complex--- Next up my AA Prestige se. Also, while many have more expensive speakers, my Sophia 2's qualify as I bought them brand new.
s7horton:

if you audition a component in your stereo system and you prefer the sound of the stereo system with the new component vs the original component, you might buy the new component, regardless of your estimation as to its worth because you like the sound of your stereo system enough to want to buy the component.

i'm not convinced that explicitly or implicitly the idea of value or worth enters into the buying decision all of the time.
Heaven help us! Mrtennis returns with his psuedo-intellectual babble that adds absolutely nothing to this thread. I thought he had gone away or been rehabilitated by now. Obviously that's not the case.
I was under the impression this thread was started specifically to identify components that some owners believed were prohibitively expensive when they made the purchase, but have proven to be worth their high cost.

The result is to identify components with exceptional value.

Great idea!

Now, all we have to do is sift through the philosophical chaff to get at the worthwhile kernels.
Mr Tennis (and others), In my view the fault in the original question was the use of the words "insanely expensive" which have apparently been criticized by those who interpert them too literally.

To someone on a limited budget much could be seen as insanely expensive but worthy of purchase because of the satisfaction it would bring, but to someone who is fortunately financially blessed the same product bringing the same level of satisfaction might not be seen as insanely expensive, if expensive at all.

FWIW.
Mrtennis, if I'm ever taken hostage by a terrorist, I hope that you are with me, so that you can do the talking! Either you'll so confuse and obfuscate the terrorist that he will let us go...or kill us on the spot :-)
If I may clarify this debate, yes, "insanely expensive" was not meant to be taken literally, but only as an intriguing and/or amusing title for the thread.

What I was hoping to hear from you were comments on audio components which, on an absolute basis (not relative to income, or relative to one's perceptions) were - by any reasonable standard - very expensive.

To me, "by any reasonable standard" would still leave us with plenty to choose from - all top of the line or "reference" offerings by ARC, Mark Levinson, Jadis, Boulder, Wilson speakers, Pass Labs etc just to name a few.

And "insanely" might even be taken literally if we include full Rives treatments, Rockport turntables, multi thousand $ cartridges or cables and/or anything ever hyped by Harmonix.

For any of these components, it would be interesting to hear whether or not the owners felt they were worth the high price.

Does that help, Mr Tennis?

I am reminded that I did spend the big bucks for a Mark Levinson No 31 in the early 90's something I always thought was worth every penny.
Mrtennis, if I'm ever taken hostage by a terrorist, I hope that you are with me, so that you can do the talking! Either you'll so confuse and obfuscate the terrorist that he will let us go...or kill us on the spot :-)
Fatparrot (Threads | Answers)
I suspect the terrorist will be so hypnotized my MrT's diatribe that all the other hostages will simply be able to walk out the door.
insanely expensive: Kimber 8TC for speaker wire.
Copper wire, used to be $0.05 ft. now it's $15 a foot.
Thats 'insanely expensive' IMO.
Tho' I do hear some folks spend $150. a foot.... even more.
Great capacitors like the V-Cap TFTF or Mundorf Silver/Gold: they're expensive relative to other coupling caps, but very cost-effective in terms of the performance multiplier that they bring to amps, preamps, and speakers at all price-points.

Tennis, you missed the point. Regardless of how many other components you buy, each and every one should still be worth (to you) what you paid for them. It doesn't matter how many new components you bring into your system.
S7horton: Mrtennis always misses the point.. That's part of his charm.
gentlemen:

i have not missed the point. put simply, if i audition a component, and i am in love with the sound of the stereo system, the only question i ask is "can i afford it ?". i don't care if i think it is worth it or not, rather do i want the component badly enough to pay the price.

it is my opinion that purchases are made based upon emotion, not on the basis of a rational process of value for the dollar. in the future, i ihave erred in my logic, please call it to my attention. it may be that i have a different premise, but i try not to confuse.
Mrtennis you now state
it is my opinion that purchases are made based upon emotion, not on the basis of a rational process of value for the dollar...
Bravo! A concise and easy to understand premise! A line taken from a Boomtown Rats song states, "The final truth is there is no truth." I understand that pursuing a debate in philosophy, logic, and semantics may prove intellectually stimulating, however, in many cases it only serves to shift a discussion into a myriad of blind allies.
Wow, this discussion is deep. :)

I'll nominate:

ZYX UNIverse phono cartridge
ARC Reference 3 preamp
Stealth Dream power cords
perhaps i have misinterpreted the question being asked.

i will now give a specific answer which supports my point.

2 pair of quad esl to my ears comes closest to the sound of correct instrumental timbre. therefore if it cost $4000 for 4 of them it would be a great value. if it cost $4,000,000 it would be a great value. the value lies in the fact that one is brought closer to the music than possible when listening to any other speaker. this speaker has a value which cannot be translated into dollars. it's value is inestimable. you can't place a value on audio ecstasy.
the idea of value for the dollar does not apply in this case.
Ascribing pricelessness and emotionalism to a commercial purchase tends to release manufacturers from the discipline of the marketplace and into the realm of luxury goods-- where demand becomes inelastic the higher the price. This is a dangerous trend for our little hobby, with too many boutique manufacturers chasing too few buyers with high-priced, high-profit, low-volume sales, while failing to nurture a broad customer base. Watch out when the big money gets bored and moves on to other diversions. For my part, I'll buy audio equipment from high-end manufacturers that offer fair value and price on a cost-plus model. Supporting such manufacturers may ensure their survival.
I purchased a pair of new pair Linn Isobariks DMS way back in 1983 ($2500), which were at the top end of Hi-fi speakers to me. It hurt a lot financially and sacrifices were made to purchase them, but for the enjoyment they gave It was well worth the outlay. They served their time very well until a fatal day in 1995, I heard an Incredible pair of horn speakers ($6500) which were a must have, sacrifices were also made to purchase them. The Bricks found a new home at my brothers house. The new speakers were bought, installed and always give 100% musical satisfaction (to me), so are more than well worth their weight in gold (to me).At the end of the day It all boils down to how much one can sensibly afford to spend for their Indulgence/s. A $5000 cd player to someone who earns only $10000 per annum would be insanely expensive, but to Mr Chelsea FC or Mr ManU FC it would be 'beer' money (champagne probably).
Whatever it costs If one can afford it, buy it, sit back and enjoy the experience.
Welcome back MrT, always entertaining.............
MrTennis

Which version of the Quad do you think is most likely to be worth every penny?
Gawdbless: Please do not encourage Mrtennis. He's likely to respond with something like this:

What precisely do you mean by entertaining? Entertainment is entirely subjective. There are no absolutes. To some, comments from a moron might be entertaining. To others, those observations might merely be annoying. The bigger questions are whether the comments are meaningful to society and whether they make life on this planet better. In either case, we can all become more enlightened, and probably a lot more confused about what the original question might have been.
Hey 9rw nice reply. You have made my day. Thank you.
I nominate the Tron Syren pre-amp. I use it with my Avantgarde Duo's and Audiopax Model 88s. It is hands down the most transformative investment i have made in audio.
What has made it such a worthwhile investment is that it optimizes the rest of my equipment. Since I got it, I have been re-listening to recordings that have been on the shelf for years -- just so i can see what i have been missing
hi cwlondon:

the original quad, the esl, is priceless in its recreation of timbral realism.

thank you 9rw for excellence of elocution.
9rw, that was great! Had me laughing out loud!
9rw,

Sorry, but I think you need to work harder on your impersonation; I sort of understood what you wrote.
Of the components in the system I put together about 15 years ago, the Jadis JA80 tube monoblock amps are priceless. They are still with me. They have survived the major upgrading my system has gone through in the past 2 years. Amongst my new components, the APL Hi-Fi NWO-2.5T CD player is the stand out. Along my upgrade path, it did more to bring me closer to live music than all other components combined. It, in synergy with the rest of the components, has brought Musical Nirvana. The remaining upgrades are also expensive and are well worth it: Kubala-Sosna interconnects and speaker cables, Elrod Statement power cords, Sound Application RLS AC conditioners, and Critical Mass Grand Master isolation/damping platforms. I am now in the middle of implementing Rives' room treatment design for my dedicated listening room. Its shaping to be priceless.
>>Sorry, but I think you need to work harder on your impersonation<<

Yeah, that made much too much sense to be the real Mrt.
after adding up SOME of the receipts i've saved over the years...... i would say that the kiseki purple heart, the apogee caliper signatures, bryston 7B sst's needed to drive them, were all far more expensive than i could afford at the time(i was a line cook). even though i took the bus to work ........ THEY WERE WORTH IT !!!

come to think of it..... they still are -- even though i sold the brystons.
gentlemen:

after further consideration, it seems that if a component is insanely expensive, it is not worth every penny.

if a purchase is made the cost is not likely to be "insanely expensive". overpriced might be another way of saying "insanely expensive".
I would nominate the Halcyonics active isolation bases. Two years ago I saw a picture of one at the Stereophile show in NYC. A demonstration of it effect on a container of water with people striking the rack below it. No ripples.

I inquired as to whether anyone had heard its impact on music and received a response from the importer. Subsequently, I got one and tried it. I had to have it despite its high price. In fact I bought a second one which is now used under my amp. The first is now under my transport and dac.

No one has an active isolation base as any motion in the vertical or horizontal directions is sensed and cancelled by the voice coils. The others uses springs, different resonant layers, or air bladders, all of which have respond frequencies. Were I able to afford it, I would have these units under everything.