@mid-fi-crisis - Some people are never happy. Just not in their nature. Always looking for something better. However, there are lots of folks on this forum who rarely upgrade (including me). I don't spend much time replying to "what's my next upgrade" threads. However, I do regularly participate in a few of the very long running and popular music threads here on AudiogoN. I mean, it's all about the music... Right?
Nothing wrong with upgrading if it brings you joy. However, for me, it just a distraction from my true love of just listening to music. I got off the constant upgrade/change train and I've been happier for it. That said, I did just buy a new turntable. But it was relatively inexpensive, and significantly different from my other turntable... And I've been listening to more records...
Yes. I call them " gear changers ". Often praising gear before it has even arrived...
But it's not the only consideration, like Tom said...implicitly...pay attention to the music lovers, symphony subscribers, the compassionate, and the helpful. Ignore the blowhard egomaniac..
So many good flavors of sound. So little time. ....and money.....
I use Plexamp music streaming app running on an old iPhone straight out to $30 Audio Technica Bijoue headphones at work and the music is sublime, extended, crystal clear, all there, and every track sucks you in completely. I had tears in my eyes at one point today. That is how easy it is to get top notch sound these days. What does that tell you?
There are hobbies and then there are obsessions. Like a gambler who can never win enough to the bank robber who can never get enough, this can be seen everywhere. Throw in an audience and it becomes more than self reinforcing, bordering on addictive, and can be dangerous, not to mention damaging.
I think you're doing just fine at your present pace. Speaking for myself, I haven't bought a new component since 2013 (not counting speaker cables) and am looking forward to a new piece of gear that should last me just as long, if not longer.
Like you alluded to, the "been there, done that" crowd sounds like nothing more than feigned bragging rights (for the most part). There are some here who eschew that attitude and their advice is easy to parse and take. You'll know it when you hear it by the way they say it.
All the best,
I've had most of my stuff a good 10 years+ now. I got the urge recently to try something new. Then I listen more and think: why? What do I hope to gain? No good answer other than to see what wonders newer technology might work.
And there are vintage collectors like me. I'm a Mac collector, BUT my reference system is, Mac, Cary, VMPS, GR, DIY, Sony, Thoren, Nord, and First Watt. I pulled the Decware ZP3 it needs something.. I went back to a Rogers PA-2
There has alway's been a standing army of speakers here. I've made over 100 pairs and repaired another 150 pairs between Infinity, VMPS and a few older JBLs like C45 Ranger, Metrons or Paragons. I had a pair of Paragons. I loved them..
Strange thing most of the time I listen to a Mac MC225, MX110z, TD124 and a pair of 45 year old VMPS QSO 808s monitors.. I put a belt on the Thoren 20 years ago..I replaced one 12AX7 Telefunken, 15 years ago.. Maybe 4 or 5 cart tips. I haven't touched one thing on any of them (50+ years old). I do dust them.. They look new..oh There is a Sony ES777 I use. I did recap that.. ALL DIY cables.
I think it depends more on personality. I've gone through some gear in the last couple of years, not because something maybe be better (or not) but just to explore what is out there in a particular price range. Tubes, SS, Class A, Class AB, Class D etc etc. they all have their peculiarities. Going through it all and then "landing" on something finally is fun, frustrating, and can indeed be a bit expensive. Key is to buy right, so if you do sell it's a lateral move. Regarding opinions on said gear, I think the person that has done some swapping has a good perspective on the gear. Usually better is not the term. More often it's "different". The hard part is deciding which different is your favorite. It's a fun ride with too many toys to play with! We must be cautious. ;-)
I've had 3 turntables, 3 arms, 4 cartridges, 2 phono stages, 4 amps, 3 speakers, and roughly 3 sets of speaker cables and interconnects and 2 sets of power cords. In 30 years. That is a pretty consistent 5 to 10 years, sometimes longer, per component.
I think you are right to question advice from people who don't know what they're doing. Which yes it is clear to me churning through gear demonstrates a lack of ability. Either that or the person simply likes change. Either way, why would you listen to them? Because if you want to be happy a long time what do they know about that? And if you just want change, what do you need them for then anyway?
So a total waste of time- and yet how right you are, makes up a lot of what we have here.
Unless, you learn how to read them. This is the art of making sense and culling useful information out of a lot of blathery randomness. A highly sought after skill, since if you can master it then guess what? You can be like me: happy as a clam, 20 years since I had a dud, and all from reading reviews and comments just like the ones around here.
Wish I could tell you how to do it. Lord knows I've tried. Maybe not lately. But search around, they're there. It doesn't happen by accident. There is a method to the madness. Happy to help any time.
@mid-fi-crisis , It might seem that way but there are many of us who keep equipment for decades and only jump to a new piece went we know it will make an improvement. I would venture to say we have much more expensive generally better gear and the incremental steps are have less obvious improvement and are much more expensive.
many of us have heard gear in our travels and may also comment based on design.
Just try to get the best from what you already have before moving on. You may discover that there is no need to move on.
Unless, you learn how to read them
This is the key one who the players are know their strengths and their weaknesses know the ones who know what they’re talking about and the ones who are just bsers. learn to read reviews. If you see common traits spoken about the product then you can be assured that that is what you’re going to get from that product if if most of the people say that it has extended highs then you can be pretty sure that it’s got extended highs now that doesn’t mean that it’s going to have extended lows to go with them it means that you got a possibility of adding brightness to your system do you need breaks if you don’t need brightness and you struggle with that this is probably not a piece that you want this is how I have been able to make steps that have been positive and at this point in time like Miller I don’t think I’ve had a bad guy in the last 20 years have I made mistakes of course. But you need to learn to know the players and who’s going to give you good advice and who’s going to BSU.
As for the constant upgraders I actually miss them. I am one with a limited pocketbook and limited funds especially now living in retirement and I’ve always found it helpful that these guys create a market and a place where I can buy equipment more affordable price I could never afford equipment that at the retail prices that they want to charge. I have too many hobbies too many interests but I do miss those because I’m looking for a tone arm now and apparently nobody’s getting rid of their high-end tone arms.
Sorry for the poor grammar. New toy that I'm trying to learn
I must admit, I used to be in a "constant upgrade" cycle, but lately I've really slowed down on my purchases. I found an elixir from Scotland which is brown in color that seems to treat that affliction and it seems to have worked for me...
You definitely should not listen to people that have tried different things in their system(s) and can provide commentary and comparisons based on actually having owned those various pieces and lived with them for a while.
It’s much better to operate on conjecture... "well, I read this review..." or "I heard one at a show" or "it uses XXXX technology, so I think it would be better than XXXX". Or "I’m a fanboy of _______, they can’t be beat".
I have 4 systems. Things have changed a lot in my main system, it’s been an ongoing progression of trying different things. Rarely have I made a backwards move. I went from a VPI to an Acoustic Signature turntable recently and it was a sideways move. Lesson learned. Now I have a Sota Sapphire, which is a major improvement. The other 3 systems are pretty static at this point, other than perhaps an occassional hand-me-down from the main system.
So, let’s say you’re considering a couple of those tables, I can provide an informed commentary on what their strengths and weaknesses are and what I heard in my system. Your tastes may not be the same as mine, your room is different than mine, the rest of your gear is probably different than mine, so I can only provide so much help, but would you rather trust someone that has actually owned those pieces (or something very close) than conjecture?
Wouldn’t you rather listen to a "flipper" like me than someone who has only owned one or two pieces and says "________ is the best" because that’s all they’ve heard?
I recently sold my Modwright LS 100 (which for a long time I thought would be a "forever" piece). When one of the guys that was interested in it told me he had a Herron preamp, I told him he should stick with what he has. Why? Because that’s what I upgraded to from the LS100. Someone else bought it and for that person it will be a nice upgrade.
I'm still learning. Hopefully I never stop learning. What better way to learn than by broadening your horizons and trying different things. I'm not the "audiophile authority". I'm just one voice, and you should take many, including reviews, into consideration. I often buy things without ever hearing it beforehand, based on extensive research.
Filtering is important. If someone has only owned one phono preamp, they may get filtered out. If someone claims that whatever they're a fanboy of is vastly superior to other similar products, they get filtered out. A lot of what I read in reviews gets filtered out.
For the most part, I buy pre-owned gear and typically flip it for what or near what I paid for it. I don't have an unlimited budget and I would like to reach a place where I am content with everything I have. I'm pretty close, but it's been a journey. Should I have just stopped at some point? Or spent more initially without having any idea if it would be worth it?
At the end of the day, I really just want to enjoy the experience of listening to music. It's not about the gear, it's about the experience, but you need one to have the other.
So all these people have advice to give. What I’m wondering now is, is advice from a person who’s never content, constantly changing their system, never living with a system for long enough, and have more money than patience, really the right person to take advice from?
OP, it seems like you already know the answer to this question.
How does anyone decide to listen to anyone -- about anything?
They do: describe their experience, they provide context, they identify their own preferences, they locate reasonable places for disagreement, they incorporate facts from trustworthy sources.
They do not: use hyperbole, fixate on certain brands, ignore room acoustics, align their self-worth with their argument.
Of course it isn’t prudent to follow those who have some psychological need to try new things at a rate that may not be optimal. This has always been the situation in any hobby, however defined - it is just that with forums such as this it has become abundantly demonstrable.
However you may learn from their observations, and that is valuable information. This may take a certain amount of experience to discern what is credible, and what is just mystical.
I predict that in the next couple years (and currently) we will be reading quite a bit from folk who try a variety of new developments in Class D technology. Good and bad decisions will be made, there will be mistakes and there will also be glee.
Now compare this with the situation before online forums such as this. It makes me shiver. I submit that information shared freely is a goldmine for the intelligent and discerning enthusiast.
Nothing I say in this comment is novel - most will read this and say, yeah, I knew that. And that's nice.
Agree with what @geof3 said.
Some folks upgrade components more frequently to simply try different things and learn. Curiosity gets to us all at some point. Keep in mind a few have been at this 40-50 years, changing less frequently over longer periods of time and reflecting back on experiences. Worth noting the newer folks who've only been at it say 2-5 years may change out gear more frequently in the early years of their journey.
The old days of going into a nice stereo shop to figure it out up front are winding down leaving many to guess reading internet forum posts, rolling the dice some.
Sure seems about the time when digital "glare" and crappy digital tracks/recordings came along with a variety of different streaming services, this is when people really went nuts and started rotating all sorts of different gear in/out more frequently at every layer of their systems in an attempt to get rid of it. Good recordings help. :)
Will be up al night thinking obout this.
My business over the years has led to relationships and sources of gear too good to pass up. I took it upon myself to ride the roller coaster, sometimes making money, other times coming out even, occassionally behind.
I recommend looking at how the person posting relates to the item. Are they talking about it like it's the "best think ever like an eager puppy?" Do they have a history of 10,000 posts drooling all over themselves and acting like an authority? Are they just trying to talk it up before they post it for sale? Are they always disgruntled about what they are posting? Do they just want to interact with members because this is what the hobby means to them- more community? So many more perspectives to consider .
I find it helps to assume that most have less of idea of what they are talking about, and out of those, most will have different tastes. From there it really helps to have a shared vocabulary. Even better is if the poster has heard something that you have heard so you can test that vocabulary. It takes time and experience on all sides.
I have a dozen or so audiogon friends that I interact ocassionally about gear. Some of them have owned things that I owned years ago, and others have moved up to the next level or several levels from what I currently have. Some you will clique with more than others, just like any area of life. One thing I've found useful is to reach out via PM if there is a question you want to ask someone. Sometimes you can get great information "off the record". I don't think any of us likes really slamming a product on the forums- these guys have families and rent to pay. Off-line it is surprising what you can learn. Realize dealers have heard all the other items BUT what they sell is clearly just better. lol
Quicky, the room. I once had a perfect, well treated symetrical room. Now I have my system in a living room. Be careful with guys that know it all but have poorly set up rooms, like mine.
The one thing I do is stick pretty close to home. Equipment manufactures, speaker design and driver type.. I did that over a 10 year period in my 20s. I went through a lot of gear and found what I liked and kept GOOD notes. I made a few choices like, Mcintosh, Thoren, Russco/type (TT) Pass design SS amps, SME tone arms, Telefunken valves and great electrical filtering and conditioning. I've used a few, Topaz design always worked for me. Triplite too.. Other than new manufactures making the drivers I use or going out of business, I stick to the same kind of speaker design and philosophy in building. GRs OB servo was an exception. I’m not an OB kind of guy for the most part..
The only new piece in many years was a Decware ZP3. I got it mainly for a RtR preamp. I added Cary to the line up, but it was OLD when I got It.. Then worked it.. I love it.. Betters my VTLs and most of my Macs (not ALL). I added class D 8 years ago, 3 years on and off picking what I liked.. Ncore is just fine for me..
Rogers PA-2 will better it in every way as far as a turntable though.. 3 times the cost too. Actually I have a pair of Mac that are quite a bit better. A C20 and a MX110z. both phono sections were worked over pretty good.. Better than the Decware, a cap change is all that’s needed, though.. (pretty sure).
Maybe just add .01 collection caps.. WiMa are great for that.. for pennies vs GOLD nuggets for payment.. NUTSO pricing on some bypass caps.. Mercy oh mercy pricing. :-) AND nothing seems to be in stock..
If one thing makes sense to me is if I can remember what something DID sound like and keep that reference available, I know when it’s ME not the equipment or the room or anything else. I keep a reference system here, it’s pretty simple too.
I have a FEW buddies that use MY little reference system as a mark in the sand after a gear up grade.. More money than good ears for most of them..:-)
I do have a right EAR thing going on as of late. They changed my heart meds, it’s affecting my ears a tad..
Heads up fellas.. Heart meds mess with the EARS... Water seems to help so far.. More not less. Maybe the NURSE not the doctor was right.. BP is a little LOW.
@ebm why on earth is that your go to response? An urgent need to exercise your fingers?
@mid-fi-crisis I seek opinions from all kinds. I especially want to hear from someone who has owned or owns a product I'm interested in. If they love it I want to know why. If they didn't care for it I try to find out why, with what equipment, in what size room, and with what music. Their dislike may be closer to my preference. I would avoid the folks who have plenty to say about items they have never heard. BTW love the screen name.
Good observation. I have known guys that were addicted to equipment swapping. You are correct, not the people to listen to. I, like quite a few others here have been at this for fifty years or so, slowly acquiring and evaluating one piece of equipment at a time. For the last thirty years or so I have been careful to raise my system up a level and then spend around seven years there just enjoying the music. I think a number of folks here are like that. That is why some of uds try to say enough to quantify our qualifications enough in a post, and show our system to establish some credibility and to show our point of view.
Looking at it from a different side. Without the people that swap gear frequently you would never be able to get the common questions "how does this vs this sound" answered. Also this hobby has many facets. Some people just enjoy listening to music, others enjoy the nuances of sound reproduction through different gear.
What a fascinating topic.
Perhaps I am in an ideal position, having a good understanding both electronics and physics.
Before making a purchase, I thoroughly investigate it and then sit on it, so I don't make any impulsive decisions.
As has been suggested, the next step is getting the best from what you have before even considering an upgrade. This step is the most difficult, and I acknowledge there are many who are going to struggle. Relatively simple with stereo but hellishly difficult with multi channelled home theatre systems.
Without the people that swap gear frequently you would never be able to get the common questions "how does this vs this sound" answered.
A common misunderstanding. In fact we are totally able to answer these questions without ever so much as a peep from the flippers. There’s actually good reasons to avoid them. We have a thread here been going for something like a decade, forget dozens got to be hundreds of amps compared. I could not possibly care less what this guy has to say about anything. When you have listened to a hundred different amps and still haven’t found one worth keeping more than a few days, at what point do you finally give up and admit, waste of time? Or at least maybe time for a different approach? (This seems to be dawning on him. Fingers crossed. No, seriously, he has put tremendous time and energy into this. I really do wish him well.)
I would much rather hear from someone who never heard any of them but has studied everyone else’s impressions so thoroughly as to understand what the flipper never will. I say that knowing full well this really gets some people going. People who follow the herd, unable to think for themselves mostly. Everyone keeps repeating the "home audition" mantra so it must be true. Right? Not even.
Someone already said, when you see enough people saying the same thing just maybe they are right.
Honest truth is, the more closely you examine a lot of common assumptions the more they fall apart. We are supposed to read reviews, yes, but also home audition. Why? If the reviews are good, why home audition? If they aren’t then why read them?
How about this: learn how to read them! Michael Fremer, for example. Great reviewer. But why? Because he tells us what he hears. What he prefers. Anyone following MF knows he likes a fast neutral analytical hi-fi sound. There even was a time he made no bones about it. I don’t know if he is so full-disclosure these days, but it hardly matters now, does it? Anyone can simply look at his system, his component choices, read a bunch of reviews, and figure it out for themselves.
Therefore, when I read MF say something is snappy or a little dry or whatever, I know it is REALLY snappy and dry. If on the other hand MF says it leans a bit lush I figure this probably means just about right. Because I have learned how to read him.
You do absolutely have to be able to figure this out for yourself. If you can then you will totally be able to use the information provided by the guy who never even heard what he’s talking about. Get a lot more useful information from that than from the guy who has spent all his time listening to 500 amps and so has no clue what sounded like what. How could he? Could YOU keep track of 500 amps?!
Say yes if it makes you feel good. We all know the truth. Just not with the cajones to say so.
@big_greg i don't consider you a gear changer ;-) Yes a wide experience base but also deep.....and deeper by listening to other systems and rooms....
No self awareness at all. Zip.
Great post. I do understand your hesitation to ignore people that seem to never find happiness with what they own. Perhaps to them the chase is more important than the capture? I try to read everyone’s post on certain topics because I don’t have as much experience with all the different brands of equipment and different components. I may not agree with most of the advice I read here, but that is because I know what I like when it comes to music reproduction.
Let's not forget that the zig zag path to audio nirvana is often times due to limited funds resulting in sideways moves. How many of us wish we could have had the quality of equipment we own now 30 years ago. For me it would have taken a much larger investment than what I was prepared to make at that time. Overall, it cost me a hell of a lot lot more zig zag-ing.
It depends on the person and if they understand what makes something sound the way it does. Most people don't. Some just follow reviews.
Some of us really enjoy the journey. It's not about being unsatisfied, it's about trying new stuff with different combinations and having fun with it. Kind of like, you know, a hobby.
Mid fi, this is a hobby. Nobody has a listening room like yours, nobody likes the same things in music as you do, most of the equipment recommended is really good, put on your big boy pants and decide for yourself. It's a hobby. You can learn a lot from the forums but you build your system to suite your taste not some stranger as well meaning as they may be. You have to find out what you like and then sit back and enjoy the music.
Right now I am working with two people who make a lot of sense. I learned something to day and I won't forget it. This person said you need to treat speaker wires and connects like components. Up until now I didn't realize you can hear a difference until I resently spent $2,800 on a pair of speaker wires and power cord. Unfortunately, things are sounding a bit harsh. I broke my speaker wires and had no choice but to look at upgrading my wires to see for myself if wires made a difference in sound. Well...........they do. I wanted to hear more detail and now I am hearing the short commings for my system because I can hear them. I am working with a cable sales person and he said had you not broken your speaker wires, I would have started at the source of your music. In this case it is the BlueSound. I am now going to upgrade the power cord not because the BlueSound consumes a lot of power but because I want to feed power with less noise. I have my BlueSound connected by RCA's to my amplifier and I am now going to connect by way of digital cable. Why, because I am using the DAC inside the BlueSound instead of a much better DAC inside my amplifier. I will be spending twice on cables than I paid for the BlueSound. Perhaps, I need to look at the BlueSound as just a way to stream data and spend the money on cleaning up the signal and using a better DAC to unfold better sound. Listen to the guys who seem to really know about what they are talking about and avoid the others. Right now, I am going to try improve what I have and like the sales person told me, I haven't really heard my sound system yet and what it is capable. After I do this, I am going to relax and listen to music until I can figure out the next logical move.
Try to separate the good from the bad. There is some good info here but it is important to pick and choose. Some folks here have a very tenuous relationship with reality so be careful.
Nothing wrong with reading what "flippers" have to say.
Nothing wrong with reading what "possessers of perfect sound" have to say.
Just try to read the tea leaves. Laugh at irony, challenge bluster, pity insecurity, and expose hidden motives.
i am surely one of the gear swappers/hoarders, been doing it off and on, since my college days in the early 80’s
to me, there are different ways to enjoy this pursuit
first and foremost, i believe there is much much wisdom in not swapping gear much, especially if you really enjoy music (and not the gear), have limited budget, and have a system that already pleases you in how it presents music you like to listen to
second, having said the first, i do also enjoy the equipment, as wonderful tools to present music beautifully... to me, these are lovely products of human passion and ingenuity -- to make gear that in turn makes beautiful music in our private spaces, music we want to listen to, when we want to... so over the years, i have found that i enjoy learning about and finding great equipment, experiencing first hand what it does, how it does it, this is cool and fun, to then enjoy the awesomely wonderful music that results ... to me it is a high order melding of left/right brain, science/engineering, for the pursuit of art/beauty/emotional connection
my second career for the last 20 years has been designing, developing, building new/renewed homes, and it is similar pursuit in some ways - a melding of business and operations with design, functionality, ergonomics and style, hard and soft skills coming together, employing construction methods to create homes that are comforting, beautiful and that bring joy to those who live in them
so for me, it is not at all about dissatisfaction or restlessness in wanting to experience (and thus changing) hifi gear, it is about experiencing firsthand what the best of this industry has to offer, in pursuit of lovely, wonderful music...(and frankly, to a much more minor degree, to call b-s on some of the hype/marketing that is thrown out there)
last thing i will mention is that since early 2020, i dove headfirst back into hifi and related gear as a hobby, due to covid, after several pretty inactive years, and i would have to say, getting back into this hobby so much, learning about streaming, getting up to date on the latest great gear, has in hindsight been vital in maintaining my humanity and sanity over this period
anyhow, my 2 cents
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
If I had the time and means I'd churn through a bunch of gear just to have first hand experience with it. The only way to be absolutely sure is to try something in your room, with your music, with your ears. Since that is usually impractical it's necessary to vet your sources anytime you need to use second (or third) hand information. There are some great resources here and other places once you weed out the clueless yahoos, fanboys, and trolls. Professional reviewers don't get disparaged for equipment turnover. Some amateur reviewers are willing to patiently answer the endless stream of repetitive questions. With all the great equipment that is available sometimes there's only a very few people that have done a direct comparison with the two obscure components one of us is currently fixated on. I'm grateful for their input. I just wish it were easier to tell them apart from the yahoos.
"Gear shifters"....some are manual, but there's a lot of automatics on the lot...;)
Truth be told, I lack the disposible to run in the SOTA wheel of audiophilia, and have for most of my years past 30ish. Nor the leisure to spend discerning the details 'twixt A>Z anything, esp. since my hearing has admittedly required the application of 'onboard appliances' to render any profound 'imho' on any object of audio obsession worth your reading about...
I have learned what and how to make the items in my possesion recreate that which I enjoy listening to in the spaces I happen to have them in.
Some may 'snarf' and opin that "You'd be better off with a Dixie cup at the loose end of a string!" or some other not-so-pleasant response.
Note that I will not subject you to listening to it unless you stumble into my presence, or ask to be subjected to it. I do have a relative amount of regard for your inattention or basic civility.
Basically, it's a hobby pursued to enjoy music in a fashion that's done specifically to do just that, enjoying what's heard when I click the mouse, drop the needle, or engage the laser.
I only have to please myself...sometimes, even be impressed by my efforts to my own perhaps lackluster levels.
I suspect you're doing more or less the same. Enjoy. 👍, J
This is an interesting question. I am firmly in the not-changing-for-a-very-long time camp but when I think about it that has two main reasons. First I got a family and did other things for many years which meant I did not have as much time nor money to think about hifi upgrades. Now I have some more funds but not enough to upgrade everything over and over. Maybe I would be a real flipper if I had the funds?
I am in the process of planning my next upgrade which I hope will happen within a year or so. I might upgrade two parts of the system. One hard question my wife asked was "if you do this upgrade now for $X, are you then done?". And even though I have upgraded very few things the last years I don't really like to decide now that I will be done. Of course I could live with that for years but if I have the financial means it may be interesting to upgrade something or everything again within the next 5 years or so.
As for who is best to listen to, there is a downside of listening to me or anyone else like me, I have not had that much gear going through my home. I have mostly heard new things at a dealer or at audio shows. I think you will hear more nuances when you have a piece of gear at home and can listen for days or weeks to it. If I were to recommend a dac right now it would be from dacs I heard at dealers or shows or from what I've read. Or, a very, very old dac which I don't think is of much interest for you.
So I do pay attention to what some "flippers" say also. I do add a grain of salt to some things or try to interpret what they say and think about if that thing they did not like as much as their new gear could still suit me. If someone says that their new $10k dac is much better than their old $5k dac I think it is interesting but I still don't have a $10k budget for a dac (right now) and if they say that they have tried three $5k dacs at home and choose the last one it may still be interesting to hear what they liked or did not like with the other dacs.
you ask a terrific question. My inclination is to agree with your premise. Otoh, with the demise of bricks and mortar dealers, it's hard to make an intelligent and informed purchase. And we don't really know how anything sounds unless it has resided in our system for some time, been broken in, and we have had a chance to play a variety of music. So while some people change gear more frequently than they shower, others are trying to get things right in a challenging hobby.
System/component synergy is also a real consideration when doing "upgrades". Just because a certain piece specs out nicely or gets gushing reviews doesn't mean it's going to sound good in YOUR system. Sometimes, just getting the right combination of gear will get you performance in spades.
One thing that I'll add to my earlier comments is that a lot of the experimentation I've done in my system and the knowledge I've acquired is a direct result of getting to know other enthusiasts and picking their brains and finding some people to mentor me.
Join a local club if you can and then get to know the members that seem to really know their stuff on an individual level and spend time listening together. Listen to their systems. Ask a lot of "how" and "why" questions. Invite them to listen to your system, and ask for honest feedback.
I have found your comments and thoughts on equipment on this forum some of the most useful of all that I read. Just your knowledge on dacs alone. You always bring solid ideas and observations without the ego nonsense. And your writing is always clear. Breathe of fresh air as far as I am concerned. Your input here is always appreciated as far as this reader is concerned.
I prefer to listen to folks who keep their old equipment.
Generally this is because they've made of good initial choices to start with and enjoy the ability to sample different gear and compare now and then.
I also don't pay much attention to people strongly beholden to a particular brands.
I pay attention to language, and especially consistency of posts through time, as it really defines how authentic someone is.
I fully understand acoustics
i fully understand tubes , SS, HD ,IMD, etc
i fully understand the human auditory system
I fully understand loudness and dynamic range of the normal and the
impaired auditory system -
have used a vast array of very costly to inexpensive
after 50 years of changing gear I realize that if the recording is excellent so will the
currently I'm using a system that is excellent and cost a mere fraction of those setups of the past!
changing components is a PIA since there are no audio salons nearby! That leaves me to the prey of the reviewer, non of which are useful, the internet, and FedEx!
I find it a horrible process to buy, try and return!
I've lost interest in this hobby since the human interactions are gone, listening rooms are gone and again , the trial and error of choosing equipment is not appreciated.
It was fun!
@mid-fi-crisis, I haven't read this entire thread but I really like your question! In response, I would say it makes sense to read and consider what virtually every contributor has to offer on forums like this. Keep in mind, however, that every opinion should be treated, as such, and the only thing that truly matters is your own ears and what you like.
I think I'm solidly in the non-flipper camp. I fell in love with music in the late 50's. Someone bought me a cheap tabletop record player, back then, to play my budding collection of 45's. If I wasn't wearing that thing out, I was playing my 45's and, later, my LP's, on my parents' Grundig console. It wasn't until 1972 that I took my first plunge into audiophilia. Before that, whatever money I had went into fast cars, 8 track players, cheap home music systems and college. With regard to core or major components, since 1972 I've had 2 receivers, 1 integrated amp, 2 turntables, 2 CD players and 4 pairs of speakers. I've always been a two channel audiophile. Of course, I've had a bunch of other doodads like cartridges, record brushes & stuff like that. However, I tend to be the kind of audiophile that does lots of reading & research and applies whatever audiophile skills I think I've learned along the way to however much critical listening I can do, prior to a major purchase. I have no way of knowing this but I suspect flippers, so to speak, are, primarily, folks who buy without critical listening seesions in a shop(s) and that is perfectly OK. Good audiophile shops are increasingly hard to come by, these days, and some folks have no alternative. Some also just prefer to do things that way and, again, that's just fine. In the final analysis, with most stuff, you really never know what it's going to really sound like until you get it under your own roof. With just a little audiophile know-how, however, you can make a pretty good educated guess.
I think most folks on forums like this are well-intentioned and genuinely do want to help their fellow audiophiles and/or lovers of music. However, I think there is also a small minority who are probably just plain BS'ers, folks who don't own or have never owned the equipment they say they have because they love audiophile equipment and just like to wax audiophile. That's OK, too, as far as I'm concerned. Those folks tend to come from the perspetive of what they've read or researched about various components and not always from the perspective of what they've actually heard in critical listening sesions. There are others, also, who are just wedded to their beloved equipment, specific equipment brands and their personal opinions and just dismiss everything else, whether they've actually owned it & heard it or not. These folks are usually easy to spot. Personally, I tend to put more stock in the opinions of folks who've actually owned the equipment they are talking or wrting about or done a fair amount of critical listening to those components under relatively controlled conditions. These folks tend to be much more honest and more even-handed with their "constructive" criticism. Even the learned opinions or conclusions of respected professional reviewers are, in essence, opinions and the only ones that really count are yours.
If I had been a wealthier person, over the years, or more inclined to spend whatever disposable cash I had at any given time on flipping or upgrading more audio components, I probably would have done more of that. However, I sincerely doubt I would have taken it to the extremes some folks seem to have. I think some folks fail to consider the listening environment or the sound room an audio system is going to be in. In other words, you can only achieve so much fidelity in a dorm room or a small living room. Spending more money on components can and will, often times, get you different sound in some rooms but not necessarily "better". If I were in the 1 or even the 3 percent, I'm sure I'd have a home with a dedicated sound room and have a trusted audiophile consultant(s) set up various systems in that room until I achieved the fidelity I was after. After that, I'm pretty sure I'd spend a considerable amount of time just enjoying my tunes before doing any more tinkerring. But, that's just me. Vive la difference!
If I wanted restaurant recommendations, I'd want to hear from folks who dine out a lot. Sure, some are flippers or their unrelenting gear changes are driven by some sort of audio ADD (obviously shorthand and not intended as a comment on genuine disorders). But there are so many flavors of ice cream, and the most direct way to sample them is to try them, not read about them. In that vein, some here are just really trying to nail a certain recipe of speakers, components, cables, room treatment, and source media. And they've owned a fair amount of gear in that pursuit. I absolutely want to hear their balanced, candid, cogent observations. I do not, however, want to hear opinions that are based only on a review, or specs, or some outdated mythology around a certain piece ("Wilson speakers are all too bright", etc). As with so many things, it's case by case, but +1 to the notion of avoiding jackasses.
At my tender age it’s something I don’t need. My ears aren’t getting better my gear is staying the same.. if it was great 30 years ago what changed?.. MY EARS, 30 years later... LOL A 30K what ever ain’t gonna make them any better..
I talk myself out of spending money every day as I cook my pot of beans and the cornbread just finished up.. Fresh red onions too. Yup chickens like onions too..
AND don't tell me they are vegetarians.. They eat anything.. :-)
Everyone should decide for themselves who to trust and take advice from. Many factors involved. Value of experience with a lot of stuff will vary case by case, but with the right person is a good not bad thing.