Is it really the system?

It’s been going on for years now. One of these, two of those, another yadayada… and I’m done. But then you find out you aren’t quite done after all.

Not yet. Not quite…

Is it a slippery sound you chase? A finite exceptional tonality which continues to elude? Is your happiness continually percieved to be in a thing still on the horizon, and not yet in the nest?

Is there indeed a light at the end of the tunnel, or is it a train?

Why keep pressing onward if by so many accounts and your own, the current system’s presentation is great now?

Or in other words perhaps, Enthusiast, Audiophile, or Gear hound? Just where do you hang your hat?

Or have you indeed hung it up for good?
Building my current system was a highly personal experience for me and I think to some degree I didn't want it to be over as I've been working on it practically daily for the past two years and it just feels like I'm letting a part of my life go now that I've stopped upgrading; it's the empty nest syndrome but without the children.

I've hung it up for the time being because (1) the system now has achieved the goal set for it (relatively accurate reproduction of music that allows me to both enjoy all types of music and when appropriate, evokes a proper emotional response); (2) to some degree, I've hit my personal point of diminishing returns where buying a new $20K electronic component is unlikely to significantly improve the performance of the system; and (3) while the process was very enlightening it's all for naught if I can't sit back, not think about components and experience the joy of music.
Dave_B here! I think (therefore I am...I think) this audio obsession is deeply rooted in Man's primal need to be creative, solve problems and to control his environment. In itself, this is not a bad thing. The problem is that most of us don't know when to stop and just enjoy the music..remember the music? FYI, spending less money more wisely and tweaking a system will always sound better than spending huge amounts of cash...expectations can ruin your perceptions. Sorry about the Duh comment on a previous post...nothing personal:)
Most people do not have a goal. How can you, unless you have a comprhensive knowledge of what to do and when to do it?

Here's a secret, most gear is pretty damn good. The problems arise from room accoustics, quality of electricity, vibration control, and inut/output impedence mismatches. A $20K system that properly addresses all these issues will out perform $20K in components that does not
Bar81 said it well, our point of diminishing returns will always be personal.

I will add that the point of diminishing returns changes with circumstances for many of us. I, for instance, went for decades with a $10,000 system, that was very stable and satisfying. A big part of the reality of that system was that I wasn't otherwise comfortable financially. I was not saving as much as I wanted and I went through several severe financial stessors, so it didn't make sense to spend more, to me. (I rationed my available budget toward software).

Since, moving to my current employment, my savings has been growing at an exponential rate, as has my compensation. In 2007 I started upgrading, finally getting the "full range" speakers that I'd desired for decades. That was followed by a first class TT system. My compensation continued to grow, so the amp, ICs and CDP all got upgraded.

My investment is now triple where I started, but it represents no threat at all to my family or retirement comfort. I'll be buying a larger home in 2009, moving out of an apartment, so there will be an upgrade to a larger speaker system, probably, but I really think that I'll keep the other equipment static. We'll see,...of course.

Some people will put a hirer priority on their system sooner than I did mine. That's ligitimate. The only fear is to avoid obsession that can lead to spending money that needs to be spent elsewhere for the family and security. If your audio spending eats seriously into your food, housing and retirement budgets, then you need to make some changes, IMHO.

This question has been asked many times, and it is a profound one. If you are a 'hobbyist' or 'gear hound' you very well might be a materialist. Music is spiritual, and the matter associated with it (the laws of physics for example) is usurped into its inner meaning if it is indeed understood to be spiritual. If not, then it is just stuff. Art ain't that simple, and audio is about the delivery and appreciation of an artform: beauty is the goal.

Therefore, IMO, the issue is how we view our quest for the sublime, not the trails blazed along the way. If our view is an act of wonder and awe, then that is the experience we get. If it is just a hobby, then that is what we get.

I place my vote for the transcendental act of sound allowing me to glimpse that which is beyond my mind's capacities. However I have sympathy for the hobbyist to an alarming extent.

For now I am content. I’m 23, and will be going to grad school next year. I still want to travel and accomplish other goals in life. My humble Totem Arro speakers in my apartment dwelling satisfy all my inner urges for now. It allows me to focus and expand my knowledge of music—which in return allows me to expand my software collection. In five years time when I do have a career and the space, I will upgrade. For now I am in love with my system. Even when the time comes to upgrade, my Arro speakers will be put in a library or office setting.
Blindjim -- I enjoyed your audiophilic blank verse; the proper proportions of joy and frustration.
My feelings about our mutual obsession are similar to owning a beloved dog:
There is the constant feeding and the constant picking-up of poop. And the occasional visit to the Vet. But sometimes, just being in its presence makes you (or allows you to) smile. And sometimes spending a few minutes playing with it is enough to decompress your psyche and renew your spirit.
Religion,politics,baseball and audio related possibilities should be avoided at all costs until your face to face with rocket-launchers and machetes.Then,you can have an orderly,yet ambitious conversation on said topics.And usually a clear consensus after the service....YMMV,Bob
So long as my equipment has a potential for dying (before I do) then I really can't 'hang it up' but I sure can change my focus to truly more important things in my life. Music and some good beer!

Usblues, why would you ever want to shy away from uninformed discussions of religion, politics, basball and audio. If you always remain politically and socially correct how will you ever learn anything, especially about the 'value' of your own views if nothing else. Get out there, have some fun! :-)
Thanks Joe A, and thanks Newbie

odd, no one has picked a tag outright.

I've been all sorts of the ones I listed. I've been the "I'm buying stuff I don't need, with money I don't got, to impress folks I have not even met yet!"... To the considerate selective, know it all, which knows for sure this next do jiggy will be the deal.

both of those are ego driven, the former more so than the latter... but then no one really does know until you do the deal. There's the rub for me. At some point recently I asked me, How good is good enough? An honest assessment and answer changed my focus shourtly thereafter.

I'll hang the Enthusiast tag on myself now. I'm not nearly as picky as I was just a handful of years ago, and know less now than I did back then too. Money dictates Gear hounding is not on the thing to do list either. That was always a means to an end anyhow.

RE Goal
Mine was ambiguous enough. Put together the best sounding rig Iv'e ever had, that possesses all the sonic atrtributes I crave. For all intents and purposes I feel I'm near there now.

I thought here, to cast a scant light onto the nut behind the wheels' motivation and perspective (s).

If I don't pay attention, mine can stray and lose focus.
After 20 or so years, all of which started with a pair of ADS speakers and a Hafler kit for amp and pre, I am done.

I have not changed a thing since purchasing my speakers...and although I toy with the idea of moving up the product line of VA speakers, I still stay put. And since NuForce produced the V2 board, no need to look beyond my current amps.

I will say that being a "reviewer", I get to play with new and different stuff a lot which seem to quash and desire to move on....

It is really great when all you have to do is listen to music and not think of terms of "what is next"...

Good luck, jtb
the quest is more important than its realization.

i am seeking a particular presentation. when and if i achieve it gear will be irrelevant. if i achieve my goal i can't say i will listen more. the challenge is highly motivating. without challenges, life is boring.
If an individual truly loved music for what the artist(s) intended, they would get goosebumps hearing it over an AM radio. We who venture farther serve more ourselves than the music...that is a form of subversion. Pure appreciation can be had via any medium. With this precept as a jumping off point, the road we travel should be in service of said music...all else is pretense.
There's absolutely nothing I love better than straight forward answers.

So it appears in the 'it's you' vs 'it's the rig', the 'it's you' lead the pack.
I was out there,I know my values,I have seen my views.As soon as I'm done writing my report,I'm heading back to where life is free,easy,clean,simple,cheap.You know,the cuckoos nest.Just like that guy in King of Hearts.......