Is there a Peter Principle of Audio…



A Peter Principle as it applies to audiophiles and their quest to continually upgrade?

We all have different levels of abilities to perceive and appreciate differences in audio equipment and music. In some cases it is due to physical limitations with hearing or just a lack of musical appreciation or the ability to “listen” to music and perceive subtle differences. While the Peter Principle is about people rising to their level of incompetence in their work, that word is not be the best word to use in an audio context. But the principle still  applies where one reaches a level where they can no longer perceive any incremental audio benefit from upgrading.

There is a lot of information about the “best” equipment, interconnects, room treatments etc. but rarely do I ever read an honest discussion about individual limitations to perceive differences at the higher levels of audio equipment. I think there should be more awareness on this subject because it IS important in making individual system decisions.

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The only Peter principle I know in audio is to always value the opinions and comments of Peter of PBN Speakers, a frequent visitor to AG 
I relate to 1extreme query.  It is fair to say that the music comes 1st.
Gear is 2nd. I have not read too many writings on the gear being 1st.

We all have good ears and it is important to get out into the marketplace
and listen at the local dealer/retailer for a constant refresher course.
"We all have good ears.."

Um, no we don't all have good ears. And lots of "audiophiles" put their time and focus on gear rather than music. They are gear-ophiles rather than audiophiles.


"gear-ophiles", very good way to put it!

2015 was a very active year for me buying and selling equipment to have a setup I really enjoy and plan to keep for a while.  While I was out and about, visiting all sorts of audio shops, I ran into a few of them who seemed to be all about the gear and seemed to only want to play music that brought out the desirable characteristics they wanted to demonstrate.

In searching for new speakers I would bring a very early CD of Mozart's Violin Concerto #3, so early that the sound had a very slight "edge" to it, as well as the original "Born to Run" CD, which has a "raw" sound.  I figured that I'm not giving up my Beatles and Stones, and if the speakers were too "edgy", if I fatigued from listening to just one track, it probably wasn't a good choice for me.  Hence, I turned away from a number of well respected speaker manufacturer's offerings.  But one of the salesmen actually said I shouldn't be listening to those CDs from those old masters.
Ejr, Bingo! You hit the nail on the head! I was beginning to think that no one was getting what I was trying to say.

You are an audiophile if you are capable of connecting with music on an emotional level. It is what I call the "E" factor and it is the most important "component" of a great system because it is within you. If you have the E factor you can listen to an old, poorly recorded but great piece of music on even a low-fi system and have to sit down because your knees get weak.