Last Audition - Blown Away By A Lottery System


I went into a local B&M store and did a quick listen to an integrated and speaker pair around 6K.  I was just chatting with the sales guy, and I said thanks and was going to walk through the rest of the listening rooms.  He volunteered to take me to another room that wasn't in use.

This room was sparsely populated with two systems, as opposed to the other room that had a dozen speakers and several dozen pieces of electronics.  He streamed a song that I heard on the other system.  Without knowing exact models of equipment:
Moon player
Moon pre
Moon mono blocks
Focal Utopia
cables & IC unknown

The sales guy is watching my expression, which is disbelief, and then starts quoting the prices which totaled $380K.
That is the most expensive stereo I've ever heard, and was floored at the amount and quality of the sound - a dream system for sure.  Kind of gives me an insight to what some of you discuss here, but couldn't relate myself.

I'm screwed!  My budget only allows $20k, and that's probably what the cables in that system cost.

I bought a lottery ticket on the way home.  LOL.
bgm1911
You can construct a  "very" good sounding audio system with 20,000.00 dollars  buying new/used or  a mixture of both.
Good luck, 
Charles 
I am not surprised at all with your experience. SimAudio makes excellent sounding electronics, the top of the line are indeed pricey but worth pursuing. Having said that, $20K budget is still a good sum for a very decent system. If you do your research and ask recommendations here, you will end up with a great sounding system.

Let’s get you started, do you currently own a system that you can build on or are you starting from ground zero?
Enjoy the journey!
SimAudio and Focal make some great gear in your price range...but Yes, a well put together, top of the line system can be incredible...
Let’s get you started, do you currently own a system that you can build on or are you starting from ground zero?

As posted elsewhere, I just sold my entire 5.1 system (10 yo) with Marantz separates.  Those previous purchases were not done with much care as I hate auditioning.  2 ch has so many options, I'm overwhelmed.  I'm not able to upgrade at whim, so this purchase has to last me for a long time.

Over the last few years, several higher end stores have closed in my area, leaving just a couple still open, with limited choices.  I love the new Luxmans appearance, but no joke, there are just one unit in my entire state (509x). The most prominent equipment is Mc, but I can't get past plastic knobs on units nearing 10k.  I've spent months "auditioning on the internet" because it's easy.

I can buy some outstanding used equipment online without auditioning, or I can travel 1500 miles to a shop.

I just checked my lottery ticket...only got one number!

$20k will get you a Raven Nighthawk, Tekton Moabs, Decware ZP3 phono stage, a VPI with a good cartridge, and still have funds for Synergistic wire and Townshend Pods to make it sing. Year or so from now when you’ve got it thoroughly tweaked out and dialed in you will be able to go back and listen to that $380k system with a nice big satisfying grin on your face.

Believe it. I did it. No reason you can’t.
@bgm1911,

I would work with online retailers that has generous return policy. MusicDirect carries a wide range of electronics and speakers. We can make recommendations based on our experience but auditioning gear in your environment is the key.

Luxman 509X is a great sounding integrated and you can certainly build your system around it.

Do you have a dedicated room? If yes, at some point you will need to address room acoustics. What would be your source? Are you going to stream or spin Vinyl / CD’s?
OP,+1 @lalitk
Most folks do not realize that a $10k system in a very good treated room will sound much much better than a $350k system in a room which is not setup or treated for audio. Room accounts for more than 50% of how/what your "system" sounds. When you are able to spend $20k on a system, spend between $500-$1000 on room treatment.So, you are really not screwed. You can probably spend $10k on loudspeakers, $7k on speakers, $2k on cables and $1k on treatment. Based on MY experience, the more resolving your system is, the more you hear what room treatment can do.Work with your dealer and if you show firm commitment, it becomes easy for them to offer you prices at a bundled deal.

I am quickly learning how important the room is. I am upgrading from my entry level Klipsch Reference Premier and home auditioning Revel F226Be. I am not impressed, there is only a small bump in perceived sound quality. Same for the Martin Logan ESL I tried before that. However I heard and loved these same speakers in treated show rooms before trying them at home. 
20k will get you around 80% of that 350k system. It’s that last 20% that costs a ton. It might even get you 90% there is you have great synergy with your components. 
Take your time, do your research and buy used. You will have a very enjoyable audiophile system. Good luck 
More like the power cables were 20k. Was this ListenUp? I remember them having a similar room. You can get very close to that sound for 20k for sure. Keep in mind the room matters as much as anything else. 
OP,
i meant $10k on loudspeakers and $7k on electronics.
My system is at or around 20k, give or take a few hundred, and sounds fabulous. This is of course calculated by counting everything, cables, stands, interconnects, power chords etc....if you want to count all the extra components put away in storage, then well over 20k 😁
chase the dream, $20 k buys a lovely system for sure. Enjoy the music and get out and listen if you can. 
MC-give it up. We all know your $5k system blows away $1M systems, at least in your eyes. You should get out more and listen to some high quality systems and in a few years, you’ll wish you would have done things different.
Roberthz-I can’t believe that you aren’t hearing a big difference in SQ between the Revel and your Klipsch. With Revel speakers, you need a very good amp to drive them. Not sure what you are using for an amp.
You can get 90% of the way there for 20k... Reckon that is mine 

UK
Rega P8
Upgraded Bluesound node2i
Audiolab 6000cdt transport
Chord Qutest Dac
Luxman 550ax2 (great phono inbuilt)
Tannoy arden

US
VPI
Streamer of choice
LUXMAN
Klipsch Cornwall / devore

Spend the rest on music and travel. 
+1 on the room comment. How good was their room compared to your room? Because $380k in gear doesn’t even count whatever costs it might take for your room to measure up to their room. (Maybe.)

I don’t know how good my system is ($17k) but I love it. And I improved it immensely by learning about placement, better power, and really good interconnects; I am now investigating some room treatment.

And don’t forget, the longer you take to put your kit together, the more your hearing will degrade. So get to work! And good luck!

+1 MC.... affordable and amazing SQ could be just within a couple steps away from you. It kind a boring to pay top $$$ and just peace yourself. The real satisfaction is when you get to the point of amazing SQ by comparing and making right choices not necessary expensive.  
To the OP,
Do whatever you have to to go back to that system that "blew you away".
Bring music your familiar with.  Listen as much as they will let you.
To be clear I'm not sayin' jerk them around. Outline, on paper, the system you would like to build and share with the salesman.  See where there is common ground in equipment he sells, maybe trade-ins.  The point is you have found a reference system and that should be your goal.  As others
have said it is much more attainable @$20k than you might imagine. 
All the best.

Regards,
barts
I'm a confused kid in a candy store - so many options it's overwhelming.

I'm (mentally) prepared to do room treatments.  My previous 5.1 equipment was just turned up and I ignorantly dealt with the noise.

I'm 55 with a bunch of hobbies, so I'm making this purchase decision big deal because I really want this to be my last system.  In the next two months, I'll be buying a 2021 Goldwing to keep the wife happy, and maybe she'll be lenient about me spending 20K on a stereo.

Appreciate all the responses! 
bgm911

I have to many hobbies as well, several of them smell like gasoline.
Goldwings are beautiful machines.  Best of luck with it.

If you feel like you're in the candy store don't be too eager to jump off the cliff with $20k.  

Regards,
barts
@barts I'm on my 2nd GL1800 (with Aluma trailer) and have been waiting for Honda to make the needed changes to the top case and passenger backrest - they finally did that for '21.  The '06 sits besides my '18 Aprilia Tuono and '18 Tiger 1200.

Yes it would appear you are F-ed. Mostly by your own attitude though.
You were worked by a salesman. Now start to find out how to make a $20k system
sound like a $200k system. Can be done if patient. 
@p05129 I know what these Revel F226Be are capable of. I can easily hear the difference A/B'ing against various speakers in dealer show rooms. The point is, nothing sounds good in my room.
Btw, I run them on a Monoprice 5x. 200 Wpc RMS, basically an ATI 4000 series amp.
For 20 grand you could assemble a vintage system that would blow away the high overpriced new stuff it would blow your mind.
@bgm1911
Heavily dependent on type of music you like, you’ll need to decide:
1) Source type: Analog, Digital, or both
2) Midrange warmth/bloom vs neutral/linear
3) Amount of desired bass energy

1) For the components:
Base system: Preamp>Amp>Speakers
Analog: turntable+tonearm+cartridge>phono-stage
Digital: server>streamer>DAC, optional transport
Cables
2) Generally speaking: tube electronics gives the midrange warmth but the tube amps are generate low power. So with tube amps you have to match with an efficient speaker or add more tube+electronics ($) to increase power. SS (Solid State) electronics offer significantly more power, better linear response, better defined bass, and often better highs (treble). Some folks combine a tube preamp with a SS amp to get more power.
3) If bass energy is important, then you’ll need to move a lot of air aka more power needed.

You may want to choose your electronics first then decide which speakers match, or choose your speaker first then decide on the supporting electronics.

If you want to stretch your dollar, buy used gear carefully. You can even try out used gear thru buying and selling which should minimize your cash outlay. But keep in mind that selling a particular brand/model takes time based on demand.

The technology and sound quality of DACs has been growing fast the last few years. If a DAC is required, I’d choose a more recent model.

Cables - at least upgrade from stock or box store products. Many believe that "power" cables are the most important. Some companies allow a free trial time like 30days.

Integrated Amps (PreAmp+Amp) are cheaper than separates because it saves on casework and additional cables. Some include or are optional: a DAC and/or a phono-stage which is also cheaper than buying separates - make sure you research their performance.

Great price/performance gear:

Turntable+tonearm:
Mofi Ultradeck $2k, $2.5k with MasterTracker cartridge

Speakers-
GoldenEar offers great price/performance as well as Tekton, but be aware that Tekton speakers are relatively large.

PreAmp+Amp-
ELAC Alchemy DDP-2 Preamplifier/DAC/Streamer +
ELAC Alchemy DPA-2 Stereo/Mono Amplifier (210 wpc)
both for $5k ($4k on sale now at Audio Advice)
Designed by Peter Madnick of Constellation Audio fame

SS Integrated-
* Hegel H390 includes DAC (250wpc) $6k
* Cambridge Audio Edge A includes DAC (100wpc, Stereophile measured 145wpc) $6k
* Aesthetix Mimas (150wpc) $7k (add $1250 each for DAC and phono options; $500, headphone amp. The phono option got a great review in TAS Feb 2021 issue)
* Krell K300i (150wpc) $7k (add $1000 for optional DAC) - Class A amplification (tube-like warmer sound without the power limitation). This was my final choice until I blew my budget on used Constellation Inspiration electronics (TAS 50 Greatest Bargains in High-end Audio)

Hope this helpful, best of luck
thanks for all the replies, a lot to chew on!
Of course, if your room persists to be a problem, you could always take it out of the equation and go with high-end headphones and a great tube headphone amp!

I’m using Focal Sopra 2 speakers with a Simaudio 700i Integrated Amp and CD player with Discovery Cables. It’s a great combination.  
If you'd like to be totally blown away within your budget, do what it takes to audition the Dutch & Dutch 8c.   It's a totally engineered package of loudspeaker, with built-in active crossover, amplification, DAC and DSP EQ.   Add a laptop as your digital source and you're done buying audio gear.  You don't even need speaker cables.  Just good CAT-5 network cables.

They will totally blow your mind.