If your system sounds better than the $20-$100k systems you hear at your favorite audio shop why on earth would you upgrade? It's gonna cost you a small fortune.
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When I turned 20 ( Long time ago ) I bought a brand new motorcycle. I liked it but was not all that impressed with it at first. Then after a few months I found out how well it cornered, how fast it could go up any mountain and how quick it accelerated. It had four cylinders and was painted a dark, dark maroon with a thin blue accent around the gas tank, crome everywhere. Comfortable and smooth it was. I learned how to ride as if I were part of it. After buying some expensive tires for it the love affair was on.
So it's the same for quality audio. Every now and then I find a component or a recording that's much like that motorcycle, being everything you expect and more. Then I can sit in my living room and experience many of the same feelings I used to get on a warm clear day with the wind in my hair.
Maybe you are just thinking about it all too much. If I didn't like it in the first place; why would I buy it?
The general thrust of what has been communicated many times both here and in other forums, is that if I like and/or are satisfied with what I have than I am that much ahead of the game. Other members opinions and brand names should not matter if I like what I have. You are getting seriously hung up on pedigree.
Audio stores are no different than any other type of stores. There may be merchandise that by comparison is more pleasing, better performing, built better, has a more impressive name, etc. It doesn't mean that these distinctions are necessarily relevant to me or are relevant from a performance point of view once I get my stuff home. For me that is the great equalizer ... how does it perform in my house?
High end bike shops come to mind. Enough people spend good cash on top of the line Shimano derailleurs and either don't know how to or simply don't change gears while riding.
For myself (and probably most out there) it is a combination of liking both the music and the equipment that plays the music. Is there pride of ownership, status appeal, etc.? Yes, but that is also true for most goods. Audio is no different. But also, certain brands do perform better and if that performance is important to me and I am willing to pay the difference; well, so be it. It's why I ride Cannondale bikes, the "hand" tuning of the frame is easier on my elbows and neck by the end of the riding season.
You had me thinking right up to where you said you heard 20,30...up $100K systems that yours beats. :)
My brother has almost same stuff as you and he loves it, while my dad and I scoff about how it sounds in a way I admire him for being able to enjoy music without the money, effort, space, and trial and error that we have went through, but I also feel sorry for him because boy does it sound like ....well you know.
The Blindfold wont fly around here, many buy with their eyes and will never allow themselves to be taken in by anything cheap or mass market, mentally they are hung up on what they feel hi-end should be. Most times that gear doesnt compete so it rarely is an issue and Ofcourse there is pride of ownership, what would be the point of all this if we had no passion for getting the sound we want and enjoying the equipment?
I can remember much cheaper and simpler systems I had that I think I enjoyed more from time to time, maybe it was the simpler time in life, youth, pride in what you could afford but there are times I miss that old gear and the way it gave me such pleasure.
In closing I hope part of you never looses that enjoyment of music that doesnt cost an arm or a leg and that upgraditis never hits you...but you are sticking your feet in the water here, and if you like it you may just jump in head first, when that happens god help you!
Maybe it is the law of first impressions. The first system that blew me away was a Klipschhorn and Mac electronics, in a mono system. It is like a first love, you never get over it. So, years pass and I've had many systems, including the K's and the Mac's, but funny, they all never sounded as good as the 'first'. Something going on here?
I agree with what you say.
There is no objective "best" or most "true to life" equipment/system. If there was, then it would soon be recognized as such and everybody would own one, or aspire to own it. In the absence of an objective "best", preferences become personal and reside in the realm of psychology.
On the constant "upgrade-itis" that many people have, I believe that it is part of the innate curiosity of human nature. We seek new adventures and experiences and discovery, .... to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now where did I hear that phrase before? :-)
I am also reminded on the existentialist philospher Kierkegaard, who described a type of person who is never satisfied, who constantly seeks something better.
In view of this, when you say that your system of $1500 sounds better than the multi mega-buck rig, I think that what you are really saying is that you find your system more satisfying. Also, any improvement in performance that is in the more expensive system is not, in your view, worth the extra money. This is the economist's concept of marginal utility, which also has a psychological component.
Your comments identify yourself as a music lover more than an equipment lover, or some combination of the two. That's fine. We're all different. Be happy with what you are and what you enjoy. The mere fact that you raise these issues makes me wonder if you are having self doubts due to the influence/opinions of other people on the forum. Enjoy what you enjoy, Don't feel that you have to conform to other people's views or buy into other people's opinions as to what you should purchase in order to fit in with the gang who reside here. It's another psychological effect at play here when you do that. Enjoy your music. Read the forum. Learn new things and hear other opinions. Don't worry whether other people agree or approve.
This is getting way too heavy. Any good ball games on today? How about them Yankees eh?. It's only a matter of time before the Red Sox fold.
Folks, what we have here is a 1st degree Wizard, anyone who has the ability to delude themselves a $1500 system sounds better than 100k systems certainly is in posession of great magic. This goes way beyond psychology, I only wish I had the same capacity for self delusion, certainly would save me a great deal of money and angst.
It is also highly debatable that most people here "generally like their systems." If this was true there would be much less turnover of equipment in people's systems. Check the number of member transactions.
You state there is "better sound out there," yet you also say you prefer your own system to ones costing 100k, well, where did you hear this better sound?
It sounds to me like your self delusion has some cracks in the armor. If you truly believe there is "better sound out there," you may seek and discover it, what happens to your contentment then? When that surety of contentment leaves, you will be but one small step away from a decent into the subjectivist abyss. It seems you then have two choices, remaining an objectivist wizard or joining the subjectivist human hordes.
System psychology and/or psyched out, its all part and parcel of our humanity, can one exist without the other?
I just want to know how many times one needs to watch those Bose commercials (and read the Bose advertising literature) before he can become convinced that an inexpensive Bose system can compete with and possibly beat a $100k audio system.
Audio_obsessed_novic, do you really believe your Bose system is that good or have you simply been romanced/brainwashed by the ads and have rationalized that the Bose is that good so that you won't need to spend any more money?
Another simple thing to realize is that because expensive systems typically have greater extension at the frequency extremes and are more dynamic, they excite room acoustics problems to a much higher degree than a more frequency-limited and compressed system would. And matching components for proper system synergy becomes increasingly important with higher-resolution rigs. In other words, it's very easy to screw up the sound of any expensive system if you don't pay careful attention to system set-up details... If you think it must be set up correctly because it's in an audio store... well, I urge you to reconsider that notion.
My 2 cents -
1.It's about the music. Everything else is secondary.
2. Enjoying music isn't dependent on the technical/sonic attributes of the hardware (but I'm not saying great sounding equipment doesn't improve the experience).
3. In terms of sonic returns per $ invested, there is without doubt a point of diminishing returns (but where is that point and how does it vary for inividuals with widely different economic means?)
4. I suppose it is possible that $1500 well spent might sound better than $20K or more poorly spent - but I think you would have to work real hard to fritter away tens of thousands to make that system sound worse than a $1500 system (point taken about supporting room acoustics).
5. Listening is a skill and hearing ability varies amongst individuals. How many of us have perfect pitch? How many people are tone deaf and can't "carry a tune in a bucket"? How many can pick out a very subtle accidental mic hit in a studio demo tape? I witnessed this in a recording studio. No one heard it until the guy making the music pointed it out and edited it out of the tape. I've used the term "golden ears" in a somewhat derogatory fashion myself. On the other hand, listening to stuff I could never afford did help train my ear (an ongoing process) and help inform my purchases of lower cost equipment.
If you are enjoying your modest system immensely, by all means, keep on doing so. You're the one who matters where that particular decision is concerned.
Is it psychological? Heck, yeah! We don't really "need" any of this stuff. Without it, we'd still survive. Your desire and preference for any of it is certainly psychological. You're the one making all this crap mean something...and what it means to you is not necessarily what it means to anyone else. We all do that, it's part of being a human being.
Is your system "better" or equal to a 10-20-100K system? Well, you say it is to you...what more do you need? Why ask any of us? First off, we haven't heard your system, and more importantly, what we believe really should have no bearing on how you perceive the world. Of course, you could certainly choose to make it have some bearing on how you perceive things...and that's psychological too. Do you want to do that? I'd guess you'll find the majority of the folks who actually take the time to post on a list like this one probably don't share your perceptions. Better yet, repeat after me: I do not want what I have not got.
I'm happy for you, because, as has been pointed out, if you really find your modest system as rewarding as you say (and I have no reason to doubt that you do), you'll save yourself a whole lot of money, as well as tedious obsessions that take up time which you could otherwise be spending actually listening to and enjoying music.
Now my question would be is this for psychological reasons, or purely objective?
Purely objective. If you look at my system then you will see that I use some very cheap stuff (similar to your pawn shop quality) alongside some not so cheap gear and without any dubious tweaks (for example, a number of acoustic panels make an easily audible difference - same for a PEQ - unlike many other tweaks that are not so obviously audible. The ultra expensive stuff is only purchased because it is necessary and does make a significant difference; and believe me, there is no short cut or cheap way to skin some cats. I would upgrade my cheaper stuff too if I could hear a significant improvement by going higher end, however, objectively I see no point. (by objective I mean blind tests - switching back and forth countless times between items to compare - easy to do these days with a remote.)
Thanks guys for your responses, they are all very thoughtful, but I think that maybe you are somewhat missing my point.
I will try to clarify.
Chadnliz said: "The Blindfold wont fly around here, many buy with their eyes and will never allow themselves to be taken in by anything cheap or mass market, mentally they are hung up on what they feel hi-end should be..."
That is my point: that other factors(cost, brand name, marketing, reputation, status appeal, ownership, comfort and familiarity with the product, etc.) besides the actual, physical, objective sound influences our PERCEPTION of the musical performance. And, if it was purely about the sound, then the blindfold(a blind listening test of comparable systems) should fly...I don't know, I am losing my train of thought here and am having a difficult time trying to say what I am thinking, but, I just do not think that it does as most people are enamored by the sound and equipment they own and have in their homes. By this I mean they are subjectively skewed and biased, prejudiced toward their own systems. And I believe this is only human nature. Just as we seek new adventures, experiences and discovery, as Markphd said, we also enjoy, prize and value, for lack of better terms, the things which we own. And this inevitably, inherently and indubitably affects, influences our judgement, IMHO. That is all I am saying.
I don't mean to be argumentative or anything, but I just wanted to clarify my point as I believe most of you were going a bit astray... so to speak. And of course there's nothing wrong with that, that's what we're all here for :-O LOL!, I only wanted to communicate myself and my thoughts better, clearer, more precisely, that is all.
Again, thanks for all your comments, it has been an interesting discussion which I do appreciate, thanks.
"I just want to know how many times one needs to watch those Bose commercials (and read the Bose advertising literature) before he can become convinced that an inexpensive Bose system can compete with and possibly beat a $100k audio system."
"Audio_obsessed_novic, do you really believe your Bose system is that good or have you simply been romanced/brainwashed by the ads and have rationalized that the Bose is that good so that you won't need to spend any more money?"
No Plato, I have not been brainwashed by the Bose ads(I cannot stand them and won't watch them anymore), but I do believe that with the exception of maybe one or two in-store setups, my cheap and modest home system really does sounds better than what I have heard. And that is the crux of my problem. I know better sound is available out there (I have heard it a couple of times), but otherwise, I just have not been generally able to find it. I do not want to sound crazy, contradicting myself in every other sentence, but... You see, I am very frustrated: While I do enjoy and like the sound of my home system, I am not entirely satisfied as I do know that better stuff/sound exists out there, but I have been unable to find it, despite my best efforts. Everything I listen to seems to sound worse than my own stuff, at least at the store anyway, and my question of "System psychology, or just psyched out" is simply trying to understand why this is.
"Another simple thing to realize is that because expensive systems typically have greater extension at the frequency extremes and are more dynamic, they excite room acoustics problems to a much higher degree than a more frequency-limited and compressed system would. And matching components for proper system synergy becomes increasingly important with higher-resolution rigs. In other words, it's very easy to screw up the sound of any expensive system if you don't pay careful attention to system set-up details... If you think it must be set up correctly because it's in an audio store... well, I urge you to reconsider that notion."
I am very glad you mention this, as I was thinking that this may be a very significant factor. I am not sure if my audio store has the best acoustic environment in which to showcase audio products. The room is mostly rectangular, has a level ceiling and is usually overly crammed with stuff, inventory, which probably diffises the sound a bit. While I know that given my equipment and setup, my room is probably pretty good acoustically, given the modest size, offset demsensions and slanted roof,(both of which help to reduce modal reflections I believe), along with the mixture of surface types, reflecting and absorbing. Now I certainly do not have a world class listening room or anything, just a shabby studio apartment, but still... it's probably better than the Audio Lab. Well, at least in my mind, ears and everywhere in between. ;-)
P.S. Oh, and by the way, I have been to a Bose outlet shop and auditioned the new 201, 301 version 5, along with the 901s. And being thin and waify, strident on top, undefined in the lower base and weak in the upper, they all sounded horrible to me. So I do try to be consistent and objective, definitely impartial, to say the least.
I don't think I missed your point at all, as far as your further clarification of it has illuminated. What I am missing, and perhaps you can help me here, is your motivation for asking the question of a bunch of folks who most likely have entirely different perceptions. I'm just speculating there, because, as far as I know, no one else here has heard both your own system in your own room, and those in your dealer's room. I'd still hazard a guess that the majority of others hear may disagree, certainly on only a verbal description of the components involved (and certainly psychology has everything to do with that since we're all humans). My point is that this stuff is all entirely subjective (psychological, if you want to call it that) and it really is only you that should matter to you in the end. You have nailed the mechanism at play. Bravo. What is so difficult to grasp there? You do seem to be argumentative to me, or at least looking for an argument, because you seem to belabor the same point (beating a dead horse, if you will). You'll get no argument from me that psychology is strongly at play here, and I'd ad that it is far more complex than we can begin to say and as different as our fingerprints in each of us. I can't tell you what your opinions should be, nor can anyone else here; you form them on your own, and for infinitely complex reasons.
So I do try to be consistent and objective, definitely impartial, to say the least.
Where you will get an argument from me is applying the term "objective" to any of your personal observations, no matter how hard you "try". It is not possible. If it is filtered through you, IMO, it becomes a subjective observation. You can use the term "objective" when you start talking about numbers and curves and graphs spit out by machines. As far as I'm concerned, those "objective observations" (by machines) of this gear are only a point of departure, and I would choose to depart and move a vast distance away from them as they've never proven to mean much where real-world (subjective) listening comes into play. In fact, some of the components I like best, SET amps for instance, don't look that great on paper in "objective" terms, but they sure sound great to me when set up well with synergistic components.
For what little it may be worth, I've never been really wowed by impressions at a dealer showroom, either. I've been to some pretty high-end showrooms too. I have been very impressed by other's systems in their homes, most of which were thoughtfully and carefully assembled over many years from some of the very same components I've heard in some of those showrooms. But again, that's all subjective. Your "good, bad, better, best" is entirely different from my "good, bad, better, best." Neither are right or wrong, they're just opinions. Of course psychology is involved, we are humans and not machines. Really, what is your point?
I doubt that music reproduction is quite as subjective as this thread suggests, and that most of us could broadly rank audio systems in ability to recreate something akin to live performances as we remember them. One can argue that is the ultimate goal of an audio system.
Taste is acquired to be sure. An early study by RCA labs, before "HIFI" was introduced to the public at large, found that most of the study group preferred to hear music without extended frequency range, especially high frequencies, rather than a more faithful representation of the origianl. Those preferences may or may not have changed over the years.
Like Chanliz, I read OP with interest until he noted how he preferred the sound of his system to sound of expensive systems he had heard at a dealer, then I dropped out. The word troll came to mind.
This is a joke, right? Your simply looking for what, someone to support your own opinion?
Well ha, ha, ha.
OK, now the best I can do is say clearly sound quality is not important to you. That is fine, even great, you have bliss for free! My mom loves he Bose wave radio and car stereo, to her it sounds great and she loves to enjoy her music on it. I do not try and convince her she is right or wrong.
Clearly she has different expectations from a stereo than me. That is fine, but I would not think it makes sense for her to hang out at Audiogon. What is the purpose posting at an audio web site?
Actually I do not even understand why you go into an audio shop with $100,000 systems. What do you get from it? If somehow you interpret this as psychological then you should go to a psychology web site and discuss your theory, you might be on the edge of a major break through.
If you do truly want to find a better system, then you have a very long way to go. If this post is for real, I suggest this is not the level of audio you are looking for, it just doesn't matter to you. That's great
if you truly enjoy music, you can enjoy it when the source is a personal stereo purchased at circuit city or best buy or when listening to an expensive stereo system. the music is the same, but the sound quality varies.
audio obsessed, do you care about sound quality, or is it the music that counts ?
any stereo system can be evaluated objectively and subjectively. perception and taste matter.
if you have feelings of insecurity about the sound of your stereo system, have an open mind and listen to a variety, from an audio dealer, to friend's and acquaintances. then, decide what is quality and what isn't. at that point, you will be able to make an intelligent decision as to upgrading, or keeping what you have.