The awakening...


For the past 30 years or so I've considered myself a die-hard audiophile.
I've gone through similar phases and opinions like most of you probably have.
I've bought and sold many dozens (if not hundreds) of high end components and cables.
Audio research, Linn, audionote, ensemble, synergistic, Zu Audio, PS Audio, Yamamoto, modwright, REL, Klipsch, hafler, CJ, coincident, classe, anthem,  oppo, MIT, and many other brands I don't even remember. I've auditioned hundreds more...
I'm also an electronic technician so I had my share of experience with DIY.
I've gone from tubes and vinyl to digital and SS, and back around.
I've owned mini monitors and huge 6' Giants and everything in between.
I've heard the most minute differences in sound quality between cables and footers.
I've spent way too many dollars on fuses, tweaks and furniture.
I read reviews, and swore by specific brands.
I've put together systems which I was sure we're the best ever and defended my choices with a passion.

No more.

I'm sitting here right now in my (ex) music room, listening to a system that costs less than $350 total, and enjoying the music as I rarely did with my recent $30K one.
Does it sound as good and realistic as the $30K one? No it doesn't.
But it sounds damn good. It's musical, engaging, full bodied with a well established sound stage, good detail and tonality, well paced, and I'm having a blast!!!
I just don't care no more for the minute differences in sound quality.
There is no end to it.

I let go, and oh man it feels good to enjoy music without constantly analyzing and subconsciously looking for imperfection or thinking how much better it will sound with tweak X or cable Y or upgrade Z...
This tiny $350 system delivers 80% of the sound quality of the $30K one, and honestly probably better than many $5K ones out there. I mean it...
It doesn't make any sense no more!

I have no regrets ...
I've had a lot of fun and I met amazing people that I wouldn't have had I not been an audiophile.
I've experienced great uplifting monents and great disappointments.
I've laughed and cried, was blown away and frustrated... It was a great ride.

I am leaving this hobby behind and not looking back...
Damn it feels good.
I'll keep enjoying great music and HiFi sound, and will appreciate high quality equipment, but I won't be obsessed with it no more.
I still have a very nice system in my living room which is probably worth around $2K and will be more than I'll ever need going forward.
This amazing little $350 system is going to my office where I spend most of my week days and I'm excited about it...

I have woken up from the audiophile dream, and what has been seen can't be unseen.

Goodbye and thanks for the fish :-)

PS:
Since I know you are very curious, the $350 system consists of a Raspberry Pi as a streamer ($25) with an upgraded DAC ($60), an upgraded power supply ($50), a 20 watt Chinese digital power amplifier ($70), mini monitor speakers I bought as a kit ($100), DIY stands from leftover lumber ($20), and around $20 in cables...
I intentionally omit brand names, this post is not about recommending any specific item. It's about what amazing value you can get for ridiculously cheap these days in general.

I promise each and every one of you that if you were sitting in my seat right now, and I would have told you that you are listening to a $5K system, you would not have doubted it for a second. You are probably thinking that I'm crazy, but I am not. 
I've already tried this trick on a few very experienced audiophile friends this past week. :-)
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I do think it is good to know what makes you happy :)

By the way, if any of you guys happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to hear this tiny system, you are welcome. I’ll be happy to share the revelation :-)
PM me with your name and phone number.
Really nice read. it would help the new audio enthusiasts like me to understand what it is like going through rabbit hole and coming back :)
Walking the fringe of the line of diminishing returns has been quite rewarding for me. I like to think the sound quality of my main system is approaching 90%+ that of “perfect”, with an investment of roughly $1500 on vintage gear that I’ve rehabilitated and augmented with a few things such as a new mid range MM phono cartridge. This hobby has never been so fun!
Ami
"Some of the high voltage components were held together by hot glue and double-sided tape,.."

As far as poor construction is concerned, I dislike amps that use sticky cable tie blocks to hold parts. Very lazy and not designed to last. Builders take note.
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