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One thing I believe (I guess that's the same as something I've learned) is that, while everything in your system (including the room in which it is located) matters, your bigger investments should be focused on the components that translate physical and electronic elements. A cartridge translates the energy from the physical vinyl record into an electronic signal, and your speakers translate the electronic signal into the physical waves that create music. For whatever reason, I've always felt it was a good strategy to invest just a bit more in those ends of the signal path -- not crazy out of proportion to the rest of the system, but some premium percentage of your budget. Happy listening.
People say to build your system around the speakers and that makes some sense to me. Others say work outward from your source which also adds up. I've even heard some folks advocate for letting your power amp define the system and working up and down from there. I guess any way you slice it the lesson is about synergy of components which is something I think I've only recently internalized.
@dawgfish, good advice.
Audible distortions in electronic equipment have been more or less eradicated, and it’s been that way for decades.
Apart from transducers that is.
Any future hardware improvements in audio recording and playback will necessarily focus around incremental improvements in microphone, headphone, loudspeaker (and turntable arm/cartridge) design.
So as things stand it makes great sense to focus your energies in these areas if you’re looking for improvements in equipment.
We all have to work under some sort of budgetary constraint. What I learned long ago is to look for the out-performers. The Herron phono stage that in spite of its modest cost performs right up there with the best the world has to offer. The Synergistic Master Coupler that beats a lot of kilo-buck power cords yet can be found used for $250. The BDR Cones or Blue Quantum Fuse that improve everything they're used with far more than you would expect given their modest cost. Things like that.
Doing all the reading and auditioning it takes to find things like this is not at all easy, but sure is worth it. That's what I've learned.