What's your biggest surprise in hifi?

After being in this hobby since the 70's, my own 2 biggest surprises are: [1] records sound better than cds. [2] More expensive isn't necessarily better. [for example, I once paid well over $10,000 for a set of separate components which were bettered by a $1500 integrated amp....What were your biggest surprises?
That the prices keep going higher and higher and people keep buying the stuff. I thought it would hit a price ceiling but obviously that is not happening.
So many recordings that sound so good.  So many treats for the ears.   👂🍭
That as I have upgraded my system, while the really well recorded/mastered stuff sounds fantastic, so much music that was enjoyable on the cheaper gear is now hard to listen to because all the faults are revealed. It makes me wish I'd stayed happy with what I had. 
Start with a room that is treated otherwise all the upgrades in the world
will not get you far.

Biggest surprise? How many new players enter the market every year.

After all, this is a "dying hobby" right? So why so many new entries?


Could it be because they are stupid or just in denial?

1. Never expected analog to be sooooo good.                                                         2. Tubes...really?  Ohhhh yeah!
That Taters didn't come up with this thread.😊
That the cost of quality LP's has not plateaued yet.  
That people spend so much on cables while other parts of their rigs could be improved. 
1.That people invest so much energy and funds in inanimate objects that they hope will get them close to the reality instead of investing directly into real animate objects.
2. That $375 MM cartridge can sound so good when used with $3k table and $1.5k arm.
3. That there appears to still be many enthusiasts of open reel decks who keep to true audiophile roots.
4. That some have thousands of records and keep buying more.
5.That tubes still rule no matter what is sometimes said. They do not sound different than transistors, they sound better.
6. That at times paying a lot for cables makes perfect sense.
The three biggest surprises in Hi-Fi since the 70’s are easily that, after all these years...

1. Valves and vinyl still rule the roost in many ways and are still so damn pleasing!

2. I can actually hear the industries performance advancements, in my (and dear friends) kit(s) and truly enjoy much of the benefits, given the inescapable fact that at the same time our ears are aging (me:58) and losing performance capability.

3. That the profound sonic effects of cabling, mains supply, and burn-in are still treated like myth/religion by far too many in otherwise respectable circles of our fair hobby.

Happy (long play) Listening!

Direct-drive and Idler-drive turntables.

The goodness and sometimes the superiority of MM and MI type cartridges that cost hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands.

That, contrary to what someone else wrote above, incremental improvements to my system have made mediocre LPs sound better, often much better, rather than worse.

Taters: I'm talking about equipment manufacturers. And the driving force is economics. As long as there is money to be made, people will enter the market to compete. And since high-end is "dying", where is this money coming from?
1. That stock fuses degrade the sound so spectacularly. 

2.  That there aren't enough vinyl records on the planet to ease my addiction. 

3.  That red book CD's can sound spectacular. 

4.  That I'm not bothered by a few glitches, clicks or pops on live recordings ... but audience noises like coughs are really starting to annoy me. 

5.  That ARC has a new REF-6 on the  market and there's not one residing on my equipment rack. 

6.  That as I get older and into my later years, music is even more enjoyable now than when I was a kid ... and that's really saying something.


tell us more about the $1500- integrated amp?

Rogue Audio amps sounds better than the Audio Research integrated amps. Better value as well.

Second note;

there exists a ton of info inbedded into both digital + vinyl recordings.

The key (and trick) is to carefully select the gear that will extract it the best! Do not forget about cables and power cords.

"That as I get older and into my later years, music is even more enjoyable now than when I was a kid ... and that's really saying something."

Amen to that Oregonpapa!
"That as I get older and into my later years, music is even more enjoyable now than when I was a kid ... and that's really saying something."

Amen to that Oregonpapa!


Response to Jafont: It was a Naim nait, which later was later replaced by a Supernait, which produced no better sound.
Most surprised by the difference a fuse makes.
SET and horn speakers
How important a tonearm is in the reproduction chain, and how great a really old turntable (Garrard 301) can sound.
"4. That some have thousands of records and keep buying more."

They're like tribbles!

"That stock fuses degrade the sound so spectacularly."
Nelson Pass once told me to change the input fuses in my Adcom GFA535 to 5amp ceramics. Just wow!
Agree with totem395, biggest surprise over the years is how important, and in some cases fundamentally limiting, your listening room can be.  Good kit in a great room can often sound way better than a great kit in a compromised space.

And how manufacturers specifications or reviewers measurements can/must often be thrown out the window once you combine a piece of gear together with components, wires and in a space that are different than where originally measured.

Oh, and how important power cords can be to overall system performance.
1. How much money some people are prepared to spend on components/cables/etc... -  in the pursuit of "audio nirvana"

2. How much related knowledge some people have acquired about this obsession - thanks Almarg! - just one of many on Agon.

3. the frequency with which some people change components - like changing socks

Boofer - + 1 on the Nait - especially when you treat it to great cables :-)
I have the 5i mk II with the passive front end - amazing!
- I WAS considering the Supernait - thanks fro the info :-)

(Over) Price vs. Value.
How good the Yamaha CA-2010 sounds.