When's enough, enough?

Just wondering why when we achieve a sound we like, do we keep looking for more? It seems like there are alot up things we do that makes an improvement to the sound we have, when do you stop? I'm assuming there is only so much detail, so much depth and width in the soundstage that you can get, yet we can still find a power cord or i.c. that changes the sound in positive way.
"Hello everyone, my name is Bruce, and I'm addicted to hi-fi."
B limo:

See a prior thread--How Does One Get Off The Merry Go Round -- or something like that.

Hope this helps.
Well, first you have to make it to the point where you have "achieved a sound you like," before you can look for more.
It is natural to never be satisfied with the sound we achieve with our systems. Inherently we know that it does not match the "live/real" sound we tend to aspire to. Since it is impossible to achieve the sound of a "live/real" performance I submit that many of us will continually attempt to make changes large and small to our systems until we lose interest or the money runs out.

Remember though that after all is said and done it is a hobby and the appreciation of music should be foremost in your upgrade path. Each individual will have their own limit as to when enough is enough. Enjoy the ride!
I managed to blow a small fortune 18 months aago when i spent money i would never see the likes of again.. on new stereo equipment.
I retired, and had the pile, and decided since I would blow it anyway on trash if i did not first spend it on something worthwhile.
So i bought stuff costing a lot more than my prior stuff.
I got Bryston 4B-SST2 amp, Bryston BP-26 preamp, Magnepan 3.6 speakers. Furman REF20i powerconditioner. A pair of TTs and carts and a VAC Standard preamp to use as a fancy tube buffer for my old CD stuff
(Yeah I had a pile of money)

I am really set. My stuff is all i want.
Yeah if I won the lotto i could buy better. But i chose stuff to last me another twenty years going in.

The only part i would upgrade if i had a small pile of cash is to go from Magnepan 3.6 to 20.7s.
Maybe when my new 2012 car is paid off. LOL.
(So I guess I am still not quite satisfied???
Though I would not bother with any new cables! lol.
I had a good lesson one time while listening to a friends stereo which had ATC Active 50 speakers, which are very good, and we always enjoyed them but this time I had recently been in a room with a solo violin. After hearing the violin I could not believe how muted the speakers sounded in the high end and how much dynamic range they lacked compared to the real thing.

It was a good lesson and brings to mind Ivor's (from Linn) statement that stereos offer only 15% of the live music experience (several years ago) 15% seems about right in this instance and I am not talking about chopped liver with the ATCs they were very good and I stopped searching so much for the perfect sound but, instead, look for things that matter to me in stereo like dynamic range and tone and an open quality.

Bottom line is if it makes you smile it is a good stereo and yes I have been OCD (it seems) over the years.

Hi my name is Phil and I have been sober approx. 5 years...

Ha, now we all know what Elizabeth is running!
It is not natural to be disatified with your system. That disatifaction is a learned behavior encouraged by magazines and other forms of marketing.
Ha, now we all know what Elizabeth is running!

Elizabeth has provided this info many times. Hell, I even know what car she drives.
As to your question, when the quest begins to bore you. That's what made me get off the merry go round.
It's fairly easy, and not too expensive to obtain gear that will reproduce music in a very satisfactory manner. An audiophile is a person into 'sound' reproduction, that CAN / MAY, be music. I often wonder how someone can hear a Power cable or IC or speaker wire while the berliners are in the middle of Beethoven's Ninth. Or James Brown is feeling good. But audiophiles apparently can do so. And since the combinations of gear and wire approaches the number of stars in the milky way, you will NEVER stop looking, unless you do something drastic, like, listen to some music.
It's FUN !
Off the shelf untreated CD and equipment is not music. There, I said it.
"When's enough, enough?"

When reproduced music is indistinguishable from live or I run out of money. I’ll run out of money first but that doesn't mean I don’t enjoy and appreciate what I have.
I suppose I just need to learn to enjoy the journey, rather than just focusing on the destination, and not being content until I get there.
Where human, that explains it all. Years ago I decided it was all about the music, not the gear. Never enough music. I spend about $5,000 a year on music, some of it going to classical concerts in New York City. The concerts provide a reality check on what gear can never create. Well worth it.
"Just wondering why when we achieve a sound we like, do we keep looking for more?"

Because there is more.

Your question is the equivalent of asking, "Why climb higher mountains?" You don't have to, but you won't get the mountain top experience either. :)

One of the greatest delusions in audiophilia is that the system is right there, right at the best sound possible; the equivalant of standing on Mt. Rushmore and thinking you have conquered K2.
Enough when it comes to your system is when you say enough not someone else ......

I find that many of our customers are looking for a certain minimum level of competency from the system. Once they get there, they are satisfied for a while.

But its a fact that you get used to the amazing detail and speed possible, after a while you want to know what can be done to get more (if you are all-digital, and want more resolution, a simple way is to add analog to the mix...).

So it is a journey. Its important to understand that there is not a destination other than the journey itself, sort of like a good day in the country on a motorbike.

Some people like to trade gear, for me its all about the music. I like to hear a lot of it. But whatever it is that works for you, the bottom line is its supposed to be fun :)
Atmasphere basically said what I was going to say, that the biggest culprit is that you get used to the sound no matter how spectacular and it becomes less amazing due to how familiar you are with it.

The other major culprit to merry-go-rounding is the hifi press and sites like audiogon. The hifi press is constantly telling us that the latest offerings are dramatic improvements over older gear. For the most part this is untrue. There are only so many "break throughs" that can really occur. It's mostly hype. You can easily assemble a 10 year old system that competes with today's brand new offerings.

If you want to get off the merry go round, the first step would be unsubscribe to the hifi press and hifi web sites. It's like breaking a shopping addiction, step 1, stop going to the mall.
It all depends on what you are trying to achieve. For those with a little bit of sticktoitiveness there are really no limits. The only limitations are the ones you bring with you. It's an Old Wives Tale that your system, no matter how evolved, is only 5% from the Absolute Sound. Far from it.
Funny thing happened with my last audio changes -

I have always had a lot of curiosity about what is possible and, for the most part, I always knew something was missing. Well a couple of months ago, I found I could afford to seriously think about something to do to really improve my sound.

I've been listening very carefully to a lot of different recordings and music types (as well as sources, amps etc)for the past couple of months and I can't really pin down any aspect of my sound that I can change in my present environment that would give me more pleasure (apart from getting a different room and that ain't going to happen).

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure with a new pre-amp alone (I fantasize about the Audio Space Reference pre-amp, boy does that look neat!) would give me enought to play with for a year or two but I think all I would end up with is a slightly different sound and a lot more curiosity.

It's like lusting over finding a blond, finally getting one, and then wondering if a 'natural' blond might be seriously better and its worth a divorce to find out. Well I suppose you could go out and rent one, but it wouldn't be the same would it. Lucky folks find a 'natural' blond in the first place and realize the differences are all an illusion, I mean who would prefer a bottle blond.

It has really come to the point that I can no longer tell you what I would/could/should change about my systems sound to actually improve it. So I'm spending my money on a coffeee bean roaster - I'm sure I can find perfection there. Un huh! :-)

I agree with Jaxwire about audiophile journalism being deadly for those with compulsions or angst. I gave mine up many years ago, but I'm still here so it is not necessarily the whole solution, :-)
Atmasphere and Jaxwired,
This is a very interesting question. I think some people are more restless than others to improve the sound in their system, and if they have the funds they will tend to indulge themselves. A lot of this depends on personality and how important reaching higher is for each person.

I agree with you, Jaxwired, that most of the hifi press is hype. They are too tied to commercial interests to be believed. The conflict of interest is too obvious. When you stated, "you get used to the sound no matter how spectacular and it becomes less amazing due to how familiar you are with it", this is also true of many facets in life. We get used to new circumstances. But with audio, once you have improved the sound in your system it is hard to go back to the old sound. If you improve the sound with a new wire, for example, and you then take it out of the system, you are likely to put it back very quickly. In life, on the other hand, we usually get used to, or at least grow to accept, a new status quo that may not be as elevated as it was before. Which is not to say that we would not prefer to be back where we were earlier.

You stated, "It is not natural to be disatified with your system. That disatifaction is a learned behavior encouraged by magazines and other forms of marketing." Actually, I think it is very natural for some people to be dissatisfied, depending how deficient they feel their system is -- and their personality. I agree with you that various forms of audio marketing will tend to influence many people into making purchases they would not otherwise make. But, in some cases, they may be very happy with the results once they make those purchases.
It took many years of audiophilia to realize that I was a System Builder, a form of audiophile who exults in the gear as much as the media. As such I am almost never completely satisfied with any given rig. I have built hundeds of systems but can almost always find areas which could be improved.

Yet, there is what I would call the "Perfect System" experience, when one has put together or hears what is deemed a perfect sounding rig. I would liken it to a pitcher throwing a perfect game, and just as rare. A system builder may never have the Perfect System, even over the course of a lifetime, just as most pitchers never have a perfect game. The conditions must be absolutely ideal, the room, gear, etc. all optimized.

Some simply do not care and it is not their goal to hear the perfect experience; good enough is good enough. It has never been good enough for me, as I have always wanted to hear in my ears a sound matching the ideal representation of the music in my mind.

I have become a far better system builder over the years, and just now, this week I built a rig which I consider the equivalent of the Perfect System, meeting all my sonic objectives. I never would have thought this rig would be the one to achieve it, just as one might not think any particular baseball game would be the one where the pitcher throws the perfect game.

Yet, I have been doing this long enough that with the passage of time I will find even more progress, better sound. The ante certainly does get upped, however. I had to put a lot more money into rigs than I ever dreamed for this to happen.

This is also "A" Perfect System, as an expression of one technology speaker-wise. Others exist, but are just as elusive. The fun thing is that this is my Perfect System; I'm not trying to tell you it has to be yours.

I know full well with time familiarity can bring contempt and the great satisfaction now can wane. There is no such thing as an absolutely perfect system, but experientially to have built a rig that is as perfect as conceptualized is one of the greatest moments in the hobby for me.

The evidence was the way my fingers tapped, my head swayed, my eyes closed... my body felt the beauty. I set extreme standards for sound quality and almost always there is a slight to significant shortcoming as I analyze the sound to the Nth degree. This time not.. it is "perfect."

I also enjoy listing my systems from first power cord to speakers' and listening chair positioning. I can return to that rig if desired. But systems keep improving and I know that this will someday seem like a shadow of perfection. :)
You have to know the goal/target and be able to assess what you hear in relation to it in order to eventually hit it. No easy task....

"It is not natural to be disatified with your system. That disatifaction is a learned behavior encouraged by magazines and other forms of marketing."

It's often easier to be dissatisfied than satisfied. No doubt there are many marketing forces out there (including in this thread already) to encourage that.