It's not 'MADNESS' if you enjoy the journey. A friend has owned well over 200 automobiles and enjoyed each one. There is no destination, only shady cool rest stops.
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I'm moving (in the process now). I'm in a temporary home while the new home is being built. The temporary home is too small for my reference system, so I have a very modest tube and monitor based system. No audio purchases for me for a while--it would be pointless. And I expect when the reference system is back up and running I will be so delighted that I won't even think (well maybe think) of another purchase for quite a while (or at least 24 hours).
let me tell you guys that i've spent most of my money on listening sources 95% vs. the price of my rig that is now easily available for the lookup. everytime i watch for something new or super-extra-ordinary and cool on the record and cd market. i used to even collect an original tapes when i used to have reel-to-reel machine(now sold).
After about 10 years as an avid golfer, I put my clubs aside for a while... which has now turned into 6 years. When I can enjoy the game again without being too self-critical, maybe I'll swing a few clubs in the backyard sandbox with plastic golf balls. That way, if I end up in a sandtrap the day I step back on the course, I'll know what to do.
If your audio obsession takes you to madness, do as Marakanetz has suggested - start thinking again about the music you listen to - update your supply at the source level, then forget about the limitations of your equipment and relax - enjoy the music!
IMHO most of the problem is our focus on the components instead of compatibility. The US mags foster this fallacy when they say that the new amp X is much better than amp Y. But if you've got amp Y tweaked into your sysem with sympatetic components then many of the possible "upgrades" will unbalance the system. Sandle4s having owned a good piece of Stereophile's recommended components list is a sad commentary on the state of audiophilia these days. We have lost sight of the holistic totality of the most synergystic systems in our quest for the next hot box.
Good sound has more to do with your mind than your system. A little contentment goes a long way. My $30,000 doesn't sound like live music but neither does Joe Audiophiles $200,000 system. Enjoy the music and stop listening to the equipemnt.
Will I ever upgrade again? Yes! Will it sound like a concert at the Weidner Center? No! Will I still be happy with it? Yes!
I'm pretty close to finalizing all but digital source(s). I have two systems, one in the living room, one in the study. Everything but the cables and the phono cartridge were purchased used. It's not a super high-end system, but I now happily spend my money on LPs and CDS, not on components. Further component investments will be restricted to mods, like upgrading the stock crossover parts.
Technics SP-10 MK II with Grace 707 arm, Reson Reca cartridge, mounted on McCurdy broadcast base. (1970s; cartridge 2001)
Sony DVP-S9000ES CD/SACD/DVD player (currently away getting the DACs bypassed!) (2001)
SAE T101 AM-FM tuner (1986)
Meitner PA-6iPlus preamp (1989; factory upgraded 2000)
Meitner MTR-101 monoblocs (1990)
Tannoy System 15 DMT studio monitors (1993)
Thorens TD-125 MK II turntable with Signet XK50 arm and Reson Reca cartridge (1970s, 1980s; cartridge 2001)
Crown FM-2 tuner (early 1980s?)
Sony CDP-X779ES CD player (1992)
Bryston 11B preamp (1989)
Meitner STR-55 power amp (1989)
Tannoy System 12 DMT studio monitors (1992)
Mixture of DH Labs SilverSonic and Canare StarQuad and XLO 1200 Pro and budget Cardas
When I (finally) buy a house, I shall invest in room treatment, but except for a later generation digital front end, I have no plans to upgrade.
Happy listening all!
You say>"I have spend 10 years and an amount of money I don't even want to think about on the quest for the 'perfect' system. I have gone through at least 20 of each component category (CD, Vinyl, Pre, Amp, Speakers, Wires, Gadgets,....). When I look through a Stereophile magazine... it is amazing.... I have had almost one piece from each advertiser."
There is no "perfect system" so you can spend a lot of time looking for it if they convince you it's out there.
I do not want to sound too cynical but I think the primary thing the magazine is set up to accomplish is just what you describe. It is a testament to the power and savvy of modern advertisers and marketing (they know how to set a hook). I think, if the average person wants to "stop the madness", as you put it, he would do much better putting a system together if he never looked at them (the big mags) and used the time listening and with other sources of information.
I was just looking at M. Jones' book on valve amps and he quotes the old line "there is nothing new under the sun (Morgen Jones, Valve Amplifiers, p.110), when talking about tube circuits. This is not completely true of course (and probably the most true with tubes) but, the more I look at it, it is astounding just how true it is for audio electronics. It is also amazing how good the music can be using electronics that are, for the most part, 70 years old. This makes the constant recycling of the same old circuits in new boxes a little disconcerting and misleading.
In any event, one way to help stop the madness is simply to get the constant siren call of unending hype out of your ears. I think it becomes much more straightforward without it. Think of the fashion industry for a moment. The "flavor of the moment" is constantly changed for no other reason than to generate sales. The most important thing, for the industry, is that what was "in" 2 years ago, is now passe. No part of the audio industry is intersted in the time tested and proven. It would stop sales in its tracks. And so the best falls out of view, completely obscured by what is new.
This approach is not for everyone of course and I dont mean to imply that everyone who looks at those mags falls for them. I know some of the folks in this thread havent.... But a lot of people do.
To answer your question I have been listening to a set of Oris horns and a simple homemade Set amp/pre (300b) with a variety of sources, cd and vinyl, (total 6.5k w/o source) for a couple months and could live on very nicely with them.
There is definitely a point (different for different people) where the cost of the next upgrade is sufficiently high as to buy a signficant amount of music. If you ever find yourself wondering why the Madness continues, find the willpower to turn a couple upgrades into a stack of new music that's tall enough that you'll have trouble listening to it all. Let the madness subside and see if the desire returns. If it does, you're having fun (and probably not spending your money/time on a boat or a motorcycle), so proceed - only when you do, you'll be doing it with an incredible music collection. -Kirk