Where do you draw the line???

There are many interesting threads here about innumerable topics where people share many different opinions. If the truth be known I think many of us are still open to suggestion or opposing points of view regarding most things, but there must be some issues about which we are unwilling to budge.

In your own mind what is the concession you are unwilling to make?

For example; many people feel tubes are superior to solid state equipment. I have owned tube gear, and have several friends who I respect that still own tube gear, but I will not concede that solid state equipment is inferior to tubes.

Another concession I cannot make is the superiority of CDs to vinyl. I have a good CDP and have listened to better than my own, and in my experience LPs still are the hands-down winner for sound quality.

I have and like Krell equipment, and have been taken to task because of it. I'm still not selling it to buy another brand.

The question is: Regardless of the opinion of others what views or opinions are you unwilling to change???

Lets not fight! This is supposed to be fun!!!
Hi Nate. My position is that I will use whatever is possible to get the best sound I can find. Yes, I am very opinionated as to what sounds best to me, but if there was something on the other side of the fence that sounded better, then you can bet I'd go right after it.

That being said, analog and tubes is where it's at for me, until something shows itself to be better.
SACD is "probably" only superior to CD when replayed by equipment at the very top end.
I can't hear it at the moderate end and since I haven't heard the top players I can't deny it's true....yet.
1) I will never believe that speaker cables can ever be directional. It's AC .. I don't care about crystalline structure of the metal ... it's AC.
2) That rap is music, or some sort of legitimate art form. No it isn't, it's noise. :-)
3) SACD is about sound quality ... no it isn't .. it's about making you buy all of your albums all over again.

I think I'm open to persuasion in most other areas.
I will never change my belief that the RIAA is a bunch of money grubbing sharks, doing the bidding of even hungrier money grubbing sharks.
I will never change my belief that the best way to fight the RIAA is to purchase only used vinyl over 30 years old.
I will never change my belief that stereo equipment makes sound waves appear as if by magic.
I have come to believe that yes indeed, as TAS used to crow, that CD's are a curse upon the land, and need to be banned as the work of evil minded con artists, wanting us to buy the same old albums all over again. (I still have 900 CD's and gave at least that many to my local library).
I believe that if I don'r like a CD, I should allow others to use it for free, and the best way to do that is to donate it to a public library, then I am screwing the RIAA and doing a good (legal) deed at the same time. (and for those whom itemize taxes, the donation is tax deductible!)
I believe that I will buy some stupid SACD's, when they actually put out some new music, that uses the formats capability, that I don't already have. (and I got like a dozen SACDs... I am not consistent am I?)
I believe that Dakinis dance on my cables when I have been a good girl.
I do not want to overwhelm some folks, so I will stop here!!!
Nate ... great idea for a thread.

1. I will not accept that LP's are worth the bother. I spent too many years in the 70's & 80's making cassette tape copies of LP's, because LP's were so easily scratched up.
2. I will not accept that there is not a market for audiophile quality stereo receivers.
3. I believe that pop music peaked somewhere between 1966 & 1968. It doesn't get much better than Gary Puckett & the Union Gap's "Woman, Woman."
People who need to draw the line seldom convince me of anything, except that they seek validation, which makes them even less convincing.

Tubes and the way they sound fascinate me but no way will I ever put a time bomb into my system just because it sounds good.
1) I believe that every component matters significantly enough that no one component is the most important
2) While cables are not components per se, they generally help make or break a system
3) There are lots of fine business/marketing/economic reasons for cable pricing, but the pricing is bordering on obscenity
4) Very expensive turntable systems will outperform cd systems (that is different than saying all or most turntable systems will beat all cd systems)
5) Tubes are not inherently superior to solid state
6) Acoustics do matter, but the human brain can also do a pretty good job compensating in most real life environments
7) Isolation matters for source systems (e.g., cd, tt)
8) Everyone's ear is different and preferences are different -- there is no best for everyone.
9) There will always be great music and great musicians
10) The music companies will be better served by lowering their prices.

Great thread!
The only beliefs that I hold dear are that (1) most of the folks who want to talk endlessly about what equipment sounds best have never optomized what they have by setting it up properly in a good listening environment and (2) its only the music that really counts!
Where do I draw the line?? At buying brand spanking new equipment. Why should I, when there is such an abundance of awesome used stuff here at Audiogon!! So much gear, so little time and $$.
There is no such thing as a neutral component.

Statements that claim one piece is neutral are basing neutrality on some idea in their head which is therfore biased and not nuetral. Instruments sound different depending on whether you are sitting front row, back row, above or below the source. I used to sit under my mom's piano when she'd play and when I got up I would always notice how different the instrument sounded. Mic placement is never the same in a studio.
If you are trying to create what happened in the studio and think that is neutral good luck. You are still guessing what the studio sounded like. Most likely you were not in the studio and if you were the so called neutral sytem you develop to create that sound will be non-neutral for other cd's/sources. That is unless all your cd/LPs are recorded by the same engineer in the same studio using the same techniques. Neutrality is bunk! Buy a system that makes your favorite music sound the way you think it should sound. You may think my system is colored, maybe it is, but I'm damn happy with it!
ELCO cables are a disgustingly obvious SCAM.


I'm astonished audiogon allows this crap to continue.
Stereo is an auditory illusion and we are all amateur magicians.
Sorry, some of us are professional magicians.
I would imagine you would need to draw the line when you start forgetting why you own stereo equipment in the first place.
I never draw lines, but I do change pencils once in awhile!
Nrchy, maybe "drawing the line" was misinterpreted. Everyone has core assumptions about the audio world that they are unlikely to change since it is based on their experience and beliefs. I look forward to seeing other responses to your excellent question.
Ozfly you might be right. I was trying to get to the core beliefs about which people are unwilling to compromise, at least until proven wrong as Tom suggests.

All of us have to approach this hobby with certain ideals that allowed us to even purchase the first product. Elizabeth mentioned the riaa curve and the fact that she looks for products (LPs) without this abomination. Her ideals and beliefs prevent the purchase of post riaa LPs. This is what I'm trying to learn.

Many of us must have similar ideals which determine what we buy and even how we shop, listen, or interact. I would not be interested in a tube system using B&W speakers and employing CDs as the main music source, but this doesn't mean that a system with that makeup cannot sound good, or that it's owner is some kind of mutant. These are just my prejudices, ideals, or beliefs.

What are yours???
I believe for the price that Difinitive Technologies puts out a very good product. I believe these sound fantastic for 2 channel music as well as HT, and i disagree with the thought that bi-polar / di-polar speakers are a fad or inferior to other speakers. They have an incredible saoundstage and can you can still pinpoint musical sources away from the speaks. The sound is cleanly reproduced, the lows are strong, commanding, yet not overly booming. If you believe these are dull, smeared, faded, and blurred, then you did not set them up correctly. Alot of people say these are terrible for music, but i listen to them every day, and every day they impress me just as much as a set of vandersteens, or B&W, or Martin logans, or KEFs, or any "High class" lourdspeaker ive heard set up by professionals in high-end retailer stores.

I dont believe that anything made within the past 20 years is crap. I like BB King and Jonny Lee Hooker just as much as i like Limp Bizkit and Eminem. I dont agree with the politics of rap stars, but if thier music gets my foot tapping, thats all that matters. New does not mean Bad. New means expansion and different. I feel bad for people who cannot accept new music. I understand thier love for the old, i hold that love as well, but i feel like i have a better love for music because i have more available to me.

I believe Blues is better than Jazz. Blues to me is one of the purist forms of music.

Techno does suck.

I see no point in bi-wiring. I have never heard any sonic improvement.

I believe Home Theater and 2 channel music setups are as different as day and night. I also believe that powered Recievers are an excellent product in value and sound, however, high end audio is a seperate world with a seperate class of sound.
An AV reciever is comparable to a heavyweight champion boxer capabable preforming its tasks to a considerable degree of satisfation.
A high-end amp/Preamp setup is more comparable to a Shaolin Monk who has been studying martial arts from the time he could walk and now retains a very refined and accurate ability combined with precision-power.

In that analogy as in life, the AV reciever can kick some serious butt and impress the best, but the preamp/amp can outpreform it with little effort and show people something they may have never seen

CD's Rock

If you buy a $1,000 for audio cables then you wasted your money

you can build a system for $10,000 that sounds as good as a system for $30,000.

Bose is a terrible prroduct for music (exceptions always exist)

I am hungry too. Im going to go get a sandwich!
I have seen a lot of people who suggest that a $10,000 system can sound as good as a $30,000. I have yet to see this actually happen. Too often statements like this are made, but they are never substantiated.

What would the $10,000 system consist of, and what $30,000 system are you taking about? Does equipment go down in quality as the price goes up? Are cheaper Revel speakers better sounding than the more expensive models. Do smaller and cheaper amps sound better than the next model up in the companies product line?

I am opposed to spending money for the sake of spending money, but every time I have bought a more expensive product it sounded better than the cheaper product it replaced. If it didn't sound better I would not have made the purchase!!!

What does all this mean.
Nrchy, I'll go to even further extremes. I argue that a good $15,000 system is comparable to some $75,000 setups. I include a specific example. It's an old thread, but it got some interesting responses.

click here
Onhwy61, Comparable in what respects? In the same way a boom box plays pretty much the same music as a cheap stereo?

I have never heard the two systems mentioned in the TAS article, but if the $75,000 system sounded even remotely similar to the $15,000 I would eat it!

How is it possible that two people who know this industry and what is available would be incapable of getting the right componants to put together a system that would not be drastically different from each other.

I understand if a person closed their eyes and randomly picked products that there would be no continuity to the system, but this is true at any price range. How could that system sound great? I think it would sound good, but it would not be great.

What are these "some systems" that you mention? I guess this whole discussion is meaningless without particulars!

I don't beleive that one person could put together two systems with a $60,000 price difference that would sound close to one another. If a moron went out with $75,000 while a true 'audiophile' went out with 15,000 it is possible that the systems might, possibly, maybe, not exhibit a huge difference in sound quality, but otherwise this is a foolish analogy
Nrchy, I'm not sure Onhwy6's link disagrees completely with you... if you look at the posts that follow. There's a good point being made in that we sometimes set a system to play our "indispensable" kind of music. Mine, for example, is large orchestral. That doesn't help where pricing of commercial speakers & amps is concerned!

OTOH, I too, have NOT noticed that "cheaper Revel models sound better than more expensive ones" (or other brands, for that matter). Ultimately, I find that a more expensive well designed & well executed product (especially speakers) performs more ACCURATELY in MORE situations than its well designed etc, cheaper sister or brother as the case may be.

Bar exceptions, maybe? Or, bar badly set-up systems??

In the end, I think we all pursue a system that doesn't compromise in aspects we find indispenable and does compromise where we don't really mind -- I've noted this in another similar thread. So, the game is subjective & time realted: when our list of "indispensables" goes up, so do our expectations and, often, the price of the equipment that meets our new demands.
Nrchy, your over the top language is undercutting the credibility of your arguments. Specifically I'm referring to the boom box comparison, your insistence that the sonic differences between the systems must be "huge" and your characterization of some buyers as morons. Yes, expensive systems can do things that less expensive (but still quite costly) systems cannot do, but to insist that the two systems are not even remotely similar is a gross overstatement.

This is another example of a mid-price (by audiophile standards) system that can easily compete against mega-buck systems.

Speakers: Harbeth Monitor 40s
Amps: take your pick from any of the better integrated amps from Rowland, BAT, Mark Levinson, Plinius, Musical Fidelity, YBA, etc.
CD: Gamut or the Sony 777
allocate up to $2,000 for cables and stands

The total system cost is in the neighborhood of $15-20,000. The system won't go extremely loud, it won't do deep bass and the soundstage/imaging while quite good won't be SOTA. Nrchy, within these limitations I defy you to come up with a system that is a "huge" improvement.

BTW, the system proposed above will not satisfy everyone. Pipe organ freaks, heavy metal heads and techno/dance ravers will not be happy. A single system, not matter how good or how expensive, can be everything to everybody. Nor do I want to get into an analog vs. digital argument. It's besides the point in this discussion.
Onhy61, That your Harbeth system won't do deep bass, won't go extremely loud and the soundstage/imaging is not SOTA, is precisely why some better healed folks will pay more than the price of your system to get exactly what you say it won't do. They will not consider the sound from your suggested system and what they want to be remotely similar. How much does it cost to design, manufacture, and retail such a system - we all know it cost a lot of money to effect small improvements in very high quality equipment. The value of such a system is only relevant to those who want the differences and are willing to pay for them. Just because some of have lesser requirements doesn't negate the value such equipment has for these people. For those folks who don't have the room for the equipment to shine, don't have the ears to hear the difference, don't have the money to spend, let them enjoy what they have. Why do folks want to comment on what others see fit to do with their money. Frankly its none of their business and in my view its done only to compensate for their own poor view of themselves. If you can enjoy music thru a boom box, Bose, or you need Wilsons (whatever) it only matters if you enjoy the music, not if I would enjoy the music.

I somewhat agree with Onhwy61, and somewhat agree with you.

Not everybody feels the need for a megabuck system. On the thread "how much does your system retail for" i beleieve there is a 1.8 million entry. (holy crap)

Regardless, If somebody does alot of research they can probably build a system that does what THEY want for 15,000. Of course, some people want a system that does more and will be willing to pay alot more. To the person who is 100% satisfied with thier 15,000 system, the megabuck system might not sound to thier liking, meaning that in thier perspective, thier 15,000 system sounds better than someone elses 150,000 system. And Vica Verca.

When you get to this kind of equipment, stating that a 30,000 system is better than a 15,000 system becomes a matter of opinion, not fact. Your opinion is your fact and his opinion is his fact, but neither are right and neither are wrong. What sounds good to somebody doesent mean it will sound better to somone else even if it cost 10 times as much.

Also, take into account where that extra money went


System A) 15,000 2 chan setup
2 full range speakers, 2 chan amp, preamp, turntable, cables

System B) 35,000 HT w/ integrated 2 chan
7 Speakers, 5 chan amp, 2 chan amp, prepro, dvd, cd, vcr, sacd, cables, AC conditioner, 2 subwoofers.

Well, obviously system B cost alot more, there are 5 extra speakers to amplify/cable along with DVD and CD and such.

So which sounds better?

Whichever one somebody prefers. It becomes a matter of personal taste.

Even if system B had the same stuff but more expencive, the idea of it automatically sounding better is rediculous. its still a matter of personal taste

Right now i only have an 8,000 system. But i doubt it will ever break the 20,000 mark unless i come across an obscene amount of cash. (win lucky numbers!!!)

Besides, i told the "better half" that it will not be more expencive than her car. Time to go trade her saturn in for an Audi.
Newbee, I agree with everything you said except your second sentence - "They will not consider the sound from your suggested system and what they want to be remotely similar." I guess the problem I'm having is in the emphasis. You say the systems won't sound remotely similar. Nrchy says there are huge differences between systems. The way I hear things there are huge differences between a table radio and any well put together $7,500 system. The differences between that same $7,500 system and an equally well put together $75,000 system are subtle. They ain't huge. In making this last statement I am not making any judgments about the validity or appropriateness of purchasing either system. Take a look at my system, it doesn't cost $7,500 and I don't have any regrets. I'm simply saying that great sounding systems don't have to cost the equivalent of one of those large German sedans. I like the way Audiophanatik put it, "stating that a 30,000 system is better than a 15,000 system becomes a matter of opinion, not fact". To each his own, but let's not pretend why we do certain things.
Onhwy61, They won't sound remotely similar because the prospective purchaser won't be listening for the same things that are important to you or me(so to speak). Now you or I might find them to sound the same because we listen to them quietly reproducing vocals, but if the purchaser listens to Mahler's 8th in full voice, believe me they wouldn't sound remotely similar. In a small room you wouldn't hear the difference either because you couldn't play them loud - I could go on ad infinitum, but you get the point. Fortunately, I don't have a large room or wallet so I'm not tempted by this SOTA stuff, your 15K system would probably sound just fine to me.
A fact is a provable point. The point can be proved by anyone with right equipment. Facts and opinions are not interchangable. If a $30,000 system cannot be proven to be better than a $15,000 system it is not better!

I had a $15,000 system. I now own a system that retails for a little over $30,000. I would not willingly go back to the former system, because there were too many compromises. I don't think I am much smarter now than when I bought the previous system. I have always had to live within my means. So the compromises I made then, and continue (in some respects) to make now are not due to a lack of understanding as to a lack of funds.

I know without a doubt that if I had the money I would make certain changes, all of which would be significant improvements. These improvements would/will come at a significant cost too! These changes have been planned and prioritised so I know what I will be doing as opposed to jumping at the next good deal. If I could not hear an improvement comensurate to the cost I would not spend the money.

The differeence between a $75,000 system and a $7,500 system is like the difference between the back row of a concert and the third row. It's still the same concert, with the same music and musicians, but the quality of the presentation is extremely different.
Gentlemen: a $75,000 system will sound different not better than a $15,000 system. You are trying to reify a subjective into an objective. Ask agoner ASA about that.
Shubertmaniac, I agree that it will certainly sound different, but it could also sound better depending on the definition of better. My American Heritage dictionary includes in its definition "2. More useful, suitable, or desirable". In this instance this definition would apply to the purpose of the user. If the user finds the system more suitable for his purpose then, for him, it IS better.
If a $75,000 system doesn't sound better than a $15,000 system the person who bought it is stupid, as are the people who designed and manufactured it.

Using this logic does that mean that a $75,000 car is not better than a $15,000, or a $75,000 house is not better than a $15,000 house. These statements are simply unreasonable.

If a $6,000 amp did not sound better than a $2,000 it would not sell! I had a $2,000 Aragon 8008st amp which I replaced with a $6,000 Krell FPB 200. Both amps are very close on paper. In my listening room there was no comparison. The Krell is better in EVERY respect. At a $4,000 price difference it should be. Why is it that some people here are so quick to deny that differences in sound quality exist?

The Krell was not better because it cost more, it cost more because it is better. The parts which went into the Krell were better than those in the Aragon. I am not suggesting that the Aragon is a bad amp. It isn't, it a very good amp. I have suggested it to many people over the last few years. The Krell is just better.

My $15,000 system sounded good, my $30,000 system sounds A LOT better, not just different.

Where is the cut off line between better and more expensive??? Is a $2000 integrated amp better than a $500 receiver? Is a $5000 speaker better than a $1,000 speaker? Were is the line?

I guess just to be a smart-ass, i gotta point something out about the "House" anology.

A $250,000.00 house in denver will get you about 1,800Sf house, probably not a basement, a puny backyard, and cheap carpet.

In Wyoming, a 200,000 house will get you about 3,000Sqft, probably an acre of land, hardwood floors throughout, and a pool.

Car anology,
A 2003 Honda Civic has a very reliable engine, 30+ miles to the gallon, is decently stylish, and comfortable and is about 15,000.

A Mustang Saleen, about 50,000 (being generous) will get you about 19 miles to the gallon, a hell of alot faster, less room.

WHich is better? one is quicker but guzzles gas. one is slower but will not breakdown as soon. How can anybody say which car is better? they do the same thing. They get you from point A to point B, and unless you are talking about on a speedway, the Saleen will not get you anywhere quicker than the Civic, because by the time the saleen reaches speeds the civic cannot, it will already be pulled over on the side of the road!
It boils down to personal preference. I prefer the saleen just for the record. >:)
It all depends on somebody's needs.

I do agree with something though, If i spend 75,000 on a system, it better sound better than my 8,000 system. And im sure it would.
I flew into Houston a couple of months ago. The reason for the flight was a wedding in Nacogdoches. Since there is a significant distance between the two cities I arranged for a rental car. I have an American made motorcycle and an American made truck, but I don't particularly care for American cars. My wife drives a 2000 VW Passat. With this in mind i rented a Volvo S60.

Upon arrival at George Bush International I pushed and shoved my way to the rental counter. Sorry Grandma! It was one of those good news/bad news deals. They had no Volvo's. They did have, and agreed to rent for the same price, a Jaguar. I jumped at the prospect since it would be a good oppertunity to compare it to the Passat. Guess what, it got me all the way to Nacogdoches and back to Houston! What more could I want?

Oh yeah, how did it ride? It was much better than my Passat. More solid, smoother riding, better amenities, everything one would expect in a luxury car. This car cost about $30,000 More than my Passat! When I bought the Passat, I traded a Pontiac Grand Prix in on it. The difference between the Grand 'Piece o' Crap' and the Passat was as BIG as the difference between the Passat and the Jaguar. Was the Jaguar worth $30,000 more? Yes! Will I be buying one? NO!!! I can't afford it. BUT is still much better, not just different.
Nrchy you are definatly a man who stands by his opinion and refuses to be swayed!

Jags are cool. Wish i got to drive a jag.....
some day... over.. the rainbow....
Onhwy's system with Harbeth Monitor 40 will go pretty deep, enough to satisfy almost anyone, and with an inexpensive but powerful amplifer, will play louder than anyone can stand. Add a good subwoofer for not a lot of money anyway, and you get you 20-25 hz bass. Really no reason to spend more money, (or nearly as much on cables). The reason people spend more for speakers is they prefer a different flavor to their sound. Some pretty knowledgeable people consider the Harbeth M40 to be sota, yet it doesn't please everyone. It does go extremely loud, however.

I have no idea why anyone would spend a fortune on amps, etc., but if that's their idea of fun, who cares.
If I ever have to rent a car in Denver, we'll go for a ride!
I think Nrchy's car analog is a little misleading. Hi-end audio isn't a comparison between a Passat and a Jaguar, instead it's the difference between a Lexus 430 ($55,000) and a Mercedes CL55 AMG ($120,500). A well put together $15-20,000 system is like the Lexus and they are truly excellent, luxury oriented products. The M/B AMG at twice the price offers offers a little something that the Lexus doesn't, but I would be reluctant to call it superior performance. $75,000+ stereos are like that Mercedes. I think it's more a pride of ownership type thing and there's nothing wrong with that. I could be wrong, it's just my opinion.

Hey, if you don't like the earlier Harbeth based system I proposed, then consider this one:

Speakers: Vandersteen 5s
Amp: Berning ZH270
CD: Sony XA777ES or Gamut
allocated $2,500 for cables and stands

This system lists for $20,000. It goes real loud, goes way deep and offers SOTA soundstaging. You can pay multiples more, but are you really going to make a "huge" upgrade over it's quality?
I would lose the Sony in favor of a good TT first. Then I would buy a phono section and a good pre-amp.

I couldn't comment on a Lexus since I don't drive Japanese cars (good engineering, lousy materials, styles are ripoffs of German cars) but I have owned Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, and I've driven Jaguar. It's not just a different car, it's a better car. The issue is, how much are people willing to spend, or for what will they settle? Many people cannot justify spending $50,000 on a car. That doesn't mean the car is not worth the cost.

Just because a person cannot justify a $30,000 system doesn't mean the system is not a superior system. I think the reason many people put down systems more expensive than their own is that they don't have to justify their own compromises. If they delude themselves into thinking better equipment is only more expensive they don't have to worry that they aren't getting everything from the stereo that they should be getting.

What do I know!?!
I hope you don't think I'm one of those people trying to justify their own compromises. Nor am I someone who denies that some equipment is clearly better than other equipment. The key point that I'm making (and beating to death) is that above a certain dollar point the differences between components becomes quite subtle. These small differences maybe important and even critical to certain listeners, but they are still small differences. If the difference between a $20,000 and a $30,000 system really was "huge", then the difference between a $7,500 and a $75,000 system must be "hyper-mega-bodacious-gargantuan".
Onhwy61 says: If the difference between a $20,000 and a $30,000 system really was "huge", then the difference between a $7,500 and a $75,000 system must be "hyper-mega-bodacious-gargantuan".

This is the point I've been trying to make all along! I don't believe (based on experience) that the differences are subtle. I don't believe that the difference between third row seats and last row seat are subtle either.

I have friends who own $100,000+ systems who cannot stand to listen to systems like mine because of all the compromises involved. They are unwilling to give up what they get from thier own systems. Since I know some people will say "They must be rich, stupid, or deaf!" I will add that I have never learned more from anyone else in this hobby as I have from these people. They know more than I can ever hope to learn, and have been very helpful in putting together my system.

Not even the rich want to waste money for what they believe to be subtle differences. Since the nember of rich people frequenting this website is (I would guess) extremely small, I would say such arguements are without substance.

So again, the differnces are not subtle.
Ok, I'll throw something into the mix here.

I think that system complexity has alot to do with the performance/cost equation. A very complex system, with a lot of power, and will typically cost more. I know this is not ALWAYS the case, but typically it is.

Here is an example of my own system. I use a simple, one-source system. Yes, I only use TT, but regardless or analog or digital, one source is cheaper to run than multiple sources of good quality. That can bring the price down dramatically.

Second, I bought some items used, and did some DIY, and we all know that money can be saved with both those options.

Third, I opted for a very simple low power SET amp, even though it is a very good one, and a simple set of single-driver loudspeakers(very good ones also) and made the cabinets.

I selected good tubes.

I settled on a very nice set of cables that weren't ridiculously expensive, but were good enough to satisfy my requirements of transparency, extension, and tone balance.

The resulting system is one that I happen to feel will rival many very expensive systems, but is much less complex.

Yes, I did have to compromise in certain areas of complexity and power, and thus be limited in some music selections not available on LP, and don't play at roof-raising sound pressure levels. But I feel my compromises were in areas that I could live with, and provided a musical result that IMO can nip-at-the-heels of the best.

So, I guess I conclude that if you want to have it all, and copious amounts of it, then you may have to spend alot of money to achieve that. If you are willing to make some reasonable compromises that you, individually, are willing to make in certain areas, then a very very good musical result can be achieved at a considerably lower cost.

My system cost around $12k, and I think it will do very very well, musically, compared to many other systems that may cost several times what I paid for mine. Unless a person is very well-heeled, and can afford to do a cost-no-object system, the right combination of compromises that the individual can easily live with, can yield a much lower cost system, that will musically rival, or even beat, some very expensive systems where no similar compromises were made. The key is to make the compromises that are least objectionable to you, and to maximize the strengths that are most important to you. Most of us realistically have to make decisions like this with our systems. Very few of us can really go out and buy anything and everything we would like to have, without regard for cost.

As far as individual products being better when they cost more money, that is only discernable on a case-by-case basis. I have heard some really awful expensive stuff, and some very nice mid-priced stuff. Conversely, I have heard some expensive stuff that truly does sound better than anything else I've heard. So, I really think that both sides of the coin are valid, but it depends upon the individual pieces of gear in question, and also the tastes and experience of the listener. Maybe some of you might hate my $12k system, but I doubt it.

I also think that if I had $100k to burn on an audio system, I could definitely beat what I have now, no problem. Although I would likely still use a similar approach to what I did with my current system, ie SET, single driver, analog, because that is what I like. And I would keep my existing amplifier, because I do think that that particular piece is truly state-of-the-art at any price.
That's a sad, sad story. Someone who can't listen to music through a well put together $30,000 system because it's too "compromised". I hope I never get serious.
I have no problem listening to my system because I like it very much, but people like TWL (are there more people like him???) probably would not like my system. That doesn't make him bad, or my system bad. Tom and I both enjoy music very much, but I think our priorities are a little different. I bet his system sounds great, but it's not the kind of thing I would put together.

Someone with a very good system has grown accustomed to certain things when listening to their system which mine does not do as well as theirs. Their lack of interest in listening to my system is no different than Onhwy61's lack of interest in spending an extended period of time listen to a Bose Acoustic Wave Machine rather than his own system. How many people who have built a nice home theater system would be interested in going back to 19" TV with a first generation VCR? At the time it was SOTA, now it's just old junk!
Nate, now let's not jump to any conclusions about me probably not liking your system. Just because I am very opinionated about what I want in my system, doesn't mean that I can't enjoy what others have put together. Our electronics and speaker systems are quite different, but we both have nice analog rigs, and the source is a major factor in the enjoyment of the music. Also, I lived with SS gear and 2-way speakers for years, and liked it alot. I think that I could get some thrills hearing some slam and deep bass that my system is not ideal for. I have room for other system types than just my own. I think that after a day of motorcycle riding, we could kick back with a beer, and really have fun in front of your stereo system. If I couldn't enjoy a nice $30k system, then I probably would have a screw loose somewhere.
Tom, you bring your bike up here and we'll go for a ride. I'll even buy the beer or whatever else you want. I'll even throw a prime rib on the grill. That sounds like a good day to me!

What I meant with my comments was that your focus is very different than mine. I didn't intend to suggest your likes were so narrow that you would find my system abhorant, just that the things you focused on were not the same priorities as mine and for that reason you would not enjoy mine as you do your own.

Because you weighed in just prior to this comment I included your name in the comments so you would feel at home:). I was thinking more of some other people who have much better systems than both of us.

In reality all of us have to live within our limitations. In cases like mine they just show up earlier. I still maintain that A good expensive system sounds better than a good mid priced system.
Some years ago a friend brought me over to one of his co-workers home to hear his system. This co-worker had a pretty nice system. He also had this huge piece of wood which appeared as though had been covered in some type of batting and attached to what appeared to be bisected wheeled saw horses. He wheeled this piece of wood into the center of the room in such a manner as to bisect the the listening position between the speakers. At one end, the wood was cut into the shape of a profile of a human face. He then proceeded to lean forward from his listening position and insert his face into this narrow profile. He explained that he would sit in what appeared to be a most uncomfortable postion to enhance stereo seperation. This is where, I draw the line.
I prefer to use my iron maiden. It's not comfortable till you get use to the spikes, but wow does it sound good!!!
I saw if somone has a 30,000 setup, and somone has a 20,000 setup, with the same number and basic type of components, and the 30,000 system sounds inferior to the 20,000, then i say the owner of the 30,000 needs to pack all his stuff up and ship it to me for evaluation. Mind you, these evaluations can last years.

seriously though, i completly agree with Nrchy.
a 30,000 system better as hell sound better than a 20,000 or else the person who put it together needs to get his butt on Audiogon and start asking questions.

The only instance where i think a 20,000 system could sound better than a 30,000 system, is if the 30,000 has integrated HT and the 20,000 is a straight 2 channel system.
That will throw off the balance because of cash vs. preformance, because you are talking more speakers, more cableing, DVD player, yadda yadda.
Any HT can do 2 channel playback, but a 20,000 2chan system VS a 30,000 integrated HT probably would sound better

But if its the same setup, and some guy has a 30,000 piece of crap, well, then sucks to be him.
P.S., it would sure take a lot of convincing for me to buy Belts and Tice clocks.
Late to the party but....Sad because there seem to be so many 'educated audiophiles' who seem to equate higher performance with higher costs. Pure idiocy. Speaking from over 30 years of experience. I find it unbelievable that many seem to assume that for example a $2000 speaker or amp must sound better then a $1000 amp or speaker.

Then rationalize that even though they may not be able to hear any differences or may even perceive the expensive amp to be inferior, that somehow those who are more sophisticated can hear the differences.

I remember being in a Nashville showroom in the mid/late 1980s and listened to several sets of very expensive speakers. One set of speakers that impressed me very much and the two friends I was with were dimunitive Celestion DL8 mk2's. 19" two way that sold for a little under a grand. There was a set of $13000 speakers in this botique (sorry can't remember the name). These speakers were over 7 feet tall and were stuffed with drivers. We listened not saying a word, noticed some curious looks on my friends faces. After about 15 minutes I turned to the saleman and said "these sound like shit". He replied with a smile "I know but people love'em because they are so big."

He confided that all the salesmen thought they were a pure joke and laughted at "audiophiles" who carted these 7 foot monstrosities home.

Final thought, I know of one manufacturer who sells speakers for $2400 direct. He also produces a speaker that sells for $18000. Same tweeter and midrange. Only difference is the addition of an extra woofer and larger cabinet on the $18000 model Explain this one to me?