Why are all the Virtual Systems mega-assaults now?

I've noticed that more recently nearly all of the activity on the virtual systems is with really decked-out systems in lavish rooms with $50K speakers and electronics, cables, and single malt Scotch to match.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's nice to see how the upper crust live. But I've always viewed a strength of the virtual systems as showing how people have put together budget items with great synergy. What ever happened to the guys with the Adcom amp and PSB speakers posting about the continuing evolution of their systems? (Maybe they've updated to a spiffy room, speakers that require a forklift to position, MBL electronics, and cables that each cost more than my car.)

I guess Albert Porter's system gets a lot more traffic because people like discussing systems like that, but I really do miss seeing new "bang for the buck" units pop up on the virtual systems and admiring their ingenuity for putting it together.

Am I the only one who's a little disappointed with this?

Personally I'm not interested in lowfi or midfi as I have had lots of it.I like the best you can get eye-candy stuff.I really like the rooms themselves.....different strokes I guess....cheers,Bob
I wonder about this at times aswell, you would think more would champion us po' folks efforts but not too much traffic or comments come my or anyone else's way. At times I have either not entered any changes or thought twice about it because if nobody gives a sh*t then why bother? All the same I actually enjoy looking back at my systems progression........like my own little audio timeline.

While I admire the mega-buck systems, and envy the luxury of putting together a cost-no-object system, I have had to build my system using used, demo, (my Dynaudio Contour 5.4's were demos), and also had many of my components upgraded, some more than once. I am now very proud and happy with the way my system sounds and looks, and it's part of the fun of this great hobby to build a system the best way you can, and enjoy what you are able to come up with. I have learned a great deal from some of the owners of extreme hi-end systems, some of the guys are very knowledgeable, and are generous in helping out others, regardless of what the person can afford or not.

The 'Gon is here for all of us, rich or poor, and a great asset. I wouldn't have such an enjoyable system without it.

Just enjoy it all,

The assembly of "expensive" equipment does not guarantee good, much less, extraordinary sound. Even with an expensive system, matching, synergy and tweaks are extremely important. If anything more expensive speakers unfortunately are much more revealing of flaws of other components in the chain. Most of those expensive systems have evolved over a very long period of time, a piece at a time and most of those that have assembled those sytems started out with very inexpensive equipment, gradually over time replacing a piece with something better.
Who would put a "cheap" (sub-$40,000.) system up to be laughed at.
It would be like bragging about your Focus (car) on a site for supercars. Though preaching for equality, it really IS about the money
I HAVE a less than $20K system, and would never bother to show it to anyone here. Why cast pearls before swine? (that last comment was supposed to be sarcastic AND funny)
A further thought, part of the value in looking at those "expensive" systems is that sometimes you will find items that you might want to incorporate into your own system and which do not cost an "arm and a leg." For instance, the Acoustic Revive AC line conditioners (RTP-4), while not cheap are far less expensive and more effective than some of the higher priced AC line conditioners on the market. The same can also be said for their power cords. In some applications they are excellent. In my system, certain components (digital) respond very well to the RTP-4 while others clearly benefit from the more expensive Isoclean AC conditioners and power cords. It would also be honest to say that I have discovered tweaks by looking at "less costly" systems. I heard a system over the weekend that was built around the Parasound JC-1's, Acoustat full range electrostats and some older EMM Labs gear that was truly excellent. The total system investment was probably a little over $20,000 not counting cables. Excellent sound can be had at reasonable prices particularly for those willing to buy used through Audiogon.
Fcrowder, I can understand that someone might gain some pearls of wisdom by looking at the uber-expensive systems, but I feel that I learn so much more about value and synergy from the more value-oriented virtual systems.

And Elizabeth, I understand your comment that people with "lesser systems" might not want to advertise it because it would be perceived as too pedestrian to be on Audiogon.

For me, I'm hoping that these people start coming out of the woodwork.

One last thought, is it common curtissy to reply to somone if they took time to look at and compliment a persons efforts? I champion alot of systems from the top to the bottom and many times dont even get a simple "thanks for looking and the kind words"....seems rude to me, if somebody takes time to compliment my efforts I look at and compliment their system if its posted or at the very least say thanks.
I have actually talked to members who in a 15 minute call ask me to respond to their system more than once like it is so important that somebody says how great the are, so I do and nada......zip..........zilch in return.
Elizabeth has a point but it goes both ways, I post mine because for one I am proud of it even if many thinks its a joke, I also hope to get some helpful advice and even some hard to swallow information if its going to help me out, but maybe Elizabeth is right, and its all a waste of time if you dont have ultra high priced esoteric gear, nobody cares...........kinda makes me like this hobby a little less because we are not in this together, its every snob for himself far too many times.
05-08-08: Sufentanil
Fcrowder, I can understand that someone might gain some pearls of wisdom by looking at the uber-expensive systems, but I feel that I learn so much more about value and synergy from the more value-oriented virtual systems.
Michael, I completely agree with you. I browse through systems to see what others have put together, but I don't usually use the recent activity link. I tend to search the systems for specific equipment and then wander around from there.

Personally, I don't like to draw attention to myself. I make changes to my system on a regular basis, but I do it under each piece of equipment and I don't add comments when I finish. I use my system as a place to make notes and store links. It's a resource for me and it's convenient to have these things in one place.

I'm happy with my pedestrian system. I doubt the mega buck folks are laughing at us. They have other things to think about. And if they are, I don't care. I didn't put up a virtual system to parade my wealth. I put it up so people can see where I'm coming from when I ask questions.
I sure didnt post mine to parade my wealth..I have none! :)
I've posted positive comments on members systems at Audiogon more times than I can count. The amount of money spent has nothing to do with my being impressed.

Sometimes it's the view out a window, unique room construction or style and decor. I'm always amused by pets in the photo's and I appreciate paintings, art work and almost always comment on nice software collections because I too am a software junkie.

This is supposed to be fun. If the system is expensive and no one feels welcome coming in and listening, it's WORTHLESS.

I want my system to be high performance and fun at the same time. This past Tuesday night, among other albums, we listened to Music Matters new Blue Note releases followed by the Rutles, and then some Howling Wolf.

Enjoying music is not predicated on amount spent, it's about synergy of components, and that can be achieved (with high end results) for as little as $1200.00 total to whatever you wish to spend.

It may be possible to get a high end system for even less than $1200.00, that number came into my head because that was a total for a friends system built from used gear here at Audiogon. It's nice, it's musical and enjoyable, which is more than I can say for some systems that cost several hundred thousand dollars.

What I'm saying is, you can get it right or wrong and money does not always dictate how good it will be.
Albert, I completely agree with your statement that "money does not always dictate how good it will be".

I was just making the observation that most of the virtual systems traffic lately has been stilted towards the expensive side. Like you, I appreciate seeing well thought out systems for $1200. I guess I'm just seeing fewer of them now.

I have an interest in specific speakers, for example, but mostly I just like to see the relationship between room and audio system ... sometimes I'm impressed, sometimes I'm left wondering, and yet other times I count my blessings.
Well, I just did a survey of the posts or updates in the last 24-hours and, your right, the mega-systems outnumbered the mid and low systems about 6 to 4.

I don't see an impediment to prevent those with more modest systems from posting. Doesn't almost everyone own a digital camera these days? My systems passed the $20k mark, so I can't help you out. (One of the few advantages of getting older -- more necessary things are paid for so I can focus more attention on my optional endeavors).

05-09-08: Dcstep
Well, I just did a survey of the posts or updates in the last 24-hours and, your right, the mega-systems outnumbered the mid and low systems about 6 to 4.

Just out of curiousity, what are your cutoffs for 'mega-systems', 'mid-systems' and 'low systems'? I would think that everyone would have a different answer for this.

Michael, looking in the AudiogoN Virtual Systems library, I find that the top three categories are: Opinions Please (870), Ever Evolving (802), and Done for now (611). The All out Assault (222) comes in 7th place out of 8 categories (only Secondary Rigs (150) has fewer).

Now, maybe folks prefer to talk about the 'All out Assault' more than the 'Budget Minded', but IMHO that's just human nature.
More car enthusiasts would prefer to talk about Ferrari's instead of Toyota's. Motorcycle fans would prefer to chat about a Ducati instead of a Kawasaki. Well, you get the idea.

IMHO, it is human nature to discuss those that are better off than you than those who are not. I work for a large corporation, and I notice this outside of the audio world too. Folks complain about those that make more money then they do, drive nicer cars then they do, own better boats then they do, own better shore homes then they do, etc, etc.
Seldom do I hear folks talking about those making less money then them, driver cheaper cars, or those not owning a boat or shore house.
People tend to look up the ladder at where they want to go instead of down the ladder to where they have already been. Whether they are 10 feet off the ground or 500 feet off the ground doesn't really seem to matter, the human mentality tends to remain the same. I'm not condoning this trait, only mentioning it as an explaination.

It's nothing personal, just the competive nature of the human species.

05-09-08: Jmcgrogan2 said:

"Just out of curiousity, what are your cutoffs for 'mega-systems', 'mid-systems' and 'low systems'? I would think that everyone would have a different answer for this."

Just eyeballing and thinking of "mega" as $50k or more, including the room (if purpose built or highly modified) special furnishings (theatre chairs) and, of course, the equipment.

I've got over 20-grand in my system and the dollars of equipment I see for the last 24-hours generally leaves me in the dust, with only a few exceptions.

I'm not complaining. By the end of 2009 I expect to be pushing up near the $50,000 territory.

In counting up the 'value' of my stuff can I count the cost of CDs and LPs?

Man, I'll do almost anything to make my modest system into a MEGA system! I really need that kind of recognition. :-) And I'd post pictures but I'm afraid I'd have to fight off the burglars.

To think, I thought that the virtual systems section was merely to tell folks what you were doing. Didn't think it vested you in bragging rights. Maybe I can just post my financial statement to prove I have the means but not the desire to have a MEGA system. Is that OK?

Forgive me my randon thoughts on the subject.
Most people spent more on sales tax than I did for my posted system. People have always been very nice about the low cost so no problem there.
I posted for informational reasons and despite the problems, there is something to be said for single driver. Even though my driver is not that great in absolute terms, running it full-range with no x-over closes the gap.
"Stick with what is appropriate for your needs and you will stay out of trouble" is my motto. Hobby is different than industry. Industry buys for filling a useful need whereas hobby is for fun or getting the latest and greatest. Just go down to DMV and see the office furniture from the 50's to see what I mean.
I personally would not go with the $$$ flex drivers because they need big power and don't come to life until you reach volumes higher that what I listen to. I don't want a full-range driver over 4" because of dispersion problems. Also the driver breakup is so bad in the HF, a cheap $3.00 Dayton tweeter can do better IMHO.
If you get a super-resolution system, plan on throwing out half your music. Especially considering the crap I listen to. Anyone hear of the Zoo-Bombs or Curve?
Maybe when I get the speaker worked out, I'll go for a nice 10wpc class "A" amp. No sense in that for now.
John, that's a good point for looking at the number of systems in each category, rather than the number of posts on them. You're right, people like to talk about the whiz-bang systems a lot more than someone's NAD integrated.

I guess my cutoff for "mega-system" is if any one of the individual components costs more than $10,000. But you're right, that is a relative term that means different things to different people. Maybe we should look at it like porn: we can't define it but we'll know it when we see it.

One thing to consider is that those with uber systems have the means to swap out components and make a lot of changes and updates, which results in activity/discussion. Disposable income allows some to continually pursue incremental improvements. Those with more modest system probably tend to put something together and once they are happy forget about it (I am generalizing here of course). Just my opinion.
Somewhat off topic, but related. Why do people who have quite expensive systems (and I understand expensive to be in the eyes of the beholder), but not an all-out, megabuck, SOTA, climbing new heights, mother of all assaults system put their systems down when compared to the Olympian systems? I mean, if there's a mega system posted costing $120,000 and your system only cost $20k, isn't your system still really, really great? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about diminishing returns or in any way saying the expensive systems aren't worth the money spent on them. I just don't think the very expensive systems lessen the quality of cheaper systems. If viewing the mega systems has taught me anything is that usually for 1/10th their cost a skilled audiophile could put together a truly first class system. It won't really rival the expensive system, but it wouldn't be anything to be ashamed of.
10 years ago when I had a starter system, I didn't even know what a digital camera was!

If it was possiable, I would have shown my system and every developmental step on the way to where I am now.

I think some people that have responded are way off base. No one should feel intimtated by showing a "sub $30K" set up. 98% of the people with systems over $50k at one time had a sub $29K set up and mostly likly WAY below that figure....

I think showing the diveristy can motivate others to put togeather systems that fit their budget. If I thought ONLY real systems were over $50k, I would have given up years ago...
Concur, I'm one of those people you're talking about who currently has a system over $100K (and climbing; I'll be putting it back up after the latest round of revisions/additions) and the first system I put together eight or so years ago was around $18K using mostly used gear (used Wadia 850, used Levinson 38 Pre, used Ayre V-3 Amp, B&W N804 Speakers and MIT cabling). imo, the cheaper systems can be extremely enjoyable (as I can attest to) but I would caution that those kind of systems don't have the resolution to show differences in products; for example, whereas such a system may show no difference between PCs, a higher resolution system may. Accordingly, it is important to *me* to see a poster's system to determine how much weight to give their opinion (just being honest here).
Jb8312, I don't think that many of us feel intimidated by "sub $30K" systems. (I'm still at the stage in my life where I consider $30K for a stereo to be excessive.) And, granted, people do have to start somewhere with their audiophile stuff. (For me, it was NAD and PSB.)

I just think that my original point was about seeing more Audiogon traffic on the more budget systems, as I believe it takes more skill to set up a $1500 system and make it sound great than it does to set up a $20K system and make it sound great. And that's what I tend to look for in the Virtual Systems: synergy, and ingenuity. Which is why I've been a little dismayed that many of the posts are on the uber-systems.

Which is why I've been a little dismayed that many of the posts are on the uber-systems.


I know what you mean Michael. I'm always a little dismayed because the tabloids spill more ink on Angelina Jolie than they do on my wife. ;~0

John, Put up some photos of your wife so we can compare her to Angelina and then judge you accordingly! :-)

If you want to be a god here you've got to have a goddess.

BTW, Michael I'm with you. It sure as hell does take a lot of skills to set up a $1500 system and make it sound great. The good part is that there is no shame in failure. Its the folks in the $20K class who have the most at risk. There really is no excuse for failure, but sloth does take its toll on its members.

The MEGA systems posted are nothing more, or less, than expensive. A lot of disposible income solves a lot of problems that poor folks have to use inventiveness to solve. As with John's wife though, you have to see (hear) her before you decide whether you want to jump on or throw stones.
Newbee, glad to hear that I'm not alone in admiring the budget systems that are overachievers.

I'm still haunted years later by a system I heard at a dealer's. It imaged better than any system I'd ever heard before, or since. And it was such a unique, engaging presentation. The system? Music Hall CD-25, Jolida 302b, and Totem Arro's. I still own 2 out of the 3 items. The entire thing NEW retailed for $2000.

Another one I heard was an el-cheapo DVD player, Music Hall Mambo, and Totem Rainmakers. Outstanding.

And then I heard someone's vintage rig with an old Kenwood receiver and Advents. Fantastic.

THAT's what Audiogon is all about to me: Learning about how to put things together for a given listening preference, music type, budget, and setting. And then seeing how others have done it.

Newbee, here is a photo of my blushing bride and here is a look at Angelina Jolie. Sure, maybe she had better lighting and/or a better photographer, but overall, I think it's a toss up.....no?

Oh man, John, you are one lucky guy to snag yourself such a gorgeous wife. I think I speak for most of us here that we're all envious of you. :)

Michael, what can I say??? I am STUNNED. If ever you mistreat that gorgeous female, there will be plenty of swinging d**ks just waiting to snatch her away from your clinging arms.

Any red blooded guy here at Audiogon would be glad to be in your shoes, I only hope your system is half as good as the look on her face implies.
Wow, whodaguessed you harbored such excellent tastes! Sorta reminds me of my exwife, at least that's how I remember her now. :-)
We, mostly men, look at things we can't have all the time. It's in our nature - do I need to explain!? I for one really enjoy looking at the all-out-assault systems. We all have the same compulsive obsessions with the equipment. I’ll bet I’m not the only middle-class guy here on Agon who, upon sticking it rich, would place building a “mega” system high on the proverbial first list of “things do with all this new found wealth.” I would love to sit down and listen to one of these systems. It’s amazing just how good a modest high-end or “approaching” high-end system can sound – but even with the all-too-real diminishing returns of dollars invested vs improved sound, you just know that these killer systems have to sound like heaven on earth to an audiophile. By the way, the only reason I just recently posted my system was due to a thread I read about “audiophile pet peeves,” in which not listing ones’ system was mentioned.
This is a most interesting thread. I agree with many of the posters that people tend to look at the things that they lust after, I know I do. I think that I can relate well to both sides of this issue. My first system(and only system prior to my current one) was an NAD integrated, a Nakamichi CD player, and vandersteen 1A speakers. I loved that system nearly as much as I love the one I have now. It probably cost a greater percentage of my net worth at the time as well! It was all about loving music and wanting it to sound good. I didn't know much about the physics of constructing a system. I just happened to stumble into a high end dealer looking for those tiny Bose cubes (embarrasing but true story...thought they might impress the girls!) and he showed me things I had never seen before. Fortunately he talked me out of the Bose and introduced me to the high end. I learned from that experience that quality could be less expensive than junk.

I don't think there was an Audiogon then (1993), but if I knew about it, I certainly would have looked at all the fancy systems, but gotten ideas from the simpler ones. I certainly think my current system qualifies as Mega Buck. I have never actually added it all up. I started constructing it about 3 years ago. I really knew very little about high end audio or how to put a great system together. Audiogon has helped me a great deal, and I have looked at thousands of systems on this website. You can learn a great deal from the experiences of others. I am guilty like many others of looking at pretty systems filled with super expensive components more than the others. I agree that it is human nature to do so.

I would say, however, that most of the people who have mega buck systems now, at one time didn't! Only the most petty and insecure would look down on someone else's system based on cost. I think many of the mega buck people are secretly afraid that some of the less expensive systems might sound better than theirs. I know I hope I don't encounter one of those!:-) I would feel like a Jacka** for wasting my money. In reality any system that costs over $10,000 is a megabuck system. That's what my wife thinks ours costs and she is apalled.
I think it is worth everyone posting a system, partly it gives other posters a point of reference. If you ask a question, make a point, they can refer to your system to clarify it. Personally, I don't have a mega system, I enjoy it, am not ashamed of it and am not too worried if it draws derision. I am not in this forum to bathe in admiration and envy.
Quote Bflowers

"In reality any system that costs over $10,000 is a megabuck system. That's what my wife thinks ours costs and she is apalled"

Your wife is a smart lady. $10.000 is about 1/3 of my net year income.
Bflowers, You'd better hope your wife doesn't keep secrets (and not just financial ones) like you do. Did you ever stop to think that with five minutes work on the internet she can add up the price of all your toys and discover your lies? That's true for all the men who think they're so clever they can B.S. their women. It'll come home to roost.

In time there may be some more equipment for sale on Agon.
I wonder how many "Megasystems" have been built on the broken backs of relationships?

I would rather listen to a POS stereo and have peace with my wife than hear great gear and live a lie every time I listen.
The $10,000 figure was hyperbole. My wife knows what each item in the system costs to within 15% I would guess. She probably doesn't think of things like cables and such if she were pressed to come up with an exact figure. It is a situation where I believe she would rather not know exactly what this stuff costs. I do firmly believe that she thinks a stereo over 10,000 is excessive, but we have the means, so it's OK. (That's what I keep telling myself :-)) Anyway, Lying to one's spouse (in my opinion) is never acceptable. Therefore I never do it. She may ask, I'll start stuttering, then she will say never mind.
Just reread your message Douglas. That was pretty aggressive and presumptuous. A bit of a high price to pay for a joke, no?
Bflowers, you are looking at deception only from the positive form - actually speaking something false. There is also a negative form, a passive form, which involves withholding information. It is just as problematic. A person who withholds requested information is wrong to consider himself as not having lied just because he kept from stating something false.

Hence the stuttering, as it would be in your mind a "lie" to state something misleading. But you may want to withhold critical information and justify that as not lying because you didn't actually say something false.

"She may ask..." means she has asked and you have balked, knowing the information would not be taken well.

Withholding important information from the spouse is a passive form of lying. It usually requires a list of justifications in the mind.

A man is either going to be straight with his wife or not. Being straight/transparent means she knows the truth about what SHE wants to know when she asks, not what you want her to know. And you won't have to stutter for more than a nanosecond.

Your wife must love you very much. It seems she sees you struggling with it, not wanting to actively lie and she drops it so as to ease your conscience, and also likely she may fear what money is being spent. My guess is she knows the equipment costs far, far more than she would ever want to be spent on it. It also seems she's not given a say in the matter, and it's likely this bothers her. Over time that can build resentment. You may find it very productive to discuss the issue with her.
Check mine out! Not an uber-assault by any means, but for a small space I would stack it up against systems costing 5 times as much. There is so much 'show-off' gear out there for mindless money'd guys to play with. The art of slowly crafting a space over years must be upheld as a virtue in its own right. The big flashy systems might sound great, but I have definitely heard some that did not. But they still looked the part.

No need to include Albert Porter in this thread. He is audiogon royalty.
Actually, what we need are more Albert-Porter-like gentlemen and less aggressive competitive nonsense!

Where's the love?