Generally, I'd buy FIRST the gear I now have and love, instead of spending money on the hundreds of pieces that got replaced over the decades...I think. Maybe I'd have money for that 6-channel tubed preamp!
I would keep my VS VR4jr and VPI Scout with Dynavector karat. I would however get all JPS lab cabling and ICs. I would pretty much go all tube this time around.
Investing money is always a better idea since you can buy a bigger stereo later. But living your life has more value to me then just maximizing your dollar and waiting to enjoy it in your older years. It's all perspective. If you can afford a $10k system, you can enjoy it as much as someone who can afford a $40k system if your expectations are right.
Interesting question. If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably decide what my sonic priorities were before I bought anything. Unfortunately, I did it the opposite way: I bought and bought, and sold and sold, wasting TONS of money in the process, until I finally decided what sounded right to me. It's been pretty stable since then. Investing is a good idea. It's allowed me to play this game at a much higher level than I would've been able to ordinarily. I love thought-provoking posts!
Similar to Hooper....I would decide first if live music or hi-fi were my reference. I personally don't think this is a right/wrong answer...just be sure you determine which it is before picking a path.
My experience is that this can be a useful compass as you move along the mostly fun but sometimes frustrating path toward YOUR goals and ideal system.
I would have bought the most expensive turntable/arm/cartridge I could afford back in 1976, scrimped on electronics and speakers, and gorged on vinyl while it was readily available. Then I would have spent the next three decades upgrading electronics, speakers, and cables.
In 2002 I bought a Walker Proscenium and it was so much better than what I'd had experienced before that I kick myself thinking I should have bought one four years earlier and waited for speaker upgrades instead.
I would suggest to anyone starting to decide what you would be willing to compromise. If you're not willing to sacrifice bass, then chances are you will be going down the SS/big speaker road and the first choice will be speakers.
If you prefer midrange warmth, then you should listen to SET, OTL and tube designs where speakers are plentiful but must be compatable.
Either way, research and patience is the key. Trust your ears over opinions and marketing hype. Bother every sales rep you can find and travel to other cities when opportunity presents. Don't buy that first thing that impresses you until you hear others at double or half the price. Budget is less important than satisfaction because if you're not satisfied, you wasted money.
Unfortunately, knowing or just wondering that there is something better out there will tempt and taunt you without mercy. Every choice is a compromise.
Rob I agree, having more money later is good, but
I would rather enjoy music now while I have a good hearing,
I always say to people, even if you have all the money
in this world, if you dont spend and enjoy them, you are
as good as BROKE.
The problem sometimes is we cant afford the gear
we want at younger years, so we do it slowly, till
we can afford it.Honestly I am glad I was able to
experience differrent gears,no regret at all, because
of it, I was able to put a very musical and involving
system for the money.Very good thread though.
I follow the Vanguard website and read most of their informative posts.
One that stuck out was written by a Vanguard executive whose single mother cleaned houses for a living and put her children through college. Her process? 1.Buy used. 2.Save money and pay cash.
--Quality and refinement are more important than power.
--Matching the pieces to one another and to the listening room is important.
--Simpler is better than complex.
--Select a system to listen to the music,not the system.
Sooooo,I'd figure what I want for the room in question,set a budget,and pay cash for quality used pieces that would last a decade,figuring after 10 years that improvements would justify a new system.
Jaybo is on to something...
I remember it was 1974... My and a few buddies were in my '68 Charger, someplace on an Interstate in South Carolina, going to Darlington for the Southern 500.
The cheesie, underdash cassette player had about 5 watts total to it's credit. It was 3 a.m. and "Man We Was Lonely" from "McCartney" was blaring on the 6"x9" Utah speakers in the rear deck. We were all singing at the top of our lungs! So what if there was 50% distortion!!
It was great!! We had a good time.
Isn't that what it's all about?
I'd buy more records and CDs (and keep 'em all this time) and start simple, but buy the best performance I could with my upgrades. Maybe go from a NAD 2600 to a Krell FPB. Point is I spemt a lot of time and money assuming I would be satisfied as I went from a Sansewer (oops!) to a Carver cube to a Hafler DH220 to an Audionics CC3 to Precision Fidelity M8 to a c-j MV75a1, etc. Each time I wanted a better amp! I was much less neurotic about speakers...only have owned four. Funny enough...only one turntable in 27 years! But it was a good one at first! Buy better stuff sooner! Try to reduce overall costs of upgading. Actually I have spent far more on records and CDs than hardware...as it should be! I like 2 hear the music not look at equipment.
What would I do differently??? Being that I started this hobby 30 years ago, I was already buying the best technology I could afford at the time...with much enjoyment and no regrets. With today's knowledge I would put much more emphasis on wires and power conditioning, however, wire technology wasn't developed yet then, and power conditioning wasn't needed since power line pollution wasn't prevalent. To put it simply, I wouldn't change a thing.
Excellent comments from everyone. I'd find some "audiophile" friend or friends whom have a vast inventory of equipment sitting around and have them put a system together for you. I'm sure something nice would emerge. Then buy music/go to concerts/enjoy the friends and family around you and forget the equipment and enjoy the moment. Honestly, I have no regrets. Life moves on.
If I had to sell off all my gear, I'd have much larger problems in life than listening to pretty music. So, I'd likely not continue to be an audiophile. If we can't adapt enough, we die.
If I had the knowledge I had now starting out, I'd have a better system sooner.
If you're asking for experienced person's equipment recommendations, you'll get a million answers and be no further than at the start. I have found specific component questions to be far more helpful, i.e. one I asked recently, "What's the next step up from the Rega Planet 2000?"
If you just enjoy philosophical discussion, your question is a good one. But it won't help you actually put together a more satisfying system to your ears.
I'd do it much the same as I did. Know what music dominates your listening & decision. Give yourself the biggest budget you can- quality costs.Educate yourself. Read trade magazines.Enquire and research with reputable shops; they will teach you to listen critically for the purpose of evaluating. Ask working classical musicians for opinions; they are not rich but musically discerning & often from families who listen to music. I determined that a # of Monteal Symphony Orchestra members liked the QUAD Electrostatic loudspeakers( I ended up buying-with the 33/303 combo).
Listen with a variety of music you like.
Buy the best sound that is affordable.
Use it and enjoy music for years. Listen for enjoyment & pleasure- don't be critical.Listen to the radio to find what cd's you want. After some years & when money is available try a variety of upgrades, firstly probably power conditioning, then better i/c's & speaker cables - big bang for buck. Try before you buy, or, buy used-where items can be resold for a similar amount. Reinforce your box type louspeakers for dramatic improvement. Hopefully you've learned of knowledgable, reliable experts along the way. Use their advice.