Audio Lessons Learned - post your best advice for the newer members!

I thought it would be great to have our longtime audiophiles post their "lessons learned" along the way.

This is not a thread to start arguments, so please do not do that.
Just a repository where newer members can go to get a few good tidbits of knowledge.

I'll start - I have been an audiophile for 50 years now.

1. Learn about how humans hear sound, and what frequencies SHOULD NOT be flat in their response.. This should be the basis for your system. "Neutral" sounding systems DO NOT sound good to the human ear. You will be unsatified for years (like I was) until you realize this.

2. I do not "chase" DACS anymore.. (I went up to 30K Dacs before realizing the newest Dac chips are now within a few % of the high end Dacs.) Do your research and get yourself a good Dac using the best new dac chips. (about 1000.00 will get you a good one) and save yourself a fortune. - This was one of the best lessons I learned (and just recently) . It allowed me to put more of the budget into room treatment, clean power, and cables which are much more important.

3. Do you want a pleasant or unpleasant sounding system?
I had many very high end systems with NO real satisfaction, until I realized
why a certain company aimed for a particular sound..

4. McIntosh:
As a high end audiophile, I regarded McIntosh as just a little above Bose for about 40 years.-- (not good)
I thought I was an elite audiophile who knew way too much about our hobby to buy equipment that was well made, but never state of the art and colored in its own way.

This was TOTALLY WRONG, as I realize now.
McIntosh goes for a beautiful sound for HUMAN ears, not for specification charts. This is not a flat response, and uses autoformers to get this gorgeous sound. If you know enough about all the other things in our hobby, such as room treatments, very clean power, and very good cables, you can bring a gorgeous sounding McIntosh system to unheard of levels. I have done this now, and I have never enjoyed my music more!


McIntosh is truly great, for many people.  You can save a fortune on speakers, because accuracy is not the object.  I like accuracy, but still admit the greatest sound system ever built was powered by McIntosh.  The Grateful Dead's Wall of Sound greatly minimized intermodulation distortion by using separate channels for everything, including each string of Phil Lesh's five string bass:  Separate amps and speakers.  just think about a poor woofer that is workng it's butt off to reproduce solid and accurate bass notes, but is being throttled back, not only by other bass notes' trying to move the speaker in different frequencies and volumes, but especially by the intermittent 60 cycle thump of a bass drum.  Still, when it came time to put my system together, McIntosh was never a consdereration, nor was the beautifully sounding, totally lush Sequerra tuner.  Not all of us like a=total accuracy.  I do, but I do cheat by using separate amps and preamps for my subs and mains, with a double pole double throw crossover cutout switch to add harmonics when I want lush, and especially when I want a bland, especially bassless, and otherwise bland or outright bad recordings to sound good enough to bring back memories of my misspent youth.  BTW, I really do not like the Dead's music, but that system was phenomenal, and it was designed by the not yet known to be truly great John Curl..
Thanks, Joe55ag for the thread,

Cannot recommend this more highly for a newbie or anyone wanting to learn more about initiating a good sounding system, with a focus on vinyl:

Don't worry about it being dated as physics don't change.  Missing are a focus on speaker/room relationships and the importance of room tuning (if possible.) 

Digital audio and vast music access can be had very reasonably today. Budget NCore Class D amplification, a carefully chosen under $1k DAC in tandem with streaming high resolution music (given rudimentary computer skills) to say a Magnepan LRS loudspeaker and good budget cables, is a full glimpse into the high end world for well under $2,500, US.  In time, adding a fast subwoofer or two, and you have a high fidelity system that can challenge expensive systems. Stadium rock preferences would require a few different choices in loudspeakers, but are possible on a similar budget.

At these entry prices, you don't have to worry about major mistakes or discovering over time you have changing preferences.  I view our beloved hobby as a process...preferring to upgrade a bit at a time, refreshing my entire music catalog each time out.  Yes, we oldsters may have made mistakes without the benefit of the web, but corrections in navigation ALWAYS remain exciting even for grizzled music lovers.  

More Peace  ..and, as my buddy says, "..think positive, test negative."
thank you for the overwhelming number of positive and thoughtful comments on this thread . A refreshing day to catch up on this weeks rants and raves . 
a few good laughs as well.

@audio2design :  Ignore the advice of audiophiles who took almost 50 years to make the right decisions.


and a Big Thanks to @wspohn  #5  5 - don't be in a rush - this usually takes decades, not days.  >  as I am maybe  a few months short in chasing the  50 year mark. Still hanging on to a couple of my  first  albums - Who's Next and Sticky Fingers.

I also just bought the book by Robert Harley just now . Never too late to learn more and also to be reminded what I did learn. 

Since you mentioned "Who's Next" and "Sticky Fingers," I encourage you to post on a forum I started" "1st Album you ever Owned."  It's been a fun thread.

After 3-4 years in this hobby, the #1 thing I learned:

-If you don't get the speaker placement right, you won't hear the differences in any upgrades.

And one more thing: replacing the speaker posts from the original Klipsch Cornwalls made more difference than any other change/upgrade to my systems (except for speaker placement).  Who would have thought $2 speaker posts?  Not me!