Audiophile spending

We all say it’s about the music, but when a recent post came up and asked how much do you spend on equipment vs music I did an actual check and found that I spend about 2/3 equipment and 1/3 music. There were some interesting comments in that thread, one said that he would not increase his music spending rate, because he could not find time to listen to more material than he was already buying, but that his equipment rate of spending continued to increase. It’s also interesting that the rate of spending might not correlate to the value of the equipment vs the value of the music since we audiophiles tend to sell off our used equipment as we upgrade, but probably don’t sell off our music (at least I don’t, of course some do—there is used music for sale on Agon) So the questions to this post are:
1. What is the ratio of your spending rate on equipment vs music
2. What is the ratio of the value of your system (retail) vs your music (retail or fair market for collectibles)
3. Is your spending on music limited by the time you have available to listen to music or by budget
There's no need to post dollar amounts (you can if you want--but it's really a matter of what gets spent in relative terms)

Interesting post. I'm roughly 40/60, music to gear, but that includes the recent build up of a secondary system. I want to catch my breath and hear what I've assembled for a bit before doing too much more. The split is probably roughly the same on music/system values, but my lp collection is 30 years old, tapes probably 15 years worth, cd's as source only in the past 4 years (and not very extensive at that, as I generally can't bring myself to duplicate existing product). My 78 collection is fairly large, but probably isn't more than a 1/4 of the total software dollar. And lastly, listening time is definitely limited by time and not dollar. Time also limits my spending - I don't get to the store all that often (though when I do, beware Mastercard!)

A tag-along question I'd be interested in is how much time do people spend in "active" listening vs how much music gets played as background to daily life? For me, stopping and just listening is probably less than 25%, but music plays at my house pretty much all the time I'm there. It's wonderful to just park and ride, but the laundry needs doing, the light bulb is blown, the kitchen chairs need a paint job, etc. But the one place where I always have good tunes going and enjoy them the most is in the shop - whatever I'm doing out there always goes best when supported by good music. I love music, I love shop work, and the two combined are always better than either alone.

70/30 music to gear, the music is first with me. But I always try to buy the ablums in which I think sound good I rarely by something I havent heard before, cause if you have the best equipment but bad music it's gonna sound bad no matter what. You should check out their albums sound amazing, it's good music and right now they are giving way Marin Login Prodigys
Happy listening, Peace
We have purchased approx. 300 CD's in the past year. 90% of the CD's were purchased on the used market in the range of $1 to $5 each (the current going rate being a little higher now at $3-$5 each). I gave 50 or so of the CD's to my parents (all of the big bands and classic female vocals), so we are down to 250 CD's. The total actual cost of the CD's so far is well under $1500. A low retail estimate (for the CD's) would be $4500. Our main system (without cables and other accesories retails for approx. $6000 (we payed a little over $3000). At this point we have averaged 50% of our expenditures on source material. I have spent most of the last year at home and listen to music an average of 8 hours per day (at least an hour of this time is spent doing bio-feedback exercises while listening). When I am in the computer room I listen to a Sony mini system running inexpensive Polk Audio speakers and often listen to old cassette tapes on this system as well. I do not consider myself to be an Audiophile, but do enjoy the hobby and music in general just the same. Yesterday at the flea market I picked up two compilation CD's on Verve plus Counting Crows and an early Ry Cooder CD for $12, it was a slow day.
I think the ratio doensnt necesarly dictate preference of music over gear. When you get into systems that cost fity thousand dollars and up it would be pretty hard to have it 50/50.

I would say I have $5000 in cd's and $65,000 in gear but I have been planning expanding my collection considerably. I go through phases when I concentrate on building and tweeking my system and other times expanding my listening knowledge.

I will even admit at times I like the gear more. I enjoy the science behind it and the fufillment of tons of research turning into a combination of well matched components. The payoff is when the sum of your system is greater then its parts it brings unequal enjoyment to the music. It always comes back to the music.
60% hardware 40% software. I expect the ratio of hardware over software to increase. With limited opportunities (time) to listen, I find that my desire for greater excellence in reproduction only increases. I am very content however, and believe contentment is the only valid measure of success applicable to expenditures on luxury items. God bless.
I don't think the ratio has any bearing on how much one enjoys music. The reason? It's easy to pull the trigger and spend thousands in a minute when it comes to equipment. More difficult to do so with music -- unless you decide to just buy a whole section of the store. This is an apples and oranges proposition. Extremely high cost (and extremely low cost) systems throw this even more out of whack.
I agree with Perfect in that the ratio does not mean a lot in our case. Regardless of the system's cost, we would have purchased the same amount of source material in the same manner. The few CD'sthat we purchase at retail (or above) are things that are either brand new that we must have ("All Things Must Past", for me) or hard to find items such as ("Yvonne Elliman" - Japanese release and Mink DeVille "Cadillac Walk", for my wife). These being the most recent examples.
Hi Abstract7; My software/hardware ratio is about like yours, ie 1/3 music (CDs) and 2/3 equipment. I now have about 1000 CDs with an estimated value of $15K-- but as I do not keep CDs I don't like, I can also add that I've probably purchased another 250 or so at a cost of about $3750. that I've gotten rid of.

My main rig (w/accessories, eg tube traps, wire etc.) has a retail value of about $35K. (this does not include the $13. for chickenwire to protect speakers from cat), but this will soon go up as my DNA-2DX amps are going in for upgrade to Rev. A, and yes I'm really excited about it. I have Perfect's attitude about equipment-- it can be a great source of satisfaction in this pursuit, but I also agree with Perfect in that "it always comes back to the music".

When it comes to buying music, I often go in wild binges eg this month I've bought 35-40 CDs, but I bought none in Jan. or Feb. Would you rather have 1000 CDs to play on a $3000. system or 1000 CDs to play on a $30K system? Or 3000 CDs ($45K) to play on a $3000. system? Balance Grasshopper? Quite frankly, I listen to music 3-5 hours every night and I cannot cycle through 1000 CDs very quickly. And in reality, I find myself listening to a "set" of 30-40 CDs for a period of weeks or even months, and only slowly replace those with a new set of CDs a few at a time. The most exciting thing about this affliction to me is finding a new artist that I really like, and especially one that has a bunch of music available. Most recently, I've "discovered" Holly Cole's music, and before that it was Diana Krall, and Shirley Horn-- also Dead Can Dance.

JA of Stereophile Mag. once stated that he would never hire anyone to do review work for him that had more money invested in equipment than in music. What do Agon readers think about that? I personally think that Dekay alone can shoot down the lack of reasonableness of that position, ie Dekay finds good music pretty inexpensively, but I'll note he also finds good equipment inexpensively. I want to hear the best music I can find on the best system I can afford. Gone on way to long......Cheers. Craig.
Hey Garfish: I think JA can make that statement because reviewers get equipment so cheap/free. I wish reviewers would keep an online record of things they get for free or the at steep discounts. I think that would add to their existing credibility. I do note that Mike Fremer is honest enough to refer to a reviewers 'accomodation' price once in a while. I like the chickenwire purchase - made me laugh out loud. My old killer kitty commandeered one of my old vandersteen 2C's as a lookout post too. I just put a nice towel on top of the speaker for her and a climbable bookcase next to it. Worked out fine for everyone.
I find that I have quite a bit more invested in equipment than in software. I just added it up, and I am at a ten to one ratio of equipment cost to media. I buy 75% of my cd's used, and 100% of my albums used. The software is nearly free compared to the cost of equipment.
i think question 2 (what's the retail value ratio of your software collection vs. your equipment?) is far more important than question 1 ( at what ratio do you spend -monthly, yearly, etc.- for software vs. hardware). the former measures a lifetime's experience, while the latter mere "current trends." like garfish, i tend to buy in binges. in the last 30 days, i've bought about 50 cd's and have been given 30 or 40 more by my older son (he's a consultant to fm radio stations). that's way more than an average month's purchase of software, which usually runs 5-10 pieces. the only hardware purchased in the last 30 days was on my nascent video sytem, a loewe aconda 16:9 crt. my audio only system is worth quite a bit at retail, but so is my music collection, which includes around 1,500 "collectable," and 3,500 other lp's and somewhere between 1,500-2,000 cd's. based on "replacement cost" values, i'd guess my audio hardware's worth about 125% of the value of my software. this represents >30 years' experience in this hobby. -kelly
Our spending on music is limited by our time. My wife and I have been at this for a little over thirty years and the cummulative software at this point is in the 10,000 range. We buy about 10 or 15 cd's per week. We also go to three plus live classical symphony, opera or ballet performances a month. Even not including those where we traveled to another city specifically to hear the performance, our total music expenditures are greater than our rather expensive audio systems. I don't really get any charge out of the gear itself eventhough I have Physic and EE degrees. We are nuts about music and try for as close to the live concert hall sound as possible. We will pay for equipment that gets us closer to that experience.
What an interesting question. I guess I want to take a little different spin on the Ratios.

The number of high-end equipment buys I have done in the last year for my audio system was 7. The number of software buys I did I can't even count, must be at least 30, probably more. Each equipment buy was high-dollar and single piece, the cheapest thing I got was a couple of hundred dollars. Software buys have been anywhere from 1 CD to about 80, usually in the $8 to S30 range.

For me, this is all about the music. The equipment is stuff you need to make the music sound best. I think I am done with my main system for a while now, I have it sounding the way I want it to sound. The last batch of upgrades was done after I moved last May, new house == new system... Next project is the second system, for my new 'home away from home' on the west coast. Probably, I will end up bringing one of the east coast systems... ok, with a few upgrades :)

I have almost exclusively CD's. I have more money in CD's than in equipment, and that probably will not change. I get much more pleassure out of finding a new disc I like than I do out of getting a new amp. On the other end, when I do get a new 'toy', it is awesome to go back through thousands of CD's to hear some of the great stuff you haven't heard in a while.

My spending on music is limited by one thing only: Self control. My wife claims I have little self control, she is right. I have, at last count, 100 or so CD's that have not even been opened yet. Yet I buy more. The 100 or so will eventually get listened to, when I am in the mood to hear them. It is sometimes a bit painful to spend half a paycheck on music, which has been known to happen. For me, it is the thing that keeps me sane, balanced and happy, so it's worth it.

And that brings me to the other ratios I am interested in: How does your spending on equipment and music relate to: Car payment? House payment or rent? Food? Clothing? Heck, what percentage of your paycheck goes in to this hobby, both to music and to gear? Last year, I spend nearly 10% of my income on music, another 10% or so on toys... I never thought of it that way before!

Hear hear, Garfish & Njonker! Abstract7, great & recurring question. I've met (few) people who listen to equipment rather than the music. There the ratio is overwhelmingly in favour of equip. BUT, this ratio is a tricky thing -- the moment I upgrade, it swings in favour of equip. -- then music swings back up again because I (we all, I guess) go on a S/W spending spree to enjoy more & better sounding music...
A complementary indicator could be, "spending on source equipment vs. that source S/W". My TT set-up used to retail at $~6K, vs. a LP collection of $~15K (1400). CD player cost $ 5K vs. CDs cost $~7K (including the CDs I have purchased & changed).
BTW, as Niels, I also spent 8% of budget on toys + another 8% on live music!!

Regards, Greg.
Garfish raises an interesting point. If J-10 lives in a NY apartment, where does he keep his music collection? It must be a monster to add up to more than the retail cost of the gear he keeps there. Perhaps JA gave J-10 a "grandfather" clause after he made that statement.
I guess I should answer this question as well. I’ve already answered the 1st question it’s about 2/3 equipment and 1/3 music. It turns out the value of the system is about the same ratio. My spending on music is definitely limited by time to listen to the music. I always want to buy more, and budget wise can afford to do so, but I limit myself so that I can listen to the items I’ve bought. I didn’t always do this—sometimes I would go a music buying binges and then 6 months later discover a record I owned and had never played. That’s when I realized I really wasn’t achieving anything by buying so much music, and that slowing down would actually let me enjoy the music more.
I don't think there's much significance to the ratio (though it is an interesting question). The amount of music I buy is related to many variables - budget, time to listen, urge, what's new, etc. It's never because I've listened to everything I have and I'm bored, but I also don't stop buying just because I haven't listened to everything I've already bought.

Gear purchases are driven much more by budget and expected performance gains for the experience of listening to the music. I'm much less inclined to spend a lot now on gear because I really enjoy what I have. When something happens that convinces me a substantial performance gain can be had, I'll look to get it. It'll probably be several thousand dollars, so that'll immediately throw the ratio off, at least momentarily.

It is an interesting question, much more so based on actual cost than retail, IMO. I have about 800 CDs at an avg price of no more than $10, so that's $8000. My current system (the music part anyway) cost about $10000, so it's pretty close to 50/50.

I buy what I am comfortable spending as long as I want the item. I purchased two complete systems this year; one home theater and one two channel. Both high end. That being said, they'll be a handfull that nothing is as good as their equipment and most that it is more expensive than.

I bought almost all the hardware used with a few exceptions.
I spend a lot and the retail was in excess of twice a lot.

I love the music. Every time I sit in the living room listening to the two channel and try to do anything from read to talk, I am drawn into the artistry and detail of the music. I just can't get over how incredible reproduced music can be.

I bought in excess of 400 cd's this year. I gave away about 100 which I didn't like the production quality of.

I have learned to read reviews and investigate before I buy now. I listen to a varied bag of styles, but gravitate to piano based classical, with orchestral overtones.

In terms of ratios, I doubt that I spent 5% of my total amount on music this year. But will continue to purchase in quantities of 1 to 50 cd's which appeal to me. I see the two as quite different. I see music as artistry and production qualities. I see hardware as a level of commitment and affection to the music. Related, but not similar.

Bill E
On the topic of J-10 (which by the way comes from his French wife's pronunciation of JonaTEN), he actually had a diagram of his loft which showed that he basically lines the walls of the loft with albums and cd's. These are hidden during the day and night by waterford mirrors which lower from the ceiling.