Comprimises - How do you approach making equipment compromises

I find it interesting that I have 2 expensive hobbies and both require calculated equipment and activity compromises to get the most out of the hobby/passion. I thought it would be interesting to discuss how each of us approach this challenge.

As I see it, these are the primary types/reasons to compromise:

  1. Equipment characteristics. For example an amp is likely either warm or analytical. Sure, some come with switches like Triode/Ultralinear, but is either setting really excelling in this area. Fortunately, in music generally one person has a strong preference.
  2. Return on investment. I find that equipment cost and quality generally has a logarithmic relationship. That is, a $100 item will be much better than a $10 item and one for $1,000 much better yet. However, near the high end, let's say $10,00 per component, it gets even worse you may not be able to greatly improve things with a $100,000 item.
  3. Budget. While it would be nice to buy whatever we want, we also have to eat.
  4. Aesthetics. For some of us, or for our housemates, it is important that our equipment also look good. This might result in a private listening room where this is less important and your home movie watching experience is not on the same level of equipment as you would like.
  5. Time. If we had all the time in the world we could listen to every track that comes to mind. Is anyone not time constrained in some way?
  6. How we listen. I'll bet some of us have situations where we are "encouraged" to turn it down, or put on headphones after or before a certain hour.

What am I forgetting?


To get the discussion started, these are my comprises (that I an aware of)

  1. Budget - As I said I have another expensive hobby/passion (visual and photographic astronomy). Being semi-retired I allocate much more funds to astronomy while I'm still young and string enough to deal with the heavy equipment. At some point I expect that to switch. This directly translated into buying used equipment, with the exception of my turntable and stylus, but for those purchases I sought. I like to think I have no budget, but in reality I'm only willing to spend so much on any particular item, so I guess I have a budget.
  2. Return on investment - It is a personality trait, some call it a defect, I must get the most for my spend. To that end I don't go crazy trying to make things better all the time. I have built a system that I love and now I focus my tweaking to room treatments and source material.
  3. Ascetics - My primary system is not where I watch movies, but rather in my office. The office has challenges of its own. I hope some day to move again and in the process I will seek a dedicated listening room.
  4. Time - Being new to being semi-retired I still have a long to do list, but I am looking forward to spending more time just listening in a few more months. Time will tell if I can slow down and enjoy the music.
  5. How I listen - Generally I have no issue here, but on occasion I do get asked if it has to be that loud? Fortunately, closing doors and windows has always been an acceptable compromise. Headphones? Never!

What compromises have you made? Do they diminish your experience or have accepted you situation?

I've acknowledged several compromises, but I embrace them and love my systems and the sound they produce. For example, my RV based system is probably barley Hi-Fi by this forum's standards, but it is in an RV after all. It sounds great on the astronomy field. 


I'll just touch on a few points.

Good sound is always naturally warm and detailed, never analytical. Analytical is coloration by omission. 

I don't spend much on this hobby, I set an approximate figure that I can spend per year on average. $10k amplifier wouldn't qualify but $5k one might if I really want it.

Don't have other expensive hobbies so no compromise here.

Don't think about investment when it comes to this, but I keep the components for a long time and none are expensive by audiophile standards.

Yeah, can't listen at full volume when it's late. Not good but I can live with it.

No concern about aesthetics but if it looks good it's good !