I don’t regret a single cent I’ve spent, even if I’ve made some bad bets. Everything was a learning experience, and I wouldn’t feel as confident about my expertise with gear and room setup if I didn’t experiment and make mistakes along the way.
If anything, I wish I generally knew “more” about everything before investing, but I think that sometime takes the fun out of things because I value discovery and curiosity.
If I did it all over again, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t skimp on the quality of the gear to get the “best bang for the buck” for when I made those types of decisions. I would rather invest in the best equipment possible without considering discounts, costs and other promotions that may have dissuaded me from making the right decisions.
I’m glad that you’re able to learn from good and bad purchases - don’t we all do? However, if you don’t mind me asking how many varieties of speakers, amps, pre, source electronics, analogue and digital one can purchase over the years in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding of evaluating good sound? Unless one buys used equipment and hopefuly dos’t loose money in the process. In addition, how many of the multi millions of electronics produced today will qualified down the road as timeless and legendary 30 or so years later? In my estimate (not scientific) every decade there are about dozen top notch pieces of equipment which become extremely desirable and even increase dramatically in value overtime. So, my question is: what is the chance today that one will walk into the store and buy the right equipment not only for financial sake but learning experience as well.? One cannot learn well from just any purchase or even a few. Moreover, one cannot learn much, unless he/she stays with the system for a long period of time. A/B comparisons, or hi-fi shows and often visits to the store or someones house is very limited experience but not of tremendous value - not much to learn in a such a way.
P.S. I did’t know rich audiophiles are shy to comment or perhaps they don’t have the time (that’s why they are rich on the first place) or perhaps they don’t want to bother with mediocracy, or perhaps they are not many rich audiophiles out there?
If this is the case let’s lower the bar to only $50k and up.
I absolutely could not have gotten better sound for the money. My current system began in 1972 with the purchase of a Marantz integrated amp and slowly step by step progressed to be better and better with better components. I spent thousands of hours of learning and changing requirements as I better understood sound and my values. Over the time I better appreciate finer details and nuances of music reproduction.
I think you could take my system to any of the elite high end stores in the country and it would be among the best. While a high end Wilson system would be more strongly holographic… a Magico system would have better details and slam… and… etc. So, some would prefer others. Mine is tremendously natural, musical, detailed, with a great soundstage width, depth, and imaging. Really listenable and refined.
Anyway, with fifty years of building… I can’t think of how you could more cost effectively build a system.
I spent over $125k on my current system so far, and I am spending more. Because I have never had more enjoyment and heard better sound quality until now.
@ghdprentice I just looked at your virtual system photos and think that if I ever heard it, it would be the first time I would like Sonus Faber in someone’s setup as I typically do not like them. Knowing the sonic signatures of much of your equipment and the placement, I’m sure it sounds excellent.
Impossible to take the room out of my system. I designed the room, then chose the equipment to taylor to the room design. So I have no regrets.
Regrets? Yes, and no:
Yes:I do regret spending what I spent. My system sounds slightly less good than it did in my old house. For those of you who don’t quite understand how profoundly a room contributes to the quality of sound...I don’t blame you. How can we know what we haven’t experienced? My old system, all in was $8k. My current system is 3x that but it comes very close...it’s about 85% of sound of my last room. There are things that are better: bass and resolution.
No: Because I’m still tweaking the layout of the room. It takes time. Also, the journey has been worthwhile. I have learned a lot...and that’s priceless.
Knowing what I know now, I'm confident I could have spent less and been content. Maybe.
@tannoy56 I’ve probably cycled through a total of 200-300 components and speakers in total. Yes, much of the gear I did buy used and then resold, sometimes at a profit but at most times breaking even. Going this route, I was able to play with a wide spectrum of speaker and electronics designs, and many investments were usually fairly incremental since I sold my used gear for what I bought and put a little more on top (usually buying something else, then selling the gear I already had to recoup the funds). At one time I had three system setups around different speaker designs - three-way speakers with Legacy Aeris & Wilson Yvette, electrostats with Quad 2805, and high efficiency with Oris 200 horns. Each of those systems had very different electronics that I was constantly tweaking and upgrading, and those speakers were the final ones before I consolidated down to a single system with Borresen (e.g. I owned other electrostats and high-efficiency speakers, a number of 2- or 3-way designs, etc).
I’m also very lucky to have both family and friends that have gone through as much gear as I have, and we have been very generous to swap gear with one another. I empathize for many audiophiles that I have met over the years that do not have a local circle of audiophile friends (though they are largely influential in driving me to invest more). While it’s tough because many audiophiles are very elitist and closed-minded in what they think is “the best”, the best way to experience what audio truly has to offer is by being vulnerable and trusting with others.
Just realized this was about $100k plus systems and not $5k plus systems...I gotta wear glasses...lol
Other folk said the same thing but it needs to be repeated - I definitely spent more than I could otherwise have if I'd have known to always spend the maximum I could on the best manufacturers' gear - in high-end hifi, if you try to skimp and save pennies, you end up spending more in the long run. To reiterate, it is better to buy the $20K server than the $10K one from the same manufacturer because you WILL upgrade and thus lose money on the trade.
The short answer is No, I have no regrets. Its a process that has taken decades to achieve and I am still achieving. Thats why its a fantastic hobby as each acquisition provides greater pleasure and overall satisfaction that you put together a system that sounds perfect for your ears.
My regret is not having the $100,000, or even $50,000 to spend on a system to be qualified to contribute to this thread.
No regrets. I am thankful for having the resources to fuel my enjoyment of the hobby and an understanding wife that has made it possible to make it fun not only for us, but for our children (who are now adults) as well.
You made me laugh so hard . Thank you for the cleaver hummer. You must be a stand up comic, aren't you?
my system is worth $60,000 but it took me 40 years to get here and there's only one thing I will be changing, that's my speaker wire, I'm going to be upgrading to OCC single Crystal rectangular wire which is even better than the OCC single Crystal round wire that I now use, but other than that I love the sun to my system very natural and three-dimensional.
Are you nuts? I don’t spend even a tiny fraction of this kind money in my systems.
Wife looking over my shoulders..........
I suspect that the Uber wealthy entrust component selection to the "experts" and don't care how much it costs, so long as the well paid experts make sure it works optimally, and is something that the owner can brag about to their Uber wealthy associates in a "my D is bigger than your D because my system cost $$$$$!" way. God bless them! I sincerely hope that some day my bankroll is big enough to leave scuff marks on the ceiling with my nose, too! In the meantime, I will be satisfied with experiences I can enjoy with my middle class budget.
Having worked since I was 15 and a wife that made me invest all the time. We retired a nice nest egg. We never had any kids. During the pandemic, I decided to get back into audio and get out my old cd collection. This eventually led into vinyl again. I have not added up what I have spent but is is close to the 100k. I do not regret any of it. I enjoy every minute I spend listening.
Almost all of the people I know who have ultra high end systems do not at all try to impress anyone, if anything, they hide their addiction. If anyone, aside from audio friends, knew how much I spent on the gear, that would totally confirm their suspicions that I am nuts.
How would I explain that a 4-meter interconnect cost $18,000? How would I explain that the midrange drivers in my system were made around 1949 and currently cost around $30,000 for a matched pair? This is only discussed among other audio crazies.
I don’t regret it at all. For me, it was money spent over the course of a number of years, and part of the audiophile “upgrade” process so to speak. In fact, it still goes on today. That’s what make this hobby a hobby for me. If I had spent the money all at once it might have not been as satisfied, and a hard pill to swallow I think that’s the key. I’m glad I did it that way.
I could have never gotten here without going on near fifty years experience at least listening to relatively high end systems. The building in earnest has taken place over last nearly thirty years. As with some others, I purchased much used components over the years, sold with little loss, incremental gains.
I can't see how you can gain knowledge of what your sound preferences are without experience of having heard and/or built a number of systems over some years. I built systems with SS and less efficient speakers, push pull tubes with various power tubes, medium efficient speakers, and finally a variety of SET with extremely efficient speakers. I've had single driver, two way, three way, multi driver speakers, box, open baffle, horn speakers. I've had any number of turntables, belt drive and direct drive, many dacs. I've gone from cd's to streaming, with streaming being rather like building an entire system in itself. I've modded much equipment over the years, even learned how much individual parts can change sound quality.
I've gone from overly analytical to overly romantic systems. I've had systems both lacking and excelling in various parameters of audiophile attributes.
All this costs time and money, I couldn't have done it any other way. The amazing thing is, while I'm still modifying and changing peripheral items in system, I could live with exact present system for the rest of my audiophile life. I've been experiencing completely satisfying performers in room experience for perhaps two year now, while some of the minor changes I've made in that time have been lateral or backward moves, listening sessions have remained totally satisfying. I consider I'm now in final phase of audiophile experience, the place where you've attained the goals you set so many years ago.
I have not spent huge $$ on my system. I have listened to systems costing far more and feel that mine sounds as good if not better. Yes, maybe I am prejudiced, but I know what my brain hears and how my emotions are affected by what’s coming out of my speakers. As much as I love my system, I have also enjoyed the journey of getting there. Learning from others has always been important to me. Doing research is time well spent. Finding GREAT deals on barely used gear is gratifying (my phono preamp/power supply was “used” but unopened in the factory boxes). Saving huge $$ on ultra high quality components like speaker cables and inter connects by making them yourself gives you a sense of pride knowing that big improvement in sound was partly your own doing (and you saved lots of money in the process). Yes, more expensive gear may sound better, but the law of diminishing returns applies. You get to a point where spending X times more does not get you X times better sound. Will I spend more in the future? Of course. But I’m sure it will be a lot of bang for the buck.
@sns @blisshifi @z32kerber Bravo! Thank you for sharing your gratifying journey with us. That’s what I call dedication. You are perfect example of "blue collar audiophiles" - yes, it is a compliment. My hat’s off to you.
Retail, my system is about $130K. However, I was able to buy several key components for a fraction-used or otherwise. Cash spent is about $45K.
After 51 years of systems-starting with a Pacific Stereo $199 package including a Lenco TT, Niko receiver and Quadreflex speakers. In my dorm room freshman year. There were many upgrades and changes over the years, but nothing very special by today’s standards. Even extending to recent years,
You might say that today’s system could be called my “Covid Kit”.
Retired now for 7 years, only in the last few years with travel restrictions, has my system grown to its current glory.
It all started with finding my beautiful Woodsong Garrard 301. That became the center pillar on which the entire system was built.
Piece by piece, it took form to encompass what I consider my destination.
Recently “coming home” (after living joyfully with them for all of the ‘90s) to Quad 57s. Since amp matching is vital with Quads, I may change my amp. Other than that, I don’t anticipate and changes.
Could I have gotten better sound for the money? Maybe. But good enough is good enough, And it certainly is far beyond anything I have ever known.
@tannoy56 Thank you for your appreciation.
For some fresh perspective, as a new dealer, I am every day meeting more and more customers, many of them who have $100K+ systems. I would classify most of them to be in the middle class or upper middle class income-wise. I don’t know many that are say in the top 1-5%. While it is something I can do, major full system installs for customers don’t come often. I would anticipate that if this is the type of service most often provided to the top 1-5%, but I could be wrong. Most other “blue collar audiophiles” as you mention may invest as heavily as they have, but mostly because they love the journey and their experiences in the hobby and the outcome.
In any esoteric adventure…there are ALWAYS mountains beyond mountains…. I have no regrets as every component, “ finished “ room, system, recording space/studio is a learning experience…my quest is to be a lifelong learner….
Best to all on the varying musical pathways we find ourselves on….
If you have spent $150K on gear good for you, really that is great. Me I have spent maybe $40K and I am tickled pink with my system.
I love learning from you guy's with the deep pockets and your experiences buying and trying new gear.
I’ve spent over $100K in ~15 years without regrets. My expensive and immersive experimentation was a joy. Sometimes I made good progress— sometimes I took a step back. Even if starting from scratch tomorrow, I’m still uncertain what I’d buy. There’s a wonderful number of choices across the spectrum of prices, and a myriad of ways to combine them. My only regret will be realized if on the occasion of death, my wife of 40+ years sells my equipment at the prices I claimed to have paid for my system.
@wfowenmd so true…i always wink at my wife and say the same about our “ simple, inexpensive aluminum fishing boat “…. ha.
@wfowenmd That's a good one.....pass my info to your wife - it's going to be an easy sell.
Building a high dollar system is about many things. The learning experience o truly believe that many people who say they cannot hear the difference between items either have not tried them or hear them at there worse as I truly good piece shows up the faults of an entry level item. When it comes together it becomes the feeling of beauty heart and soul. As I get setup in my new house and keep getting better out of my room etc it is interesting to have old friends over and bring them to tears listening. You know you are on the right track when that happens.
It is great that you love your system. That is what is really important. Looks like you have a great one. Could you post some more photographs… the photo you posted looks great… but it is hard to see the components and venue. Looks great from what is visible!
I have loved my system (over the last 50 years) when it was valued at $10K, $20K, $40K, $60K, and now around $150K. Each step was a joy to achieve. It was always incredibly gratifying. I think probably only 10 people have heard my system in the last twenty or thirty years. It is incredibly gratifying to me. Which has always been the only point.
Like a lot of previous posters I have spent many years getting my system to where it is now. It is somewhere north of $100K but less than $200K. It does sound fabulous as it should but depending upon what you want to do it isn’t as simple as tapping a couple of buttons. So if I could do it all over again, l would make it intuitively easy to get it up and running.
I am glad that I do not operate at this price level. $100k would be either too much or too little for me, and I am talking only one analogue source. $100k is just $25k multiplied by four - one for source, one for electronics, one for speakers and one for cables. It will give you a great sound but not top sound.
@inna If I’m not mistaken, we are talking about 100k and up and later on we lowered the standard from 50k and up to the sky. So where are you on this scale? We’d like to hear from you - the guy with over 6671 posts. Please, tell us about the great sound you have.
How do you find out if you could have got better sound cheaper?
It is in the nature of decisions that once made there can be no going back. You choose your road and never see the others. Yes you could sell it all up and buy cheaper. But why, assuming you don't need the money?
We should cut out hypotheticals here, they go nowhere.
The core of my system is almost 20 years old, with only power treatment and my music server being added in the last five years. The speakers, linestage and amp are probably worth more now than when they were purchased because they are made with very collectible parts (the amp and linestage are essentially built with Western Electric parts, the midrange driver/horn are very rare Western Electric components). I really don't intend to change any component out. I might upgrade the crossover of my speaker or add better internal wiring to the speakers, but, I don't do much in the way of swapping out components.
To extend the OP’s comments. We would love to see your virtual system… sounds like a great one. Hard to appreciate unless we can see the components in its venue. Thanks.
When one is deeply into something, acceptable prices can become crazy. An audio buddy is currently in the process of remodeling his summer place. He mentioned that the refrigerator he ordered will not be delivered till February 2023. I asked him about what model can be so back ordered and he said it’s a Subzero. When I asked about the price, he said it’s $14,000. My reaction: $14,000 dollars!! That’s almost as much as a good interconnect!!
No, I don't have a great sound, I have a not too bad mid-fi probably $17k or so sound. I don't know how much things cost when new. I bought only two components new - cartridge and a pair of interconnects, $500 and $1k respectively.
It really gets expensive so I decided to hold it where it is now for the moment.
But I will keep upgrading for as long as I enjoy music and good sound.
If I had $25k for new speakers I wouldn't know what to get, by the way.
Now, that's crazy - $14k for a refrigerator.
$14k for interconnects ?...Well, it depends, I would say.
Are we allowed to include the cost of our home in this? Asking for a friend.
If you've got that kind of money you can spend your way past your mistakes.
$14K for a refrigerator.. crazy. $14K interconnects… well chosen: a great investment.
I can’t afford to spend 150K on a turntable, etc. etc., so I build my own stuff. More fun, and mostly better quality.
Regrets? Didn't start sooner. DIY forever!!
There must be a lot of wealthy people in this group. I wonder how you get by the wife factor?
Either your wife is with you or it comes out of your personal allowance. Fortunately for me, wife is with me all the way - e.g. a higher end Koetsu for a major birthday.
I spy a JJ Electronics preamp in the rack. I had one years ago and still have fond memories of it. Excellent phono stage.