Happy Scale

I found this reply interesting on the "Happy Scale" of our present systems vs. One's of the past.

Great topic to contemplate. In the mid 80's My first stereo at 23 was pretty good. 400 watts of SAE power,  Technics SBE 200 speakers, Thorens TD 124 TT. All vinyl. For me and my friends, it was unbeleiveable how good it sounded. Fast forward 30 years.... I now own a $40,000 Audio Note system. It may "technically" sound better but it doesn't make me any happier on MY happy Scale. My friends don't talk about my present system but they sure talked about my system 30 years ago. I was the guy with the stereo. It felt good.

Rich or poor keep searching to achieve those 10/10 happy scale moments. Happy is just plain happy. Period. It's what we live for.

Can anyone add to the mix...during these isolated times?

I think I understand why this can happen.  It's about consumerism.

Consumerism is the idea that increasing consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that a person's wellbeing and happiness depends fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions.

That's a quote from the website Investopedia.  If you were raised in a capitalist culture this is what you are trained to believe.  Sometimes it's true, but everybody knows it's not the truth.  And you don't need a Marxist post structuralist analysis either, just listen to the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction".

In my experience things are more fun when you don't take them too seriously.  YMMV!
Perhaps part of your happiness derived from the envy from your friends 30 years ago.  Not as many are impressed by a really good sound system today.  Personally, I find that most young people look at my system as big, inefficient, and an anachronism.  Even folks my age aren't saying "Wow, can I hear your stereo?"  They are more likely to say "why do those speakers need to be so far out into the room?"

If it makes you happy then that's what matters :)
 Color me happy with my $10 system. 😃 But good luck to everyone else as Bob Dylan says at the end of all his records. The higher you fly the cheaper you go. 
Geoff, with the money you're saving on your system, you can afford an inexpensive comedy writer :)

     I believe happiness is a personal choice we all make throughout our lives.

"The secret to a successful life is learning to be happy in spite of it. "

Appreciating what you have in this moment...that's the secret. Not always easy to do.
I think we are straying .....

Present rigs vs.  An older setup is what I am referring to.
You never know how threads are going to turn out these days. 🤗

My mother. She always told me to smile and put on a happy face. 😀 She said I was put here to spread joy and laughter.

It’s funny. When I was a little boy and told people I was gonna be a comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well, noone’s laughing now.

"Now that IS a good one!!!"
The only small imperfection is that he repeats it weekly.

Also worth remembering that to go from nothing to your first system was an incomparably larger step to go from your 400 watts Thorens/ Technics system to your current Audio Note system.

I'm not suggesting that your current system isn't better, reason suggests it must be, but nothing, no system on earth, will ever make that same qualitative leap for you ever again as your first system did.

It's pretty well the same way for me when I watched a colour TV for the first time in the 1970s after years of watching only black and white.

Unforgettable and unrepeatable.

CRT to LCD to LED to OLED are all comparitvely small steps now but if I had seen a current 65 inch OLED back in 1974....

I guess that's also why cinema used to be so magical also in those days. These might be 'the days of miracle and wonder' but let's not forget that anyone growing up since the 1950s will be a lot more jaded now than their predecessors would have been.

It has to take something quite extraordinary to make us pause nowadays, but right now it's best not to go there.

The system you mention.as yours as in mine is from previous thread reply.from another....

My system...thankly is not worth 40k
IMO, newer systems sound better than older systems (1970s), by a pretty large margin. However, some of the most enjoyable music I’ve listened to came out of an AM radio with a cracked speaker.

I can’t be 20 years old and hanging out with my girlfriend and a group of friends at the beach without a care in the world anymore. So I try to enjoy what I still can. That includes a much better stereo. If I can’t be 20 again, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my stereo and music. It just means I have to do it differently now.  

Hence my previuos post of high end sucking the romance out of music....
Exactly I was saying enjoying music out of such simple systems like an am radio..
Just had the mojjo that dove the song home in a magical way...
Oh boy did I get some moronic replies on that one...

Ears to ya!

"It’s funny. When I was a little boy and told people I was gonna be a comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well, noone’s laughing now."

This one's definitely a Yahtzee! Thank you, geoffkait.

     Per the thread topic, my first system was a Yamaha CR640 receiver with a handy loudness switch, a pair of Klipsch Heresy speakers that I bought unfinished in birch to save money, a Pioneer TT with an Audio Technica cartridge and a sleek pair of B&O headphones. I Really enjoyed that system until it was all stolen from my college apartment one Saturday night when I was making the rounds at the local bars.
     Perhaps I was vainly more proud of that system but I know I’m humbler and more utilitarian about my current system, having more of a mentality of considering my system as just a conduit to the music with no or minimal pride of ownership involved.

      Regarding this whole Happy Scale concept, no offense ishkabibil, I think it’s childish and irrelevant. An individual chooses whether to be generally happy or not. The level of enjoyment an individual experiences when listening to his system is dependent on other factors that are not well articulated or considered when something as broad as a Happiness Scale is used, and these neglected factors are mainly technical and emotional in nature.
     The technical factors include the quality level of the specific playback system components an individual selects to utilize, the overall sound quality level produced when these particular components work in unison as a unique audio system as well as the knowledge and experience levels of the individual being sufficiently high to successfully select and combine these components into a unique system that ultimately results in a perception of overall high quality music and HT audio.
     The emotional factors relate more directly to the music itself and the individual who’s listening, the feelings and memories the music genre and specific track invokes in them, how well it’s recorded and reproduced as well as any and all feelings and emotions they perceive on an instinctual level.
     Now, some may argue it’s a matter of semantics and the Happy Scale is just a general relative summation of the degree to which an individual enjoys an audio system. But I reject that notion because the Happy Scale is thoroughly too simplistic, general and vague to accurately include,detail and describe all of the various factors that are involved in the enjoyment of our music and HT content on our audio systems.
     I consider the Happy Scale closely related to the Pain Scale continuums often seen in doctor offices. The ones with a cartoon facial expression representing the level of pain a patient can select they’re currently experiencing from zero depicted as a happy face to 10 depicted as a face in excruciating pain. I recognize the utility of the Pain Scale to a doctor but utterly fail to recognize the utility of the Happy Scale to myself.
     We all realize, of course, that this is all just my personal thoughts and opinion. My disdain for utilizing this Happy Scale concept properly has absolutely no effect on others doing so.

@TimSeriuosly......Its a simple question.

Happier with your system now or one of your earlier....

Why is that childish?
We are so happy it sometimes has us laughing out loud. Seriously. People wish, dream, fantasize, and pretend, and for all that still can't get here. Not in their wildest fantasy. Not in their wettest audiophile wet dream.

Happy? Last night we put on Jackson Browne Saturate Before Using. Bought almost entirely because of a Fremer comment about the cymbals on Doctor My Eyes. Had it years now, hadn't listened to it in a while. Last night Jackson Browne was right there, guitar body, strings, space and air, you name it its there. In spades. Tracy Chapman Mountains of Things, the same thing only this one the bass is so deep and powerful it must be felt to be believed.

Happy? Delirious! https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
Whole bunch of tweaks done since these pictures were taken. Many of them like fo.Q tape don't look like much. But the tweaks make all the difference. Remove them, just another stereo. With them, you can't touch this!
of course, some of us listen to Jackson and his lyrics...try Looking East where he decimates your Heroes Charlie...

I still have a good chunk of my Dads first system which was better than my first system, so I can get the emotional hit anytime...

Is it possible there is something else at work here?  We put a system together and it’s an 8 or 9. Time goes on, we hear things wrong and it moves to a 7 then a 6 and then we upgrade. 

The new system/upgrade moves back to a 8/9 and then the cycle starts all over.... meaning for many there is no perfect and if there is, over time, problems are discovered... so enjoy the journey. 
Relevant question to me. In fact, I'm putting together a vintage system for my basement, in part to try and recapture the sound I enjoyed at the beginning of my stereo journey. I'm under no illusion about experiencing again the same enjoyment though, because I was young then and the stereo experience was new. I listen differently now, and my Happy Meter is wired to different sources.
  • "But the tweaks make all the difference. Remove them, just another stereo. With them, you can't touch this!"

I totally agree. It is the difference between a "stereo" and a "Magic Music Machine."

Right now, I have my most favorite music system ever in my most favorite music room ever.  Right now, Primephonic is delivering me an outstanding 1959 recording of Georg Solti and the Wiener Phil playing Beethoven's Eroica.  Yeah, I could nitpick until my ears turn blue but when those Vienna strings well up on stage left & right I'm just grooving.
I totally agree. It is the difference between a "stereo" and a "Magic Music Machine."


Because we who have the FC tweaks know just how awesome they are. First, the system is elevated to a level never before thought possible. Then even more amazing, it turns out to be able to go far, far higher even than that. 

Where is the limit? There does not seem to be one. Even without component upgrades, it just seems there no longer is any limit. 

What this tells me is however close we think we are to "real" the reality is the gap is so wide it can be cut in half again and again and again. Only instead of what people think, that the halves keep getting smaller, they stay the same size- or sometimes seem to get even bigger! 

One of the most common assumptions is shattered. There is no such thing as diminishing returns. Quite the opposite. The more, the better. 

The other night one tiny little inch of fo.Q tape, only barely 1/4" wide, was added to the tone arm base. The improvement in presence was palpable. Not a huge difference, but not subtle either. Obvious. One inch. This of course is in a system already elevated to levels of clarity undreamed of by normal audiophiles. You know what I'm talking about. The rest no doubt chalk this up to yet more MC know it all arrogance. But you know. You- and a select few others. 

It may be that the one inch, minus the other stuff, the system would not be anywhere near resolving enough to notice. Possible. Doubtful. Hard to say. Doesn't matter. Point is, every one of these little mods and tweaks elevates and improves every bit as much now as back when there was half as much, or even one tenth as much, in the system.

This is me doing The Happy Dance! 

The "Well, no one's laughing now" joke is from the movie "Joker".

My "happiest" hi-fi moment was hearing the transparency of an ESL loudspeaker for the first time. Everything since then has been incremental.

Could it be happiness is too often associated with a specific age or place?
Days of wine and roses. Music well done or blasted from a 73 Pinto, it is still music. Better by degrees but it is the appreciation that matters. I watched a nine year old experience my modest garage system this weekend while playing "her" music from Tidal. Watching her face light up was true happiness. And if tweaks rule your world maybe the tweaking is what brings you happiness.

OP... I understand the sentiment completely.  It's all about the timing!  For instance, when I was a junior in college (mountain lake country) I sold my car and purchases a ski boat and a sucky old truck to tow it with.  My parents were, well livid.  My future wife and my friends had so much fun with that boat for two years.  Every minute not in class was on the lake.  There were weeks that the boat was handed off between multiple friends and was not even taken out of the water.  We put about 10years use on that boat in 2 years and every minute was a 10 on the happy scale.  

After graduating I purchased a much nicer boat but never really had the kind of fun we had in college.  And the boat did not mean to me what it did in college.  Yes, it's all about the right thing at the right time in ones life.
Sharing the experience is the one thing missing. Yeah, she hears it through the floor but it’s not the same as that time we partied and sang our hearts out to Happy Christmas War Is Over from the Magnavox EL84s, holding hands. Teenagers in love. Or on the street corner sitting at 1am, post-drunk singing Space Oddity. Over and over, with dogs barking and curtains drawn. And her blue eyes glinted in love and light. I’ve never seen her since. Now we’re tired but the stereo sounds a hell of a lot better now.
My first system was from 1969.  Pioneer SX424 @ 12 watts, pair of small 2 way Pioneer speakers and a Dual 1019 record player.  The SX424 survived the longest until I heard ESS Heil AMT4s.  Next big impact was a pair of Magnepan MGCIIIc's.  All the other equipment purchased over the years was upgrades.  The last wow moment was a Digital Amp Co 4800a.  It has made every prior amp seem less in so many ways.
40 years ago my friends thought my system was so cool. SAE amp and pre-amp, Micro Seiki TT , ESS Heil speakers,reel-to-reel. Now when people see my current system (Schiit Vidar amp, OPPO cdp, Maggie LRS speakers) they think it's funny and make comments like" wow, you're still living in the 1980's" and "nobody has this stuff anymore". They can't believe I still have a cdp. Everybody now has movies in the cloud I guess. Or something. And all their music is in their phone.And they all have these crummy computer speakers. Or bluetooth. My brother threw all his CD's out a long time ago.He asked me why anyone would still want CD's. And why anyone would want stereo components. He thinks it's all so stupid. Try to tell them about sound quality and they think you're nuts.
So do my daughters.They stream everything. Audiophiles are a vanishing breed. We're anachronisms in the 21st century. mp3 music thru cheap plastic earbuds is all they need. I even went to Best Buy a couple years ago and asked a young guy who worked there if I could listen to a pair of Martin Logan electrostats. He got his phone out and got ready to play the files in it to demo the speakers via bluetooth. I said "you're kidding,right?" He said that's what everybody does.
Happier from the approval of others or the musical involvement of superior audio reproduction?
I know what I like better
The approval of others OR the musical involvement of superior audio reproduction.
I know what makes me happier.
At about 23, I was working as a sales guy at a stereo shop in Santa Cruz, CA,   I has Klipsch La Scalas driven by Paracas monoblocs (sr# 1 & 2), I think the preamp was an Audio Research, but I don’t recall the model.   Turntable was a Sota Saphire, with a JA Michell tonearm and a Panasonic Strain Gauge cartridge.   Shortly thereafter I swapped in some Acoustat 2+2’s for the La Scalas.

Great sound and so glad to have been in the industry back then.   I could never have afforded these toys otherwise. 

All of my friends thought I was nuts (and they were correct), but they loved to listen to their tunes on my rig.

Who is"Noone" and why isn’t he laughing?

>>>But Noone is laughing. 😀
My current system is by far the best I've had and it makes me the most happy. But other than my speakers, which are a year or two old, and streamer which is about 3 years old, everything in my system is at least 20 years old. Amp and preamp 20 and 21 years Dac 25 years. So its current but its also old. If that matters.
Maybe it’s why the teen years are called “The Wonder Years” — so many firsts, so many milestones, life as adventure.

Then we get a bit older and get regimented into work and family and the exciting things we thought might be in our future become rather mundane.  

The best times in my life were when I was young, when love, commitment and children were young.  Still a feeling of adventure.  Then, you get older and can afford more, but you still relish talking about your first car, your stereo set-up, the hot girls you knew in high school and sports you excelled in.  Like Al Bundy reliving in his mind and heart his glory days at Polk High . . . But later as a shoe salesman, not so much.
"......😜......with the money you're saving on your system, you can afford an inexpensive comedy writer :) "

...but the retort was parried well, y'gotta admit...;)

Great...a place to hang and wait. Old Audio we have known....mmmm...

The last system of note was my Kenwood LO-7 set. the ESS amt 12" woofer with matching passives.
Technics SL10 TT, Sony cass, AudioControl EQ with ARC, this 'n that...

I like my current stuff, it gives me a lot of 'versatility'....9.4/10.

Doesn't have to be flawless...the listener isn't. *L*
A very good 80’s system is still a very good system today. At least if you’re into power.
Just when on SAE website and all their new amps look like pro amps. Real industrial looking. Like Crown. But the THD is rated 0.05% so they must be pretty good. Awesome power. over a thousand wpc. And capable of driving 2 ohm speakers. Guess you wouldn't worry about overdriving these amps. My maggie LRS speakers are really power hungry. The Vidar amp is 200 wpc into 4 ohms and if I crank the volume it gets really hot. I caused it to shut down a couple times when I first got it so I had to set a volume limit on the pre. The new SAE amps only have balanced inputs. No L&R phono plug inputs.
After I moved out of my parents house the search for happiness in the audio world began for me. In 1981, I was able to afford to buy a rack system at Circuit City. It was a Fisher tuner, tape deck, turn table and speakers. I was happy. Then I read a review of a pair of Polk Audio speakers and the reviewer mentioned how the imaging and sound stage was amazing while listening to Pink Floyd The Wall. Imaging? Sound Stage? What? I thought it was cool that I heard the cash register alternating from left to right speaker while listening to Money from the Dark Side of the Moon. That was stereo to me. What were all these other attributes I was missing? I was no longer happy. I ended up with a Harman Kardon PM645 integrated amp, a Sony CD player and Infinity Kappa 7 speakers. Imaging...check, sound stage, wide and open and deep....check. Wow! What a difference. Happy again! A few moves and years later, I lost interest in serious listening and my son took my speakers and amp to college with him and I lost them forever. Now I'm back to listening again and started out with a Harman Kardon 7.1 amp and Klipsch RF5000 speakers with a Onkyo C7030 CD player. Decent, but I wasn't happy. I ended up selling all that off and got a NAD C380 amp, Cambridge Audio Azur 651 CD player and KLH Kendall speakers...much better, but I still wasn't hearing what I wanted to hear. I invested in room treatments from GIK and I was happy for a short time because the the treatments did deepen and widen my sound stage significantly. I decided to try another amp. I went with a Hegel H390 this time. Happiness in a 50 lb box. Everything was better, dynamics, staging and imaging. I thought I was happy...then I started playing around with the room treatment positioning and I stumbled onto pure gold. Just one move that made an incredible difference in depth and width of the sound stage, bass, vocals. I am happy....again...for now....lol. Speakers maybe?....STOP!
@hombre, a lot of my current stuff is pro audio.  It may not be 'pretty', but functionality is a tad more important for me....

That, and the specs are specs.  The 'pros' live and fail by them to a greater degree than we do.  You don't got to concerts to listen to 'meh' sound....

They Have to sound Great.  We just want to sound better...in our own ways and means.....;)
When my wife passed away five years ago I mistakenly thought if I spent over $30k on a new system it would help bring happiness back into my life. I did enjoy assembling the system, but when I sat to listen to my music it only brought back memories of times we were together. The memories are great, but the loss tore me apart. It didn’t provide the happiness I was looking for. Nothing would. Not for years. Looking back I realize I wasn’t thinking clearly and was grasping at anything to help pull me out of the depression I was in.

I now listen to that system every day for hours and hours. Every day.  For hours and hours.  It is my sanity.

"Looking back I realize I wasn’t thinking clearly and was grasping at anything to help pull me out of the depression I was in.

I now listen to that system every day for hours and hours. Every day. For hours and hours. It is my sanity"

I feel the same way. Music is one of the best ways I know of keeping those (seemingly automated) programs of periodic anxiety from dragging my mood down.

They can feel like, to quote Pink Floyd,

"There’s someone in my head but it’s not me."

At the very least I like to think it’s not the real me, cue images of the mid 70s Who...

Thanks for sharing.
When my father-in-laws ancient cheap stereo broke I decided to get him a new one for Christmas. With only a $1200 budget all-in we got a changer, integrated, bookshelf speakers, speaker cables, interconnect, power cord, and Cones for everything. With some improvised speaker stands it was set up on one wall of my listening room to check it out and burn it in. 

That little rig was so much fun! It was crazy how good it was! Every night for weeks my system sat unused as it was so much fun to hear how great this little rig sounded. 

We tried some crazy stuff just for kicks. Like people ask how much should I spend on cables? Who would ever stick a $1200 interconnect or power cord into a $1200 system? I did! It was great! Awesome! Even with the $75 budget wire it sounded real good. But the same components bumped up to almost $5k all due to wire and nobody but nobody could believe how good it sounded! 

Of course it was nothing like my reference system. Not bass, not midrange, not treble, not dynamics, not in any way whatsoever. And yet because it sounded so darn good for so little money in terms of happiness it was simply off the charts.