He spent his life building a $1 million stereo. The real cost was unfathomable.


very cool how he made it a lifelong passion and process

always ironic, like so many things in life, you have the means, you make the effort, but then there is only a limited window to really enjoy the fruits of the labor

Sometimes something matter most than our goal...

But we cannot judge others...😊

Only judge the trade off necessary in our life to reach some goal and evaluate it ...

There is more sadness coming from this story than pure joy ...



@jjss49 Joy but at what price? My spouse used this for some spouse like comments today. Know what I mean? 

I wonder why all of a sudden there are three separate threads about this system. I understand that there was an article about it, but it was old news here and had been discussed quite a bit in the past.  

When I tell my wife that I’m thinking of buying something, after she asks how much, she says if you’re going to enjoy it, then go for it.  Alas I am definitely not talking about a million dollar system though.

@roxy54 It was on the cover of the Washington Post today. If there are other threads I have been redundant. 

For anyone who does not have a Washington Post account (and doesn't want one), you can read all about this by going to YouTube and just typing in Ken Fritz.  The entire story had been there for several years.

My grandfather collected books his whole life. Filled several rooms in their house with thousands of books floor to ceiling. First editions signed copies and limited printings. His closest friend George was the same with Records, amassing over 100k. Both passed leaving the liquidation to their emotionally distraught wife's, who just wanted them out of the house as it was a constant reminder of their loss. For my grandfather and his closest friend, it was all about the chase of finding new pieces to add to their collection. Neither stopped to think about their legacy and how it should be handled when they were gone. Planning for charitable donations, gifts to loved ones, working with a trusted dealer or auction house all would have been better than leaving it to a family that is grieving to figure out. 

While I am sure he enjoyed the journey, Ken's obsession took a big toll on his family. 


Agreed. The true nature of Collecting anything is the "chase". Enjoy the Audio journey or otherwise!


Happy Listening!

Read it today in WaPo. It was a larger tale than just about our hobby. Many, in fact probably most, passionately assembled possessions move to new third party owners for “pennies on the dollar.”

While I’m just a Mid-Fi audio fan, my wife and I (along with a small group of local artisan renovators) are obsessive partners in restoring homes and repurposed 100 year old public and industrial spaces. We share an eye and a skill set for cap and lintel interior trim, bead board and post Victorian Craftsman proportions and techniques. We’ve done half a dozen projects, in which our reimagined elements are instinguishable from original to 99% of anyone who sees the work…even those who ended up purchasing and using the spaces.

I felt sad that the personal joy at the root of Mr. Krell’s audio journey came at a high price to his family life…but the larger truth of “pennies on the dollar” at the end of the day is very common across many modern pursuits.

This was a respectful but far less fawning take on Ken Fritz's quest than the well-edited and shot videos on him and his creation that appeared on Youtube. The costs in terms of spousal unhappiness, alcohol addiction, divorce, estrangement, lost opportunities for pleasure against the singular pursuit of a personal "dream" make one wonder how worthwhile that pursuit was. To see it all go to the auctioneer's block so quickly and for so little should give anyone pause.

For anyone who does not have a Washington Post account (and doesn't want one), you can read all about this by going to YouTube and just typing in Ken Fritz.  The entire story had been there for several years.

Um, no. The WaPo report has new information about a story already out there. So, not the "entire story" at all. Think, man, think.


I can truly identify with the son.

No one deserves a dad like that. Mine was consumed with political power during my youth. Same end result. Only positive, I never indulge in politics. I bet his son will never give a crap about audiophilia.

@exigem2 I go into a lot of houses after family members pass and this is my number one takeaway. Please plan to get rid of whatever stuff you "collect" so you don't leave the burden to your family. Antiques, records, Beanie Babies, lawnmowers, etc. Most of the time your "valuable" stuff will end up in the dump or practically given away, leaving your family feeling guilty that they're throwing away "your" stuff. They'll most likely spend a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to get something for it before throwing in the towel.

Actually, Bell Labs was located in Murray Hill, NJ. I used to go to their sound proof room when I was a kid. A million dollars does not buy you great sound. Have you been to a reviewers system lately? LOL

The trick, pioneered in the early 1930s by engineers working at Bell Labs in New York and Abbey Road Studios in London, was in the two channels of sound. Recorded from separate microphones and played back through separate speakers, they could simulate the swirling warmth and depth of life.

Most all of us practice idolatry in different ways to differing degrees. A hobby, a spouse, a pet, ourselves.

In my case, it’s usually an expedient, non-judicious remedy to internal pain. I’ll never shake it, but awareness at least gives me pause, sometimes…

Hope you all stay safe in these extreme temperatures!

@uncledemp Very well written and thought provoking post. Here’s hoping 2024 brings you much joy to balance things in your favor. It’s what we could all use. 


My writing is purer than my heart, but I’m trying. 

Thanks for the kind words and well wishes. 

Best to you and yours in 2024! 

It appears that the equipment utilimately found it's way into the hands of those who do appreciate it -- at "market value". It could have been worse.  Demolition, and landfill?

Tragic about his relationship with his son.  We are all familiar with similar circumstances.  It's never easy to dig into the details.

The author presented a balanced approach to Ken's accomplishments.  Well done.

An Inspirational Story to some... a Cautionary Tale for others.

To Each Their Own...

Not sure why it is sad that he didn't  get all his money back. What do you think people get back who's hobby was drinking and  smoking?

Post removed 

This article has many details left out of youtube videos I've seen. Major cautionary tale in my estimation, seems the cost of this obsession much greater than the benefit. Having a loving psychologically well adjusted and functional family far greater accomplishment than any audio system. That audio system was a solitary pursuit that only served to alienate at least some in his family.

I'm really sorry for this man.  His passion turned into an obsession.  Obsession is not healthy and can lead to self destruction...

The listening spot in a room is like a death bed, we generally  are there alone...😁



"The listening spot in a room is like a death bed, we generally  are there alone...😁"

... and, the first time we had sex ... 😁

I was an acquaintance of Ken Fritz through my stint with the Richmond Audiophile Society and found him to be an intelligent, basically happy, persistent and dedicated in his pursuits, gentleman.  There are a number of others in the Richmond Audiophile Society that knew him in much greater detail than I who feel as I do that the WaPo article was a hit piece.  How many of us can say we don't have skeletons in our closets that if revealed to the public would be devastating to us or our families ?  I'm sure some of the information is true, however usually this type of exposure is found in political rhetoric and not normally seen in the general public.  Just my opinion...  

" How many of us can say we don't have skeletons in our closets that if revealed to the public would be devastating to us or our families ?"

Speaking for myself, me. Not even close. I'm sure many others here can answer the same.

Reading this article, my impression of the man is that he was a selfish, self absorbed jerk not worthy of his family. 

Some concentrate in music to forgot their not so friendlier family too ...

How do we decide ?

Myself i dont know and i did not bother to read the article because of his tone...

I am a "fool" myself in the same way but with less money...my wife and children were friendly and loving ... A mad man need care ... 😊

Reading the article, I came to a much different conclusion than most here. Here is a very bright guy that provided very nicely for his family. He had a lifelong love of music and pursued it vigorously. He built most of his gear so the project s were a labor of love not a massive outlay of money. I have no idea how the “million dollar system” description was arrived at. He was a workaholic that owned his own business and provided very well for his family. Some people collect cars, they don’t receive the “this guy is nuts” labels appropriated tho audiophiles. His wife didn’t like his hobby and one of his sons had issues with his father. The rest seemed to be OK with their father. Obviously there is not enough information to make judgments about the family dynamics or assign blame. Some hobbies are solitary by nature. Audio is not necessarily one of them. I sold a pair of Levinson monoblocks to a couple from Baltimore. They came down picked them up and listened to my system for a while. Surprisingly, it was the wife that had the greater passion for the hobby (very unusual). I think the bigger problem is people that have no passion in life. That phenomenon seems to be the unjustified cause of grievance of others enjoyment. Who is the selfish party in this scenario? What causes unhealthy relationships is people that are solely dependent on interactions with others for emotional satisfaction. Balance is key in all aspects of life. Between running his own business and his passion for music he may not have shared enough time with his family. His passion was not destructive. He was not excessively into alcohol, drugs or gambling. It’s no one’s fault that only a very small percentage of people are passionately into music.


Congratulations on that whitewash, but I think that it was made clear that his passion was far from solitary, and if you think that it's ok to make your children literal slaves to your hobby, then I'm not sure what behavior you would consider to be obsessive. 

Reflection in order and compassion… and a better plan for my eventual passing….

Aside - I attended a nice music listening event last evening to honor the life and memory of a music club co-founder. Bit of a fund raiser for his favorite charities…. 

I had dealings with him. He was a creep. He backed out of a long-planned deal (months in the making) we had for the sale of one of his pieces of equipment the day before I was to drive to Richmond to pick it up.  This was after I had verified with him that the deal was still on and after I rented a vehicle for pickup of the gear.  He said he changed his mind and in another interaction with him a year later, he bragged at how he sold the equipment for a much higher price.  Others had similar stories, mostly on the sell-side.  If he was buying, however, he was the nicest guy to ensure he got what he wanted to feed his obsession. 

My perspective based on The Post story: this was a monomaniacal obsession with serious consequences for his family and for himself as well. 


Of course, it's difficult to comment on his psyche not knowing him (and maybe it would be presumptuous anyway), but presumably a lot of the information came from people who knew him well and/or were related. Many of them came across as disliking the guy and his hobby due to his fixation on that project.


So, the facts are that he spent a lot of money (most of it lost to his hiers) and appears to have alienated and offended in equal amounts. A sad story, in some ways...

@prefab Yup.

And there are most always different sides to most things. 

And why the two grandfather clocks?


Pretty sad story all around. Weird system, def not worth the money, time and terrible strife and division he caused in his family and sold for piece meal pennies on the dollar when he died. 

Wow.  I mean..........wow.  What a tale, almost worthy of a Shakespeare byline.

I venture to say that, sadly, he suffered from an obsessive disorder that clearly prevented him from maintaining what most would consider "normal" relationships with his family, perhaps others.  While the emotional methodology behind his pursuit left a family in tatters, and his level of audiophilia could only be considered malignant, I have to believe that when not set to "movie", his system may well have been THE finest personal sound system ever assembled in a home environment, never to be duplicated.  I'd have given an eye tooth to have heard it.  It's final disposition is tragic, IMO.

RIP, brother.  

And why the two grandfather clocks?

Note the mirror placements of other objects in the room (speakers, tables, lamps, dog figurines, floor rugs, etc).  

Anal retentiveness to the Nth degree.

@srs148  that Is the most disturbing  story of all. When a man is not capable  of keeping his word over a few dollars you know what the problem s stem from with his family.  On the other  side nothing worse than making a deal and after the buyer shows up they decide  they are going to pay less. Only one way there yes or no negotiating  is over. If you see something  you don't like you say I didn't  realize,e this say no thank you and leave.  I very much dislike when people cannot stand by what the say.that is not gentleman  like behavior. 

I suggest one can take the article at multiple layers.  The audio achievement...impressive; the family's life...somewhat tragic. 

Things have got to be pretty serious to disown a son.  Perhaps it wasn't solely audio that caused that, but still, that's tremendously sad and I would view as the largest failure in my life it it happened. 

It's also an allegory - plenty of the greatest-of-all-time type famous people have paid similar prices for their success, and there seems to be a two-way interaction between the price and the achievement. 

It is an interesting point - if your hobby was golf, travel, wine, etc., you'd have nothing to sell at the end and so you don't get your money back.  That seems like it would be reasonably true in audio as well, albeit there is some salvageable value there.  

I'd hope my kids would want some of my stuff.  But probably not - they really only need these tiny screens that fit in their pockets. 

If it wasnt audio it would have been something else. Nature of the beast. I say good on him if the journey made him happy. 

Did any of you ever think that the story contained exaggerated elements for effect?


@retiredfarmer I agree with you about buyers who ask for concessions when they arrive to pickup the item.  If the buyer simply decides they want to pay less as an in-the-moment change of mind, I'll politely decline the request, though it fortunately very rarely happens. 

In the case with Fritz, I agreed to pay his asking price, but he clearly discovered (albeit at the last moment) that he could do better pricewise.  He could have done the less underhanded thing and told me that he discovered he could get more and ask if I wanted to pay it.  Maybe I would have, especially since we had long planned the deal.  But he didn't care that I had made the arrangements, got the car, and took off from work - he made his decision and that was that.  Again, a true creep.