How Long Did It Take You To Build Your Dream Setup?

I hope this isn't too off topic, but I'm curious as to how long it has taken to build your dream setup? I'm on the ever long hunt for MORE and BETTER and I think I need some other users perspective as my neurotic brain is on the hunt monthly for upgrades. 
This was May 2004.
This was earlier this year.
Check back in a month or so, should be some Moabs in there.
Check back end of year, look for a Raven Osprey. 
After that who knows.
How long did it take to build my dream setup?
40 years. And counting.
After all these years you still have your table, this is awesome. How do you decide your next and needed upgrade and how do you allocate your funds? And are you at the point of satisfaction or are you still searching for something? What was your favorite upgrade and what upgrade do you feel made little difference? We also need a shot of your record collection!
About 25 years,... 🙄 and I'm not at all sure if I'm a bit slow here? 
So, you're asking a valid question, I think. 👍
Michélle 🇿🇦 
It is more of a life style than a hobby. I'm on 40+ years.  Think about it, everything is changing all the time:  media, taste, income, technology, components, sources, etc.  The internet opened up the used market.  I look at it like leasing my equipment without a time constraint. Don't worry just enjoy the journey.    
+1 testrun! Decades later (starting in '76) I now have enough gear to equip a store! Lately I have been buying more LPs and CDs. As if I don't have enough already!
I won’t say dream system but I haven’t really upgraded for several years about 5 years, started in 2007.  Mini ToriiRef 3A de Capos. HW-19 mk iv.  Hagerman Cornet II.  Emotive ERC-4 cdp/dac. new but replaces a MH cdp and a Mac Tuner now steaming radio
If i was inclined to spend more money i would go for another low watt amp and upgrade to some nice hi eff speakers.

Is this a trick question?…35 yrs and counting 😬 Actually I am pretty happy and satisfied for about four years now.
From all the perspective, I may need to slow down a bit! Young 32 year old here with one year experience and the journey has been too fun and exciting. I don't have any self control and I needed some wiser and experienced input to help me enjoy the ride rather! Speakers are next on my list, but I'd like to do some smaller upgrades too so I'm trying to decide the way to go and rather to walk or run!
run for what, by walking you have better self control and learn more.
I set up my first system in 1975 and since then iam enjoyng both music and gear. A dream system will always be a dream. I am happy with what i have now but my ears are open for any next wake up call.
As I'm blasting out Elvis Costello and the Attractions' brilliant Get Happy! CD there's a part of me thinking maybe the drum strikes just don't have enough impact and snap, maybe there should be a hint more clarity to the soundstage.

Love the bass though. 

After 35 years or so I'm nowhere near my dream system. If my system could somehow disappear and - (Wow, that harmonica on I Stand Accused sounded real!) - just leave Elvis and the band before me, I'll have arrived at my goal.

I'm close, but let's face it, it's not going to happen is it?
Been at it since my first rat shack system at age 14 & just last year got my dream speakers(Harbeth M30.1) hahahaha..Now I’m stuck for my dream front end(amp/dac all in 1)...
I may have gone at it way too fast. I started with a set of Kef Q550s and a Marantz receiver around my 21st birthday. I've been thru 3 front end setups and 4 pairs of speakers before I finally found what I was looking for last month, Jeff Rowland front end with Avalon Eclipses. Started this hobby last August and now I think I'm finally happy (for now at least ;).
Too long, to any changes, too many upgrades. 48 years and counting. Wait, who’s counting??!!
Had a pretty good vinyl system in the 70s and then nothing til I started up again in 2004. Started small and kept upgrading components. Eventually got to components that felt fairly permanent. Now it sorta feels like I’d have to start over at a much higher (too high) price point to make any big improvement. Feel like I’m done for now, 16 years later.  I don’t know if it’s my dream system but it’s much better than my ears at this point. 
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As I'm blasting out Elvis Costello and the Attractions' brilliant Get Happy!

Right on CD318! One of my favorite albums.

I’m in my 50’s and still have not achieved the "dream system" but I’m close. I’ve been in the hobby since 13 years old when my mom bought me a radio shack all in one receiver with an 8 track player! Back then I thought it was the cat’s ass! Lol... from then on I was hooked on achieving better sound.
In my junior & senior years in high school, I eventually bought a much better radio shack receiver and the optimus 10 speakers, which back then got great reviews in stereo review magazine. They were impressive speakers with 8 inch woofers and 10 inch passive radiators. I even put off buying my first beater car to buy instead a $600 f770 Aiwa 3 head cassette deck! I still own and use it today...From there I moved up to jensen system 400 acoustic suspension speakers etc etc ....
I also owned some nice Rotel equipment and a beautiful denon direct drive in the late 80’s early 90’s, along with B&W standmount speakers.
Moving forward to today, I’m a proud owner of Tannoy’s and a sugden class A amplifier complete my dream would be to acquire a Linn Sondek lp12....
I'll let you know when I get there!  I'm pretty happy with what I have, but it's a hobby, which implies that you're doing something.  Maybe the hobby will evolve at some point to just sitting back and listening, but for now it still involves experimenting and trying to get the most enjoyment out of the system.
It took about 10 years of trial. Haven't changed anything significant in last10 years. Dartzeel and Evolution Acoustics the reason
are you asking how many times i’ve told my wife or friends that i’m done?

done buying more gear?
satisfied with the sound i have?
bought my last turntable?
my last cartridge?

it’s a big number.

might get bigger.

honestly right now at 68 years, 9 months, 6 days.......old.....that’s how long it took me to get this far and i do own my dream system for now.

more seriously; since my later life (after the kids left the house) hifi focus started in 1994 (26 years ago) it took me 9 years to get to a finish line point for my system in my old room.......but then saw my limited space as a barrier to reaching my i moved in 2003 to my current house with a separate barn with unlimited space..........and built this new room and it took me until 2016 (12 years) to really get things fully worked out in the new room. but in both cases my expectations were very high and my commitment was complete.

dream system time depends on how big you dream. and your personal learning curve.
Bought first system with my lawn mowing money when I was 10 and have been upgrading toward the dream ever since. I am now 58 tomorrow making more money than ever and probably will never stop tweaking here and there. My main goal is to enjoy the music it take me away from the rest of the world and now it is needed more than ever.

"It’s like the search of the Holy Grail....... never ends..!!"

Yes, it certainly feels like it.
It kind of gets in your blood and becomes an obsession. 

One day pleasure, the next day pain.
One day cosmic thrills, the next a slight disturbance in the force.


"My main goal is to enjoy the music it take me away from the rest of the world and now it is needed more than ever."

I think I've always felt that way.
That quickly became my addiction, and I can't shake it. 
Joyously got my first system when I moved out of my parents house and went to college in 1975. A Pacific Stereo $199 special-Quadraflex speakers, Niko receiver and a Lenco turntable. I would have never guessed that those exact $99 Lencos are now super rebuilds costing thousands.
Didn’t get on the upgrade carousel until years later. I have slowed down but just bought a terrific pair of Tetra 606 $33k speakers. The speakers owned by Herbie Hancock and many other top players. And have come full circle recently getting a vintage rebuilt Garrard 301 with Ortophon 309 arm and Myajima cartridge. Thinking of getting a Zesto phono stage. So, 45 years and counting! Think it never stops... just slows down-maybe.
Pacific Stereo is where I cut my teeth for working in the CE industry.  I sold a ton of Quadraflex speakers.  My favorite system for $1K was a Concept 5.5 receiver (I still have one for my garage system) with a Philips GA-212 turntable and an Audio Technica AT-96E cartridge and a pair of Quadraflex ST-19 12" 3-way speakers.  I went on to manage 5 Pacific Stereo stores and then on to be a sales rep for some nice brands such as Ortofon, Dual, Luxman, Triad, and Alpine.  I then went on to work directly for Alpine  (car audio and navigation systems) and quickly moved up the ladder, ultimately managing the Western sates sales force and all distribution.  What a fun ride.

More importantly, even though I was working for Alpine for 30 years (and recently retired) I never lost site of owning quality home audio gear and understanding what great sound quality can do for enjoying the music.  I have gone through several very nice systems (beginning in 1973, just out of high school) and have presently been building my latest.  This one is probably the best I have ever had.  I have been working on building for close to 2 years now.  Balanced Audio Technology and Manley are my main electronics and the recently released Rega Planar 10 with a Lyra Delos as the main source.  I have on order the newly updated Dynaudio Contour 60i speakers, due in by around late August.  All signal cables and AC cables & conditioner are Audioquest.  Next year I'll be adding a CD source and likely that will be a Luxman D-05U.

So, as the OP questioned, my answer it that it's truly a journey.  It's fun, it's awesome, it's a way of life.  I doubt this system will be my end-all.  The major components, maybe, but there is always something to tweak up a bit.  Bottom line is to have fun, enjoy the hobby, and most importantly is to enjoy the music.
About two weeks. That is how much it took my parents to get it for me.
One of those lines that reveals about a million times more than you think. Perfect.

"...with a Philips GA-212 turntable..."
That was a beauty. I was acquainted with a 312 and almost dreamt of having it. They looked the same, I think.
"From all the perspective, I may need to slow down a bit! Young 32 year old here with one year experience and the journey has been too fun and exciting. I don't have any self control"
My belief is- "less is more" and the "journey is the real destination". I know way too many  dudes that have rooms full of equipment on shelves and in boxes. If that makes them happy-cool. My guess is it becomes a boat anchor. As they age they recognize the burden of all the stuff. My advice is simple; maximize what you have: replace slowly and deliberately- I didn' mean add but replace- remember it isn't a good deal unless you need it or WILL sell it. And finally, listen to the music- because ultimately that is what you were chasing. I needed to write that for my own benefit 😏

"Right on CD318! One of my favorite albums."

I’ve always loved Get Happy!!, right from the 20 track 1980 UK vinyl to my favourite CD copy on Demon records.

The rest of Costello’s catalogue is interesting but this is the one I’ll take with me when I next go and audition for a speaker upgrade.

You know, those ones which leave the music intact and do a disappearing act.*

Damn it, I think it’s going to take a lot of money. The pressure will be enormous. The research will take years.

And then in all the confusion and strees I’ll end up with the wrong ones!

The difficult life of an audiophile.


"my final frontier was coupling my speakers to the walls ... and then happiness. I’ve decided I’m done. The end. Now just enjoying the music for what it is."

Yes, this is something that could be tried more often. My previous Rega bookshelves were fixed to the wall via a special wall mount that Rega offered.

They sounded first rate for a pair of small speakers.

Anyway, well done and congrats!

We’re all trying to get to the same place.

"The best loudspeakers for stereo sound reproduction are those that disappear chameleon-like from the listening room and simultaneously withdraw attention from the room. What remains is an acoustic scene of phantom sources and spaces in front of the listener; an illusion that the brain creates from the naturalness of the sonic cues imbedded in the recording, which the two loudspeakers reproduce. Output volume and dynamic range of the loudspeakers has to mimic the live event for the illusion to be believable.

Few loudspeakers are capable of this magician trick."

Siegfried Linkwitz

I don't know if this is odd or not but I never had a "dream system" in mind. I just wanted a good system, knowing nothing,  and started down the road first at a dealer then on Audiogon buying and selling and trying out gear, then back to a different dealer. All that being said I am very happy where I ended up, getting the best sound of my life. No plans to change anything and been pretty stable for a while now. So perhaps the non-dream has come true. :)
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@ovinewar  +1 
Keep it simple and improve what you have. Don't chop and change for the sake of "upgrading." Save for longer and make substantial upgrades less frequently. Buy used if possible. Consider classic vintage equipment. 
About 9 years of buying from the used audio sites, ordering from manufacturers, buying from friends, and straight swaps with others.  It was also a lifetime of learning and listening to get to know the sound and what was most important in various areas such as detail and dynamics, for example.  I'm still adding non-component things that make a significant difference in the illusion of live music.



"So glupson... You peaked early in life?"
Yes, since then it has been downhill.

For real, I was excited and I was feverishly dreaming of that radio-cassette recorder. After that, nothing was a dream, it was just wishes. And OP was about a dream.

Pretty cool glupson. I had a "Bell & Howell" radio cassette when a youngster. Made a lot of "mixed tapes" straight from the am portion of the radio. At night it would get fuzzy at times though :-) 
My 1st exposure to 'decent fi' was when my older bro wired up an HK tube preamp and amp.  Drove it with a 7" R2R....forget what speakers he had....

I used to sneak in and play his tapes.

Mitch Miller wasn't a real thrill, but Peter, Paul, & Mary's 'Late Again' was a fav....ruined me forever, for which I owe him That.

"Too much of nothing can make a man feel ill at ease..."
Still relevant....dammit...2:29 of reality, then and now....

Started listening to Brubeck vs. The Beatles....the rest is hysterical...;)