Law Of Diminishing Returns?

I'm curious about what you enthusiasts think of the product or price that eclipses your definition of "value".  

As an example I have a rich buddy that just spent 100K upgrading his (former) Pass 600s / Bryston / B&W Signature 800s / JL Fathom 8 speaker  system. I have a discerning ear and cannot hear the difference between the old system and his new S5M Perlistons (4) , Anthem AVN90, ,ATI amp AT6005 (4) and four subs.

This got me to thinking- 80% more money for maybe 20% more sound quality? 

Where is the sweet spot for the discerning ear and the affluent but not Billionaire (think Doctor/Lawyer/Indian Chief) budget?  Can you get 80% HiFi sound for 20K or do you need to spend 100K to get that HiFi sound?

-Asking for a friend :)

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diminishing returns does not mean lack of positive returns, that last few percent improvement may well be worth it for those who choose to pay for it - this applies for many many fine things in life, not just hifi

Sorta agree and disagree as this is mostly personal.  If I would have known the last few percent improvement cost 6 times more than my first system, I wouldn't do it. Yup, it's my fault as I pulled the trigger without carefully evaluate "what kind of volume I want to listen to most of the time".  While my new system gives me better clarity but I really need to crank up the volume to enjoy it. At low/normal volume, I would prefer my old system as it is way cheaper. I guess there's that word..synergy when you've found it.


Another element of the audio journey which both OP and respondents have left out is the pleasure of the journey itself. As with travel, often the voyage is as important as the destination. With every equipment upgrade, and slow adoption of every new technology, I have found the process of adaptation and expansion just simply a Fun Activity. When upgrading components I focus on ONE at a time (including cables) so all other variables are kept constant. Is the $5k amp 2x better than the $2500 amp? Not even close. But is it noticeably better? Sure. I find the degree of improvement best tested by moving backward: once the ears have embraced the $5k amp, backshift to the $2500 amp now in your secondary system. The downgrade is more noticeable than the upgrade. And there is great enjoyment in Learning Experiences such as this one.

very well said @hickamore

this is a very nice articulation of my own journey over the many many years in this wonderful pursuit

to the other comments made, i would remind everyone that there are plenty of people in society with more money than sense, with more money than good taste, with more money than time, with more money than good values -- this is hardly news... maybe the news is that some hifi manufacturers are more overtly profiting from this age-old reality

the presumption in this thread, and in this forum, i think, is to have well meaning discussions and assistance provided to help people interested in doing the smart thing, make wise purchases, to maximize enjoyment for the effort and resources expended in this field of home hifi music production...

@henry53  Focal Clear headphones never sold for $2200. Both the original model and the later Mg model came on the market for $1500.

I think most everything we do in life involves the concept of "diminishing returns". 

I love cigars. And happily I've found that I don't have to break the bank to buy, say, Cuban puros over other less expensive smokes.

Same goes for wine, cars and yes, audio.

Do I begrudge the OP's friend who spent all that cash? Not a bit. Have at it and enjoy, I say. But I have to wonder were I in his well-heeled shoes if I would make the same call. Fun to think about! 😉

Happy listening...

To each his own...enjoy the music, don't buy "trinkets" that you cannot afford.

And yes, there is a point of diminishing returns, although it happens on a personal level!