Not impressed

Just getting sick of the Hi Fi Merry Go Around...getting ready to throw in throw in the towel. Price to performance ratio is not all that rewarding. Sucks not being able to Audition before I buy....find a a nice amp.......good luck finding a preamp to match......on and on
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Get an ipod and a pair of Audioengine A5+ speakers, rip some tunes, sit back, relax and listen to music.
It's a hobby, spend some money, kill some time.

At the end of the day, are you happier? Do you enjoy the process and the result? If not, find something else to kill your time.
Can't blame anyone for feeling that way really. So much hype, crap and noise to cut through in high end audio.

The only truly high end sound is the one each person puts together that floats their boat anytime they listen.

So if one feels that way about high end audio but just wants to enjoy their music learn to just stick to the nuts and bolts, starting with your room's acoustics and how to best use that. Or forget speakers altogether and just go with any decent quality headphones to keep it simple and as inexpensive as possible.

Or find a suitable vendor. SO many good ones out there accessible eletronically these days! IF you look only here, you might miss many of them. Google and end user reviews from like minded people are your best friend. Amazon can be a good place to start for a lot of that.

Or ever consider any of the newer fully pre-integrated products that attempt to set a high bar for sound quality, like Dynaudio Xeo? Not a bad option to consider if one wants to leave the integration needed for good sound completely up to a company known for the same.

As you can see, you will get little sympathy in these parts if you are not impressed. It's like going to Hollywood and not fawning over perfection like Bradgelina or J'lo..

I HAVE a six-figure system in the living room- Hurray for me, right?
I also have a Tivoli radio with dual subwoofers on either side of my bed to relax
at night and listen to broadcasts; with my head in the middle i get almost as much satisfaction and enjoyment from that system as well.
now i am slowly beginning to investigate computer-audio (to keep up with the Jones's of course), but every time i think i am going to get an I-PAD and all that
other stuff i fail to launch, even though i can afford it. tell me what, WHAT am i missing so badly that i HAVE TO get more things?
So in conclusion, you're right. this hobby is primarily for equipment freaks, not necessarily music lovers.
but IF YOU ARE BOTH, well GOOD LUCK, and let's have a pint together and listen to some Coltrane (and Chopin, and The Clash, and Bob Dylan, and...)
The only truly high end sound is the one each person puts together that floats their boat anytime they listen.

+1! Good post Mapman. Not one of my components cost me more than $2900, yet my system satisfies me more than anything I've ever heard.
I've worked pretty hard to get good sound out of my second system using whatever I can and not having to make a huge investment. Its currently built around a 30 year old Nad 7020 receiver used as a pre-amp only at present that I picked up in a pawn shop circa 1987 for $20. It does 90% or more of what most anyone would need these days. Via my 20 year old Stax headphones attached, it sounds about as good as most any headphone based system I have heard recently, and I have heard most of the best known ones these days.

Dealijng with room acoustics much less integrating components well is HARD to get right. Money alone is not the solution (but it always helps...). Knowledge and trial and error is. GO with something like the Xeo that is integrated FOR you. Then all you have to do is get teh setup in teh room right. If that's too much still, then headphones are the answer. Even good $80 earbuds of a decent modern mobile device can sound pretty darn good! RIp you tunes and put it out on Amazon player website for access from anywhere for free (up to a few hundred songs and BINGO, audio paradise whenever and wherever you want.
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My system is cobbled together from a few things bought new and lots of used stuff, which is part of the fun. Something seems weak I sell it, things that sound great I keep, and the result is music played at a very high level of resolution and accuracy that keeps me spellbound in front of it for hours. You can lament the price vs. value of a lot of things you might like, but if you express it in a defeatist tone you're just whining, it's pathetic, and life is way too short to suffer those who choose to be pathetic whiners. To sum up: Me good, pathetic whiners bad.
Makes no sense to me. Sound quality-to-price ratio continues to improve year after year in the affordable categories, due to an oversupply of capable manufacturers and trickle-down technologies. Excellent sounding equipment at reasonable prices not hard to find these days. Even a poor excuse for an audio magazine such as the Absolute Sound can point you in the right direction and help you avoid making a mistake.
Good luck finding the capable speaker! It's available and very affordable.

Wavetouch Audio

annnnnnd heeeeere's Alex! Just in time to pimp his speakers for you, guaranteed to solve all of your audio problems. LOL!

Seriously, I think everyone gets a little burnt out from chasing the absolute sound over the years. Just relax and take some time off. They will still be making this crap in a few years when your batteries are re-charged and you are ready to play again.
In response to Mihorn, I do not think there is a battle between high end audio and "puny earphones". Those who predominantly or exclusively use iPods or similar players with earbuds probably have no interest in high end audio for no other reason than either they have no familiarity with it or associate listening to music with mobility, and I don't mean upward.
You should speak with Bo1972. He goes all over the world and has tested every component and has done demonstrations for every manufacturer and has consistently shown hi-end dealers how to get the best sound at the shows. He has multitudes of clients that he had shown how to achieve a realistic 3d soundstage and accurate tonal timbres. He can help you get off the merry go round for sure!
Keep at it please - it "will" reward !
Brain doctors can measure the good influence it has on us...
but it requires some work - learning curve if you will...

You can just get an all in one speakers like the Denon Cocoon 500 model from amazon, and stream music from your computer, and be done with it. It's on sale at 1/5 the msrp ($129 + free shipping).

I too feel like you about many things, but what can we do, we have to keep plugging at it, 'til we reach our goals in life, and for me, this glorious hobby is a search for happiness it self...

I had some moments when I was in tears of happiness...

...hope you too find your sonic nirvana for not much money (buy used)...
Go vintage....I have spent a ton of money climbing the HiFi ladder but at the end of the day I have always preferred my vintage system. Sure it has its shortcomings but you won't be out a ton of money chasing the dragon .
Part of how I earn my keep is in branding and user marketing. Part of how audio is marketed is to incentivize the aficionado segment to "Chase the New." For example, the auto industry wants "Car Guys" to change their rides about every 4 years.

Audio is not much different. The Mid-Fi and High-End shops, whether online or brick-and-mortar, thrive via repeat business.

At the end of the day, the astute consumer needs to decide at what point a hobby is about acquisitiveness vs usage. It's not uncommon for an avid guitar collector to have 10+ guitars, even though you can only play one at a time (with a second in the wings when your D-String breaks :-) ). Many people find happiness owning things they never use. Go to if you want to witness acquisitiveness taken to extreme levels. Personally, it's not my cup of tea, but if you can afford to play and it brings you happiness, who am I to judge?

Likewise, many enjoy "the hunt" more than the capture. If you are in this camp, then you might need to decide at some point whether you have reached a degree of critical mass. That, or you transition into to realm of "Hoarder."

I also like the suggestions from Elizabeth and Dopogue, and am eager to see if getting a horse and then putting it on a boat catches on.
A Bo1972 is an oddly misguided pretentious weirdo who should be ignored, as should Alex, and maybe Chayro since he's a Bophile. I should make a list...
Someone here many years ago made a quote about this hobby that was so profound.

He said: "We're all as crazy as we can afford to be."

So, If you've reached your spending threshold, do your homework and get the best equipment within your budget and be done with it. Audiogon is an excellent resource for buying pre-owned stuff. It's almost tantamount to a free trial if you buy intelligently.
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Sell it all, and put the ipod on the horse and use the money for gas for the boat and travel a lot.

Hmmmm? And I have a boat with no music on it. Maybe I should get a horse too!
While the pursuit of audio (musical) satisfaction certainly has its ups and downs, putting together the right system for yourself can be done, and without spending insane amounts of hard-earned cash.

A system consisting of some vintage, and some newer gear, can be inordinately musical and satisfying. If you throw in the towel, you'll never experience the blessing of enjoying music as you would like to have it, in your home on a daily basis.

Many of us have found high-sensitivity speakers/low power SET amps to be just what we were looking for all along. You don't state what you have at this time that is distressing you, but try listening to such a system, and see if you might find what you've been missing.

Another thing worth mentioning, is on this forum, there is a wealth of knowledge possesed among its members, along with the usual dose of crackpots you'll find on any forum.

Point being, members have helped immensely in finding the right set up for me. Avail yourself to this treasure trove, many knowledgeable members enjoy helping those of us that just don't know as much as they would like.

Good luck, sounds like you could use some about now.
Bo is as full of, or more full of, the hot air and fiction as most of the manufacturers and reviewers who are unwittingly sabotaging the industry.

High end has become home to plenty of weirdos and fakers for sure, all looking for your $$$$.
Perhaps you misinterpreted the specific focus of my post. I made no mention regarding the current challenges of high end audio as being "a small matter to you [me] as a consumer".
You also affirmed my contention that many current users of portable music players using earbuds probably have no familiarity with high end audio when you stated that hi end audio retailers "are not doing a good job now". As far as a $100,000 system is concerned, I have neither the resources nor the interest to spend that kind of money on a system. I certainly have no problem with those that have such a system or desire one in the future. Over the years as I have bought and sold stereo equipment new from dealers or here on Audiogon I have arrived at a system that gives me much listening pleasure.
With regard to your speakers I have no knowledge of them. I can only wish you great success in your enterprise.
I was surprised to see this many responses to a post I had started after a few beers lol.
My system
Schit Bitfrost Dac
Exposure 2010S2
Into Job 225 or Exposure 3010s2 stereo amp
Focus 110
The Exposure 2010s2 provides the most texture and prat as a stand alone. When ran as a preamp into the Job 225 I get really good results but a little less thickness and snap in the upper to midrange.
Ran into the 3010s2 amp the combo gives a warm sound with huge soundstage but actually losses a lot of prat.
Maybe I should look at naim
Maybe I should look at naim

And you're right back on that merry go round!!!
I'm guessing Chayro's Bo shout-out was tongue-in-cheek (as opposed to head up ass).
Dj, I feel your pain. I am an average middle income consumer with a love
for music as well as the hifi sound. I guess I could say that I have been in
the hobby since the 70s but really got into the "high end hifi" in
the late 80s. Back in the day, stereo shops were as prolific as Pharmacy
Stores are today. Now, if you do not live near a major metropolitan area,
good luck auditioning audio equipment. And as you said, the prices these
days are breathtaking. The elite equipment was never cheap. I agonized
for months back when I bought my turntable, tonearm and cartridge.
Same with my preamp and especially my amp. Those were major
purchases for me. Not every purchase over the years had a happy
conclusion which resulted in the hassle of selling and then buying again. I
don't consider myself an equipment junkie. Once I find what I like I stick
with it unless I hear something so much superior that it prompts me to let
go some cash. I'm on my 3rd pair of speakers since the late 80s. The
newest piece in my system is my CD Player and it goes back to 2007.

I consider myself fortunate to be very satisfied with my system. I have
heard a few systems with the latest and greatest gear. I heard one ref
system a couple of times totaling just over $100k even. Maybe my ears
have reached their limit. I liked what I heard but it was maybe 10% better
than my system. I had no problem going home and listening to my system
afterwards and I found things about my system that I liked better. It
prompted no desire at all in me to upgrade.

I believe it is possible to build a very respectable system with vintage gear
on a budget. It will be both frustrating and rewarding. When I hear people
rave about the new MKII preamp, amp, etc that just replaced the MKI
version that was new two years ago- I'm just not buying it. I have a 23 year
old preamp, which I have had factory refurbished once, that rocks. My 15
year old amp still rocks. When I read how the x.5 version makes the x
version sound broken, well I don't think so. It might do this a little better or
that a little better and if I brought one home I'm sure that I would hear it; but
for $7k+ to upgrade? Can't do it.

People will hear my system and get excited and want to know what they
can buy to get started. Well, first just stating that a nice starter system can
be had in the $6k range causes surprise and I see the enthusiasm in their
eyes quickly fade. Also, I don't even know where to start if I were to build a
basic system from scratch. I have been in the high clouds of hifi for too
many years. Most people do not want to take the time to build a hifi. They
want to buy it, plug it in and play it. Very few have the resources and
patience to hire a designer to build them a custom high end hifi.

I think it would be great if someone knowledgeable put together some
recipes for great vintage hifi systems. Then pull up a recipe that looks to fit
your needs and start shopping on the 'gon, eBay or Craigslist.

The other way to do it is to start with vintage Stereophile magazines going
all the way back to the 80s and look up the Class A, B and C gear
recommendations. Then shop for it on the 'gon.
That's why people like me build audio gear, expensive but in comparison cheap! It will get you off the merry go round also.

Happy Listening.
I have finally found the answer to ultimate hi fi set up
Djverne: Kind of bullshit that they just threw that in an old Pass labs case. I'd expect better for that kind of money.
In all seriously, the biggest variable in a listening experience may well be the person listening.

Most who have been around a while know this. It can be used constructively to help them better understand what is heard or to manipulate someone case by case, depending on intent.

Just something to always keep in mind. Nothing unique to audio really though the fuzzier aspects of high end audio make it inviting turf for such games.
get a pair of full range single drivers, pay a guy ti put em in a well designed padded box and buy a tiny tube amp from ebay. and buy an oppo universal disc player, cheap, so you can listen to all styles of cd. best sound of your life and a tiny system with lamp chord wires and 1 inpt conection. it got me off the merry go round for good. go to common sense audio. entire setup under 1K and i am blown away. i wasted countless thousands to end up listening to some of the cabinet radio consoles from the 40's basically. except in small speaker enclosures. use the rest to but an aquarium cuz u r gonna rediscover just listening to music again
A conspicuous absence of posts supporting or in agreement with Psag's
excellent post.

I have often mentioned the parallels that exist between a musician's
experience and an audiophile's; some good, some bad. This is a popular
working musician's joke that one can apply to this topic:

Q "How do you make a musician unhappy?"

A "Give him a gig"
Really good posts and quite funny also. In my opinion, I feel that anyone that believes they are on the merry-go-round is there because they chose to be on it. Yes, it may take some time and effort to find that just right system and sound, but, once you do, you are done unless you find a piece of equipment that makes you say wow to your music again. I don't consider that to be a merry-go-round, just musical evolution. And, it is totally your choice to do it. I look at this as enjoyable fun. I know what I can and can't afford and never let someone talk me in to a purchase I really don't want, need or can't afford. I routinely (every three months or so) visit my favorite store in San Diego for several reasons. 1. my good friend (also music lover) lives in San Diego and this is fun, 2. I like the people at that store, just to listen and talk about the industry and music, 3, San Diego is nice. But, I am very satisfied with my system and sound. it took many years to get to that level of sound satisfaction. I'm sure there exist equipment that would impress me, but the price would be rediculous (to me) and the slight increase in resolution, dynamics, etc. really aren't cost effective. I have heard many times the Audio Research REF 250 amps and all I can say is wow!. Really nice. If I can get a pair, I will, but it will be when I can afford them and when I decide to do so on my schedule. if ever. merry-go-round? no! hobby, fun and enjoyable, wonderful music? absolutely. As people keep telling me, life is short. Live, learn, help others, enjoy your friend and family and smile.

i meant merry go rund in the true sense, they are enjoyable while you ride them but at the end of the day it stops and you will want to get on it again. as a metsphor tho tbh,, it does not lead anywhere by basic design. off the mgr to me means i had enuff fun riding it and wanting to get back on but am now happy in the beer gardens on the side.
As a working musician since 1967 (former Hawaii Union Local 677 member...great place to rehearse my stupid bands when I was 16) I'm surprised I have never heard the "give him a gig" joke, and can say my 3,472,168 gigs have most all been happiness inducing fun fests. I therefore declare it invalid, but will allow one of the 12,562 banjo player jokes in its stead. Next witness please.
Hey Wolf, if you missed that one, I would have to question just how much working you've been doing; no offense intended. I suspect your idea of "working musician" is different than mine. Truth is that for working musicians (those who make their living playing music exclusively and nothing else; and have done so for many years) not every gig is a "fun fest". There are a lot of great projects, some not so great, and some that are a drag. The joke (and it is a common one) is emblematic of what is, unfortunately, a common and negative attitude on the part of many working musicians that unless they are part of a project that they deem creatively worthy at the highest level, even an opportunity to simply exercise their craft is cause for negativity. On the other hand, many who are always scuffling to find a gig, any gig, are tickled pink when one comes along. Here's one of my favorites:
Frogman...question away...some gigs are, of course, better than others, but over the decades I've done commercial recording dates, backed strippers, and played in sold out I mix live sound for world class jazz artists and record and play my own stuff wherever. I, and most other working musicians I've known (including currently), consider anybody whining about getting a shot at playing music anywhere, or for anything, a person who should quit, get a real estate license or maybe sell cars, and give the spot to somebody else who is an actual professional musician. In the real world of paid musicians it's always been this: If you take the gig you do your best and act like a pro or your career will be very short, or very solo.
Sounds good; but, it doesn't always work that way. Of course, every player
should always do their best; that is not being questioned and most of the
players I refer to do just that. Attitude, however, is a different matter and is
not necessarily something that is expressed to anyone except to other
players. Bottom line: if a particular player is predisposed to a certain
attitude about music that strays from his/her idea of what good music is,
how much bullshit he can get away with is determined by how good he is
as a player; and, to a lesser degree, how good he is at bullshitting. Talent
and bad attitude are not mutually exclusive. Some players are so good,
and so busy (yes, there are still a few of those out there) that they can
indulge in an attitude that is not as rosy-eyed as what you portray with little
effect on their careers. Musicians are people too and what we are talking
about (trying to, anyway) is found in any walk of life. The "real
world" that I am talking about is the world of two, three, sometimes
more services A DAY; every day. Many of these players are not looking for
a "shot at playing"; they are well past that point in their careers. Some get
burned out, some get mired in negativity, but luckily, most still play their
best; or, at least, on a very high level. Either I made up the story about the
joke or, as with most jokes, there is an element of truth in it. Which do you
think it is?

While this particular scene is mostly gone, the message applies to all
scenes, and no one has said it better:

Djverne any chance there is a audio club where you live?
If not how about another person who can offer some other insight and possibility hear something you might be missing.
How about your listening environment have you done anything there?
Frog...I'm simply stating the reality of a world I'm in. There is a huge difference between what you call "rosy eyed" and what I call professional, and I've personally experienced situations with more that a few producers who will fire any asshat (regardless of talent) on the spot if they have issues with a session. I know a guy who played French Horn with a production of Les Mis for many years, travelling around or stuck in a town far from home, and he did the gig because he's a pro...hard gig but hey, he knew what he was in for. So in reality the joke is less than accurate for those of us who are in the biz...for others I can't say.
We have no basic disagreement. What perhaps I haven't made clear is that the "unhappiness" referred to in the joke is usually not expressed in an overt way; it's much more subtle than that and mostly kept to themselves.
Just ordered a pair of of Fritz Rev SE 5"s, there not on his website yet but he has been talking to me about them for almost half a I bit...I'm very excited. Just put my Focus 110s up for sale, wonderful speaker but this new pair should be a big step up.
It's mind blowing to me the cost of some gear. I have about 5k wrapped up in my system and to me it sounds fantastic. I can't fathom the idea of paying more for an amplifier than I did my house. I once went to a guys house to buy some cables. While there I was treated to a listening session of Roger Waters Amused to Death. The system was Joseph Audio Pearls fed by SimAudios best offerings connected by cables that probably cost more than my Harley. 80k is what he told me. Was it better than my low-brow budget rig? was. Was there a $75,000.00 difference...not to me. Hell, yesterday I spent most of the day jamming to a Marantz 2226 and a pair of Bic America speakers in my garage singing a long and playing air guitar to classic rock and not thinking twice about imaging, timbre or the "sweet spot". Just straight