One key to building great systems over time.


One of the great things about participating in an audio forum like this is that it exposes you to users with all sorts of experience levels. Analyzing questions, I find myself assessing the person’s experience and then going back to that time in my history. I have been at this for fifty years… and I am constantly called back to my first few years when I was working to make sense of the whole environment.

 

It dawned on me that one aspect that really helped me was learning to focus on “main stream” highly reviewed (professionally) audiophile equipment. 

 

When you are young and have few pennies you have to take chances on “giant killer” components… and off beat / new astonishing technology. You have lots of time and little money. But looking back, after the first few chaotic years of swapping this “astonishing” component (that had a couple good attributes, but a lot of weak ones)… I slowly realized that the components that stayed in my system (like for 10 years or more) were highly reviewed components from respected high end companies. Back in the late 70s’ early 80’s that was, as an example:  Audio Research, Threshold Pass), and Nakamichi.

 

They cost lots more… but, if I would actually buy one… well, my jaw would drop… and I would realize… holy cow…so worth it!  My search for that component would end.

 

Over the ensuing decades, putting together a fantastic upgraded system has become much easier. The last couple major upgrades I have made… ~$45K to $75K and finally to $150K have had completely predictable results been the most fulfilling of my life. The decisions were simple.

 

So, for those just starting out… trying “highly touted” giant killers is a necessary way of assembling a system that is outside of your budget. But this also leads to lots of disappointments and equipment churning. 

 

I think my advise is to read lots of professional reviews (they are not all perfect), listen to that equipment when you can, and invest in these well regarded audiophile company components as soon as you can… or sooner. As a beginner, you don’t know what you don’t know… so companies with long histories of being at the very top of they fields are very likely to outperform in ways you are not aware of. 

 

I am talking about companies like Conrad Johnson, Audio Research, Boulder, Pass, Wilson, Sonus Faber, Rowland, Aurrender, Magico, Transparent. That is not an exhaustive list.

 

I hope this is helpful to those trying to make sense of this very complex and contradictory pursuit.  

 

 

 

 

ghdprentice

Working with a good dealer can make a big difference.  I built my present system up over a 30 year span with a dealer who would take gear bought from him as trade-ins. Having a good relationship resulted in discounted prices and the occasional floor model at a great price. Eventually my system had reached a point where the diminishing marginal return on every dollar spent had reached my financial willingness to commit further. As much as I enjoy that system today, the journey getting there was a large part of the fun.

 

I have found buying used equipment has significantly increased the quality of equipment in my system.  Spending half retail on quality components allows me to leap ahead. This is a great hobby!  The quality of my system has allowed me to heat details in music never realized before. 

@pdreher 

Also a reasonable strategy. I guess I should have put in that my objective has always been to assemble the highest performing system possible over time. You are correct, for some folks that is not the objective.

@tony1954 ”…Thanks for the advise to buy expensive, high quality equipment to get better sound.”

Well I didn’t exactly say that, there are very expensive non-mainstream components. But in general, that is true.

 

It may sound obvious… but if you read extensively in the forum, you will read many posts extolling the superiority of lessor gear. There can be many reasons… the persons current value in sound, inexperience in listening, etc. also, there are lots of folks that simply say the kind of gear I am taking about is just marketing hype, a rip off… etc. 

 

So as someone trying to get their feet on the ground in this persuit, it can be anything but obvious.

@yoyoyaya 

 

Very true. Companies can loose there way… Nakamichi is a great example. Thst is why research is such an important part of the pursuit.