What I wish I knew before starting my audiophile journey

I’ve considered myself an audiophile for over 3 years now. In those 3 years I’ve owned over 12 pairs of speakers, 10 amplifiers, 4 pre amplifiers, 7 DACs all in search for the perfect sound. What I’ve come to learn is I knew nothing when I started and now have some, not all of an understanding of how this works. Im passing this on to anyone that’s getting into this hobby to help fast track them to a better sound and learn from my experience. If I were to do this all over again, here is where I would start and invest my money.

1. Clean power- I wasted a lot of time and probably sold very good gear thinking it wasn’t good enough because I didn’t have clean power. I installed a dedicated 8 gauge power line with 20 amp breaker and hospital grade plugs for approximately $800. This was hands down the single biggest upgrade. You really have no idea what your gear is capable of delivering until you have fed it with clean power.

2. Speakers-this is where I would spend the a big chunk of my budget. I could make tweaks all day to my system but until I had speaker resolved enough to hear them, it all seems a waste of time. I discounted many things like cables because I couldn’t hear the difference until I had speakers that could actually produce the differences. Keep in mind the room size. I believed that bigger was better. I actually now run a pair of very good bookshelves that have no problem energizing the room. 

3. Amplifier power. Having enough power to drive the speakers is crucial in being able to hear what those speakers are capable of delivering. Yes different amp make different presentations but if there’s enough power then I believe it’s less of an issue and the source determines the sound quality more.

4. Now that I have the power and resolution to hear the difference between sources, cables, pre amplifier, streamer, DACs ect. This is where the real journey begins. 

On a side note, my room played a huge roll in how my system sounded but not a deal breaker. I learned that it’s possible to tweak the system to the room by experimenting with different gear. I learned that speaker size based on room size is pretty important. Have good rug!!

For reference my set up

Dedicated power

Lumin U1 mini

Denafrips Venus 2

Simaudio 340i

Sonus Faber Minima Amator 2

cables, AQ full bloom. NRG Z3, Earth XLR, Diamond USB, Meteor Speaker cables.


IMO, the main problem the OP had in his journey is changing that many pieces of equipment in such a short period of time. It made it nearly impossible for him to learn what piece of equipment did what. The way he did it had to lead to total confusion. Buying one piece at a time and giving it at least a few weeks to figure it out before moving on to a different part of the system is the best way to go. You will then learn the true sonic value of each piece in your system, whether good or bad, and save a lot of money in the process. I know, because I have been guilty of buying multiple pieces too quickly myself and eventually I got to the point where I had difficulties knowing what did what. Patience is the biggest asset in this endeavor, and money :)

"I’ve considered myself an audiophile for over 3 years now. In those 3 years I’ve owned over 12 pairs of speakers, 10 amplifiers, 4 pre amplifiers, 7 DACs all in search for the perfect sound.'

Seriously, dude, you must have more money than brains and ants in your pants.  You obviously don't have a wife to slow you down, either.  Having that many pieces of gear, mingled together at different times likely means you can't even remember what different sound combinations sound like.  If this takes you where you want to go, keep up the good work.  The industry needs these buyers.




i had H360 and H390. Both were OK. At the time I didn’t have the speakers I have now, along with all the other upgrades. Maybe now I’d be open to try Hegel again. I don’t like that the streamer DAC is all in one box. I sold my Simaudio 340 I X that had the built in DAC and went for the pure analog version which cut down on noise with a blacker background.

Rule#1:  Stay away from dealers - dealers want your money and they't your friends.  In addition, even if you buy from a reputable dealer, you will loose half of the value of your purchase in the blink of the eye. 

Rule#2: Buy only the best used equipment you can afford and don't overpay - think of reselling value, because this hobby of ours never ends. 

Rule#3: Learning takes time, a lot of time. Your brain needs time to properly evaluate the music you hear.  A few hours of A/B evaluation and limited listening sessions here and there will not work for proper musical evaluation but only for individual notes and limited sound passages. 

The bottom line is that, most of the new equipment today will be forgotten within a few years and only a few will become timeless and legendary.

If you follow these basic rules you'll be well rewarded in a long time and not financially ruined.  

The rest of the rules from #4 to infinity are pretty standard and easy to follow.