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.

128x128dman1974

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. 

 

@liamowen 

if you read the entire thread you would have seen that I haven’t bought one single new piece of gear. I had a budget of 15 k and I always stayed within that budget. If I wanted another piece that was outside of the budget I had to sell multiple pieces and balance the overall cost. That’s essentially how I ended up trying so many different pieces of gear. I only lost money 2 times and those were unique pieces which I knew would be a hard sell. Mostly I made money buying and selling. I did a lot of research on what was in demand and what the market prices were. I also bought below what I thought was market value. I don’t recommend everyone takes this path, it’s a difficult one for sure. Dealers hated me because I never bought new and tried picking their brains for knowledge. Trust me, no dealers like me. I do have a wife and I also maintain my budget. Lately that budget increased to 18 K but that’s not a significant increase. I now know what I like and what works. And to your point about needing months to determine if a piece is good?? I totally disagree with that statement. It literally takes a week if not hours for me to determine good or bad. I guess when you’ve heard a lot of gear you just instantly have an impression. I either am interested and want to hear more or I know it’s not for me, almost instantly.

If we are talking about the Stereo, this thread may be spot on. If we are talking about musical fidelity, no one has mentioned the source of the music, the master specs. Lossless recordings, UHD recordings, matter to the actual fidelity.

Nada Bramha.

@dman1974 

You mad bro?

You lost me on that "clean power" nonsense. Is your clean power solar, wind or water?

Also, you didn't state your budget in your OP, nor did you state you bought used gear.  And, I didn't talk about "months" to determine gear synergy.  

Maybe you read what you wrote, and what I wrote.

Either way, please let your wife know how sorry I am.