The "need" to spend lots of money - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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The "need" to spend lots of money

So the system-on-a-budget thread that's near the top of this forum got me thinking -- well actually I've been thinking about such a topic for years myself, but nonetheless it inspired me to create this post.

Over the years, since I got into audio when I was 18 -- and I'm 31 now -- I've noticed a certain type of "need" by audio enthusiasts (not a fan of the "other" term) to spend money (and thereby feeding the Machine) in order to create the most hi-fi system that could possibly afford. On the surface, it seems like a noble cause. I mean, if you can afford it, why not purchase gear that would lead to a better sound. But it's obviously not that simple. Let's face it, most of the "audiophile" (and there it is, dammit I couldn't help it) industry is built upon snake oil, misinformation, biased ears, and gullible folks. This post is not get into the specifics -- it appears the majority of people on this forum already have both feet squarely set on either side of the fence. This post is more or less about the psychology of such a "need" and why it exists.

It's kind of sobering in a way to think that people with such a disposable income are basically brainwashed by the Machine to believe adding a $2,000 amp will make their sound better than a $350 HTR. Or even worse, external DACs. It all just seems malicious to me, on the part of the Machine. As much as I love audio, I equally hate how the Machine ups the ante on everyone that "buys into" their plan. So much gear is ridiculously overpriced, yet folks believe it is a "very fair" price, or a good value. I mean, you can take a 2 week trip to Europe and spend real money over there for the price of a "decent" set of speakers.

So to all the newcomers, newbies, and folks that are wondering if you have to spend a fortune to get good sound: you don't. You can actually build a hell of a system for under a grand if you can dig on Craigslist for the speakers. Everything else is more or less the same, provided you're buying name-brand stuff (Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, Denon, Marantz, etc.).
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post #2 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 10:49 AM
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I tend to agree, but if you know what to listen for in certain songs, you might change your mind. OFC if you dont, then you wont know what your missing. One example is a song by the fugees where the 2 front speakers throw the voices over your left shoulder like they are behind you. many speakers I demoed could not do that. another example are background musical instruments which revel depth of the soundstage...it all is relative, but if you dont know you just dont know.
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post #3 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Schneider
... So to all the newcomers, newbies, and folks that are wondering if you have to spend a fortune to get good sound: you don't. ...
Amen to that.
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post #4 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 10:56 AM
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https://www.avsforum.com/forum/91-aud...ity-check.html

This is a good read.
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post #5 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 11:43 AM
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You don't have to spend much for good sound.

It's when, after a while, you think you want 'better' sound, maybe that's where the trouble starts.
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post #6 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 11:47 AM
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It is called audiphilia and it is not a healthy approach to financial management. I suffered from audiophilia many years ago. I don't miss it for a minute. Some people have systems that sound better than mine. That's just fine with me.
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post #7 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 11:52 AM
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And possibly, reading too much on the internet/forums (and assuming it's accurate) can at times be confusing and/or misleading. Don't get me wrong. There's plenty of good info, help and direction, but oftentimes, one needs to be able separate the wheat from the chaff.
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post #8 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:16 PM
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Did you ever want or buy a 'better' house, car, shoes, whiskey, beer, glasses, coffee, chair, carpet, tires, pencil, computer, oil, bath towels, steak, anything, other than audio gear during your life?

Were you diseased?

Desiring to improve your lot in life shouldn't be classified as a nameable disease or affliction (Re: audiophilia), until it gets out of control, even then, it's a judgement call.
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post #9 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bombertodd View Post
Excellent article I had not seen before.

Yeah, same thing happens with cars, motorcycles, bicycles, TV's, watches, beds, you name it.

The point of diminishing returns happens quite quickly in this world where a truly awful product(s) in any category is harder and harder to find and where 90 percentile products are within reach of most people.

My home theater system, (if you back out the ridiculously over the top DD15 subwoofer....Velodyne offered me a "deal I couldn't refuse), cost new about $3,000 and sounds great, (Usher speakers, Denon AVR). A more powerful system for that medium sized room would be silly.

The one in my secondary room, including the "lowly" Yamaha sub, maybe $1,200.

Both sound excellent for their respective tasks at hand.
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post #10 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
Did you ever want or buy a 'better' house, car, shoes, whiskey, beer, glasses, coffee, chair, carpet, tires, pencil, computer, oil, bath towels, steak, anything, other than audio gear during your life?

Were you diseased?

Desiring to improve your lot in life shouldn't be classified as a nameable disease or affliction (Re: audiophilia), until it gets out of control, even then, it's a judgement call.
The thing is, a better house is usually something that can be objectively measured. And people buy nice cars like BMWs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact it's a status symbol. No one outside of audiophiles gives a damn that you have a $3k amp. In fact, for their sake and your sake, they're better off not knowing.

It is my belief that the audiophile industry is primarily composed of snake oil. Every industry has some snake oil, but not nearly as much as this one. Comparing audiophilia to parts of everyday life is quite the stretch.
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post #11 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:27 PM
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If you or a loved is consumed with purchasing audio gear which affects your job, life or family, contact the Audiophilia hotline at 1-866-TOO-LOUD or www.audiophilia.anon (NOTE: This is not an ordinary 12 step program. I was also an addict)

Also, if you think you have a viable lawsuit, contact the law offices of Greasem, Fleesum and Bolt.
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post #12 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayDunzl
You don't have to spend much for good sound.

It's when, after a while, you think you want 'better' sound, maybe that's where the trouble starts.
IMO, the trouble starts not when you think you want better sound, but when you've convinced yourself that you have to squander money on over-priced "audiophile" gear in order to realize better sound.
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post #13 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Schneider View Post

The thing is, a better house is usually something that can be objectively measured.

And people buy nice cars like BMWs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact it's a status symbol.

No one outside of audiophiles gives a damn that you have a $3k amp. In fact, for their sake and your sake, they're better off not knowing.

It is my belief that the audiophile industry is primarily composed of snake oil. Every industry has some snake oil, but not nearly as much as this one.

Comparing audiophilia to parts of everyday life is quite the stretch.
Objective measurements are still interpreted subjectively.
Objective measurement: My house is 2700 sq ft. Subjective: the layout could be better, and that may or may not include changing the square footage.

Nice cars. BMW. You mean, "The Ultimate Driving Machine"? Do they still use that ad line? Is it accurate? Did the salesman help convince the buyer of that 'fact'?

No one not interested in what you are interested in has any interest in your interests.

There is certainly a fringe of goofy and mostly useless (judgement call) stuff around the core of the Audio business. More snake oil? Maybe you weren't around for all the gas mileage improvement devices when they were in vogue.

Comparing apples and oranges is always fraught with danger.

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post #14 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 01:11 PM
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There is definitely a psychology to this that goes beyond audio -- nobody wants to buy the least-expensive bottle of wine on the list, either (a fact that savvy restaurants have long taken advantage of).

In another thread someone was concerned that they could not get an Energy 5.1 speaker set due to supply constraints; I recommended the Monoprice knock-off which is a very close match; the response was that the price was too low for comfort.

People who don't know better often fall back on "you get what you pay for" (another thought process that sellers routinely take advantage of), but there may be few places where that saying is less true than in A/V equipment.

Idealized audio and HT has no real interest to me; it's always possible to throw more money at diminishing returns. Optimized (within a given budget, be it $100 or $10000) is a lot more fun.
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post #15 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGM View Post
There is definitely a psychology to this that goes beyond audio -- nobody wants to buy the least-expensive bottle of wine on the list, either (a fact that savvy restaurants have long taken advantage of).

In another thread someone was concerned that they could not get an Energy 5.1 speaker set due to supply constraints; I recommended the Monoprice knock-off which is a very close match; the response was that the price was too low for comfort.

People who don't know better often fall back on "you get what you pay for" (another thought process that sellers routinely take advantage of), but there may be few places where that saying is less true than in A/V equipment.

Idealized audio and HT has no real interest to me; it's always possible to throw more money at diminishing returns. Optimized (within a given budget, be it $100 or $10000) is a lot more fun.
I like that last bit the best -- idealized audio vs optimized. And yes I am the same way, with one caveat: everything based on science and objective facts.

With a 10K budget, for instance, I'd spend 9 grand of it on speakers. And the rest for the amp and media player. The only thing that sounds different are, of course, transducers, and that is where the money should be spent.

But if I was going to spend 10 grand on audio, I'd better be making AT LEAST $150K a year... there's too many places to see, people to meet, cuisines to enjoy, and natural wonders to behold to spend exorbitant amount of money on speakers... But that's just me.
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post #16 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 01:26 PM
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post #17 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 01:34 PM
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As I see it, being an audiophile is a hobby. As with all hobbies, people want to do the most for THEIR enjoyment. If it means spending $10k on speakers...have fun. Myself, I need decent playback, on decent equipment that produces decent sound so I can enjoy my CD collection I have been working on since 1983. I am in it to collect CD's from artist I enjoy listening to. I do not need to have the best gear but some folks do. That is what is fun for them in the hobby. I will not fault them. My only issue comes from audiophiles who have an elitist and snobbish attitude because you haven't spent the cost of a new car on speakers. I am currently researching and pricing out what my new 2-channel system will be but it will stay in the $800-$1000 range. This will include a receiver, cd player, speakers and cabeling and about 50% of this budget will be going towards the speakers. To me this will be sufficient for my needs and I have lots of options to consider at this price point. Research is the key though. When you are working with a budget like I have, you want every dollar to count and to get the best YOUR money can buy at that price range.
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post #18 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 02:23 PM
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Good speakers, bought new, through conventional distribution, are expensive. All those caveats mean that that there are lots of workarounds to that expense.


Otherwise hi fi can be quite inexpensive.
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post #19 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 02:30 PM
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[QUOTE=RayDunzl;38232961]Objective measurements are still interpreted subjectively.
Objective measurement: My house is 2700 sq ft. Subjective: the layout could be better, and that may or may not include changing the square footage.

Nice cars. BMW.

No one not interested in what you are interested in has any interest in your interests.

There is certainly a fringe of goofy and mostly useless (judgement call) stuff around the core of the Audio business. More snake oil? Maybe you weren't around for all the gas mileage improvement devices when they were in vogue.

Comparing apples and oranges is always fraught with danger.

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I tend to agree with Peter Aczel the 'Audio Critic' whose prior publications can be found here:
http://www.theaudiocritic.com

Peter fought the good fight against audio snake oil, quite well in my opinion. He stopped listening tests on amplifiers over 25 years ago as they all sound identical (excepting tube amps, etc.). But, as he points out, even though no one can hear the difference between a Panasonic or Bryston, which would he rather find under the Christmas tree? The Bryston of course. As he points out, build quality, engineering design (i.e. fault tolerance; fault protection), dependability, and simple pride of ownership are worth it for certain brands - but these brands are limited.
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Last edited by clpetersen; 10-22-2015 at 09:04 AM. Reason: simplify
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post #20 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 03:01 PM
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There are people who pay 900$/meter for this kind of things: Tellurium Q Black Diamond USB Cable

And "reviewers" who says things like this:
Quote:
There is a definite and easily noticeable difference in performance when using the Black Diamond from Tellurium Q, the equipment just relaxes and the music becomes more effortless. Like Hussain Bolt running the 100m dash and just taking it in his stride, the construction of the USB cleverly controls timing and phase distortion without the need for other gizmos and gadget add ons to produce a fast energetic performance or delicate and sweet details with ease
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post #21 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 03:54 PM
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How about a power strip?

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post #22 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 04:09 PM
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Reading and buying audio stuff is part of the audio hobby. AFAIK the question is if you need to buy audio stuff to stay involved with your hobby.
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post #23 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 04:22 PM
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I used to subscribe to Stereophile magazine, and then I stopped. And nothing bad happened.
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post #24 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
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Reading and buying audio stuff is part of the audio hobby. AFAIK the question is if you need to buy audio stuff to stay involved with your hobby.
I buy discs. Generally used.

The only thing I have on my hardware want list would be 'better' subs.

I'm evaluating that now, and coming up with 'not much need' when I compare the unequalized signal from the source to whats in the air.

More important at this point might be to address standing waves. Deadening the back wall a bit is on my mind. Chunks of 7x24x48 rockwool are on my shopping list. About 12 of them.

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post #25 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 04:36 PM
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I used to listen to klipsch speakers and then i got focal speakers, nothing bad happened except the smile/happiness inside of me got too addicting. now i just listen to music all day long.

yea, yea, Im sure you can do lots of stuff on a budget...enjoy.
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post #26 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 06:33 PM
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Apologize in advance if the following seems like philosophizing

In my native language the word 'Shauq' loosely translates to passion/interest/taste or an amalgam of those. An old saying goes that you can't really put a price on Shauq...it will hold a different value for different people for different reasons.

It seems madness to me that someone would actually spend their health & money and use years of their lives to train for, and then scale for a brief moment, a very dangerous mountain peak in the Himalayas. But what personal value they put on that feat, and what joy they extract from it, is known only to them.

Who are you really? Are you comfortable in your skin? Do you truly know where your shauq lies?

The misfortune of an increasingly material world is that a lot of people spend money thinking they're indulging their 'interests' when in actuality they're trying to find the answers to those questions. The trick is spending money and time after you know those answers.

Snake oil ceases to be a factor then because there is no objective measurement for what makes someone else happy.

IMVHO, ofcourse.
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I like that word shauq, as I view much of what goes on in audiophilia is based on passion and taste, we can share passion readily enough but tastes get confrontational and confuse the issue. To describe what goes on in audio you must also incorporate what goes on with the consumerism involved.
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post #28 of 252 Old 10-20-2015, 09:34 PM
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Just yesterday ...really by random chance... I was watching so Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Videos from 2013, and discovered several bit of interesting information.

First, in the '70's that average Home Stereo was $250, today that is about $1350. Myself back in the 1970's, I had a system worth about $700, and that we really just a bit above the bottom.

Price is a tricky thing. If my family knew how much I have in my audio system, they would have me locked up. Even after seeing it and shaking their heads, I haven't actually told them the price.

So ... how much is too much? From where my family stands, I've spend way too much, ridiculously too much. But the fact is, much like in the 1970's, my system at about $3500 is just a bit above average. Though I confess I have a new amp that is substantially out of proportion to the rest of my equipment. My previous system was about $2500, and really was enough.

One lecturer who spent his life in the audio business in one form or another said, the mistake most people make is they don't optimize the system they have before the decide to purchase new equipments. Putting newer better equipment into the same old bad flawed circumstance, it not the path to audio satisfaction.

You do own it to yourself to make sure the room your system is in, is not itself compromising the sound you hear. Optimizing a room is not free, but neither is it crazy expensive.

Further as you advance in years, you are likely to become more successful and more financially stable. When I was younger I drove a collection of really crappy used cares. Like $100 to $500 each cars. When I got older, I moved up to a $5000 car. Today I drive a slightly used $15,000 car.

Why should audio equipment be any different? If I can afford a better system now, and I want it, and I think I will used it, and I think I will get value out of it, why not have it.

So, there is an element of perspective hear. To most of the working class people I know, I have spent an unfathomable amount on my system. To upper middle class people with some knowledge of audio, I have an OK run of the mill system. To a rich guy who can really afford good equipment, my considerable system is low end.

But, as others have pointed out, that can apply to any aspect of life. When you are young and poor - TIMEX; when you are rich and successful - ROLEX. When you are young and poor - Ford, when you are rich and successful - BMW.

In another thread someone was trying to put together a good system for about $500/$600. You can see the equipment being discussed in this thread -

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/173-2-...00-stereo.html

Sample systems tended to run between $600 for bargains and slight compromises up to about $2200 for fairly routine systems.

But, in today's market, you have to seek out the absolute best bargains, even if those are not the ideal speakers and amps, and you have to make some compromises of features, power, and other aspects of the system.

Finding the asbolute best prices, the following system is nice, but really nothing special. Though it should sound very good and is a very modern amp with Streaming and a decent amount of power.

$380/ea = Yamaha RN500 Network Receiver
$230/ea = Yamaha CDS300 CD Player
$240/pr = JBL ES80BK speakers
--------------------------------------------------
$850 = Total


However, hear is a near identical system, more reflective of what a good middle of the road system is going to cost -

$550/ea = Yamaha RN500 Network Receiver 80w/ch
$300/ea = CD Player, or $600/ea for a Universal Player (BluRay, DVD, CD, SACD)
$800/pr = Typical floorstanding speakers (on-sale) (Diamond 10.7 Towers)
--------------------------
$1650 = Total


The world has gotten more expensive, there is no denying that.

Now certainly there are Snake Oils aspects, but "Let the Buyer Beware". It is up to you to educate yourself, and to spend your money wisely. If you have a $500 amp, then spending $500 on wire and cable is probably not a good investment. If you have a $5000 amp, then perhaps you could justify $500 on wire and cable. You probably don't need it, but you could justify it. Just as you can justify an expensive watch or a fancy car.

You don't need to spend a lot of money, but you do need to spend a reasonable amount to get a good system. Today, that means over $1000, probably closer to $2000 if you want a turntable.

How much is too much depends on who you are and how much money you have.

Plus ...a good system... varies with circumstances. Perhaps if you are student, in essence, living in a bedroom or dorm room, then a large bulky system is not likely to cut it. A pair of fair Studio Monitors or a small amp with bookshelf speakers is probably the most you can handle for size and budget.

If you are a successful professional with a stable job and home, then you are in a position for a larger more expensive system.

I've heard speaker costing $5000/pr or a bit more, and they truly do sound fantastic. That is not my imagination. But, despite the fact that those speakers sound fantastic, my $1000/pr speaker sound pretty damned good. I'm not complaining. But trust me, should I have a wind-fall of cash, I will not be settling for $1000/pr speakers.

More than a fixed amount of money, what constitutes a Good System is about perspective.

Steve/bluewizard

Last edited by bluewizard; 10-21-2015 at 06:10 PM.
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post #29 of 252 Old 10-21-2015, 08:13 AM
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I fell into the situation where I bought about $1300 worth of stereo equipment while I was in Vietnam in 1972 and then over the years had about $300 or so worth of LP's. A buddy of mine went just the opposite and had a much less expensive stereo system and probably $3000 or more albums. Although I really loved my system (most of which is gone now), I think my buddy had a better way of doing things. I eventually equated my system to music ratio as being like having a brand new Corvette and only buying $500 worth of gasoline for it! LOL

I always wonder when I see people online who own systems worth many, many thousands of dollars, how many of them also have huge libraries of music. For me, it was more 'bragging rights' where my buddy was more into the music. Luckily, he would usually bring over his new albums to listen to on my system within a week of purchasing them. Back in those days, he and I would spend many hours just listening to music, but this was way before the internet, satellite TV and all the other modern distractions.
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post #30 of 252 Old 10-21-2015, 08:41 AM
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Its very common to approach audio as some weird price tag worshipping -spiritually oriented way. About 98% of so called audiophiles do actually understand about audio buffalos ass hair -much.
That´s possible because audio is invisible, and requires quite a lot of education to comprehend as its bare naked acoustical/electrical i.e. real physical self.
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