I was just idly adding up how much I’ve spent on non-essential accessories. Non- essential in the sense that the system would work without them, or with much cheaper run-of-the-mill alternatives.
I was shocked to realise that I’ve spent in excess of £5K over the past two years.
All these things have pushed the performance forwards considerably. In that sense they are worth it. But I sometimes wonder what it would sound like stripped back to the basics. I could try it of course, but I can’t be bothered with all the hassle. But would it all be really any less enjoyable, once I had re-adjusted? I don’t know.
I find it irksome to have to spend so much money attempting to maximise the performance of what is already extremely expensive. My feeling is that it should all work absolutely fine straight out of the box, with nothing to be gained from extra expenditure.
I recall an episode from the 80’s at my dealer’s place. An extremely attractive young lady had booked a dem of an LP12/32/HiCap/250 and Saras. It transpired that she was a solicitor who had recently moved to the area and wanted a music system for her new flat. She was the sort that knew her mind and didn’t suffer fools gladly. After the dem she declared that she wanted the system but said ‘I don’t want any of those horrid tablely things or speaker stands!’ My dealer I could see was on the brink of enlightening her when, I suspect cowed by a combination of her stunning looks and assertiveness he merely smiled meekly and agreed.
How many people here set up their equipment on normal domestic furniture, use out-of-the box cables and don’t bother with any sort of embellishment or accessories? I’m guessing realtively few in a place like this as we are all fanatics to a greater or lesser extent. But in the wider Niam or hi-fi using community perhaps far more.
In an effort to downsize from a Naim pre, power and two power supplies I recently had a two week home demo of a very unusual integrated. Friend came round to listen and we also ended up trying the amp within the context of his much more expensive non Naim system. TotalDAC, Nagra 300B etc. He has multiple LessLoss devices on his system and many other things beyond my comprehension but, interestingly, no network switch.
Having moved from CD to streaming nearly three years ago I started with a £30 wireless bridge and lord knows what cheap ethernet cable from a well known online all sorts shop. The only change I’ve made since then is a longer run of Ethernet and a switch to Chord C-Stream. I keep reading about switches, power supplies and filters but I am seeking simplicity not complexity and my perception is that noise within my system may be there but isn’t impacting detail or musical flow.
All that said, I was wholly expecting my friend and his acute hearing to hear my system and then the demo amp and perhaps make observations about noise etc. before we moved the amp to his location. That isn’t what happened. Putting aside that the amp lacked many of the attributes claimed for it, my friend thought my system was just fine. The new amp though better matched the speakers and the drop in noise floor was genuinely impressive. Unfortunately the music did not flow.
So yeah, for me, I could add a better bridge; go wired instead; add a network switch and/or filters; buy a reclocker; upgrade my speaker drivers etc. but if I’m enjoying the music then no thank you.
I think we’re all aware that things like switches may or may not improve a system but am I looking for the same never ending improvements for my TV; my electricity; my plumbing?
The journey can be an end in itself but for me the musical enjoyment is the end and “what if” has become just a tad dull.
I think a lot depends on whether or not you tweaker, or just someone who wants a great system to play music on. As a hobby hi-fi can be at one of the scale a tweakers paradise, at the other end of the scale means to an end, but one where there is enjoyment about the learning, seeking and set up off the system, usually with progression from something basic to an end goal.
I’m towards the letter end of the scale. I guess from some of the posts I read there are others who are at the opposite end of the scale.
One interesting thing that strikes me about the tweak process, finding these things that sound noticeably better (often described with superlatives, but I suspect actually much more subtle in difference), is that sometimes one person’s improvement is somebody else’s degradation. Also interesting is that what may seem better at the time of initial comparison sometime later on the same comparison finds the person changing their mind about which is better. My take from that is that not only are many of the differences small despite the language that may be used to describe, but in actual fact they are rather of indeterminate value and perhaps more a matter of mood, or nuanced preference at the time, then real improvements.
I certainly would never countenance paying anything like as much on ancillaries or summed tweakery as on a “black box”, as I’d rather have the definite improvement from getting a distinctly better main component. Of course once one has reached the pinnacle in terms of system, then with money and time to spare tweaking and ancillaries may bring incremental improvements that are beneficial. Whilst from one angle I can see the temptation and can’t rule out ever changing/tweaking anything, the limitations of funds and more than enough other things that I would like to spend it on means it is highly unlikely unless something happens to change my circumstances.
What I found with changing the PSU on my router. One is forced to wonder how many more instances of this there may actually be in one’s set-up.
Also my view - but that’s what’s happened over the past few years. I’m now thinking if I hadn’t bought this or that I could have afforded say a Hugo TT, maybe even a Dave instead of my Qutest. But then equally I know that I would want to ‘optimise’ it all so I would in the end have ended up spending far more.
Your last paragraph is exactly what crossed my mind when reading your opening post. Roughly totting up the cost of buying your system new, it must be about £12,000 or £13,000. Then there are £5,000 of add-ons to optimise it. That does seem quite a lot but if it works…
As IB said above, Hi Fi owners range from those who just plonk and play, to those who will fiddle ad infinitum. It’s no different ultimately to those who work constantly on the train set or whatever other hobby they might have.
A lot depends on what one counts as a tweak and what is more a fundamental part of the system. Speaker leads are of course essential, as are mains leads. But at what point do they move from essential to nice to have. I’m a big believer in the benefits of good system supports. They are not essential, but they can do a lot to improve performance. Does that make them a tweak?
I used to be an obsessive tweaker way back. I read all of Jimmy Hughes stuff (remember him?) in Hi-Fi Answers. I ruined a perfectly good pair of KEF Coda II speakers because of his wacky advice.
Nowadays I actually hate tweaking - I prefer to keep it all as simple and minimalist as possible. Which perhaps doesn’t make sense in view of the amount I’ve spent on accessories.
Yes my system with all the add-ons is in the region of £20K. Which quite frankly is barmy.
It sounds fabulous though and it is the sole extravagance of my wife and I. We both love listening to music on it and it serves for video sound as well.
But for the cost of those accessories I could have bought a Nova or equivalent to use with my speakers. Not sure if the Nova has the traditional Naim background hiss - can you confirm please? Useful to know if ever things change and we need to simplify. If so it would be problematic with my speakers at 99dB efficiency.
The expenditure is all a bit frightening in one’s more rational non-hi-fi moments.