As someone now aged 63, starting to listen to hifi aged about 14 and his parents buying him a Beogram 1500 and ending up with a Naim 500 system - which is fantastic - I wonder whether I ~(and perhaps I am not alone) - will ever just rest and be completely happy with what I’ve got. There always seems to be one step further: cabling, switches, tweaks as well as much more substantial changes like loudspeakers. A journey or a destination?
Well while i can afford and more importantly enjoy the experience of upgrades, the research of the product, demo, s and the final musical experience….why not?
I have friends that dispose of wealth in other ways….cars, boats etc, each to their own.
Likewise Gazza, if some of my friends knew what I have spent on hifi in the last few years they would be referring me to the funny farm! I for my part think people who spend hundreds a month on booze and fags are around the twist!!
Simples. The journey is the destination like life itself.
It’s a journey with an unknown destination.
Neither its an illness…
A restless contentedness?
Desagree: you know the destination: Utopia ( where the (perfect) sound reproduction is reached).
The problem is the way to get there.
So, I personally say: the journey.
For me the destination has always been to get the best sounding music possible. As I have improved things over the decades I’ve come to realise that a) there is not an absolute definitive “best”, and b) some things will be forever out of even theoretical reach unless I have a very large lottery win. My system now is pretty much there, supremely satisfying, though of course sometimes reading about other things I wonder if some change or other may make it even better (a nebulous concept).
Whilst the destination has been the purpose, the journey has been enjoyable, giving improved sound quality at each step, and once I’d made my initial improvements from my first system, in particular by the time I got my first IMF speakers some 5 years in, I guess I wouldn’t have been unhappy if I’d never been in a position to improve it. But as the system has improved the journey has become more tedious because differences get smaller and I really don’t enjoy the effort of comparative auditions, not least because the music draws me in and I tend to forget that I’m supposed to be comparing!
The journey begins with the first system and the destination is usually reached at retirement when funds may not allow for further upgrades.
A tweaker will always be a tweaker: a journey that keeps going around in circles with no destination in sight
It’s said -
Who is the rich man? It’s the one which happy in his part …
A desire to upgrade exists in almost every human being, the question should be -to what upgrade…
if the intention is to reach a music image that provides you, then it is a destination.
As someone who downsized and is now upsizing again in my 60s, I think it is a constant journey and likely one in which one retraces steps now and again. I am not sure I will ever arrive at a final destination, more likely will pause for some time in a place that suits me for the time being.
I think this is an important point; many of us are looking for a single (semi-) optimal system, but this is an almost impossible goal since what we are trying to reproduce is often not singular either.
A classical orchestra is something completely different than a rock band, or a jazz trio, or an electronic artist.
So each type of music, and perhaps even each type of listening environment, ideally requires a different combination of equipment to achieve the best reproduction.
I was a regular upgrader through the first decade of this century, but not any longer. I have several reasons:
I am 69, my hearing isn’t what it once was, and I have tinnitus. I find that a given recording for me may sound wonderful one day and disappointing the next, in part I suspect because of the tinnitus, which is not a constant, but maybe for other reasons as well. (I’ve thought about starting a thread on this topic.)
I live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. I have no room for a larger system, and I can’t crank up the volume in any event.
I have come to the conclusion that the quality of the recording makes a far greater difference than minor tweaks.
I still pick up items here and there to experiment with. At the expensive end of these purchases is the Naim Mu-So, which I am currently using as an overqualified sound bar. (This purchase triggered in part by my spending so much time at home during the pandemic. )
I am contemplating an upgrade to my streamers and DACs, but have not pulled the trigger yet.
Definitely a Journey… One start looking always for the best than continue to look for something different and then start to improve what was different just to realize then that one can settle for something not necessarily “the best”… Sort of growing up process. Imho…as usual
Hmmm. 63 years old and started in hi-fi at age 14: that would be 49 years ago, or round about 1972.
Back in those days, I was a graduate student gathering with like minds in the Maths Institute common room to discuss Michael Gerzon’s latest ideas with him.
One of the beliefs that were common back then was that nobody could be satisfied with a stereo system costing more than £100.
For £100, one could buy or make (*) a decent sound system that could reasonably be described as “hi-fi”. One could perfectly well be satisfied with that, and many people were. But as soon as one realized that it could improved, and bought or made a better component, one was on a lifelong quest for the ultimate sound; never quite being satisfied.
I’m not sure what the equivalent threshold is nowadays.
(*) The engineers among us might have bought a turntable, or even speakers, but it was almost a matter of honour to have made one’s own Linsley Hood class A amplifier from the sacred pages of Wireless World.
Can you upgrade, I wasn’t aware of that.
Good question - I think the journey can be fun - at least for a while, it was for me over twenty years… but ultimately I enjoyed getting to a destination where I could step away from the tread mill and simply enjoy yet still get a kick from the sonic performance of my audio system…
Although I retain curiosity of developments and am a member of the AES - I channel much of my curiosity into specific recordings, artists, producers, genres and artists - and I find that ultimately more fulfilling… once there the upgrade itch seems to vaporise… you also notice how most other systems don’t seem to sound or perform as well as your own - even at high end factory show case demos - so I take from that you will ultimately step off at a point that is right for you.
Audio recording and replay is a series of compromises - and much music production focusses on making the recording sound good and enjoyable as opposed to being authentic - so you soon find the recording often becomes the bottleneck… but being able to listen in at that level is fantastic - and you can hear production techniques and styles - which for many recordingsis as much of the art as the musicianship - and of course why certain producers and studios are well sought after.
However I will leave this with you - I suggest the most important element to get right initially is the speaker room coupling/ matching - or headphone - headphone amp coupling/matching… once there build up from the source.
I agree, but such feelings can recondense without warning, even when your system is sounding just right.
yep I agree - but often just a temporary state of change