Getting Beyond The Upgrade-itis

The gateway towards sonic nirvana can be as simple as a few upgrades for some, and as difficult as a multitude of system alterations for others. Some people like bringing home various electronics just for the thrill of experiencing what they are about while others are caught in a quandary of system rolling trying to find “that” sound. If you are one of those caught in the circle, there is hope! Here are some things to think about:

Even if you could hypothetically take half of all the stereo components available on today’s market you would most likely end up with over a million different possible combinations. Are you the type to spend hours browsing through audiophile websites and forums? If so, than you are already living this experience (albeit vicariously through other people!) For many audiophiles, it will be as close to exotic as they will ever get. So what can you do?

Take a break! As fun and informative as it may be to visit those outlets during your free time, it can be one of the major contributing factors to your dissatisfaction with your own system! There will always be enough information and opinion out there to have you secondguessing your system and where it is headed. Take a step back and use that time to learn something new, or make good use of it in other ways you see fit and desirable.

Ultimately, the mission of most audiophiles is to find “their” sound. It can be pretty difficult to proceed with anything if you do not have a general and fundamental idea of what it is that makes you tick. I always start with finding a pair of speakers voiced to my liking. After that is done, I then search for the electronics that compliment them appropriately. This hobby is a discovery process! During this time you should first discover the simple things such as;

  • Do I prefer Towers or Monitors / Sub?
  • How important are cosmetics to me?
  • How important is name brand?
  • And so on.

Count your blessings! This is a wonderful time for any stereo enthusiast, regardless of budget! Careful attention to detail can result in you ending up with a three-grand system capable of extracting 75% of the performance of a super exotic system! While it is possible and even easy to build wonderful systems at chicken-feed prices – it still takes money to reach points of substantial improvement. The buck doesn’t end at $500 a component, $1000, $2000, $5000, $10,000 or even higher. Each range is there for a reason and all the gains are there for you to enjoy. Like everything in audio, it is all about intelligent planning, design, and execution. There can be a point to where you have exhausted your generic options at a price point and have little recourse but to open the wallet and dig a little deeper.

A solution to breaking the monotony of a single stereo system is to build a second system that sports a completely different sonic character that one still finds desirable. The benefit can be as good as the cure to your boredom! The detractor can be as bad as money having to be split between both systems. I personally have chosen this route, and while it is taking me a whole lot longer to complete both rigs – in the end it will be worth the effort and wait and keep me from continuing down the long and windy road of speaker rotation.

There are plenty more words and lessons I have learned that I could share in this already lengthy response, but I feel the most important message is what I am about to say now; Perspective. Speaking on a personal note, I fully appreciate how much my stereo means to me. It serves to connect me with a passion I’ve had since I was little – it helps me heal the wounds of a bad day and gives me something to look forward to. Every time I feel frustrated with this hobby – I feel blessed. Yes, that’s right – blessed. If my life is so good that I can actually feel any degree of distress over simple toys, well then, I figure I have it pretty good! As I type this comfortably from my chair – there are thousands of people anywhere on this globe that wonder if they or their own family will eat, have a home, or even live to see tomorrow. That rather makes your concerns over attaining a rather small palpable degree of resolution / sound-stage / warmth from your system rather meaningless. It is a solemn reminder to be thankful for your life-style and the blessing you have before you. Yes, there are many things you can do to help your satisfaction with audio – and for me, perspective is the great equalizer.

The best advice I can muster is: Keep at the helm and never forget how good life is around you, followed by Shack’s; Enjoy the music. As tired and cliché as the above statements read, they carry the true fundamental principles that take far greater precedence over the latest wiz bang cable or glowing triode.