Great SQ: scarce, or abundant?

I tend to think you can get great SQ for a relatively small amount of money. So why do people keep paying so much? Then I ran across this article… different topic, same focus.

…the problem is a “very simple set of assumptions about human nature, which are clearly and demonstrably wrong”.

Chief among them is our preoccupation with scarcity – a hangover from the early agricultural state some 12,000 years ago, when we went from foragers to farmers. Somewhat paradoxically, in being able to cultivate and store food, we became fixated on the possibility we might not have enough

“Greed became institutionalised with cities,” says Suzman. Our new physical proximity to wealth also exacerbated our anxiety over scarcity, focusing our minds on how we were lacking. “Suddenly there was now this confrontation, this contrast in wealth, and I think that began to shape people. It created this melancholy of constant aspiration.”

And don’t we see exactly that in some of the more extreme pursuits of SQ? Is it because we’ve become societally conditioned to be greedy, to never be satisfied with enough?

Based on our real life experience we learned that we get what we pay for. But you are right, there are opportunities with great price/value ratio. Question is how long will it stay as it was? If something is significantly better than other equipments in the same price range, more people start to buy it. In most of such cases the manufacturer will increase the price, which is a rational decision.

Of course there are people to whom it is important to pay a lot of money for their system, because than they feel “unique”, they are “more” than an average people. But I don’t think that this would be the main driver for most of SQ engaged music lovers.

Which complete system / components would you recommend with great SQ for relatively small amount?

Well that’s the bugbear. Relative to what ?

In terms of bang for buck, it’s hard to beat a Chromecast Audio (mini-Toslink output) as a streaming endpoint. But I don’t listen to that, because for a few hundred bucks more I prefer the microRendu.

The IKEA breadboards and very lightly inflated scooter inner tubes (with a straw to break the seal) work well as isolation under the power amps.

But the cheapest SQ improvement - pull your speakers away from the wall and off the floor, mount them on a rigid stand/base, toe them in slightly to your listening position and cover the first reflection point on the walls with soft coverings, bookshelves or other sound absorbent material.

Compared to the “usual” price of similar items. But I agree, this is not unambiguous.

I use IKEA Aptitlig (and other end grain) cutting boards as well. And you are right, room acoustic plays a huge role in SQ.

Actually, that’s not the experience we see from history. What happens is that other manufacturers introduce versions of the product, and over time the price actually goes down as manufacturing is optimized and the competitors vie with each other for market share. Usually functionality/$ improves.

Well, I’m currently running one endpoint which is a RPi/RoPieee box to receive the bits from Roon, USB to a Topping D70, and balanced connection to a generic Hypex nCore MC252MP power amplifier. Total expenditure about $1000, and works just as well as the equivalent McIntosh would (but without the funky blue VU-meters). It’s the speakers that will kill you, price-wise.

Well, I do not have any experience with those equipments, but the reviews and comments are quite positive, and the 1000 USD investment is really modest.

You are right, this is how competition usually works, but in case of “audiophile quality” products things can go differently, this market not always has the same principles as the “mass market”. But I’m happy if good quality products appear at a good price! And luckily the web can help us to find those opportunities. The situation was completely different when I started my journey in this hobby…

But the mass market is also there, and the stuff you find there, the Onkyo receivers and such, are actually quite good! They compete well with the high-end audiophile gear of twenty years ago.