My Hardware Adventures, or, My Expensive Education

So, pending receipt of one set of headphones (ZMF Verite Closed in Olive), I think I have, if not an endgame system, one that I feel no need to improve.

In a short number of months, really, I’ve gone from NO main audio system and NO headphone or amp to a system that I feel, if anything, is better than I’ve earned through experience. I now look around my house and see my Lumin U1 Mini feeding my Chord Hugo TT2 w/M-Scaler, my ampsandsound Kenzie Ovation, my ZMF and Focal headphones, my Astell & Kern S25 DAP, my Parasound P6/A21+ pre-amp/amp and my KEF home theater speakers (whose front towers do double duty in my audio system), and I have a sense of real satisfaction.

This isn’t a humble-brag post. It’s really to thank this community for what I learned, which for me boils down to a few lessons. They worked for me, and might for you:

  1. Buy items where you can return them - not only did this give me an out for a bad mistake (I’m looking at you, well-regarded headphones that left me not only disappointed but unhappy, and my several tube-amp mistakes), but knowing I can return an item eliminates my need to otherwise justify my purchase and claim improvements that might not be there.

  2. Listen to this community - there are wildly different opinions, but if you listen carefully enough, you can figure out who to trust, or at least who shares your approach. There’s not a piece of gear I’ve bought that wasn’t the byproduct of a recommendation to me, or of what seemed like a community consensus. (By the 150th time I heard someone rave about Lumin, it kinda piqued my interest…). Once I realized I wasn’t going to spend a fortune on cables (but wouldn’t live with too-cheap ones, either), that removed a lot of (for me) noise from the signal, for example. It let me focus on the posts that talked about how it felt to listen to a particular unit, not how it charted on an audio analysis (not that I’m putting that down for others).

  3. Make a choice between a stair-step approach or a go-for-it approach - for me (I’m 62 and new to this game), I didn’t have an interest in trying out innumerable DACs and tube amps. I wanted what I at least believed I’d be happy with for the foreseeable future. That means I learned to spend more on what I wanted, to get to (or closer to) that endgame gear rather than learning from a longer process. I have no doubt that this makes me less expert than I would be otherwise but, being more of a set-it-and-forget-it person, I might overpay for a particular piece but I knew (again, from this helpful community) that I probably wouldn’t be making a flat-out wrong bet.

I don’t know that I did things the right way - as I say, part of getting smarter is trying so many things out that you learn from your mistakes as well as your good choices - but I feel like, in a shockingly short time, I achieved what I wanted. I now have a system that sounds beautiful, that will be up to and not fall short as I get smarter about what I like, and one that gives me great pleasure.


Enjoy the music and your system, satisfaction is something that very few achieve in this hobby!!!

1 Like

lets see how this pans out :wink:

I have 3 Lumin’s hard to wrong there :smiley:

As for cables I build my own mostly but don’t let cost determine ability - plenty of good affordable cables without breaking the bank.