Written by 6:00 am Audiophile, Audiophile News

Audio Dream Systems – Reality or Fantasy?

Paul Wilson looks at the difference of a dream system and a planned upgrade…

What is your dream system?

Such was the question posed on a web site I was recently reading. Certainly an interesting question because it is quite normal to want something we do not, or quite possibly cannot have. For instance, how many audiophiles can realistically afford a half million bucks for only a turntable or set of speakers – to say nothing about the rest of the system?

I really expected to see lists of dream systems easily eclipsing seven figures in total cost. I mean, if we are going to dream, dream big, right? While I was perusing the many replies to the central question, I was also pondering what my dream system would be. And I “gotta tells ya,” I am thinking way differently than almost all those responders. 

I call them “what if” lists. What if I could have(?) – fill in the blank. While nothing more than daydreaming, for most of us it is a simple, harmless way to pass time. Pondering about what could be. For others, however, it is an inspiration to work harder, invest more smartly and increase how much money might be earned all in an effort to afford better things.  For most people, it’s a matter of perspective. 

From my own standpoint I’m running headlong into the end of my career, not the beginning so my what if lists are simply for fun. Besides, I’m basically happy with my system specifically and my life in general. That said, it sure doesn’t hurt to dream. 

What I found so surprising were the number of responders who had, from my initial opinion, far too lowly goals. There were more than a few who only wanted a basic audio system. Quite a few wanted what was more of a home theater system than a 2-channel system. And while my what if system would only and exclusively be 2-channel, I fully realize many do not feel the same way. Which is perfectly fine. 

Anyone who appreciates, for instance, sports cars may dream about owning what is commonly called a “hyper car.” Names like Ferrari and Lamborghini may come first to mind. But wait, now, if we are going to dream, let’s dream big, right? I’m tempted to dream for something like a Koenigsegg or a Bugatti La Voiture Noir. Needless to say, with a price tag of $18,905,235 USD, the Bugatti takes dreaming big to a whole new level. 

However, is there really anything demonstrably wrong in thinking about roaring down some country road in a 1500Hp car that costs almost twenty million dollars? Is it equally a waste of time to imagine sitting down in a listening chair and playing a song on a two million-dollar audio system?

Take the TechDas Airforce Zero turntable. All tricked out, with tonearm, cartridge and a suitable rack for a turntable weighing in at somewhere around 800 pounds, one could hardly deny this represents a serious commitment to the audio hobby. To say nothing of deep pockets. And it is a foregone conclusion very few of us will ever in ten lifetimes have the ability to purchase a $500,000.00 (more even after adding all the accessories) turntable. Even those of us who can quite likely will not even want one. Is it therefore a waste of time to consider the possibility of such a device in a home audio system? 

What about dreaming for something more realistic? Maybe the next logical system goal is to upgrade the $600.00 turntable to one that costs – tonearm, cartridge, and all, say $2000.00. If that is more reasonable, and something moderately achievable, is that a better use of a what if? Could that also explain why so many of the responses I saw to the central question first seemed to me like they were not aiming high enough? Could they possibly be dreaming about something they actually could make a reality? 

A friend of mine once asked me how much would be required to spend for a “decent audio system.” All he really wanted was something better than a smart phone or one of those round things that play music when told. He wanted to be able to enjoy a favorite song and a glass of wine with his wife from time to time. What a fantastic use for an audio system! 

I told him about $1500.00 (brand new, retail cost) would do so but if he really wanted something nice, $3000.00 to $5000.00 would substantially up the game. I then told him the average cost of a high-performance system was somewhere between $12K and $15K. He was shocked. “For a stereo system” he incredulously asked? I replied, “you’ve seen my system, right?” His answer – “yeah, but I know you’re crazy. I’m not!”

For some, the idea of a $5K audio system is preposterous. A complete and total waste of money. For others, $5k won’t even buy a phono cartridge. It really is a matter of perspective. 

A reasonable question would be what is the difference between planning or simply daydreaming. If our desire is to go from a $600.00 turntable to a $2000.00 one, is that really dreaming or a planned future event? No matter how much I might want a Bugatti, even the inexpensive by comparison one that sells for about $2 million, I’m never going to own one. But an upgrade that represents something far more achievable – maybe so? 

There is certainly no real harm in thinking “what if” as it applies to what our audio system could look like. Perhaps, for many of the responders, going from a $600 turntable to a $2000 one is something more allied with fantasy than reasonable reality. For others, it might not even register. 

And while my dream system, and I am definitely dreaming big here, would easily eclipse $2 million, I fully realize the hubris of such a system. Nothing, however, says I cannot have a wish list. 

And finally, Bugatti has even sold one or two La Voiture Noir sports cars. See, dreams do come true. 

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