Is the path important… Or just the destination (or both)?

As an audiophile, I’ve pursued world class sound reproduction for almost my entire adult life.  First, I focused on CDs as my music source.  Then, when I inherited my father’s LP collection, I added LPs to the mix.  My path to facilitate LPs as a music source was pretty simple.  I purchased a Rega Planar 25, with a Super Elys cartridge.  Also, I added a phono card to my Naim Audio "Olive" system.  As it was my Father’s collection, the LPs constantly brought back memories from childhood…when I spent a significant amount of time with my Father.  In a way, the Planar 25 was a time machine for me.  The destination was good.

Contemporaneously, my young children were the primary driver in my life.  As such, system improvements (or changes) were relatively non-existent for a decade or so.  When the kids got older, system improvements became my primary (maybe only) hobby.  Though I began buying and selling equipment at an alarming rate (especially if you asked my wife), I made very few changes to my vinyl “system”.  I added a Dynavector 20X2 HO cartridge to my Planar 25.  A couple of years later, the path became a little more complex, as I added many GrooveTracer modifications, with additional modification from Funk Firm, J.A. Michell, and Harmonic Resolution System for good measure.  The sound improved….the destination was still good…but LPs DID NOT became my primary music source.  

Fast forward a few years... and a Rega RP8 fell into my lap (refer to my definition in this earlier blog "The REX...That BAT Built").  The sound took a nice step forward.  Also, I spent some time trying phono stages from LFD, Emotiva, Musical Surroundings, Graham Slee, Shiit, etc.  Once again, the path was a little more complex than my initial investment in vinyl playback.  And once again, the destination was good.

Hot tip:  The owner of CH Acoustic, my business partner, with decades of industry experience, engineering know how, and turntable setup experience, is selling his END GAME turntable.  Wow!  Following is a brief description:

  • Clearaudio Innovation Wood Table
  • Clearaudio Universal (9”) Tone arm
  • Belt Upgrade
  • VTA upgrade
  • Acrylic dust cover
  • Rega Apheta 3 cartridge
  • Custom Vibration Mitigating shelf (rivals Harmonic Resolution Systems M3X2 shelf)

I TURNED DOWN an opportunity to purchase this END GAME turntable.  Am I correct?  Am I wrong?

Pros (or Purchase scenario):  END GAME – I can spend the next few years auditioning phono stages in an attempt to take full advantage of the turntable.  As the Clearaudio turntable IS NOT the weak link (and assuming my phono stage purchases are iterative improvements), I can enjoy years of vinyl bliss…with occasional performance improvements.

Cons (or Pass scenario):  The Clearaudio Innovation Wood table is a big step forward.   As vinyl has never been my primary music source, I may be overinvesting ($$$).  Also, since I’m skipping SO MANY steps, do I deserve the reward?  I didn’t pay for the END GAME turntable with countless purchases in search of audio perfection.  Will I have confidence that Clearaudio is the prince…when I haven’t kissed any frogs?  Finally, will the lack of an END GAME phono stage hamper my enjoyment?  Will I truly enjoy the iterative process of phono stage exploration?

If the path is uniquely important, I’m correct.  Purchasing the Clearaudio now, without having made the purchases that facilitate incremental performance and knowledge, damages the path.  If the path is the most important, the purchase shouldn’t happen.

If the destination is all that’s important, I’m wrong.  I should make the purchase immediately and keep looking for enhancement possibilities elsewhere in my system.  Purchase the END GAME turntable and move on.  

Personally, I believe the path and the destination are equally important.  As such, I don’t have a clear “correct answer” for this dilemma.  Purchasing the Clearaudio table fixes one variable in the system, so I can concentrate on phono-stages. Skipping the Clearaudio opportunity allows me to take incremental steps on the path, but likely defers the END GAME for a time. 

Thoughts?

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