Put your $$ where your Ears are
literally. That is probably the most accurate rule you can apply when it comes to buying Hifi. Regardless of what people tell you or what you read; nothing beats sitting down and hearing it (component/CD/accessory) for yourself. There is NO quick and easy way to this, just like there is no one perfect answer to the mystery of Life. If you are interested in this aka Hifi, you will have to get your hands um ears, dirty. Nothing is funnier than meeting an all knowing self-proclaimed technical 'audiophile' who likes to expound on something he himself has never heard for himself . it happens
Again there are no fixed rules on how to spend your hard earned $$. Sure there exist, guidelines galore - by ratios, by earning power, by music preferences even by WAF*. But the one common thing that these guidelines have is that they all urge you to conform to a fixed factor, and everything is tied in to that factor. Come on people let's just use our common senses . our built in 'survival instinct' that prevents is from doing the idiotic thing ..IF we just bother to listen to it .here is a sample Common Sense Checklist :
$ if you can't afford it comfortably, you can't afford it PERIOD. Just buy something you CAN afford. Price is NOT an absolute indication of quality, and you won't die just because you cannot have that 'highly recommended' but mind-bogglingly expensive component. Neither will you be considered 'low life' because your system is worth only $1k unfortunately, there do exist such morons on this earth who live by this 'canon of $$'.
$ Starting off? Simple. Start SMALL. Buying simple ensures the least exposure to the harmful effects of 'economics of scale'. The malady of Upgrading will afflict you sooner or later, and all that careful consideration you put into your first setup will get washed away in the heady scent of Euphoria. In other words : buy what you need and ignore items/features you MIGHT need because when you finally DO need it, you would have learned that what you have just doesn't cut it anymore . this is the Growing Up effect.
$ the music listen to the music. Spending all that dosh on your 'dream system' comes to dickens if you didn't spend at least a moderate percentage of your total investment on 'software'. with regards to CDs .you can NEVER have enough CDs systems will come and change, but the music stays with your soul for your lifetime.
$ Read about what you Hear, and Hear what you Read about. This ensures that you will at least have some substance you can draw on while you comprehend the enormous task of appreciating Hifi. No one 'knows it all'. If he claims to do so, he is a liar . And if it doesn't sound good to you, don't buy it. NO MATTER WHO SAYS WHAT.
$ Take time off .. no not from your work or family, but from Hifi itself. If you find yourself in an Upgrade frenzy trying to address some obscure 'imperfection' in your system STOP take a deep breath and listen to your music instead . If you had followed your Common Sense, you should have PLENTY of CDs to revisit by the time you've gone though the whole lot, Time would have passed you by. It is always good to look at things from a different perspective once Time has finished with it. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your 'problem' isn't so big after all.
$ There are a million (maybe more) combinations when it comes to appreciating Hifi.. The human mind works best when it has something to compare against. Your 'reference' system is the system you are most familiar with (not the most expensive, contrary to popular belief). Change ONE THING AT THE TIME. This way, you will at least have the chance to appreciate the effect of that single change
You have your whole life to enjoy Hifi. So don't rush it. As long as you remain capable of hearing, you can appreciate Hifi way into your twilight years. Hifi 'burn out' should NOT have to occur until you .burn out.