The law of diminishing returns


I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying. Though I suppose one mans Mid-Fi is another mans End-Game. It’s down to personal tase financial restraints in the end though for many.

I agree that it is pointless searching for that initial high that came when upgrading that first time and you got to hear great quality audio. Thing is that’s what a lot do crave. Like you say it’s all incremental steps after a certain point. It gets damned expensive very quickly if one goes down that route.

I think that after a certain amount of time in this hobby/pastime I realised that diminishing returns plays a major role. Instead of trying for increases in sound quality perhaps different flavours of sound reproduction is the way to go. For example I like bright and somewhat analytical gear but now I am maybe going to look into a more laid back approach and try some LCD or ZMF cans just to change it up a little. Of course finances permitting. I have had HD650’s from the start of my journey and I am only now starting to appreciate just how good they are for sitting back and enjoying music.


For me, the degree I care about fidelity/quality/capability is directly proportional to both how I am listening and the environment in which I am doing so.

At a club, or any concert that is employing serious PA, the environment and atmosphere tends to offset the generally appalling audio “quality”. Pottering around the kitchen while cooking, or with friends around talking/small dinner parties, then just a brace of Sonos One’s cause me no offense. Bose QC20i a $9 dongle and lossy content from an iPhone are fine on a plane in flight.

But active listening … where all I am doing is listening to the music, in a good environment, I am a lot less tolerant of lower-quality replay. Here lossless source material becomes the first requirement, as lossy sources begin to grate rapidly even when just running a $300 DAC and amp combination, feeding a $200 (HD6XX0 headphone. Get that out of the way and while I appreciate, and gravitate towards the higher-end stuff at my disposal, I’ll be lost in the music anyway.

The “enjoyment” differential between a Modi 3 -> Vali 2 - > HD650 and an M-Scaler -> DAVE -> Woo WA234 Mk2 -> Utopia or Abyss or LCD-4 is a lot smaller than the technical differences one becomes aware of when doing “audition” style listening.


I find #3 to be a bit of a laugh as 99% of the people you walk by on the street have no idea whether that is a cell phone or a DAP let alone the cost of them, nor do they know the difference between a $10 walmart special and a $3k TOTL boutique in-ear. So, knowing that, exactly who are you showing off to? When you have to go out specifically looking for someone or some group who recognize the product to show off to, doesn’t that betray your purpose of getting yourself noticed?


No comment.


I think to answer the question of “diminishing returns” you will have to look at your own personality and traits. Consider other hobbies or interests you have and look to see if you have ever reached a comfortable point in them, or are always looking for more?? I’m a bit fanatical about optics…cameras, binoculars, scopes; little things that others miss, really piss me off, or make me greatly appreciate the item. For some, there’s no difference between a pair of $40 dollar binocs, versus a pair of $1200 binocs…in that case go with the $40 units and be happy. Listening to music is the same; for some they might be able to hear the difference but it’s not critical. To others (Torq…:grimacing:), the little details are significant and they aren’t satisfied until a certain level of perfection is reached. Oh yes, the wallet does weigh in, but for some the more critical point is perfection. Gratefully for me (and my wife), my pursuit of musical perfection doesn’t go as high as my need for optic perfection EL 10x42, but I still deeply appreciate good music and supporting gear. Now…if my wife catches me ordering some cans that cost the same as my binocs…marriage counseling may be in the offset. So look at yourself and some of your other hobbies, to get an idea of where your point of diminishing returns may lay.

edit…not sure if the same works for headphones and supporting gear, but two of my children have already put in claims on my EL’s; the good gear never fades away, it just gets better.