I've always loved music, but I've never had a good stereo. I decided to use a new stereo a diet reward. It worked. I've lost 32 pounds and I am now hearing the best music in my life.
Two areas that I focused on in putting this system together:
1. Best Speakers
2. Best Source component
For the speakers I tried a series of top-rated expensive speakers in several cities (this is covered elsewhere in the forums). My wife and I both agreed that the B&W 800D speakers sounded the most "real" even though they look goofy.
For the source component I had assumed that I would get a high-end CD player. Specifically, I lusted after the Nagra CDC Player. However, as I researched this it became clear that all the authorities agree that a properly configured hard-drive based system is better than the best CD-player.
The nice thing is that for my art business I already had a high-end computer system with a 5.7 Terabyte RAID and a high-speed wireless network. Hence, all I needed to by was a first class Digital-to-Analog (DAC) converter.
I kept hearing about Benchmark DACs, so I called them up and they were very helpful in the final details on configuring my system to run using iTunes.
I wasn't going to spend much on the amps, cables and interconnects, but when I told the audio dealer I was working with that I would consider using lamp-cord for speaker cables he turned pale. Since it was a package deal I ended up with amps, interconnects and speaker cables that would not embarrass anyone who believes that those things matter.
I am not a true Audiophile, because I have no plans to tweak the system or upgrade for decades. Also, I am skeptical about many aspects of high-end audio such as expensive cables and interconnects.
But I do believe that appearance matters. I want the gear to look good. I like speaker cables that are thick and look well manufactured. I like thick aluminum plates and attention to detail. I've attached a few pictures that show some of the detail that I like.
But, even though I am not an audiophile, I think it sounds great.
Great system and room. Anyone can make a room look like an electronics lab, where big speakers and gear overpower the room. The hard part is having big speakers that blend in, yet it still sound good. You have one of the best executed systems on this site IMO. Ain't it great never having to leave your chair to switch songs? Congrats.