Is there a ceiling limit on what you are willing to pay for an audio component?

A very informative fellow on youtube reviews high end audio gear. He pays an insane amount of money on ampifiers, speakers and digital sources. He tells you what he thinks about quality, price, customer service and performance on such brands as Magico, Boulder, Wilson Audio and many others.

So here is the question. What are YOU willing to pay for a pair of speakers? An amplifier? A DAC or turntable setup? I am interested in what you WOULD PAY, not what you have paid in the past.

For me, I cannot see myself paying over $5K on speakers and likely not more that $3K on any other component.... even if I had the kind of money Elon Musk has. Am I crazy in saying that?


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You know what you are willing to pay.  Where are you going with this question?

What is you were introduced to an $8K speaker that you really liked or a $4K amp that made your $5K speakers really shine? I can see having a budget as important but some might save longer or work harder for something they like better. I guess I'm wondering the same thing as @vonhelmholtz 

best value, synergy, looks - I think my dream system is 10K  speakers, 3K amp integrated, 4K TT.

Maybe 50K on isolation and 80K on cables

Where am I going with this question? It's really simple, I have imposed a budget amount myself and shared it in this post. I am interested in others here, what is your budget? Do you have one? Have you a self imposed ceiling amount of money you don't think you need or want to go above for a select piece of audio equipment?

There’s definitely a limit....My audio budget has almost always been somewhere between limited to almost nothing. Much of my gear is used, modified, or built completely from the ground up. My current speakers cost close to $800 to build from scratch 32 years ago....that’s the single largest expenditure during my 42 years in audio. In the early days I often worked off my purchases working at local audio shops or manufacturers (ie: Lazarus tube pre, Merlin 4B speakers). Now I tend to buy the great bargains that I happen to stumble into (ie: Hagerman Bugle 3 phono stage, Definitive Powerfield 15 sub). If buying new, it’s usually a known great bang for the buck. (ie: Topping E-30, SAE 1000LT cart)

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My limit is about $10k per component. Yeah, I've seen his reviews, and for the most part I can appreciate them. Unfortunately,  my budget is on a different level than his.

I know someone who had two pairs of amps that cost $250,000 per pair.  One pair was a “backup” amp—just a reserve amp in case the primary amp went down.  The thing is that, given his wealth/income, this was like me buying a mocha with an extra shot from Starbucks.

So this is to see if your budget is somewhat in line with others?


I see the merit in knowing that. But the 8 people who respond will

be the Lamm owners. Except me. My terms:


I buy used. Except my Innuos Zen 3.

1-2 months old preferably with a transferable warranty. 

That should save 25-35%. 

I am patient. This results in some real bargains.

Even your well-to-do friends appreciate a great deal.

Anywhere in the USA. Get a Fed Ex Acct.


Today I would spend:

 Up to $6k on and Int amp

Up to $4k on Speakers

Streamer/ripper/storage $3k

Furniture and stands-$1k

Cables $1k

CD player $2k

Power transformer $500


Wow, got up there quickly! $17.5

That is $5k more than I spent but prices

have gone up.


Brands I like: Pass, Luxman, Innuos ,Lumin, ANK, Uptone Audio,

Oppo, Fritz, Tannoy, Magnepan, Paradigm, Audioquest.

Unless you can buy once and be satisfied for life-Not many in this crowd-then

just as important as price is brand. But what people know.  I am try to avoid

China made but...

Companies with good service availability count. 

Join the SFAF club.$35/year.  Members sell to others good gear cheap.



Good Luck and Happy Hunting!!




The simplest answer is that I pay what I can afford and what makes sense given the rest of my system.

Since retirement I buy almost 100% used. There is always someone selling last year's model at a discount and any well-reviewed component is still a quality component a year or two later.


The limit is, can I hear a worthwhile change for the cash. Sure, I'll hear a different between $5K and $30K speakers, but is it worth 6 times the price? Maybe, maybe not - I have to hear a level of improvement to make it worth it. Also, I wouldn't match a $100K amp with $10K speakers. The system overall has to make sense. 


When I first started reading the OP, I thought the right answer is “whatever your budget allows”. But then I read this, and was confused:

For me, I cannot see myself paying over $5K on speakers and likely not more that $3K on any other component.... even if I had the kind of money Elon Musk has.

I thought for a bit, and it hit me: it makes sense. I would not pay even a few hundreds of dollars on a designer handbag, even if I had the Elon Musk money. Because handbags are not my thing. Maybe audio is not YOUR thing?



So I guess we are now down to wanting to find out who are rich, super rich, less rich, somehow rich, poorer than rich and making ends meet. Too weird for me.

If you really wouldn't spend more than you say even if you were wealthy, I would say yes, you're crazy. That makes no sense to me.

@baylinor I sense it's the opposite: who sets a limit regardless of their bank account based on what's the best value for one's ear

IMO, Stupid thread ! What’s the point find out who’s privileged ? If you like the sound with the right pocket full,.. buy it. 

Today, if I had the money, I could easily double the investment in my system.  6 months after that, I could probably do it again 

My top price is whatever fits my budget. So sad that even our government doesn't understand that principle. 

To all...thanks for responding. I can respect and appreciate anyone’s budget. And yes, I do really like audio and listening to music and can enjoy a really nice sound system. It is my thing. I am not trying to see who is rich, who is not.... just trying to explore the myriad of routes we will go down to enjoy the music. For me, I have been buying and assembling audio components since 1983. The most I ever paid for one component was $3400.00. But what was hinted at, it’s all relative to budget and everyone’s is different. But I believe, for me, I can’t pay more than a certain set amount. It’s really more about would I want to buy... say ...$40k speakers, even if they sounded like heaven. I would not. Again no judgement on those who do... enjoy the sound!

"For me, I cannot see myself paying over $5K on speakers and likely not more that $3K on any other component...."

Nothing wrong with your stance.

You simply will not experience SOTA, but SOTA equipment isn't  SOTA without a proper setup/room and recording.

Makeup for not spending the money on equipment with the room and recording.

It's all relative and depends on what you can afford and how important audio quality and music is to you. Your budget is a bit below what I would pay but there are people on this forum who can afford and do pay much more than I can afford.

If I had the money there is literally no limit to what I would spend on a component. The most I’ve put into a single component now is north of 30K. That’s still a lot less damage than a divorce or any other myriad of bad choices men make in life.

If I had it I would spend it...liberally but wisely, of course. The same goes for musical instruments and travel.

It is a function of your income / value of sound quality.

I am retired. Right now my sweet spot is $35K for speakers and ~ $20K per component… about 8 of them. If my investment portfolio were to double I would double the investment in my speakers (to Sonus Faber Lillium) and preamp (Audio Research Reference 10)… maybe my amp (Audio Research 160m to Reference 320s)…


So, I guess for me it is generally financial. My system cost many times the value of my Lexus and 4Runner… audio, far more important than automobiles.

baylinor's avatar

I often bought used, traded, flipped stuff but I am at a point where my kids are grown and my bills are low.   That said , about two years ago I started a major upgrade.   

I spent more than i originally budgeted , but I am at the point where it sounds so good and I get so much enjoyment that it's immaterial.    

Biggest and best  purchase was a 300b amp by Toolshed Amps. I saved for over a year for that one.    Worth every penny.   It is a fantastic sounding amp.   The tone and transparency is addictive.   Build quality is over the top, heirloom quality.   It was a little more than my ceiling of $5000. That ceiling was broken when i spec'd Amorphous OPT  and a few other options .   It is so good I am having Matt from Toolshed build me it's companion DHT preamp.   

I expect this to be my last amp / preamp combo so I'm already saving money by hopping off the amplifier merry go round.  

.... just trying to explore the myriad of routes we will go down to enjoy the music

Everybody's budgeting is different, doubtful if learning other routes matter for your decision process.  Some budgets are fixed while others can be flexible which usually correlate to each person's financial situation.  

My budget is flexible, but I have other financial commitments.  I've blown my budget a few times, usually trying to hit close to end game component. 

  • I was over double my budget for my pre+amp because I wanted the reviewed reported sound included in TAS 50 Greatest Bargains in High-End Audio.  
  • I went to AXPONA last year to audition speakers to purchase.  The 2 speakers I was targeting had tradeoffs - better high and midrange vs better balanced but muffled.  Another speaker that sounded great was double my budget. After the show, my dealer went to bat for me to get the great sounding speaker.  So I was over my speaker budget by 40%, but got a great deal on these demo speakers
  • Never heard the storied Koetsu Coralstone cartridge which reportedly is the best Koetsu stone cartridge.  I was disappointed that the Coralstone is recently discontinued.  But I got a fantastic deal on a mint Coralstone Diamond so I purchased it justifying that it may be the very last opportunity to hear this cartridge.  
  • After optimizing my analog chain, I'm working on my digital chain.  Top DACs, that can sonically be satisfying as analog, usually start around $40k : MSB, Linn, Aries Carat, Wadax, Lampizator, etc.  But the same Linn Organik DAC card in their $42k streamer+DAC is offered as a $7k upgrade for older model streamer+DAC.  So I purchased the Linn DSM/2 with the Organik DAC card upgrade.  I hit the sonic lottery!!

Bottom line - everybody's spending is different

The spending in our High-End Audio hobby is between sane and insane, systems costing equivalent to a car, house, and beyond.  Non audiophiles think we're crazy the way we spend, but that is the way of hobbies.  

Can we exercise a little civility here? Why say this is a stupid thread? Why question why someone would ask a question?  Just move on if it's not for you--that's my humble view. 

Forums are digital quasi-equivalents of meeting places of yore.  The righteousness of those criticizing posters is tiresome. I'd prefer a forum where negativity is rare and the free flow of thought (regardless of merit to the thought) is promoted. 

I can think of a good chunk of reasons why someone would ask this sort of question.  

Obviously there is a limit to what you are willing to pay. The limit however could be a trillion, billion, million, thousand, hundred dollars. Just don’t pay $1 please.

Let’s see… a decent integrated is 7k - 10k, speakers 12k - 16k min.  So if you avoid vinyl and shop cheap for all else you can do it for 25k. The system I use was put together over many decades with many false starts that cost money but in and of itself is only worth around 12 - 15 k and I would call it modest by any audiophile standards. T sounds pretty good tho. The more you can spend the less work you will have to do, hobby wise. Don’t! Write me about that last you guys.

That is a loaded question , for example a $4k speaker n average only $1k goes into this including packaging ,this too applies to electronics ,the rest R&D overhead and markup, this why you truly spend what you can afford to spend , That  being said 

after say $50k on a Loudspeaker the differences to $75k maynot be as substantial say from a $5kto $15kLoudspeakers ,  the parts quality gets substantially better .

for $5k that’s a good starting point , you willnot have even average quality Xover parts ,and drivers ,cabinet meaning both speakers are roughly $525  each including the packaging ,sad but true .having owned. A Audiostore  MFG need to make this ,with Audiocables the profit margins on average far bigger . That is why lower priced items can be modded much easier .for Digital for example $5k is bare minimum for a good quality digital front end for example the exception $7k T+A 200 dac is a bargain vs even dacs at 2x the cost. digital cables say 2 Ethernet cables ,and usb$3k a good Ethernet  hub Sonore ,or uptone audio $550+ $750 for  A very  good linear powersupply such as the excellent Linear TubeAudio . + Audiocables another $2500+ minimum  everything adds up ,iam just speaking of a $50 k Audio system To many older audiophiles $50k is not  even close to a top quality sounding Audiophile System.I have been over many professionals homes near the Boston area with systems exceeding $150k , when i owned a store I spent $50k fora$100k system .I am now approaching 65 and just rebuilding and-just over $50k is my cutoff to get exceptional sound quality after That  you can do much better sounding still but ,at a very high cost , $$ diminishing returns . My point is don’t be frugal if you can afford more within reason. 

As many have said the answer is relative to a buyer's intensity for the hobby and financial worth 

with that said, the decisions I regret are not spending too much but passing on a component I really wanted that was just over the financial horizon so to speak 

that typically leads to early disappointment with a purchase and ultimately increased cost

I can afford whatever I want...and what I want is what I have, and none of it is "self indulgent" expensive because I prefer things that sound good to me, and don't care what reviewers or pretty much anyone else thinks about it unless I agree with them. Schiit preamp and DAC, Pass Labs (XA-25, their cheapest amp and maybe their best sounding amp), Bryston Bit 15 conditioner (it has a lot of plugs) and other stuff. Horn speakers with titanium drivers, smoking jacket and those little fancy slippers, etc. Note that expense is relative, but there's great sounding stuff for less than $130,000 speakers that are simply drivers in a box. 

$25k speakers, $12k amps, $5500 Source, $7K BACCH 3D Software, $1250avg per cable, Acoustic Treatments $3500, Headphone Amp $8k, Headphones $6K

I have no regrets, and at 48 in poor health I give no F's


My conscience wouldn’t let me go over 3 million USD. No matter how good it is, that’s my cap.

The muscle man on YouTube has about as much experience with hifi as I did when I was in my 20’s. His Wilson’s were not even set up properly by Wilson Audio or a dealer. He got them used and they were set up for the last guy’s room!
Anyway in terms of budget. You shouldn’t have one until you get the sound you want. You really need to spend what you need to spend to get the results needed so you don’t need anymore equipment after that. If you don’t get to the goal you are pissing in the wind chasing a fantasy dream instead. So if you get to your goal sonically who cares what it cost you? I never had a customer tell me their retirement dream costs too much!



yep …, well said, sirs! There is no “limit”,full stop. The ONLY factors are the thickness of your wallet, paired with the bespoke personal preferences in this crazy hobby.


You express a good point about the merits of exhibiting a general politeness in a public forum, However I can also appreciate the point of view expressed of other readers… it may not have been intended by the OP, but this post can be viewed as little more than a dig of an upper tier product envy, that is not a good look in any case.

Pretty simple: my audio system has to stay within the cost of my current sports car, < $125k. It’s a compromise my wife and I made years ago, 1 hobby can’t be more expensive than the cost of the other. Also, must pay cash for everything. Don’t have the cash, for house, cars, toys, no purchase.

Apparently my limit is just below 20K for my system but in my mind it should be below 10K. I'm apparently weak and rationalize more than I should.

Quck story:

We have a (very) extended family member who happens to be a centi-millionaire. I can’t remember whether he just bought, or sold, an asset for $90M. This amount of money was a staggering to me. Sorry for the confusion.

He just turned 60 and still has the modest ($1K) system he purchased while in college. A while back his receiver stopped working and he complained about what it would cost to get it repaired. I had a spare Nakamichi TA-2 receiver in my loft that I packed up and shipped to him as a "loaner" untiul he got his old receiver fixed. That was 8 years ago. Oh yeah, he has a $50k piece of artwork hanging above the system. Maybe the the artwork missed up the acoustics and he just gave up on the whole hi-fi thing as a result? Probably not.

We had a retired truck driver as a customer years ago. He loved music and the stuff needed to reproduce it. He liked audio more than he liked his decades old daily driver that we’d load up with pretty decent hi-fi gear quite regularly. Sometimes things wouldn’t fit in his car, or were too heavy or bulky to handle, so we’d provide the grunt needed to get it there and put it in place. He liked to set up and mess with his own gear. I’m pretty sure his investment in audio was in the double digits related to his total portfolio. The centi-millionaire -- .01%.

When the perfect storm of love for music and reproducing that music accurately at home hits you, it can be quite invigorating. The wallet opens, and money falls out. As with any "indulgences", true enthusiasts are quite involved and want to get up close and personal with all things connected to the hobby. This would include an appreciation for the "state-of-the-art" -- whatever that is. Audio has it’s Bugattis. And, it’s used fox-bodied Mustangs. True car guys "get" the differences. The subtle. And, the not-so-subtle. And, so do true audio enthusiasts.

So, if your audio ceiling is set at a modest level, and you have the financial headroom to purchase truly exceptional audio gear, you probably need to pick another hobby that you fully resonant with. Like art?