Rules of getting best audio ? maybe..

I have just started the hifi audio journey since about a year or so and have learnt a great deal. I am sure many of you here have much more experience in this arena and have gone through your journey. Some mistakes made, lesson learnt, but still it is ongoing journey.
I have set up my stereo as well as home theater, spent great deal of money and have learnt some valuable lessons and thought of setting up some guidelines/rules, so that if I could go back in time, I wish I had these steps in mind and followed these "rules" instead of doing costly trial and errors. 
These are my rules for my past, if I had to start all over: Hopefully this might help someone who is about to start. 
1. Buy the equipment you think is the best for "your ears" and not the second best, even if it is a little bit expensive compared to your budget, but within reasonable margin: this will prevent you from regretting and trying to sell the second best equipment you brought for significant loss, to go back and buy your best. We all know that in this journey "the law of diminishing returns" are real and costly. 2. On the other hand, just because the equipment is expensive, does not mean that they are necessarily best option for your ears. Something cheaper (less expensive, I mean) can be the best for your system and your ears.
3. Just because you are getting something for very cheap, does not mean it is a good deal: They are cheap for a reason.
4. Cables do make a big difference in quality of hifi. You don't have to be a "believer": you will hear those difference, if you audition them. 
5. Add a good subwoofer to any stereo set up (full range speakers or not): They make you mids and highs shine like diamond. 
6. Spend some time and money to set up room acoustics, consider room size, before you decide on how big your system will be. 
7. There is no quantitative metric to measure "qualitative" fun. Trust your ears and your ears only. Pay attention to good reviews but don't rely solely and only on "reviewers" ears.
8. All said, in the end, it is "your ears" " your wallet" and "your music". Use it and enjoy it wisely. Work hard and play hard. 

Share your "mistakes" and "lesson learnt" moments if you agree: if you don't agree, ignore this and don't trash please. Constructive criticisms are always fun though. 
The first rule is really the only one you need. A friend at work wanted advice on this amp he wanted but thought was too expensive. I said does it sound better? He said yes. I said well what about the one you're more comfortable with the price? Doesn't sound as good. But its a better deal. I said oh really. Bring your wife let her hear them both. Oh and be sure to play her favorite music. He thought I was nuts. But the next week he was all dude she totally wanted the better amp!!!

Of course. Because, Rule #1
Buy the equipment you think is the best for "your ears" and not the second best, even if it is a little bit expensive compared to your budget,

Rules of getting best audio ?

Main one is compatibility between amp and speaker, spend time to understand Stereophile’s bench testing on both these,
As these can bring you to compatibility faster than people here telling you this amps great or that speakers great, but if they’re not great together it’s not compatible.
So take time and read to understand the Stereophile tests and graphs.
And other places that do them like click on measurement you have to become a member

If every speaker was flat 4 or 8ohm impedance with no -phase angle and 90 to 100db, then just about any amp will be compatible

And forget about $$$$$ voodoo products, like $300 directional mains fuses, etc etc

Cheers George
Finding a good HiFi salesman and establishing a relationship with him can help guide you into equipment that's a good fit for you. Caveat Emptor applied as necessary. I wouldn't be as interested in HiFi if a guy who ran a local shop here didn't help me along the way.
Finding a good HiFi salesman and establishing a relationship

That’s hard, unless he’s an old school buddy or a relative, or he likes you💋, they’ll just sell you what they make the highest profit on.

Cheers George
Problem with audio dealer, if he is not your friend, is they don’t follow fiduciary principles. They want to sell the best (often the priciest) they have and usually trash talk (politely) when you talk about the products they don’t have, even if it is in your top list. One dealers best product is other dealers worst (may be I am exaggerating) just to get sale. It is like going to BMW dealer who gives negative comments on Audi or Merc. In the end you are on your own. I am not an an engineer to understand the complex compatibility, but agree with getting a right amp for right speakers. I found that talking to speaker company directly always has helped me. They give their unbiased recommendation to get right gear for your speakers. Just to comment on the spouse approval: if I had taken my wife, she would just select some good looking, less expensive SF speakers: usually they enjoy “music” regardless of source. We enjoy “sound” from high frequency to bass. And in doing so dissect every frequencies, sound stage, clarity, dynamic, etc etc and start hunting for right combination. This is the point where our wallet starts hating us. Like my wife says: why don’t you just enjoy music, rather than using “knife and fork” to dissect his vocal cords with expensive gears. Don’t know the answer to that. But I love this hobby and enjoy the “infinity shades of music”. 
How about -
Have some patience when you first bring a new piece into your system.
I find it takes time to get things right so, don’t be too quick on judgement. It takes time to break in, get things setup right,
synergy with the rest of your components. 
Some folks say they know right away when something is a keeper,
okay that may be true in some cases but, not always.

Haven’t we all sold something we wished we had back because we were too quick to get rid of it.

My lesson may be the general lesson in life - ignore your ego.  Not always easy because my ego takes up its own zip code occasionally.  Allocate your budget based on your listening preferences for sources and media. My biggest lessons were:

1.  Allowing the home theater requirements drive the system build versus the 2 channel stereo sound - if you do this you may also end up with 2 separate systems :)

2.  I prefer no sub-woofer in a 2 channel stereo I prefer no sub-woofer - I spent more on the floor standing speakers.  Room acoustics management and speaker placement are tweaks to be made and no sub-woofer reduces competition for space.
I would suggest stay away from "white van guy" but I think Covid 19 has kept him away. He never offers a model with a nice veneer finish.

Always seem to be black.
“1. Allowing the home theater requirements drive the system build versus the 2 channel stereo sound - if you do this you may also end up with 2 separate systems :)”

Interesting - I am the exact opposite. I think having two Systems is where it’s at! One optimized for music (2 channel) the other (multi channel) for movies.
That’s what works for me.
Hello romney80,

     I'm now 62 and realize my long journey with both audio and video is now closer to the end than the beginning.  But I'm okay with that since they've both been interesting and pleasurable journeys and my A/V system has never had a better picture or sounded better.  I guess that means I was paying attention and learned a few things along the way.
    In retrospect, there are a few things I know now that I wish I'd learned earlier but, if I had to pick one major lesson or bit of advice that would be most beneficial and would like to pass on, it would be the following:

  Treat your complete system as comprised of 2 independent and separate individual systems: a mono bass system and an everything else system

1. A Bass System - All bass below 80 Hz is mono and there's no stereo imaging with bass below about 80 Hz.  Use at least a pair of very good quality subs in mono mode, regardless of your main speakers, to create a powerful, solid and dynamic bass foundation that works well on all types of music and HT content.
      Set the volume and crossover frequencies as low as possible with the bass still sounding very good to you (solid, powerful, detailed, smooth, fast and natural). Position each sub sequentially and optimally in the room using the sub crawl method (you can google it for details). For best results, definitely do not just place a sub next to each main speaker or where they are most convenient. You don't want to be constantly aware that the subs are active, just when the music or HT content calls for it.
     The benefits of multiple subs begin to be realized with the use of 2 subs.  Of course, you'll notice the bass becomes more powerful and dynamic because there are now 2 of them instead of just 1 and, since bass in a room is cumulative, the bass is capable of being as powerful and dynamic as the source material content calls for.  The bass becomes more accurate with less distortion and a greater sense of ease since neither sub is operating anywhere near its limits.
     Perhaps unexpectedly, the benefits of using a pair of good quality subs also includes the bass being faster, smoother, more detailed, better blended or integrated with the main speakers and even improvements in mid-range, treble and sound stage imaging performance due at least partly to decreases in bass boominess and masking of higher frequencies.   Depending on amplification and main speakers utilized, some systems also benefit through the use of multiple subs by reducing the burden of reproducing the demanding bass frequencies through the main amps and speakers.
     On systems already utilizing a pair of subs,  even further significant overall system improvements can be gained by adding a 3rd and possibly 4th sub. These improvements are basically further continuations of the positive gains made from deploying a pair of subs but with the added benefit of this high quality bass performance existing throughout the entire room and not being restricted to a bass sweet spot at the designated listening position.  
     It's often true that these gains can be attained utilizing smaller, less powerful and less expensive models as the 3rd and 4th subs than the original pair of subs existing in the room.  It's not necessary that all 3 or 4 subs in the room are identical.
     In my opinion, the lack of very powerful bass impact and bass dynamics is the main obvious indication that one's listening to recorded music on a home audio system rather than a live performance.  In my experience, very good bass performance is the hardest aspect of home audio to get sounding right, realistic and natural, especially in smaller domestic sized rooms. 

2. An Everything Else System - This can be also be more accurately considered and described as a mid-range, treble and stereo imaging system.   The goal is to find a pair of main speakers that you love for their mid-range, treble and stereo imaging qualities and it's not that important for overall system performance if they're low frequency restricted.  
     In my experience, it's much less difficult to attain high quality mid-range, treble and stereo imaging performance in a typical room than it is to do the same for bass performance, especially if a high quality pair of main speakers are utilized. It's important to spend as much time as needed to carefully and precisely position the main speakers, and use various room treatments at strategic positions, to attain high quality performance but these tried, true and reliable methods don't vary much from room to room.
    The goal is to position the pair of main speakers in precise room positions, and in relation to your designated listening position, until the mid-range and treble tone and pitch sounds very accurate and natural along with  creating and projecting a wide and deep stereo sound stage illusion that projects 3 dimensional, solid and stable images that, on good recordings, gives you the impression that the musicians and vocalists are playing live in your room or that you've been transported to the venue.
     This installation or placement of this high quality Everything Else system on top of the solid foundation of the mono Bass System  completes your high quality overall audio system.  If care was taken to properly set up both component systems, the integration between both should be seamless and overall system performance is very likely to be subjectively spectacular.
     In giving my advice to you, I've made an effort to be humble, respectful and factual.  But the thing I'm most proud of, and you most likely appreciate the most, is that I never once referred to you as "young grasshopper", "sparky" or "tiger". 

You're welcome,
3. Just because you are getting something for very cheap, does not mean it is a good deal: They are cheap for a reason.

I agree with the cheap statement. Cheap is cheap. But then I always look for the deal. 

A low price for me, means someone else paid for the 25% depreciation  from new, to returned, and the boxes never opened.

I try not to use the words, cheap,  loser,  your momma,  high five or give me five and the worst of all, the old lady. 

But you can call me, Young anything, Sparky, or Tiger anytime, I'll take all them all.  Now if I had a bit more spark, a whole lot more tiger in my tank, ay? LOL

"When you can take the pebbles from my hand, Grasshopper, it will be time for you to go".

Thank you... Regards
Thanks for the all the wise advice. I cannot agree more on getting more subs to get a good hifi stereo. 

I was thinking that just because I have a full range speakers, I don't need subwoofers. But after good trial and error with less expensive subwoofer, I was amazed how much the "quality" of mids and highs improved with a separate subwoofer.
I have a pair of good quality subs now and am playing with positioning to get the best quality bass. Definitely agree with keeping bass at low level to get a high "quality" bass. This has completed my set up and hopefully stay with my current system for long time.  
Another important and less paid attention to detail is the speaker and subwoofer positions. I think, before anybody changes the speakers or gears, they should play with the position quite a bit. 

I think keeping the language professional will keep discussion constructive. Thanks for keeping it respectful and factual. I have seen so many discussion in the forum, where OP posts some topic, and a whole lot of fist fight and ego clash happening down the comment section with no actual sense. 
@dougsat Two separate systems worked for me for many years. Downsizing has resulted in my 2 Chanel system getting all the resources:)
If great sound is your final goal, then start with #6. Don't spend some time .. spend a lot of time and good money on room acoustics and learn or hire someone. I would take good speakers with a good set of electronics in a great room over a great set of speakers and electronics in an average room any day. It wouldn't even be close. Most audiophiles have not been exposed to a really well done acoustics set up. Trade shows have about the worst acoustics you can find. It is rare to even find high end dealers with a really well done room with properly placed speakers. 

The what I feel is distorted spend on various equipment in the modern audiophile world is in my mind not going to get you to where you want to be the most cost effectively.  Again I would take great speakers with a reasonably good amp, over the very best amp and not so good speakers. Your speakers and your room are the #1/#2 or 2/1 weak links in your system (almost always). If your speakers are so so, no matter what you spend elsewhere, you will be limited in your outcome. Get good speakers and you can upgrade other components over time to match.

I agree completely with noble100. The optimum place for two speakers for upper bass, midrange and highs is unlikely to be the same as deep bass in most rooms. As well controlling room modes for deep bass requires large bass traps or smaller narrow band traps that may not be ideal for your situation. Multiple smaller subs I feel are ideal for most people. Put this into your speaker spend.

Most DACs, SS amps sound similar. Not the same, but similar so hard to tune "to your ears". Diminishing returns much quicker than speakers (and acoustics). You may prefer a more traditional tube sound so definitely compare. Good turntable setups take a significant investment that will take away from other items. If you don't have a big quality vinyl library now , you may want to pass.
@romney80 --

... I am sure many of you here have much more experience in this arena and have gone through your journey. Some mistakes made, lesson learnt, but still it is ongoing journey.
I have set up my stereo as well as home theater, spent great deal of money and have learnt some valuable lessons and thought of setting up some guidelines/rules, so that if I could go back in time, I wish I had these steps in mind and followed these "rules" instead of doing costly trial and errors.

It’s tempting to think one could’ve learned from the initial get-go with a list a rules hereby avoiding "costly trial and errors," but it would seem the process of these things and actually working through them is vital to attain some measure of experience that can then lead to important realizations - insofar one is open to acknowledge them. For this to come to fruition my advice would be to go with a hunch along the way (crazy or "mercurial" it may be), think out of the box, and be skeptical about the "audiophile" industry and its mechanisms. Because, let’s face it, this milieu is what we’re lead into and wade through for what’s likely to be many years, while navigating in a sea of marketing B.S., conjecture, restricting paradigms and dogma even. From my chair we must be careful not to be too infected and play along with the tune of this melody, and instead develop a critical mindset that doesn’t cater to the often hive-minded nature of this environment.

Share your "mistakes" and "lesson learnt" moments if you agree: if you don’t agree, ignore this and don’t trash please. Constructive criticisms are always fun though.

I won’t comment on your list specifically, but if anything my lesson learned is slowly unwinding myself from audiophilia in a sense and go more in the direction of a "brass tacks" approach where physics can have their say, certainly in regards to speakers so to accommodate the fact that sound can’t be (successfully) miniaturized. High-end speakers that are big are insanely expensive, but do they need to be that costly from the perspective of sound quality alone? To my ears: no, not even by a long shot. My current speakers, bought used, are build for pro cinema use, and if the drivers housed were put into fancy cabinets with elaborate, passive cross-overs and sold through the typical dealer network they’d cost a crazy load of money, not to mention these speakers would be a niche product due to their size alone, further elevating their price. But do pro cinema speakers sound properly in a domestic environment? Depending on the size of one’s listening space it is important not to "overshoot" with the specific speakers used, but once fitted to the space allotted they can sound fantastic, and at a fraction of the cost compared to big, high-end speakers that couldn’t even approach the dynamic capabilities and ease of sound to begin with. Pro cinema speakers are big, they’re fitted in "working clothes" and they may have some years on their back if bought used (which doesn’t matter because they’re built to last in a much harsher, pro environment). However, it’s a ticket to great, uninhibited sound for a relatively small amount of money. And that’s just one example of product category..
Rule #9  It is unlikely you will end up with the system of your dreams with the first round of purchases out of the gate... it’s gonna take some tweaking. So... don’t spend all of your budget on round one or you will be disappointed that you can’t make the adjustments that you will inevitably find you need. 
Even though we start our Hifi system around speakers first, it is not a bad idea to start the system with room acoustics first. However we realize this only after going through experience. To add to this, you slowly realize that to get best out of system, you need good power conditioning, isolatations etc etc.
@snapsc375, Definitely not spend too much money in first set up. But when you go hear in the audio dealer for first time in your journey, even with simple set up there, you end up buying. It is like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. 
Rule #1: The Rack is the Shrine.                      Bow down in front of it and give blessings.