The Psychology of Constant (Equipment) Change

Anybody have an answer?

I have a decent selection of preamps, amps, integrateds and speakers to choose from and I find myself swapping out gear constantly.  And it's not because anything sounds bad.  Quite contrary, really.

After most swapping sessions, I'm generally really satisfied and quite enjoy the sound quality.  But within a few weeks I'm swapping stuff out again.

What would be the diagnosis for my condition?



I don't think it's OCD as much as a lack of impulse control that said there are worse addictions to have than high end audio gear.

I really like the idea of keeping a small group of tube integrateds to swap in to a system, sadly I find myself unable to go that route at this time.  I don't think there's a problem any more than wanting to listen to different types of music or eat different foods ore experiment with meals you've made before.

Some folks love the process and some like the destination. The pursuit is the analytical process of assessing, comparing, and searching for better. I am a destination person, I will put in one to,two years of intense work. Then sit back and enjoy the music for five to ten years. 

The same diagnosis that keeps you from going to the same restaurant every time. 

A couple of years ago I finally found my perfect system after decades in this hobby and don't really need or want anything to improve it.  This system is in my dedicated audio room.

The ironic part is that I'll occasionally put together other systems in other rooms although I know damn well in advance that they won't surpass my main system.

  Perhaps just to have something new to play with and to see what's out there and compare.  My partner says that I should be one of those influencers or reviewers online, but that's just not my thing.  I think I do it just out of curiosity, love for the hobby or just boredom.  My nephews and nieces aren't complaining though, because most of that stuff I give away to them after a while, as components get demoted from room to room and eventually the garage and then given away. 

You could probably guess where they like to look when they come over :) 

You are not alone.


Many of us are audiophile rather than music lover.


We keep going for new stimulus.

Although I am happy with sound of my system,


it is more likely that I will buy two or three components or cables by the end ot this year.



I've been pretty happy for about a year with my current system. Took a lot of experimentation to get there, though.

shkong78  If that's your system on the YouTube video it sounds good even over my small computers speakers.  As messy as that would look to a non- audio afficionado, you must be single or have a very tolerant partner!   I'm lucky to have a partner that doesn't impose any rules on me, but I settled that in advance before any serious commitments were made!



Thanks for your compliment.


Although my system does not look tidy with tangled cables, it shall sound decent due to my 45 years of audio history.


All my three children got married with nice job, thus I have room to spend some money on audio components.


While my children were attending university, I voluntarilty refrained from spending money on audio.


Thus my wife has no serious complaint about my spending which is within my income.


But I leave some money on behalf of my four grandchildren.😁


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shkong78  Welcome to the club! My membership has always been active having chosen not to have children to worry about!  No regrets...

@audio_is_subjective64 - I think you mostly nailed it with your first answer, FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. Although some buy for the variety, or for real sonic upgrades, audiophiles are conditioned by audio equipment marketing that is based on the newest batch of stuff being better than what came before. This is common to many disposable income type hobbies where the equipment is integral to one’s performance and/or enjoyment. The growth and prosperity of the cable and tweak industries may be an example of audiophile FOMO.


Try to listen to THE music and not the equipment and that will resolve your disease. BTW, what is that on your system page? Looks like a burned power cable?

milpai That’s like saying "just drive the car" and don’t worry about the lack of comfort or performance or "just go to sleep" and don't worry about the discomfort of the bed or the broken air conditioner making the room 90 degrees!

After you achieve a certain fidelity level of gear, there is no endless upgrade, but only the need to try something different. One can get bored with the same sound from the same gear all year long. Manufacturers don’t get brighter and brighter by the day and can keep offering you better sound... they rinse/repeat/rehash the same thing in different packages (market it differently) after a certain point.

I have 2 multichannel rigs and 3 stereo rigs in 2 rooms to mix it up. They tend to sound very different (different forms of entertainment) and i won’t be selling any of it.



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deep_333: It’s nice to have and experiment with different systems and combinations! It trains your ears to be more discerning to small changes, doesn’t it? It allows me to tell good from bad in just a few notes.

The same diagnosis that keeps you from going to the same restaurant every time.

Variety is the spice of life….

Acoustics has no relation with eating in a restaurant...

Sound parameters serve the music which always has been the goal. If the sound parameters are rightfully balanced we listen the music we dont change the parameters. I can say with a relative confidence that most audiophile are audiophile because they love first and last listening music.No ?

Anyway when all acoustics parameters are settled rightfuly , ( room acoustic and synergetical gear system) we are so enthralled with music that we forgot the gear/room... ( the only exception is ignorance of basic audio knowledge and acoustics and OCD)

In one word any sane and informed person will change music if he wanted more variety not the gear/room...😊


I don’t think it’s OCD as much as a lack of impulse control that said there are worse addictions to have than high end audio gear.

It is not an addiction it is more ignorance coupled with vulnerability to marketing publicity conditioning on someone who dont really know how to create synergy and the right acoustic conditions to begin with ...( it is way more fun to experiment with the gear we have if synergy is there than to buy more gear and more gear)

Or it is someone with no budget limit and no basic knowledge who simply buy something new in audio many times a year and call that a journey in audio...

I have a limit budget myself and i am interested once my system /room is settled optimally with basic knowledge by a MUSIC journey...No more an audio journey... Why ?

Because once you have learned how to install and optimize a system/room , nevermind his price , you can do the same for any other system at any price . ( it takes me 6 months after my first well embedded system for the second one , the two being very different but the same basic knowledge is there nevermind the system/room )


One can get bored with the same sound from the same gear all year long.

This sentence makes no sense in acoustics why ?

Because when a system /room is optimized electrically, mechanically, and acoustically NOT ONE MUSIC album sound the same... The acoustic experience of each recorded  albums became completely different and perceptible ... In a bad system/room all sound the same even if each recording acoustics parameters are different... But the bad system/room cannot make perceptible the difference then instead of hearing the acoustic of the recorded album we hear the bad sound of our own system , with a great loss of information.

Try to listen to THE music and not the equipment

This sentence make no sense either because the goal of audio is not to stay frustrated with a System/room, the goal is to make the room/system perform the best it could do...For that we must learn basic knowledge not waiting frustrated and putting our attention on music... Doing that will not change the frustration and the bad acoustic and bad synergy of the gear experience...

It is like saying to a dude on a dentist date without anesthesia, try to concentrate on music... it work to some extent only...😉Not much...

i never been able to live with a bad sound without extreme frustration myself... Why do you think i read so much about synergy and acoustics because i had no other solution and no money to buy an easy apparent solution anyway to solve my problem ? i study and did experiments because it was fun and it improve my sound quality each week ...

ellajeanelle is right:

it would be :like saying "just drive the car" and don’t worry about the lack of comfort or performance or "just go to sleep" and don’t worry about the discomfort of the bed or the broken air conditioner making the room 90 degrees!

But i must say that yes it is fum to buy many system if we can and try to have fun for sure... Why not?

The only problem with that possibility of fun with various gear is that to enjoy really a system we must really takes a lot of time installing it optimally on his 3 working dimensions.. Once you have it  for a first system you dont really generally have the time or the urge to create a not so well good other one... Save if as ellajeanelle you want a second and a third system in your kitchen and bedroom after the living room...😊 Then i understand and it is fun too ...

This is not obsession nor insatisfaction or frustration or ignorance, it is just the need for 3 system with one top and two secondary one... it is not the rule most need only one TOP system or the best possible...

And it does not change the rule :

We must learn acoustics BEFORE playing with many upgrades, and we must learn basic mechanical resonance and EMI control and electric noise levels control etc ... ( and acoustics is not mere room acoustic)

For sure three system well embedded and well optimized will sound different ... It is good if we can enjoy three... But we must begin with one and when we have one well embedded we do not think upgrades race  so much... Music is the goal if we have it really good with immersiveness and holographic soundstage and natural timbre  without too impeding acoustic limitations..


To answer the OP question : Learning Basic Knowledge is the solution not a race toward upgrades and new gear...If we want to listen music... Some want to play with the gear till their death..Not me, i want a new album each two or three days... Not one sound the same ...

About the picture…it’s a power cord that came with my Running Springs Maxima.  The outer sheath was loose and taped in place so I decided to pull it back and take a look.

Now, this is PC that I was told costs over $1K new!!!  Turns out it has about $900 worth of plumbers tape.  Crazy.

I think my room makes most speakers sound good.  It’s small (13x14), with bad dimensions, but all the GIK panels I have help it work.  


this is PC that I was told costs over $1K new!!!

Can't say I am shocked.  The shield is interesting though.  I have never seen so little material on a shield.  Looks like about a 20% shield, with two of the small wires connected to the iec - that should work well at screening EMI/RFI.  Some years ago, I took apart a power cord from a fairly well-regarded company.  Three THHN wires twisted in a PVC tube with some goop, and a bog-standard plug/iec at each end.  About $30 in parts for a $500+ cord.  Reminds me of an equipment designer who once told me, "I should of gone into cables".

If you're similar to me, you enjoy hearing differences. When I get a new piece of gear, I'm excited to hear it. If there's little to no improvement, back it goes. But if there's an improvement, i'm convinced I've made the last purchase ever. I hear the improvement. it thrills me. after several weeks, i no longer hear an improvement; it's just the improved version, which is great but maybe not as thrilling. Here are some silly remedies: keep some crappy equipment around to hook up and hear the differences. If your DAC has a ton of parameters, A/B test them. You'll love the journey fine tuning the sound so it's just right. upgraditis is difficult!

Some people get acclimated to the sound of a particular system and it no longer sets off the endorphins after a while.  The sound is still the same, your brain's reaction to it has changed.  Putting in a new component in your system can get your attention again.  Nothing wrong with that.

Remember BB King's great song, "The Thrill Is Gone"?

Always a new experience, and it's fun to make a major purchase. It's a luxury, and those who can afford it like luxury.

If language is a virus, then audioholicism is one of the 'side effects' in the dinky print in the spots for Todays' New Drug that is Never focused on the mortal wound we share....

Emo roller coaster....pardon.... ;)

I vary gear as the wave & ware of the perceptible 'new' occurs.

When I first read about the new 'D' chips 'n amps away long ago, self thought:

I wish I had the wherewithal to invest back then.....

Anyway.....I'm still curious as to why it's a great way to pre-celebrate St. Pad's  Day by engaging in a bout of naval gazing.....valid in it's way, but...?


I know people who change out equipment more than I change my socks! I can't even imagine the losses they have in reselling this equipment. If I was only wealthy!

I respectfully reject your premise. I don' think yours is a condition that requires a pop-psychology diagnosis.

You like gear and you like music- so what? How is this any different than a mechanic buying the latest Snap-on tool when the tool truck comes around? It's not- both are tools that make your job easier and more efficient. Both bring satisfaction. Both have long term value. 

I say "Cheers!  Enjoy! and Congratulations!" 

I swap out gear all the time. I have several pairs of speakers that all sound good, but different. I have two main listening spaces. In my loft, I have vintage gear and three systems running with four pairs of speakers. Using my Wiim Mini streamers and Spotify (say what you will, but I can't get Qubuz to do this) I can easily switch between all three stereos (one is hooked up to my computer via an AudioQuest Dragonfly), which allows me to test different music on each system/speaker pair. Downstairs it's a little more complicated, but still swap out gear there every few months. OCD, lack of impulse control? Dunno... at nearly 59, I don't really need or want to change. :)

I did the same thing with headphones until I found ones that I really enjoyed and realized all the money I wasted up to then beyerdynamic T1s v1. I’m sure there are better but I’m very satisfied with them and I am done.. with everything else I spend as much as I possibly can afford maybe a little bit over and I know I can’t afford to spend any more money and usually at that point I’m happy with what I get for it .. I still watch all the YouTube reviews and demos on speakers and equipment but I don’t get the urge to go out and spend thousands of dollars needlessly

Try to listen to THE music and not the equipment and that will resolve your disease

Yeah, this hobby is not just about the music or no one would be here.

I swap out gear all the time. I have several pairs of speakers that all sound good, but different.

Exactly. It's about changing things, noticing differences, enjoying differences -- and also hearing the differences through the music. It's a both/and hobby. Accusations that this form of enjoyment is a disease are, themselves, pathological. Even, puritanical.

I love music and gear---I enjoy trying new things whether it's speakers, cables or whatever. Even on a college budget, I used to try new equipment that my buddies at the local hifi store would let me borrow for a few days or so. I would put gear on layaway since I couldn't afford most of the stuff they carried. I'm enjoying my systems now and experimenting with tweaks. Isolation pads, different cables's a lot of fun. I've never had an external DAC so I'm doing some research on that now. To me it's fun, not a condition. 

I myself wonder about my gear fetish; 3 amplifiers and 4 sets of speakers, soon to be 5. I just like to mix things up a bit.. matching amps and speakers. I wonder though if I sold everything and bought just one system would I like the sound quality more than what my current components offer... if that makes sense. I've bought many components over the years since my sons left the nest but through the child rearing years I stuck with two systems. I only regret selling one amplifier; a Cary SL-100 and a pair of Harbeth SHL5PlusHD speakers.

As a hobbyist, I’d call your condition "normal."

I think there may be 3 (or more) clarifications for those in this group.

- hobbyist: highly energetic, childlike curiosity about all things connected to the reproduction of music in our homes

- audiophile: the development of a very sensitive antenna related to what our systems toss out into the listening space, and extensive vocabulary to relate those observations in meaningful terms to ourselves, and others.

- music lover: a profound appreciation for those with the ability to arrange sounds in various forms to create strong emotional responses to the listener.

The combination all three in balance is the perfect storm of equipment/music appreciation. Some element of all three are required, IMHO, to be "tall enough to ride the ride" here, but some preferences may point to one element as a higher priority vs the others. That emphasis doesn’t make it right or wrong. It just makes it you.

I also think it’s system dependent, whereby "secondary" systems (office, patio, boathouse, etc) may need to meet a certain "standard" to get the job done and pretty much set in place after initial installation. Our "reference systems" may fall under greater scrutiny whereby the sonic standard is set much higher. Thus the need for more critical evaluation and contemplation of alternative solutions to our present gear.


@audiodwebe   Much in the same way that people find pleasure in buying things, is it possible you are having the same effect through the changing of your equipment?  From an article on the psychology of shopping: 

Dopamine increases your desire to continue to seek out things that make you feel good (hence retail therapy being a favourite go-to!)

“Some think the dopamine is released when you actually get a reward or purchase an item, but it begins before you make a purchase as you’re delighting in all the possibilities,” he says. “It’s about the whole journey.” 

While you are not buying anything, you are still getting something new with the change in your system?  Just something to ponder.  Cheers.

Many things can become an addiction taken to an e extreme. Looking for the next “high” to try to momentarily satisfy the urge. As long as the need for the funds for the hifi gear doesn’t force you to do bad things, cool. It can be a nice source for good quality stuff on the used market too. 

During my youth I got the hifi bug. Buying, building and trading my way to a decent system. Then came my working years and I didn’t have the time to enjoy hifi anywhere near as much. Well now I am retired and I have rebuilt my system twice in the last couple of years and for some reason, I don’t feel as if I’m done yet.😀

There are many factors to consider including age, health issues, hearing capabilities, finances, time, etc. Then there are responsibilities and commitments. So based on these and many other factors audio can be a hobby some and for others it can be the only meaningful thing in life. There is no right or wrong here, just that some are very fortunate to be able to spend and keep "improving" their hifi audio reproduction. Others are fortunate enough to put a system together within their means and commitments.

It is difficult to say there is something inherretly wrong with the desire to change equipment as opposed to those who have put together their dream system don't see the need to change any further. In the end we all get to enjoy what we can afford.

@deep_333 Agreed. I think you reach a point where, you become so used to a particular sound that the thrill is diminished. That's when you begin thinking about changing it up again.

I run my system as a "playback studio" that enables me to change it up 9 different ways from Sunday, to borrow an old cliche. This way I can alter the presentation in any way I like electronically, instead of swapping equipment around. The only equipment changes I've made in the past several years was to replace failed or failing components.

Case in point of what I do:  I just swapped out my system (amp, pre, speakers) last weekend because I wanted to put my Spatial M3 TM in.  I also wanted a flea watt amp and a tubed pre.  So out came the James Burgess 2A3/45 amp and the Calypso pre.

I’ve not optimized speaker placement yet but they sound wonderful where they’re now situated.  The thing I like about this setup is how even at low volumes it sounds really full.

But anyhoo, I have a pair of speakers (Acoustic Technologies Classic One) that I have a somewhat love/hate relationship with.  These are my first single driver speakers I’ve ever owned and when placed correctly in a room are rather amazing.  Three inch drivers that disappear and fill the room with sound…mind blowing.  But they tend to be picky about associated gear and especially placement.  

So since I removed all the extra amps sitting on the floor when I put the Spatials in, and there’s room to do the speaker dance with the Classic Ones, I’m thinking of putting them in to see if I can get them to sound as they’re able.  Of course I’ll have to switch the amp and maybe the pre out again.  

This is what I mean by a desire to constantly change gear.  I can never leave good enough alone.

I think for me I “wonder” how a certain speaker will sound in my current room since not all my speakers have made their way into the system.  Or wonder how one of my speakers will sound with whichever amp is currently supplying the juice.


Most of the times if we are bored by the music/sound of our system room it is because we had not reach the optimal way to install or as i say embed the system rightfully in his three working dimensions.

The only exception is bad design of some gear pieces or bad synergy...

No system with synergy well embedded acoustically at any price can be boring ...Music well done acoustically dont bore and we forgot the system it become immersive . A bad system for many reasons can bore.

My thrill come from music with immersive sound. My thrill is not changing the gear. 😊 The only source of boredom cannot be music it is a lack in one or all system working dimensions or a lack of gear synergy.

This lacks can manifest in 2 ways : frustration when the lack is evident as a defect  or boredom when the lack is not located or identified as such by the owner  nor evident ...

I think you reach a point where, you become so used to a particular sound that the thrill is diminished. That’s when you begin thinking about changing it up again.




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I liked waytoomuchstuff's classification.  I consider myself to include all three, with less of the hobbyist component than the other two.  I suppose if either of the first two factors outweigh the third in a listener, that would lead to continual changing of gear.
I suppose if I had extra gear as good as what's in my main system, I might be inclined to swap things occasionally.  But I don't, and it would be a big undertaking. I'd rather just enjoy my system, which is quite satisfactory as it is.  I could certainly see an audiophile having a pair of speakers that is best for chamber music and another that is best for rock, and swapping those, which would perhaps call for changing the amps as well to best match the speakers.
I suspect that sort of gear-swapping is different from buying new gear, which involves the dopamine excitement that bigtwin correctly mentioned.  I get that effect myself from buying music-making gear;  I suppose if I wasn't a musician, maybe I would spend the money on new audio-reproduction gear instead.
For me, after assembling a musically-satisfying system, I don't get bored with its sound, but I seek to listen to different music.  I would get bored if I couldn't find new music to sample.  Streaming and a few radio programs are very helpful for that.
That’s like saying "just drive the car" and don’t worry about the lack of comfort or performance or "just go to sleep" and don't worry about the discomfort of the bed or the broken air conditioner making the room 90 degrees!


Do you have difficulty comprehending English?

Here is part of OP's original post:

I find myself swapping out gear constantly.  And it's not because anything sounds bad.  Quite contrary, really.

After most swapping sessions, I'm generally really satisfied and quite enjoy the sound quality.  But within a few weeks I'm swapping stuff out again.

He stated that he is happy with the purchase and even likes it. So your car, bed or air-conditioner analogy are completely useless.

OP is asking:

What would be the diagnosis for my condition?

OP knows that he has a problem. It is just his nature that he needs constant change. If you can provide some valuable suggestions, those would be helpful to the OP. Look before you leap.