For a while now I've been thinking of upgrading my current lo-fi (for the standards of this place) setup composed by an Asus Xonar Essence STX and a pair of Sennheiser HD 595.
Being the methodical person I am, before venturing in a blind purchase (since I don't have the opportunity to try most hi-fi gear) I started to read as much as I could.
I've always lurked here from time to time, though I never stayed more than a few tens of minutes at a time so I never had the possibility of forming a concrete opinion of the place.
But this time I'm spending hours, every day for days, reading through all the forums. At first I just stayed in the main ones for headphones, amps, etc, in my naivety taking notes of interesting gear and asking questions related to it without really understanding everything that was said, accepting that tube amps just sound "better" even though they often color the sound and are not faithful to the source (wait a minute, doesn't the "fi" in head/hi-fi stand for fidelity?), reading conflicting opinions about various vague parameters without any solid measurable base, and so on.
With time, I noticed there was a minority of people who WANTED proof. Scientific proof. Also they usually preferred a transparent sound to an altered one.
That's good, I love science. And a clear and transparent sound, that's what I'd pay for.
Tracing back where the people from said faction came from I found out that they had their own ghetto.
I've spent the last two days there (that is, here) reading through a number of threads and revising my opinions. Now I'm uncertain I even want to upgrade.
I was ready to throw a little more than €1000 in a number of setups, the last one being a pair of Sennheiser HD 800 and maybe an Audio-gd ES9018 DAC/Amp combo for the maximum transparency achievable with what I wanted to spend, but it's even worth it?
I mean, I'm a strong believer in the placebo effect. A voice in the back of my head keeps whispering that if it costs more, if so many people hear the difference, it must be true. Fortunately though, that's not the voice that's in control of my money. That's the job of the voice of the reason who stays in the cockpit, and he doesn't like very much to waste money. He'd probably be glad to make the voice in the back happy to hear the little improvement, that is, if he had enough money that such a little improvement would be enormous compared to the little money he spent. Unfortunately placebo is one of the most expensive commodities.
The core question is: would the upgrade that I have in mind constitute such an improvement as it was switching from a pair of €15 earbuds and onboard audio to my current setup? Because if that's not the case, I'd better use my savings for something more useful.