Hello and welcome to another edition of Bus Ride Impression! I have had several reviews tucked on me trusty belt and I thought of veering away just for the mean time from such as I cook more for the next episodes.

Allow me to speak today about the pressing (and burning) issue about gear budget. You see, a lot of us have our own dream gears or setup (Who doesn’t?!?!) But the problem is that thing that always get in the way: budget. As far as I am concerned, we are only limited by the depth of our pockets (some would say the limit is whether our wives or partners would agree, but that is an entirely different thing) and true enough, it sure is.

However, lack of such doesn’t mean we can’t get ourselves enjoy a terribly good set up. It is a matter of how we content ourselves with the set up we can attain, and knowing our depths.

Which brings to mind, how do we maximize our spending potentials? Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

Preference. What kind of sound do we really want? That’s an emphasis on WE. The problem I notice as of late is the lack of intent to find our own sound sig. Oftentimes, with the influx of enthusiasts, we miss the point of knowing how we want our gear to sound like. Some are easily dictated by a hype that blasted the market’s door just because, well, it is the hype. That is so not right. Just because Chord Mojo is touted to be the best entry level DAC means you should have it. You should know if it matches your preference. I am not saying Mojo is just all-hype, but then again if it doesn’t match your preference, you will end up trying to like the gear and letting it grow on you rather than actually liking it off the bat.

Synergy. Alright, you did like the Audiotechnica IM70. Great! You went to a shop to grab one and tried it with your dear Lotoo Paw 5000. Suddenly, the sound you got wasn’t as appealing as you expected it. Then you recalled that you only tried it with your Samsung S7. Not all gears work in perfect synergy together. Consider this seriously lest you allow yourself to be hammered in the head for making the decision. Fact is, this should be one of the major considerations.

Purpose. In the current environment of the hobby nowadays, this can come into play on a more serious note. I have seen more gear coming out for different purposes, one has to consider what is the path the enthusiast is planning to take. Some would go full portable wherein they would prefer a lighter set up while some would opt for a desktop setup for a more stationary setup. Some would even prefer to go transportable where it seems to be a bit of a mix of both. Whichever the purpose is, I think it is wise to consider this when acquiring gears. Are you planning to just use the set up on the road and shy away from enhancements such as amplifiers or DACs? If you are planning for a desktop setup, what digital output options (coaxial, optical, USB) should your ideal DAP have?

Budget. This is a strong argument in the hobby scene nowadays. Some maybe blessed to have the budget to work around with, having the privilege of the capability of getting gears of higher value. But for some, it is not as easy. And this is where critical decision making should come. Should you go ahead and grab a gear because it sounded okay to good just so we have a new gear? Should you save more? Is the gear worth getting compared to a more expensive gear considering the incremental advantage? How incremental is incremental? I have witnessed first hand some people who purchased gears just because they looked complex and “cool”. That’s good if all considerations are taken. However if it was bought just to look cool, then you are in the wrong hobby. You are in this hobby because you wanted a great sound, not to look “awesome”.

At the end of it all, it is a matter of knowing whether you are happy with the purchase. Did it really hit the goal of pleasing you with excellent sound of your music? It should, otherwise you just fell prey to one of the biggest fault in the hobby, vanity.

What are your thoughts?

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