Speakers Don’t Matter As Much As We Think They Do?

When discussing how best to invest money into your system, it’s very common to hear people say, “Spend as much as you can afford on speakers, and then worry about the other gear because speakers have the largest effect on the sound.”

Now it’s never a bad idea to have good speakers and while I somewhat followed that advice early on, as my system has evolved it seems that I am not currently following that advice, and yet I am getting absolutely fantastic sound. For example as a percentage of my total system cost, my speakers cost 15%. If you include the subwoofers, that price is about 35%.

Early on I was worried I would outgrow my speakers and I’d hit their limit which would restrict sonic improvement potential as I upgraded other gear but that hasn’t been the case. With each component upgrade, things keep sounding better and better. The upper limit to speakers’ potential seems to be a lot higher than previously thought as I continue to improve upon the signal I send them and continue to improve system synergy. If you send a really high quality signal to a pair of speakers and get synergy right, they will reward you in spades and punch well above their apparent weight class.

One thing that may be working in my favor is that I’ve had these speakers since the early days of building my system so literally everything down to the last cable has been tuned to work in synergy with these speakers. Had I upgraded my speakers mid way through, I would have undone a lot of the work that went into the system in terms of synergy.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with their speakers? Does anyone have any extreme percentages in terms of speaker cost to system cost like 5% or 95% and what has been your experience?


Just reacting to an old thread I guess.

I had to start from scratch 4 years ago and chose the speakers first: Fyne 502 based purely on reviews/music preferences/room. Today they represent 12,5% of total investment. By far costlier is the power amp, at a whopping 50%.

I believe that I have achieved a state of the art system, anno 2003 (o; at much less than half of original asking price. It sounds ok for my music/room/ears

Just my thought on your post. I do think speakers are the most important element in a system. Drivers especially.

Transducers are the only devices that change energy from one form to another.  Most home systems have two of these, speakers and phono cartridges. Loudspeaker/cartridge making requires understanding a full array of disciplines including materials science, magnetics, acoustics and electronics.  A true physics puzzle.  Designing/building a quantity of "A level" speakers is not something one takes on casually.  The cost of manufacturing everything yourself is so high that few can do it.  Most transducer makers today are kit builders, focusing on something the end user values beyond sonic virtue (like cosmetics).   There are bargains (where value is far greater than cost) at all levels of the business, from inexpensive to expensive.  These bargains always punch above their weight with any set of electronics, achieving extreme performance levels only when everything in the chain is extremely good.


Danny of GR Research fame has a YouTube channel, in which he upgrades lots of speaker XOs. It is amazing how poor the XOs are of many of the well known speaker companies. He offers upgrade kits as well as his own speaker designs

It's not just a matter of louder volume or bass: big speakers just sound better than little ones. When it comes to speakers, size does matter. Big speakers clobber little ones in two ways: they can play louder and make more bass.