Underspent on speakers relative to overall system?

I’m sure this has been discussed many times in the past, but was curious about where your systems sits in this breakdown? I am wondering if I underspent on my speakers relative to my overall system. My current, just recently completed system by percentage looks like this:


31% - SOURCE – PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream DAC/BRIDGE II & Roon library management

27% - SPEAKERS – Monitor Audio Platinum PL100’s & REL Storm subwoofer


16% - AMPLIFICATION – PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated


16% - POWER CONDITIONING– PS Audio Power Plant Premier & Panamax MAX® 5300-EX Power Conditioner


6% - CABLES - DH Labs Silver Sonic speaker cables & interconnects, and Pangea power cords



Not sure if there are "standard" guidelines of ranges of how much by percentage you should spend in each category.

Look forward to your responses!



there is a very recent, very long thread on this...absolutely no consensus...though your system seems to fit into the non-existent normal range
I don’t think there is a standard recipe putting a system together. If you enjoy it and it gets your toes tappin’ then it doesn’t really matter what the price is on each unit! BTW, the speakers that I use now I like better than others that I’ve had at three times the price. It's all about system synergy more than cost!
+1 yogiboy. I think he hit the nail on the head. Of course, for a great many audiophiles the need and lust to keep changing gear will always exist. I don't ever think spending more $$$ always gets you better sound. HoGwAsH!!! I looked at your components, they are a very nice choice.  If you really have the bug, audition a bunch of speakers, if your luv a particular selection ask to try "in home" alongside your MA. If you decide they are better, sell the MA speakers. Just an idea.
My rule of thumb: Spend equally on each major component. Example: A=$5000. Amp=A, Pre=A, Integrated=A(1.5), Speakers=A(2), Source=A, Cables+Room Treatment=A, etc.
Hi OP!

I have lost all faith in money being a determining factor of anything when it comes to sound quality.  My goal is not to drink $300 bottle of wine but to find a $30 bottle I love.

MA speakers are outstanding technical achievements especially for their price points and if you like them (two different things) there is zero reason to spend more.

The place I would spend money on next is room acoustics.


Even a dirt cheap Chromecast Audio is a bitperfect perfect source, and the electronics further down the chain need not be that expensive either. See here for a test using an Audio Precision test bench of the 2x350 watt Yamaha P3500s power amp that until recently sold for some 400-500 euro and that beats many audiophile amplifiers, not just in price. http://www.homecinema-fr.com/forum/amplificateurs-de-puissance-haute-fidelite/mesures-ampli-yamaha-p...
It would be wrong to suggest that any amplifier will do - it is important to have a truly powerful amplifier (such as that Yamaha) to reproduce dynamic peaks. Fancy cables and power conditioners are a waste of money as every physicist can tell you. And every economist can tell you why they are pushed so hard.
The real difference is made by the speakers. They produce the sound, and they are the measurably weakest link. Just look at the frequency response and distortion figures for speakers as compared to electronics. Speakers are the hardest link to get right, and are also the most expensive link to manufacture.
As a percentage of total spending, I think you under spent on loudspeakers and room acoustics.  From my experience sound quality is primarily about two things.  Loudspeakers and the room in which they are played.

Guess I'm curious as to why you are asking the question? Are you not extremely happy with the sound or are you somewhat underwhelmed?

Just a curious, analytical mind. I think it's the engineer in me being trained in mechanics. You are always trying to quantify things in a tangible way, even when they are intangibles. I remember seeing something about percentage of spending in different areas, but wanted to get the read on what this community thought. Having just recently caught the bug again after about a decade of being away from these things, and knowing how digital has changed so much, was wondering what people here thought. Thanks, Sam
Don't overthink it. Life is hard enough as is. If your system sounds good to you, that's all that counts. 
+2 yogiboy, very well said.

OP, if your 27% speakers is under-spending, then my 9% speakers are REALLY under-spending. However, works fine for me.

Just like yogiboy, the speakers I have now I prefer to other speakers that I've owned that were 2.5 times the price.
I have 3 pair of great sounding vintage speakers. All 3 combined cost me half of what I paid for my CD player/DAC and half of what I paid for my integrated amp. If you're happy with the sound, it doesn't matter what each category of component cost relative to the other.


I'm with you. I've heard very good electronics make vintage speakers sing.
I bought my current speakers used 18 years ago for $500. Then I bought used speaker cables for them for $550. And as it stands now cost of speakers is around 6%-7%. Not that I cannot afford better speakers, I cannot afford much better speakers, and until I can things are going to be as they are. Just got power cord for the integrated amp that cost more new than the amp, both were bought used of course for $650 and $750 respectively. Nice impovement compared to $800 new cord that I had before. Purist Dominus Ferox replaced Custom Power Cord Company Top Gun. Despite looking wild on paper, the entire system is quite balanced, needs one better interconnect and one more better power cord. After that - nothing until I am ready for new speakers. And then it's all over again, but I am sure the Dominus and Neptune interconnects will stay, as will Nottingham Spacedeck. Arm, cartridge and phono stage will most likely be replaced along with the amp and speaker cables.
Inna said: 

"Not that I cannot afford better speakers, I cannot afford much better speakers, and until I can things are going to be as they are."

I'm guessing I'm operating at a lower price-tier than Inna, but I'm in the same boat. 

'Still using Sound Dynamics RTS-9's that I bought from AudioAdvisor about 17 years ago.  I love their sound, and I think I would have to pay significantly more than the $800 I spent on them for an improvement worth the cost - and I look every week on Audiogon for the opportunity!

Yes your speakers are a very weak link. Lots of distortion and can’t even play at 90 dB SPL without compression and the deviation from linearity plots look absolutely awful at 95 dB SPL. Also that nasty peak just above 2KHz screams that something is very badly wrong with this design. I would steer clear of Monitor Audio in future.

Best get rid of them as soon as you can. As an engineer these terrible measurements should be quite easy to understand. THD + N a mere 30 dB down in the mid range is appalling (my speakers THD+N are -70 dB SPL which is a target you should at least aim for within your budget constraints).


Speakers are the most important part of your setup - even with astronomical expenditures on the speakers and your audio room - the room and speakers will likely remain the weakest link in any setup.
So don't waste money on voodoo science cables, and invest in serious speakers.
The biggest potential problem I see with your system is the amplifier and speaker match. They don't exactly seem tube friendly from the specs. Ever tried a warmish ss amp with them? I know many disagree but SS amp and tube preamp I find is a great compromise for me. 
The speakers that I have are Michael Green Audio free resonance speakers. They sound different with their advantages and disadvantages, they also require very tight control by an amp. Replacement will not be easy.
"shadorne": not sure if you are kidding or serious (?). Still very much a newbie here.

"mofojo": how does one determine if speakers are "tube friendly"?

thanks, Sam
IMO tube friendly speakers are fairly high efficiency and have a fairly flat impedance curve. The flat impedance is more important IMO. The PL100 has lowish efficiency and lowish non flat impedance.  
I'm with Erik (love the spelling---very Nordic!); as there is no correlation between price and over-all sound quality in speakers, the question cannot be answered.
Even if there was an ideal ratio at one price point there's no reason to think it'd hold at another one.  The points of diminishing returns for various types of components aren't going to all be in the same ballpark.  People will fight about what they are like everything else but I'd say the point of diminishing returns for speakers can be much higher than for other components.  It's not to say that speakers get better as

In my opinion, the most important things are the speakers and how they interact with the room.  Second is having enough power.  Source, preamp and amplifier quality are all factors but considerably less significant to the overall sound.  I find differences in cables to generally be below my threshold of interest.  The thing that a lot of people ignore is the room and that makes a far bigger difference than cables or electronics in most cases. 
I don't think you can use cost %. All I know is I had two different pairs of speaker monitors on stands, one pair with a sub woofer. I was not satisfied until I moved to floor standing speakers Proac DR30.
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With all due respect, I think you are over-thinking the whole matter.  You have a great system just enjoy the music.   Regardless of your speakers, a better front end is alway a good thing, as I found out when I got a Pass Labs First Watt F5 amp in place of my already excellent amp.  Let you pocketbook be your guide. 
Let your hearing be your guide as anything else is kind of silly, especially in audio, and certainly in the "previously owned" market where patience is rewarded. 

You have not underspent on speakers if you really like the speakers...that is all that matters.
Still, eventually there comes a time when if you want a jump in performance you have no choice but to replace your treasured speakers, and often even used this will cost. 
A couple of things to keep in mind if you are serious about getting advice. First off, many, many people here really enjoy spending your money and telling you, in a matter of fact kind of way, what to get, what to sell and what to gift away to Aunt Susie. Secondly, these are all opinions because this is an audio hi-fi forum and it's where you can get advice. You make up your mind after looking at all the suggestions and comments. I would not ever consider opinions as matters of fact.
I have the same amp. You have lots of speaker options. Don't let the wpc fool you, there is a lot of current there. I succesfully drive a set of Maggies combined with a PSB subwoofer with that amp. Good advice your getting let your ears be your guide. System synergy is a mighty thing. :)
Thanks, "icanskate", good to know the PL HP has that flexibility. The "system synergy" seems to be the consistent message around these parts. Sam