When in 1974 I read Ivor Tiefenbrun’s philosophy of the hierarchy of a hi-fi system being that the first component in the chain is the most important, the second is the second most important, etc. etc. etc., I knew he was full of sh*t. OF COURSE the second can only reproduce the signal it receives from the first (garbage in/garbage out), but there’s more to it than that simplistic, obvious fact. One astute UK reviewer (Ken Kessler?) mockingly proposed a system composed of a Linn table/arm/cartridge, Naim pre-amp and power amp, and a string leading to a pair of tin cans for speakers. Get it? ;-)
Pickups/cartridges and loudspeakers---being transducers---are FAR more variable in sound than are, for instance, pre-amps. And loudspeakers sound RADICALLY different from one another. Power amps? Not nearly as much. Choosing your loudspeaker first, and then finding a good power amp to drive them, is obviously the correct (okay, best) way to assemble a system. To do the opposite is just ridiculous. IMO, of course. ;-)
Recording engineers choose their microphones for each mic’s particular sound characteristics. And what is a microphone? Why it’s a transducer, of course (mics operates in exactly the opposite way as do pickups/cartridges). If you think the engineer’s mixing console (electronics) is more responsible for the sound of his recordings than are his microphones, may I respectfully suggest that you don’t know sh*t? No offense intended.