what is more important ?

Hiya ,

Just wanted some views/opinions on what is the most important piece of equipment in the reproduction of sound/music.

I know and have heard that the dimensions of the room has the biggest impact but what about the speakers, amplification, and source... which one would give the biggest sonic differences(for better or worst) if replaced ?
If my current system needs upgrading which part of the chain should I focus on first to get the best 'bang for my bucks' ?

Cheers all

This question has been debated in a number of prior threads, and as might be expected there has been no consensus. Here is one of several prior threads in which this question was discussed:


Following is my answer as stated in that thread:

Do not expect any consensus among the answers which will be provided, or among the answers that have been provided about similar questions that were asked in the past.

Some will say the source is most important, because its shortcomings cannot be compensated for by any of the downstream components. I dispute that rationale, for two reasons:

1)That logic ignores the DEGREE to which different types of components may have shortcomings.

2)The source can’t compensate for the shortcomings of the downstream components either.

Some will say the speakers, because in general they (and their interaction with the room) arguably make the biggest difference in the character of the sound that is heard.

Others will say the preamp, contending that it is "the heart of the system."

My own answer, expressed in general terms, is that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, wherever that link may happen to be located in a particular system.

And more specifically my own perspective leans in the direction of "speakers first," but to a greater or lesser degree depending on how "important" is defined (especially the degree to which price is reflected in that definition); and depending on whether the source is analog or digital; and depending on the degree to which the particular listener values deep bass extension and the ability of the system to handle recordings having particularly wide dynamic range.

Regarding the last sentence of that post, keep in mind that for a given level of quality differences in deep bass extension and maximum volume capability can dramatically affect the cost (and size) of a speaker. And the importance of deep bass extension and maximum volume capability will vary widely among different listeners.

The bottom line, IMO, is that there is no general purpose answer. The specifics of a particular system, as well as listener preferences, have to be considered on an individual basis.

-- Al
Great post, Al. How many standard deviations of degrees is that? : )
thanks for your reply... so much to consider with no real shortcuts to obtaining the best possible system, this hobby can be so enjoyable and frustrating at the same time