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

OP here is our advice after 30 years of professional experience.

First of all everything matters, the electronics, the source, the speakers, the room acoustics, cabling, power etc.

However, you need to first select the loudspeaker which best fits your room and personal tastes. Big room big speakers, small room small speakers, the larger the room the more bass response you need as the room size will offer less reinforcement of the lower frequencies.

Also the speakers are a piece of furniture so the look of the speakers and the amount of bass, how loud they play and overal efficiency and sonic requirements will determine the rest of the chain.

For example if you have a 101db horn speaker you don’t need a 300 watt solid state amplifier, a 10 watt tube amp or first watt type of amp will do great. also certain loudspeakers requre current so a big solid state amplifier is required.

So speakers will determine the amount and type of amplifier

Then you select the best sounding sonically compatible analog or digital source. Some dacs or CD players may use tubes and sound lush or others will bring out detail.

Then once the system is setup you will use natural devices, and speaker positioning to tune the room, and then finally adding absorbing panels for slap echo, or diffusion panels or combinations of both to help balance out the room.

In your case you must evaluate what your weak link is and tackle that first.

When I was starting bulding my first true high end system in my 20’s it was a pair of Quad ESL 63 and I didn’t have the money for better electronics, so here were a pair of $3k loudspeakers this was 1985, those same speakers are $10k now, being driven by an Aiwa mini system did the Quads sound better than the Heil AMT 1D’s loudspeakers they replaced, yes they did.

Over time came better electronics a Hafler DH 200, and an old PS Audio preamp, with an AR ES 1 table and a starter Dynevector phono cart, then came a Merrill Table with an Alphason tonearm and better cart.

It took 5 years to build that system and at the end it was matched and sounded fantastic.

The moral of the story is that good speakers are just a start, the better the electronics the more you get out of those speakers, and the better source uncovers greater detail and soundstaging.

So you have to start somewhere, so you look at your weakest link and then build out from there.

Dave owner
Audio Doctor NJ
Thanks for that buddy, I believe the weakest link in my system is the speakers which are causing me issues with inconsistencies whenever I play them i.e. they sound good one day and not so great the next..even the wife has made such comments. I am trying to get a good pair of speakers that will bring out the best in my system, I have been looking at the DynAudio and Q Accustics ranges, the DynAudio sound the best so far to my ears.

Cheers Buddy
I believe the weakest link in my system is the speakers which are causing me issues with inconsistencies whenever I play them i.e. they sound good one day and not so great the next.
That can't be the speakers, unless your moving them around, or they are Electrostatics with dynamic bass drivers, as the ESL's can be less efficient on very humid days compared to dry days and with a dynamic bass driver the whole speaker can sound bass heavy on humid days and visa versa on dry days.

If none of these apply to you then it's your electronic chain (source to amp/s) that is your problem.

Cheers George   
I started with speakers . Because everyone has something to hook to them. And sources can be half arsed while you get a feel for your room. Once you are convinced you are committed and can afford it . Get the best amplifier just above your budget , play with that a while and feel the G’s of having control of your speakers for the first time . then get a preamp you definitely cannot afford. And you are rockin. In that order.