What is the most important component in your system.

To me it is my ARC Ref 6 preamp. I have used a few other preamps, ML38s , ARC Ref 5se,  with my current system and none has taking me closer to music then my ARC Ref 6 preamp. Years ago I always thought it was my B&W 800 Matrix speakers and then my Krell FBB amp. But found out that to get the best sound from my 800s it is a preamp..Years ago i never knew how important a good preamp was in reproducing music. And sure everything adds up ,like interconnects , power cables , speaker cables, platforms and all those tweaks that we use and try. Now i not saying that i was never happy with my 800s and Krell or even my ML 38s. But adding my current preamp really makes my other components bring out their best. 
Fe4d73f6 d933 4e14 bf9d 11c7dba6cc11tattooedtrackman
It has to be my Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe preamp, it sets the stage for everything else. I have always felt that the preamp, which ever one you settle on is the most important piece of the puzzle, get it right and things start to fall into place.
My Maggie 3.6's
Speakers contribute 70% of the sound you here. Maybe more
@tooblue .....That is the way i feel too.... But ahendler Alan , has a point too !!  
In my estimation speakers should be a clear unveiled window to the upstream components, granted you want a pair that meet your hearing needs but the truth is the best pair of speakers in the world for anyone person can only pass on the attributes or short comings of the components before them. Trash in trash out.
My position re. ’most important’ is further upstream. Power, power supplies, power conditioners and the supplying cables, connectors etc.

Reaffirmed once again (this past weekend) by a different approach: with an on the grid vs. an off the grid demonstration. Quite something. Immediately and easily heard and distinguishable with performance/SQ improvements across the board. Grid vs. Solar panel > Battery > Inverter, etc.

A shout out to Richard Gray for the fantastic and illustrative demo.
My cables !!! - without them nothing would work :-)

Seriously - my cables are still the most important component.
- they allow the components to work as designed
- extract EVERY ounce of performance from each component
- they are responsible for the superb imaging I enjoy
- they are responsible for the incredibly fast dynamics
- they are responsible for the crystal clear sound

Yes - I'm "one of those guys"

I started thinking of them as a "component" about 2 years ago after some serious auditioning.

Regards - Steve
I also predict all the ’links’ will be highlighted as ’most important’ by each member posting, which is another way of saying that it’s all important and that everything matters.
Post removed 
The Magico  speakers and everything else as well

Usually different opinions on questions like this. I've always said the source component and I could bring over my 8 track player with some tapes to show you how bad your system could sound.

Post removed 
@elizabeth .... Nice response.....And i agree whole heart.... Also its very interesting to see what everyone else thinks and says.
I just rediscovered the joy of a well recorded SACD. That, leads me to believes that once the whole system is dialed in, that "single" component belief is made irrelevant. 

It's now down to the source. There are still gems hidden in those pits and grooves, if recorded correctly.

All the best,
The one I just bought 
I think that for me the most important thing isn't a physical component, but the mental experience gathered over the years through experience that helps you to blend the separate parts together with some kind of skill as well as a little intuition to get a good result.
Roxy54, you nailed it. The mind that creates the rig is the most important by far. How many rigs are held back by lack of will to hear better, the resolve to get it at all reasonable costs, and the passion to not quit until achieved!

As to the equipment, it's fairly a waste to prioritize as all elements of a system are critical. If you can't see that, you'll always have mediocre sound.
My big squishy sofa.
Without that I would never get comfortable and would not enjoy anything so all the rest would be for naught!
Post removed 
A cold Beer...preferably an IPA
My amp. Just like the engine is the most important part of my car.
While I’ve learned that a preamp can make or break a system, I am reluctant to say any one component is most important. I do think the key is a well balanced system. 
It all starts and stops with power per channel for me. My AudioControl Pantages 230W x 5 amp is the heart of my system and the Sunfire Theater Grand TGP-5 Processor is the brains so I guess the lungs of my system are my Athena AS-F2s L/R mains (a), psb500s L/R mains (b), EMP es1010i sub, B&W V201s L/R front highs, Martin Logan Vignette Center, Jamo 7.4s surround and finally Boston Acoustics a100s surround back. Yeah I know no timber matching happening but I’d employ anyone to sit and tell me they can hear that they don’t match. The sunfire does a great job of calibrating everything.
Definitely my First sound upgraded-to-the-hilt(Deuland caps, Vishay resistors) pre amp. Less is usually more in the signal path as, no doubt, everything adds color and /or a characteristic to the sound and is usually a negative but in this instance this pre amp  definitely contributes an overall improvement to the sound.
That said, everything makes a difference and of course some components and cords and tweaks more that others and only thru trial and error can you know what's doing what to the sound. And finally, what components, ICs , power cords, power conditioners,etc  you match together is of great importance. After 15 years buying and selling components, etc I finally got the sound I wanted. When i decided to put together a dedicated head phone set, it came together in a matter of weeks as I simply "copied" what I had done on the big system. To save yourself a lot of time and money, listen to as many systems as you can, find the one that pleases you the most, and get the same equipment. Of course you might tire it after a year or 2 and follow the upgrade path and find yourself impoverished ,alone and drinking. I suggest the best alcohol you can afford. Or forego a couple of bottles of top shelf scotch for a month  and put a Synergistic Blue fuse in you amp, Transport of DAC or do with out for a couple of months and install a Furutech NCF outlet in the wall. Happy listening and /or drinking!

For me, it has been maintaining the patience to try to hear a component before buying it.

This has led me to Thiel CS5's from Maggie 3.6's, Dialogue Premium preamp from W4S STP, and Hegel HD25 DAC from Oppo 105 from Audiospace CD8.

My upgrades have been appreciable improvements in sound for me, so I have not gotten around to exploring interconnects beyond Cullen Cable.

I think power cords are a minor impact, if any, based on trying several different ones. Luckily, I could audition for free and avoid cost.

My opinion is that speaker cables are close to nonsense unless one possibly has long runs. I use thicker than lamp cord wire and could not be happier. Google speaker wire and Roger Russell to learn how I got to my opinion on this subject.

Thanks for listening!

" Google speaker wire and Roger Russell to learn how I got to my opinion on this subject" I think I'll pass on that, I already have my own opinion. 
Speakers. It's always speakers. Always.
The quality of the recording.  But that's out of your hands.

The most important stuff in your control:  Your speakers and your room.

Dear @tattooedtrackman: Most important component in an audio system?

well all system links in the audio chain are important starting with the room but each one of us are a " component " too of that home audio system and with out any doubt we are the more important " component " and not only because ours ears and sensivity to the sound but what determines the quality performance level of our system are two main and critical audiophiles characteristics that are: each one MUSIC knowledge level ( live music. ) that means to know how MUSIC sounds how single instrument performs. The other characteristic is each one audio knowledge levels.

Both characteristics dictates our audio items choicing/alternatives to build and up-date that home room/audio system.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
I agree with @secretguy - Speakers
The optimal placement and positioning of the speakers in the listening environment, allowing them to pressurize the volume of air in the room and your ears as natural sounds do in life. Doing this reveals the emotional connection to the music better than any combination of equipment and wire possibly can. 
Agree with hifibouncer, proper speaker placement allows you to properly here the components. 

Of of course all the components in the chain must act togeather including proper cabling both ic , sc and more importantly pc.

For me, it’s clearly room acoustics. Everything else is for naught without a decent room. 
I'd like to contradict myself and now say it's my integrated (or amp).
My Kinki Studio EX-M1 has completely changed the way I see, and hear, things. A game changer for sure.

All the best,
Post removed 
@elizabeth ....... Did something happen to one of your components? 


which component?  Happy Listening!

Absolutely! williewonka

I am one of your kind as well. I thought that you looked familiar.

Happy Listening!

Source components. QUALITY 101 trouble shooting starts at the source. If its not too notch then it cannot be corrected or manipulated downstream. You can't make a signal better. (With the exception of tube buffers) but thats another subject. Everything is important. Here is 2 scenarios. You have some 10k speakers with a $300 Turntable. Or a 10k turntable with a $300 pair of speakers. Which system do you think will sound better everything else being the same. I think the source is my favorite component 
I have a newer pair of large OHM Walsh speakers with 12" main driver I am digging as I type.  They would be very hard to replace so those I guess.
I have to say the speakers because to me they have the sound starts your journey toward the sound you like. But Liz has a great point not to be overlooked. Total system synergy from cables to source to pre/amp/integrated.
Mapman. Did you get the powered subwoofer OHMS?
No still the same F5s and content as a cat.  Newer than many but not the newest.  

Post removed 
For me the it's my source components. The better quality the source, the more likely I am to truly get lost in the music.
@elizabeth ....... You said...... Who would have thought the outlet could change the sound so much.....I totally agree... Why dont you go into more detail about it in the { Changing Receptacles } I totally agree.... You are using the Furutech Gold and i am using the Rhodium. I would love to hear an in depth review from you...