What makes the biggest difference in sound quality?


When making changes or adding things to your system, what makes the bigger difference in sound quality on preamp‘s and power amps? Interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, or fuses?

128x128ted_denney

Typically there is a hierarchy of speakers, preamp, source, amp, cables, interconnects, power cords… but in any system they can get scrambled up depending on all sorts of things (components, room acoustics). But while there may be a hierarchy, they absolutely all matter. So I typically attack an upgrade in the order I show above.

speakers always most significant,, 

thats the majority vote

in my tube amps, I'd say the tube more than design/quality of trans

2A3 vs KT types

THen KT88 vs KT90

Then one brand 88 vs another (I did not care for Gold Lion) 

2A3 solid plates vs 2A3 perforated (aka mesh) plates. 

Seeing how many speakers are for sale, constantly never ending, I believe the speaker / room / listener situation is number one, and must be diligently addressed. And, if you do not have a dedicated music room ( I apologize to all that do not ), and had a living room for audio and social gatherings......lots of luck ( I am sorry, but this has been my experiences ). Merry Christmas to all, and be well.

Interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, or fuses?

for me, ic’s (i believe that is what the op asked)

i haven’t tried fuses (nor am i planning to)

IME: Everything matters. Here’s my priority.

1) power cords

2) digital cables

3) interconnects

4) speaker cable

Yet, it is essential to provide a foundation of clean power to any audio system - before the benefits of any category of cabling can be fully appreciated.

When the room and electrical is 50% of the sound, that leave gear, speakers and cabling. Good cabling and switching from one to another for me is horizontal more than vertical. A ground up approach, is working the best for me.

Electrical
Room
Gear / vibration control
Bass / cabling / vibration control
Mains / cabling / vibration control

Everything I use I settled on 35 yeas ago, I keep listening, nothing has changed my mind yet. I doubt anything will. I’m 67 years old my hearing isn’t going to get better. So what sounded good 10 years ago is going to sound worse not because the gear is better or worse, it’s MY hearing..

I have or can make anything I need because I sure couldn’t afford what I like, and only if it is even being made any more. The only thing I use that wears is surrounds on subs and woofers and valves. Everything else will literally outlast my grandkids. Small ribbons and planars.

The power tubes last 5-6000hrs and the signal valves last over 10,000. I have BR surrounds that are in great shape that are 50 years old.

Cables are right at 5-10% of the LAST bit of influence, but because I know what my speakers like, now .5% on a cable change is more likely after 35 years.
There is no super big anything changing in my sound room other than MY ability to hear AS GOOD as I did the day before.. :-) That’s holding at this time.. Thank God.

Merry Christmas and a safe as it needs be New Year.. No need to over do it.. :-)

Regards

Oldhvymec has it correct, electrical is the foundation and  without a proper foundation you will never hear what ur system is capable of .

Electrical
Room
Gear / vibration control
Bass / cabling / vibration control
Mains / cabling / vibration control

speakers and cartridge tend to make the most difference IME, but you reach a certain level where everything matters.  

I'm finding that the "level where everything matters" is as much a curse as a blessing. The Absolute Sound is like the Absolute Truth, doesn't exist, couldn't be found if it did, so the fun lies in the process of endless tweaking.

Drivers> Crossover>DAC>Source>Amplifiers>Cables>Room Treatment>Fuses/outlets.  

EVERYTHING matters. All of it, every part of the audio chain is critical.

 

Interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, or fuses?

 

None of the above.

Especially if you have Lead in your ears. 

The question was framed in such a manner so as to specifically not ask about hearing, auditory perceptions or any possible psycho-acoustic effects.

This was possibly accidental, of course.

#1 - the recording quality 

#2 - my mood and how tired I am 

#3 - proper speaker placement in room

#4 - great amp & speaker synergy 

#5 - cabling 

tsushima1603 posts 12-26-2021 3:31am Your thread isn’t working out quite as hoped aye Ted 😉

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

No it certainly is NOT

Look we’ve already had this discussion a million x’s.

 

Its already been established Speakers are EVERYTHING in a system. Not sure where all these dis/mis info posts are comming from,, I guess the old seasoned audiophiles have left this site and now we have a bunch of greenies who have no clue what makes/breaks a sound system.

#1 speakers.

#2 tube type/design pure SET vs SET/PP vs KT/PP ...KT88 vs KT90

#3 DAC quality(My Shanling 3000 sounds a tiny bit better vs the cayin 17, but the jadis DAC JS2 blows both away) vs lower end DAC/solid state DACs(cheap lil DACs that sell for $$$$), Sony cd players. .

#4 output trans quality. Coblat vs Z6 vs Z11

#5 pre tube types(AX/AU vs 6NS7 and brand (Teles vs RCA’s)

 

Room acoustics last and maybe least.

Wires/cabels, nuance, miniscule.

The question was framed in such a manner so as to specifically not ask about hearing, auditory perceptions or any possible psycho-acoustic effects.

This was possibly accidental, of course.
 

I also didn’t ask what people had for Christmas dinner.

For me, the updates that have had the biggest impacts to my preamp and amps were power cable for the preamp and speaker cable for the amps. The power cables  for my amps also made a difference, but not at the same level as the speaker cables. I recently added spring isolation to my amps and that added more depth. I think it helps since I use tube amps.  

I've found speakers > amps > source > isolation >  cables.. Within all this the poorest performing link will place limitations on the best. For example, a great interconnect will get murdered going through poor speaker cables. Trying to make sure it all matters is important, or at least keeping that in mind as you go as your building a system. Ted, can you explain some of this from your own experience?  

Interconnects- significant positive changes.

Speaker cables- less significant positive changes.

Fuses- no changes. 

Power cables- less significant negative changes.  

@bjesien 

Looms are key. Because speakers are sold in pairs, you don’t tend to find people using two different speakers. But you find people using electronics from multiple manufacturers, and cable stew. Ultimately you would want an amp and preamp from the same manufacturer, and definitely a full loom of Interconnects speaker cables digital cables power cords from the same manufacturer and loom. Back in the day when I would accompany my dealers to some of their biggest customers, to help set everything up, I was absolutely amazed by the poor performance from six-figure systems with a hodgepodge of cables purchased here and there on AudiogoN. Nothing destroys performance more, and anyone who tells you differently, does not know what they’re talking about. What I didn’t ask with this question was acoustics, which is number one.

Everything

Can't really get a more ignorant answer to the OP's question.

It's as if the word "or" is mystifying to someone using the language for decades.

I firmly believe that the right integrated  amp or amp / preamp combo is critical to get the most out of any speaker .    I've had a number of good speakers over the years but why did I tire of them?    Because my electronics were just good....  not great 

I think that's why you see so many speakers for sale .   I finally bought a kick ass preamplifier and honestly it sounded like I got new speakers.   It was profound.

I firmly believe the majority of audiophiles (or audiogoners) don’t read the content of the original post before offering their opinions.  

@nutella

I firmly believe the majority of audiophiles (or audiogoners) don’t read the content of the original post before offering their opinions.

i agree, it is amazing to me when people can evidently type, yet they cannot read...

in some ways it is a pointed commentary on many of the ills of our society in the present day - how people talk past each other, never making an effort to understand what is being asked, what is the exact question or concern being expressed

“ . . . and anyone who tells you differently, does not know what they’re talking about.”

 

What a great way to lose a customer.   (LOL).

 

My system is a hodgepodge.  I buy the cable that synerigizes best with each individual component.  

 

I have 2 Synergistic Research cables.  They both sound fantastic.

- SR Galileo UEF Digital AES/EBU

- SR Atmosphere Level 2 power cable w/the SX Black tuning bullet

 

- On my preamp, the Purist Audio Design power cord sounded better than the SR Atmosphere Level 2 power cord.   Digging even deeper, the Furutech NCF connectors sounded even better  on the PAD than the stock Wattgate 350i connectors that came with it.

- On my streamer, the SR Atmosphere sounded better than the PAD.  

- On my DAC, I use a Snake River Audio Cottonmouth power cord because it sounds better than either the SR or PAD.

 

Perhaps, I don’t know what I’m talking about.  (My better half has suggested that.)   But, I do listen to what my ears tell me.

@STEAKster! I was going to respond to your comments, then I saw your OFFENSIVE and 100% IGNORANT username! I am 36 years VEGETARIAN, now VEGAN. I am also a HERMIT because I REFUSE to support our SATANIC SLAUGHTERhouse society. I also KNOW that many of you on this type of forum trend towards NARCISSISM, and DO NOT CARE. I'm also an ex-hockey player who still trains regularly, NOT one of those WIMPY liberal, commie girly-men vegans. I could have chosen to IGNORE this, and kept QUIET, but my CONSCIENCE will not allow that. 

I'm with AC and room as foundation. Of choice Ted gave, power cable>speaker cable>digital/IC> fuse

The first five things are the room.  Everything else you listed comes after that.

Let me clarify a little.  There are people who train themselves to hear past the room and only hear the equipment.  That's an amazing feat of ear/brain effort.  For everyone else, the room is the biggest thing, then speakers, then amp, then whatever.

Speaking of speakers 😏, I think there is one aspect of speakers that is quite often overlooked and that is decoupling them from the floor. If they are isolated they won't transmit vibrations through the floor and color the sound. It worked for me.

@ Nickatnoon61, are you  tube or solid state vegan, anti satanic, possibly conservative hockey player audiophile? Great 1st post btw.

Another thread on track! 

 

Never known a Conservative Vegan, that plays Hockey.

 

I play Hockey and 3 nights a week and eat meat and love people.

I think @tubebuffer might also play Hockey, maybe i spelled puck..wrong….

We had Prime Rib and Ham last eve, no fowl…. Bit of Elk summer sausage on the appetizer tray paired well w Basil H. Rye.

Carry on !

Jim

I am a vegan trapped in a meat puppet Robot

When making changes or adding things to your system, what makes the bigger difference in sound quality on preamp‘s and power amps? Interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, or fuses?

Key phrase is 'making changes': save your money and just toe in or out your speakers a few degrees to achieve your desired effect.

To answer your specific question, in my system, of the items you listed, I believe power cords have the biggest impact on the sound quality of my amplification components.

Surely, new speakers and new cartridge made the hugest difference.

However, the most shocking and, by far, best bang for the buck was Townshend Podiums under my speakers. The character of the sound radically changed for the better. Shocking.

@nickatnoon61

I’m flattered to receive your very post on AudiogoN. Much to take in. Let me consult with Bobby Orr and Alain Passard about your observations.

During this holiday season, please be careful with too rum in the eggnog. But that wouldn’t apply if you aren't a lacto-vegetarian. It’s so challenging to be politically correct these days.

Post removed 

@steakster  a well adjusted individual it seems. Eats meat. @nickatnoon61 someone who lives as a hermit. Does not eat meat. Hm.

To everyone who said power cords, or the AC chain as being the first part of your system to address after the basics, I agree in most cases. In the 90s when I was flying around the country on my beat to sign new dealers, the first thing I would do to blow them away, was connect a loom of the original AC Master Coupler to their reference system. This demo is how I placed Synergistic Research on the map.

Yours in music,

Ted Denney III

Lead Designer/CEO Synergistic Research Inc.