[Poll] What Percentage of Your System Budget Should go to Sources/Amps/Speakers?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cyclone Ranger, Feb 14, 2019.

  1. bradleyc

    bradleyc Forum Resident

    So do you think I should also stop buying cheap outdoor lighting wire and discount lamp cords at Home Depot? :laugh:
    Big Blue likes this.
  2. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Well, I took the plunge on a subwoofer (very much looking forward to its arrival), so my lopsided percentage is even more lopsided in favor of speakers:

    Sources 11%, Amp 19%, Speakers 70%

    I know, I know... make some improvements at the sources. We’ll get there.
  3. Done A Ton

    Done A Ton Birdbrain

    Rural Kansas
    Sources (3) - 25%
    Phono, pre, and power amp - 32%
    Speakers - 36%
    Cables - 7%
  4. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    Speakers can really open things up and let you hear into another world. Transparency.....
  5. Done A Ton

    Done A Ton Birdbrain

    Rural Kansas
    Broke it down a little more.

    Turntable, arm, cart, feet - $1100 - 13.6%
    Phono preamp- $450 - 5.6%
    CD player - $175 - 2.2%
    Tascam Hi-Res recorder - $575 - 7.1%
    Preamp - $1300 - 16.0%
    Power amp - $900 - 11.0%
    Speakers - $3000 - 37.0%
    Wires - $600 - 7.5%

    Having only 2.2% of my budget for CD playback in an $8100 setup seems like it could be low. Sounds good, though.
  6. Kyhl

    Kyhl On my break

    Update. Upgraded the DAC. I still think my vote of 37% Sources, 37% Amps, 25% Speakers is still a good mark.

    After the DAC upgrade Sources went up and Amps and Speakers came down a touch more. I'm 29% Sources, 52% Amps (includes pre), 19% Speakers. I'm pretty happy with this rig as is while still understanding the the speakers are due for an upgrade.
  7. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident

    If your budget is a million what would you do with the 1 000? :) And I am sure that you mean the "average" is the mode - the most common answer. It is hard to calculate the average when data is discrete and not continous. Many apologies for the nit picking.

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  8. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    Shoot me now. :sigh:

  9. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident

    Nah, I don't care for guns anyway. Just merely pointing out that many of the categories only spends 99 per cent of the total budget. Which is not necessearliy a bad thing. One per cent left to buy records or for unforeseen costs.
  10. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    near Tampa, FL
    I am big believer in GIGO law. If your sources are not good, the rest of your chain does not matter.
    If you count at retail prices (which I did not often pay) my sources (Digital, analog, pre) are the priciest part of my chain.
    Big Blue and Randoms like this.
  11. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    Stab me now. :sigh:

    Fruff76 likes this.
  12. Todd W.

    Todd W. It's a Puggle

    Well, let's see..........

    Speakers $10,000 or so
    NAD Amp 600.00 or so
    CD/DVD Oppo what 5 or 6 hundred?
    Marantz CD 500?
    Turntable 1987? Kenwood..........so old I can't remember
    Interconnects Marrow Cables.......around 100-150?

    Somebody smarter than me in math can figure out the percentages. The speakers have always been the most important part of any sound system I have had. I mean, isn't digital sound just 0's and 1's?.............;):D
  13. Kyhl

    Kyhl On my break


    I wonder if it depends on where people are in the spectrum of spending money on things. In a $3,000 system I think the speakers will have the biggest impact and could be 50% of the budget. In a $30,000 system, at some point the speakers become more capable of showing the shortcomings of upstream equipment and it makes more sense to weight spending more to the front end.
    Big Blue and Old Zorki II like this.
  14. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident

    Sorry, I don't care for neither guns nor any weapons or violence for that matter either.
  15. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Best Coast USA
    Euthanize me humanely now. :sigh:

  16. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    New Orleans
    I just don't think it's that cut and dried. I think the component itself should drive the decision and not where it falls in the mix. The price ratio probably has more impact at the lower end, but once you get to a certain level, it becomes more of a personal preference for a particular component. I've listened to speakers in the $20,000 range and thought they were good, but bought $4000 ones instead. My amp/preamp is the largest expenditure in my system, yet with some speakers I like my little $800 craigslist Cayin better.

    I do think that it is probably best to find the speakers that you want and base your other purchases from there. I also think that far too many folks underspend on their cartridge and phono stage and these tow pieces have a much bigger influence than the pieces between them and the speakers (if they are not up to snuff). I know lots of folks that think that a good cart on a low end turntable is wasteful, but I think that once you get to the $1000 range, most turntables can handle a mid range cartridge ($500-$1500).
    SandAndGlass and Big Blue like this.
  17. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Senior Member

    Durham, NC
    In general, buy the best speakers you can afford, the least expensive amp that’ll drive your speakers well and measure well, and a decent source. Speakers have the most impact on your results, and are the most variable component. Amps and sources are, IMO, solved problems.
  18. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Audio Expurdt

    Free Speech Land
    Speakers get half the budget because:
    they STAY while everything else eventually gets "updated."
    So buy an "end game" setup from the very FIRST.
    the better they are the better they show when you "improve" things.
    they drive you nuts if you think they hold your system back (upgradeitis?).
    Everything else---the best you can get for the buck
    Old Zorki II likes this.
  19. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    IMO speakers get way too much emphasis in conventional wisdom. Let me explain.

    Speakers are indeed critical, and these are clearly one of the most obvious contributors to the overall sonic character of a system ( in terms of frequency response aberrations). But the "put most of your money in the speakers" principle can have some serious downsides in that when your speakers become your most revealing component, you will hear every flaw of your upstream components more clearly than ever. So I have discovered that this approach can cause serious listening fatigue over time.

    So the best approach, IMO, is the balanced approach where roughly equal amounts of money are spent at each part of the chain. But when one can't afford that approach, I would actually spend LESS on speakers, and more on sources because this approach ensures that the maximum amount of information is recovered from the sources and that your speakers don't become so revealing that you can no longer enjoy your music. The fact is that once information has been lost in a chain, it can never be replaced, so sources are very important to achieving the best sound possible. I also find that this approach often can provide the greatest long-term listening satisfaction, and the least listener fatigue.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
    Randoms and Big Blue like this.
  20. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    I voted 37% source, 25% amp, 37% speakers but as @Brother_Rael mentioned, that’s because I still use vinyl. If I was digital only I’d have gone something like 55% speakers, 30% amplification, and 15% to my digital front end.

    My current breakdown using digital and turntable is 50% (Rega DACr and RP6 with Exact and Nighthawk F117 phono preamp) source, 35% for my amp, and 15% for my speakers. But that is only because I am using a beautiful pair of late model Klipsch Cornwall 1s with a single ended tube amp.

    Making some assumptions if I go with the new system I’m planing that will be based on a 4K pair of actives (Dynaudio Xeo30s are my current choice). With a Technics SL1200G with 1K allocated for a cart and the Modwright PH9 Phono Preamp, and the new Technics SL-G700 streamer SACD player for the front end. My breakdown would be 74% source, 26% speakers and amplification.

    Things like Active Speakers and an analog front end are a big game changers but looking at the numbers I guess I’ve always fallen into the source first camp. Never realized it though. I always thought I was more of a balanced system kinda guy.

    Great thread @Cyclone Ranger .
  21. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Since this thread has popped back up, I was curious to see where my system falls compared with how I voted (37/25/37), since I have done a kind of ridiculous amount of upgrading in the past few months. Following the guideline that phono stage is part of amplification (which I think is debatable, but I get it), I’m at:

    Source 27%; Amp 32%; Speakers 41%

    Just for fun, if we split the phono stage in half between source and amplification (let’s just pretend we consider the RIAA correction part of the source and the gain part of the amplification), I’m much closer:

    Source 37%; Amp 22%; Speakers 41%

    And that’s not even considering a portion of my powered subwoofer to fall under the amps, because I don’t know how to split that (if we go 5o/50, then I think I’m more like 37/28/35, which I guess is even closer to my vote).
  22. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY

    But what if you considered your phono stage as all part of your analog source because you wouldn’t need if for digital and put your subs entirely in with your speakers Sort of viewing them as actives?

    I wonder if everyone with a DAC and a turntable set up counted everyone involved with those as source how many people would be in the source first camp?
    Big Blue likes this.
  23. Vibrolux_Reverb

    Vibrolux_Reverb Forum Resident

    New Orleans, LA
    Thread is irrelevant if we aren't specifying Vinyl vs CD vs streaming or whatever.

    Obviously for Vinyl the source is going to be more, or at least I think it should be.

    Also, if you want to take it a step further this is how I feel about records if we are talking at least a decent setup and not a super cheap one. Get a good setup that you are happy with and go to town buying records and discovering new music.

    Source 10%
    Amp 7%
    Speakers 13%
    Records 80%
  24. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Audio Expurdt

    Free Speech Land
    When I look for "end game" speakers that will STAY in the set---I AVOID those that are pitched up in the treble.
    And expensive speaker design should NEVER be "revealing."
    It should simply make instruments sound like the amazing things they really ARE.
    And the human voice should simply sound just like "they are ALIVE in the room."
    There is nothing "revealing' at all about this grade of speaker.
    It is simply "perfected."
    Therefore I suggest TarnishedEars has little experience with truly WONDERFUL speakers.
    Instead, he or she has spent their life hearing "detailed---revealing" garbage.
    This stuff is just ITCHING to sound bad the minute anything in the chain is less than stellar.
    My Harbeths kick butt with a crappy amp.
    And with a great amp they sound so delicious you almost want to pass out.
    I think the misconception about what makes a good speaker is what is at work here.
    And YES I know tastes differ etc etc.
    However I stand by the idea that GREAT speakers are a MUST.
    And these don't come cheap.
    BUT once you have a pair---you only have to put up with occasionally replacing outdated sources or worn out parts---but NO MORE UPGRADEITIS due to poor speakers.
    And THAT is an amazing improvement for most hobbyists.
    Sorry if I come across as super opinionated.
    But after selling this junk for 50 years you start seeing patterns in what goes on.
    And the biggest trend is folks that will NEVER be happy with their sets because their speakers are letting them down.
    NOT the other way around.
    I mean there are BIG differences in amps and sources for sure.
    But you can LIVE with these deficiencies until something breaks and you get a chance to "upgrade" naturally.
    Selling your speakers and the hassle it entails is another can of worms entirely.
    So my advice is start off with an "end game" pair from the get go.
    And spend 50% of your budget getting ones that you will KEEP til they die (or YOU die---whichever comes first).
    On the other hand if you are "just messing around" with stereo gear---it doesn't matter HOW you proceed.
    Just have "fun."
    You will either junk it all at some point---leave the hobby---or go insane trying to deal with failure.
    That was a joke, people.
    I have a nicely warped sense of humour after doing this too long.
    My two cents.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  25. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Right, honestly I do consider the phono stage part of the source, and I do consider the sub entirely as speakers. DAC is a little tricky for me because it’s part of the integrated amp, so maybe we are still kind of splitting the difference very slightly by counting the phono stage as source but not the DAC. So, following my own rules and not strictly the guidelines of the thread:

    Sources 47%; Amp 13%; Speakers 40%

    Which, if I’m looking to justify anything here, means I could start looking at amp upgrades... (must...restrain...)
    russk likes this.

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