Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?
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  1. #1
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    Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    It used to be that when investing in a system the recommendation was to allocate 50% to speakers and 50% to the rest. Maybe that was a good recommendation when we were talking analog. But now that many people are forgoing analog for digital does that ratio make sense?

    I have been reading about blind test of DACs where testers have a hard time differentiating very cheap DACs from much more expensive ones.

    So does all of it means that the transducers (i.e., speakers) is where the big money should be spent?

    On a digital system, what about?
    75% speakers
    25% rest

  2. #2
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    Personally, I feel the source is irrelevant, as long as it is decent. How much you spend on speakers is up to you, but, generally speaking, better speakers cost more. In fact, even inexpensive electronics will sound better with good speakers. Don’t forget cables (power, interconnect, speaker) also have a big influence on the sound.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    I personally do not like rules of thumb like that. Too many variables for it ever to be close to accurate. And, I disagree with the rule.

    I'd welcome the blind test myself. If you can't tell the difference between good digital versus entry level you shouldn't be spending much on stereo gear at either end. There's even a difference in rendering and transports. Your internet speed and quality makes a difference in sound.

    See if you follow this logic. It starts with your source, if any detail is left there at the source, nothing, you do downstream, including expensive speakers, will allow you to hear that lost detail.

    Once you have a capable source you want to maintain the signal throughout your system until it reaches your ears. So it's not a front vs speaker thing, it's a system thing, and, that should include room treatments.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    I have done too many dac shoot outs and comparisons to say that they all sound alike. Some sound dramatically different and others sound similar in some but not all respects. None of the sub $1K DAC's that I have heard have the resolution, detail and sound stage of more expensive DAC's. All of the DAC's that I have heard from $1500 to $10K sound remarkably different.

    About the only thing that I can say is that I have heard some cheaper higher end DAC's sound better than DAC's costing twice as much.
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    I have been reading about blind test of DACs where testers have a hard time differentiating very cheap DACs from much more expensive ones.
    In reading blind tests like this, it is important to note what downstream components they have, and whether you trust the testers are audiophiles (so they would probably have the relevant listening skills) or not.

    If 75% of the money is spent on speakers, how much money are you going to spend on the amplifier?
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    Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    Quote Originally Posted by wklie View Post
    If 75% of the money is spent on speakers, how much money are you going to spend on the amplifier?
    15% amp; 10% rest

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  9. #7
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    I still like the 1/3 rule.....1/3 speakers, 1/3 amp, 1/3 preamp, 1/3 cables, 1/3 phono, 1/3 phono amp.


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    Not.

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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    15% amp; 10% rest
    Rest = preamp + DAC + streamer/music player + power conditioner + cables?

    I can safely say that system will not sound good.

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  13. #9
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    Quote Originally Posted by kzhtoo View Post
    Rest = preamp + DAC + streamer/music player + power conditioner + cables?

    I can safely say that system will not sound good.
    You would be amazed at how well it can sound actually. A preamp, DAC, and streamer can coexist in ONE single device (I am using one right now). And well-built cables don't have to be esoteric stuff.

    The idea is that even if we take at face value that "everything" matters, given a budget, we should put more money where it matters the most: the speakers. I also believe that proper room set up (speaker and furniture location, speaker/room interaction including digital room correction) is much more cost effective than spending thousands on esoteric cables.

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  15. #10
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    Re: Is it Time To Allocate More Money To Speakers on a Digital set up?

    I'm currently at a small percentage of system cost on speakers - roughly 20%. That's even without any digital source to speak of (vinyl only). But it's easily the most crucial piece to "get right" and find a sound you love that also works well in your room. I certainly would't discourage someone from a 75% speaker allocation, as that's (close to) how I started out when I stretched for Tannoy Kensington SE several years ago. You can fill in with better gear as time & budget permits. If you choose well it can scale with your system for a very long time. And that's a smart play, because selling used speakers is VERY HARD, and does not yield as good a return as other components. Not to mention it's likely that your backing gear will not be an optimal match for two set speakers in a row - i.e. start all over again!

    The issue of various DAC's sounding so much more alike is what I grappled with in the 2000s - but at the budget and medium-tier levels. From what I've heard lately I'd actually guess that there's a lot MORE diversity in the sound of DACs these days, and they've certainly made very large sonic strides in the digital world (at all tiers). I have to admit I'm extremely impressed by the Yggdrasil 2 I now use in my Stax system. I had my fun being a vinyl snob, but man digital is pretty damn cool these days.

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