Budgeting For Your System

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Where should you spend the most on your system? This is an extremely common question. I do have a short answer for it: It depends.

The very old, overly simplistic answer is that 50% of your budget should go for speakers. Unfortunately that is often not the optimum allocation. The components of a system, in no particular order, are as follows: Speakers, amplification (pre and power), sources, cabling, and a newer category, power.

Speakers vary enormously in terms of what they demand from the power amplifier. Unfortunately the specs tell you very little. For one thing, speaker specifications are more subjective than most. Power handling, for example. Is the maximum power handling when they hit 3% distortion, when a driver fails, when they catch fire? It goes on and on. How much power is needed is not that difficult to determine. The difficulty of the load they present to the amplifier is much more difficult to know without understanding how to read complex measurements and understand what they represent. Two 100W amplifiers can behave, and sound, very different into a complex load.

There is no formula. It is best determined by trial and error and, hopefully, the assistance of a trusted dealer to point you in the right direction as regards your tastes and the synergy of the components being selected. Sorry, I know that’s not the simple answer many desire. It is, however, the one that will help you to choose a system that is most rewarding to you and to avoid costly mistakes.

Great cables can be very expensive. However very good ones are moderately priced and we regard them as system components themselves. Once again the only way to cut through all the chatter on this, pro and con, is to borrow some and see what you experience. I’ve been doing this for decades and I have never argued with any customer about their impressions after borrowing cables. They were good enough to do their part. Their subjective impressions are their own. I always appreciate their willingness to have an open mind and conduct the experiment.