$100K system build - % breakdown of spend

I know there are several such breakdowns all over the web, but each different in one way or another. Thanks in advance for anyone willing to lend thoughts here.

Assuming $100K to build a system (indifferent between new/used) with equal time spent and enjoyment from streaming and vinyl (for now leaving out other digital and other analog), does the following ballpark seem reasonable? If you’d bump something up, what would you bump down?

Speakers - $30K

Subs - $5K

Amp(s) - $20K

Preamp - $10K

TT, cartridge, arm, phono preamp - $10K

DAC - $5K

Streamer - $5K

Cables, Interconnects, Power Cords, Power Cond/Regen - $10K

Isolation Products, room treatments and system rack(s) - $5K


Leaving out for now fuses, contact enhancers and the like. 

Thanks again for any thoughts. 


I really don't think there is a formula to follow- 

I would suggest thinking about what your most important source is- if it's vinyl, $10,000 for a table, arm, cartridge and phono preamp might be lighter than many would probably devote.

Next- speakers- got to think long and hard about going from $20,000 to $30,000 as the differences might be minuscule. 

Speakers - $20K

Subs - $5K

Amp(s) - $20K

Preamp - $5K

TT, cartridge, arm, phono preamp - $35K

DAC - $5K

Streamer - $5K

Cables, Interconnects, Power Cords $2k

Power Cond/Regen - $0K

Isolation Products, room treatments and system rack(s) - $3K

I think you did a pretty good breakdown… but I would split the preamp / amp funds 1/2 each or more to the preamp… really important.


I completely agree with the speaker investment… I would combine the funds of sub woofer into the main speaker… or get 2… always add subs in pairs. Speaker differences in the $20K to $30+ are substantial in my opinion.


I usually spend all I possibly can on components… then over time add the other tweaks. More on the DAC…. $7.5 and if you can on streamer $7.5K (maybe used to get a really good one and you can get very vinyl quality from your streamer.

some context on where you are coming from….room size, spl, solo listener in sweet spot or ? 

IF you don’t know where you are going, any $100 k toll road will get ya..there..


does the following ballpark seem reasonable? If you’d bump something up, what would you bump down?

I have an older modest system.

On the TT side I could easily spend a lot more than the 10k. But one can also spend less. I know could spend that on a cartridge and phonostage.

I would be starting with speakers, and leaving off all the interconnects and power conditioners... as well as bumping down the DAC and streamer.

The speakers will help inform the amplifier(s) you may want.


What you have now would be good to understand. Maybe you could do some of it in stages?

Or is it just some rhetorical concept of where to spend the money?

Interesting question.  I have been lucky in that I had a business for about 15 years so got to have a bunch of gear in and out without personal expense. 

Of course much will depend on your musical tastes.  Don't have strong disagreement but depends a bit on your room.  If your room is good already, you need to spend less, if its not, you might do well to spend more.  

Regarding speakers and subs, the numbers very reasonable but its not always simple to integrate subs and there are some pretty good speakers with decent bass to avoid this.  Just my opinion of course.

In my experience I noticed more from having a good preamp than better amps, but again just my experience.

Above all, enjoy the journey.

Thanks for the replies. A little color:

The current room is multi-use and has more glass than ideal, but all in all could be a lot worse. Irregular shape, about 15x20’, with 18’ ceilings. Setup takes a little dialing in with an opening on one side and behind the sweet spot, but I’m very happy where I am now. Likely a new house in the plans in 18 mos. or so, but for now am planning on similar listening space. Truth be told, my listening time skews slightly toward streaming - maybe 60/40.

Current items I’d put on the ‘keeper’ list:

Technics 1210GAE, AT Art9XI cart., Modwright 9.0x phono

A pair of Rel s812’s

On the upgrade list:

Sonus Faber Sonetto III’s

Hegel 390

Bluesound Node 2i

Lower/mid range AQ cables and interconnects


I think the Hegel and the Sonetto’s make a great match, especially with the Rel’s. I think longer term, I’d like to move a notch or two (just a touch) toward warmer, maybe with some ARC gear. I’ll be upgrading step by step, toward a longer-term hold system maybe over the course or a couple years. I may have a tough time moving away from Sonus Faber - they would be less than what I listed above, but I’ve heard the Serafino (not with ARC) and could be very happy there I think. There’s obviously nothing magic about the $100K figure, other than determining proportions roughly at that level.




I'd be disappointed if I couldn't put together a $100k system without subs.

I'd set a lot more aside for the DAC, perhaps the most expensive component in a modern system.  My system is much less than $100k but the DAC retails for $13K.  

I'd probably end up with an integrated tube amp.  But if buying separates, I'd make the amp and pre-amp the same amount.  I'd probably go with the Nagra pre and perhaps Pass amp.  I'd get efficient speakers and buy a 50wpc amp.  Although the amp may have expensive components, the pre-amp is more important to sound.  Anything added (or taken away) by the preamp just gets amplified by the AMP.  GIGO.


If I had 100k to spend and wanted the direct drive TT it would be the SP10R not the 1200. 

$50k to get the room 'right'.

$50k for the gear

I guess for a new house that works.
But a divorce can be costly, so sometimes the room just “has to do”.

Maybe that is why I like speakers with a narrower directivity?

How do you know if you spend that much money or buy anything different, it will sound better in your room? Your room isn’t ideal so I would caution any new purchases. You have to start with the room, a lousy room, you can’t expect much no matter what you spend 

I assume OP is using MSRP / new prices.  Which is fair.  But I would certainly consider used options for some of the gear.  In any event, I’ve been through a few system builds for two different rooms, and I have thoughts on his suggested speaker and analog ranges, as well as his expectations from ARC gear.  Feel free to PM me.  

I have never approached system building by budget allocation. I recommend instead that you get seat time in front of several different systems, of different types, to get a better sense of what kind of system (tube, stats, horns, big or low power, vinyl and all that comes with that if you want to go down the rabbit hole).

Although I hear differences in wire, I’d make that a less important factor for now. As others have said, you have to work with your room and maximize performance within it, given your objectives as well as the limitations of the room itself. Some people get way out ahead on room treatments- I use those too, but take a pretty minimalistic approach, using bass and corner traps, and rely on rugs and other things in the room and set up/placement to address acoustic issues to the extent I can.

Your sense of what sounds "right" will change with experience. Don’t limit yourself to demo discs of sonic spectaculars-- listen to "regular" source material.

My current system has been evolving since around 2006-7 starting with some good fundamentals that work well together (extremely sensitive speakers and SET power amps. This is all a matter of personal preference, and may not be the ideal for someone else’s ears).

But where an otherwise very good system was taken up a notch was simply a change in cartridge, a different power supply rectifier tube and other "small" differences that help "tune" the system to sound more lifelike to me in the overall combination of components in the room.

With so many variables, it is very hard to predict on paper how to "synergize" the combination of components, let alone allocate budget to each item of the combination as a theoretical way of predicting how it all comes together. That you must do by ear, and, if possible, with the help of a good dealer willing to visit your room and make some suggestions/help on placement, set up and dialing in.

This is not plug and play; it takes time for you to educate yourself about what’s out there and what combinations of equipment seem to make "magic" for you.

Treat it as a learning adventure. None of us is ever really "done" but much of the pleasure, to me, comes from learning and improving results over time.

@jrw1971 +1, particularly for amps, preamps & phonostages

@coys21 If I had that fun budget, would move some $ out of the the amp/preamp, keep the RELs for a while, and budget $20 for the tt + cartridge. At that level, may need a phono pre, but $5k w/b more than enough for that

I think one could hear the difference spending 2x on the analogue source without losing anything from the amp/preamp 

1) If were me, would start with the tt + cartridge

2) “One voice” on the electronics based just on my experience - amp/pre from same maker, ideally phono stage as well *IF* maker has a good phonostage. Just think this works better than mix & match

With one voice I can actually audition the electronics and know (roughly) what I am getting. The electronics were designed in relation to each other in the first instance.  Total guesswork / reliance on others if mix & match. (DAC can be its own thing - others will have better informed view of $5k dac vs. $10k dac, for example)

3) Amp vs Pre/Phono - to taste, but wouldn’t think twice if wound up at 50/50

A room that big opens up so many cool choices for speakers

Would be really interested in thoughts from others on the above - thank you

Tell us what you choose (and your process), and good luck!

Have a great day

Agree with @carlsbad in that I would be disappointed if I couldn't put together a satisfying system sans subs for 100k.

Having said that bump the speaker number as an exercise and see what you find, doesn't mean you have to spend it. Speakers are número uno in my book.

I have to ask:  Seems like you're in a rush to go forward with this upgrade...
wouldn't it be wiser to get to your new digs prior to any purchasing?



I suppose the benefit of subs depends on how low your speakers go, at any price. Granted, the Sonetto’s only go to 42 Hz, but I think the Rel’s (19 Hz) would be additive to many very nice speakers. They make an enormous difference in my room at high and low spl’s. Perhaps I have more to learn here. 

@jrw1971 - I’m definitely open to used gear. Like I said, the amounts I listed are mostly just to establish a relevant ‘neighborhood’ for comparison between/across components. Thanks for the offer re: add’l thoughts on ARC - may take you up on sending a PM. 

@barts - no hurry on my end. It may well be that I hold off on speakers and perhaps amps until I have some clarity on what the new space might look like. I feel fortunate in that my wife supports my efforts here, and am happy to make the tradeoff maintaining her interest at the expense of a dedicated room away from the rest of the house. New house will probably be a new build, so will have some thinking to do with combined living/audio space in mind. 

Perhaps nearer term I focus on dac/streamer additions. I totally appreciate the idea/recommendation that I try to hear as many different systems as possible in the meantime. Am hoping to hit axpona, for one. 

for speakers check out the monitor audio platinum 200s or 300s Gen 2, for the dock check out the Wyred for sound 10th anniversary dac, one of the reviewers put it up against his VPI turntable with a $5,000 Japanese cartridge and he said the 10th anniversary dac sounded as analog, I now have the dac and I totally agree it's the most analog dac that I've had in my system, for cables don't get anything but OCC single crystal wire it's far superior than anything ofc out there, acoustic Zen and Harmonic technology have the most reasonable prices everyone else is way overcharging and they all get it from the same manufacturer in Taiwan called Wan Lung, who also have their own line of cables that they make called Neotech.




for speakers check out the monitor audio platinum 200s or 300s Gen 2, for the dock check out the Wyred for sound 10th anniversary dac, one of the reviewers put it up against his VPI turntable with a $5,000 Japanese cartridge and he said the 10th anniversary dac sounded as analog, I now have the dac and I totally agree it’s the most analog dac that I’ve had in my system

How do they do the pops-n-clicks, and the poor channel separation. in the DAC? 😎
(And please don’t knee jerk a response, as I have a TT as well)


But really… how much should someone have to spend on a DAC to perform better than many turn tables?
(It seems like it should be an order of magnitude easier?)

But really… how much should someone have to spend on a DAC to perform better than many turn tables?

About $200

“How much do you have to spend on a DAC to perform better than many turntables.” Let me try and address that. Obviously it depends.


But the best way to look at it as your digital end versus analog end.


Digital end: Streamer (or Player), and DAC

Analog end: TT, cartridge, and phonostage


Twenty years ago digital could not touch analog at any price. But slowly digital has improved and the price differential has been dropping. At this point, for carefully chosen and synergistic components there is perhaps a small advantage to analog… say 10%. There is nothing exact about this… it is so highly dependent on every piece of equipment you own and the performance level of your system.


My system performs in, say the highest 10% of high end systems. My analog end cost around $35K and my digital $40K. The sound quality is equal. When the analog vs digital end get down to $5K… I’m not really sure what happens… but I suspect the analogue lead jumps ahead. So, you need to put a lot into the DAC and streamer. At this level, you’ll probably have to invest In $8K + to match the analog.


Obviously this is constantly changing as folks innovate and better sounding components and techniques become available to manufacturers. For instance the Schiit Yggdrasil is only ~$2.5K and performs like a number of DACs over $5K. But make no mistake about it… if the rest of your signal path is capable of resolving it… the $10K DAC will blow it away.

If you are interested in high end sound quality and choose good quality and synergistic components… you get what you pay for.





I usually make the rookie mistake of under playing amps… But these throw away slogans like:

If you are interested in high end sound quality and choose good quality and synergistic components… you get what you pay for.

Maketh me wonder

  1. How do we identify quality?
  2. What is synergy?
    1. Is it flaws being synergistic, or what is it?
    2. The room and speaker have synergy.
    3. The tonearm, and cartridge need synergy.
    4. What else?

If it was my 100k, I would start with a dedicated room.  It's by far the hardest thing to upgrade and will never be obsoleted.  It doesn't have to be away from the rest of the house.  However, ideally it's separate from your "TV" room.  If you have your wife's support (and are having the house built?), give her whatever it takes (exercise room? art studio? bedroom-size walk-in closet?)

As for the gear, I'm in the speakers first camp. Spend until you hurt on them.  The amp(s) have to play well with the speakers.  The digital market is advancing so rapidly that I'd suggest you spend more on the analog upgrade, figuring you'll upgrade the digital side multiple times before circling back around to analog.

Unless your new place has bad power, I wouldn't spend anywhere near 10k on cabling & power conditioning.


  1. How do we identify quality?
  2. What is synergy?”

I recommend you start by reading Robert Haley’s Complete Guide to High End Audio. That should help you appreciate the nuances and complexity of high end audio. Also, a subscription to Stereophile and The Absolute Sound should help you understand what quality is and it’s relationship to sound characteristics and quality.  Synergy is also covered in these texts. I would recommend you listen to many components in a system… swapping only one ovation ally. This will help reveal what synergy in audio is.



Thanks @ghdprentice  I have mostly been looking at the “Audio Perfectionist journal”.

Thanks @petaluman and all others. Fair point about the room. The room now (and in the future) is not a TV room. I think windows will be the main obstacle. Similar to my room now, I’m probably destined for a main floor room, mostly dedicated to hifi, with some plants, shelves, more seating than just the sweet spot, etc. I’ll have to think about windows/treaments some, I think. Received a copy of Jim Smith’s Get Better Sound over the holidays - haven’t started yet but perhaps I’ll get some ideas from there. 

I also appreciate the comment re: power conditioning. 


"I recommend you start by reading Robert Haley’s Complete Guide to High End Audio."

Is that available on audiobook?  :-)



Is that available on audiobook? :-)

As a third person reviewer, please let me know how it goes for you Sir.

I always view synergy as something more like a synergy of flaws…

(where ideally all pre amps would have a standard low output impedance and all amps a stanrd high input impedance, and just be “wires with gain”.
And the interconnects be electrically ideal with zero capacitance, inductance and resistance.)

And then those flaws are more like getting vinegar into the food, so we spice it up some sugar and pineapple to make a sweet and sour sauce… rather than a Carolina BBQ sauce… or some other appealing flavour.

Or we have lack of synergy where the flaws are all the same direction in vector space.

Ideally we choose equipment where the error vectors are close to being zero magnitude, and then we do not care which direction they point as they sum close to zero, because individually they are all close to zero.

The other synergy example might be having a bright SS amp with a bunch of high freq harmonics. So we use a tube amp with high low low order harmonics to hide the high frequency harmonics.
This is analogous to using an air freshener to hide the smell of farts.

In the context of starting with a $100k budget, one would hope that there would be no obvious “stinkers” in the resultant stack of gear that was acquired.