It's attention, not money, we should budget

I read with some amusement a lot of posts arguing we should spend X amount of money on speakers, or preamps or amps.  I want to make a counter argument:  We should budget our time and attention, not the money.

In large part because there are always bargains to be made, and MSRP has been (IMHO) a terrible guide to what an "upgrade" is, especially when considered in the context of an existing system.

30% Room

30% Speakers

5% Cables and power

35% Remaining electronics


I will read your replies thoughtfully. :)


I agree with the original ratio given the amp gives the speakers what they need. If not, the amp becomes a bigger value than being buried in the 35% total.

In my office system my $1000 speakers have $12K combined speaker cable and amp (all MSRP). The magic ratio is a bit off here.

Over the long haul (and it has been), the old 3-thirds (speakers, amplification (pre & power or integrated), sources) has more or less held true in my experience of 55ish years....

This is taking into account new, used, diy with very little 'room', since there's been a lot of them that I/we haven't owned.  And most were 'problematic' ( i.e., "One copes as best as....")... ;)

The later ones' (early 80's and beyond) have responded decently to analog eq and later digital correction.

Best 'splaination:

I am not afraid.


Allocating per-device price percentages is not really different than allocating per-device costs.

The tendency of folks on this site to discuss revolving through the kit in their chains suggests that the common fixation on hardware won’t always bend well to predictable slices on a pie chart, eh? 😉

Bring me any good DAC (or turntable - neither need be expensive), any decent amp of ~200 wpc (4 ohms), wire of your choice minimum 18ga, and I assume my speakers and my music files (or lp’s) will do the rest just fine. There’s no physical room treatment other than typical furniture. However, if I moved the system from a specious, solid concrete (including ceiling) dwelling to drywall etc., I’ve no clue how “transferable” my results would be. Obviously YMMV depending on such environmental factors and on individual psychological sensitivities.

When I started, it did not seem intuitive that my expenses graph would become an upside-down bell curve (= sharp valley between the actual music and the transducers). Price and percentage rules may not to work well (sometimes) for this very reason - they can set you up for highly skewed expectations when you try stuff out. Just my anecdotal opinion.