Speakers Don’t Matter As Much As We Think They Do?

When discussing how best to invest money into your system, it’s very common to hear people say, “Spend as much as you can afford on speakers, and then worry about the other gear because speakers have the largest effect on the sound.”

Now it’s never a bad idea to have good speakers and while I somewhat followed that advice early on, as my system has evolved it seems that I am not currently following that advice, and yet I am getting absolutely fantastic sound. For example as a percentage of my total system cost, my speakers cost 15%. If you include the subwoofers, that price is about 35%.

Early on I was worried I would outgrow my speakers and I’d hit their limit which would restrict sonic improvement potential as I upgraded other gear but that hasn’t been the case. With each component upgrade, things keep sounding better and better. The upper limit to speakers’ potential seems to be a lot higher than previously thought as I continue to improve upon the signal I send them and continue to improve system synergy. If you send a really high quality signal to a pair of speakers and get synergy right, they will reward you in spades and punch well above their apparent weight class.

One thing that may be working in my favor is that I’ve had these speakers since the early days of building my system so literally everything down to the last cable has been tuned to work in synergy with these speakers. Had I upgraded my speakers mid way through, I would have undone a lot of the work that went into the system in terms of synergy.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with their speakers? Does anyone have any extreme percentages in terms of speaker cost to system cost like 5% or 95% and what has been your experience?

Wednesday I listened to a setup I’d never recommend and was stunned at how good the sound was. The speakers were Wilson Sabrinas, in a large room, powered by a Parasound integrated amp. These are speakers that will benefit from the very best electronics from Ayre, Spectral, Boulder. Speakers have by far the hardest job - converting varying voltages to sound waves. They benefit from the obsession to detail and decades of experience the best have to offer.
Every part of a system matters, but given the choice, I’d start with the smallest floor standers from the best manufacturer every time.
I find that speakers are the “most important” part of an audio system, but disagree that they should be the most expensive part. Mine are $6000, about 12% of my total system, and I believe that doubling or tripling the speaker investment will have little effect on total sound quality. Using Goldenear Triton One.R with PassLabs/Cary/EAR electronics and high quality DAC, streaming, and LP gear.