The System Percentages Thread

Purpose of this thread is for folks to post where each sub-category of 2 ch music systems they’ve built falls as a percentage of total system msrp. There will be no absolute rights or wrongs, but if a critical mass of postings are achieved, it will give new system builders a reference point of various breakdowns that have worked for A’goners.

I’m probably different than most, in that after a 20 year dormancy (since an NAD/B&W system in 2000), I jumped into the deep end and put together four complete separate systems in the last 18 months. By contrast, most I assume evolve their system(s) over time, picking up a new piece here or there to replace an existing piece.

Both approaches are welcome here, although I thought maybe since I approached each system from scratch with different budget, and planned (sometimes meticulously, sometimes very haphazardly) out the subcategories that way, that it might make for an interesting thread. Plus I’m a numbers guy so this stuff is really interesting to me (and most of all I'm bored with the virus shutdown!!). When I got done and calculated the actual percentages for each, I was surprised by the variance.

I’m sure there’ll be some back and forth about what the best ratio is, and likely that it’ll vary depending on budget, but let’s keep it civil. We all know there are no absolutes in audio, and what works great for one won’t work for another, and vice versa.

For budget I list msrp, even though much of my stuff was acquired used or demo, or at much reduced sale prices. But msrp provides a fixed reference, if nothing else. Feel free to omit budget if you prefer, but I think it adds context regarding differences in %’s across systems.

Feel free to add additional categories than those I have (my systems are simpler than many here I’m sure). Demerits if your percentages fail to add to 100%, haha. Okay to add more details like make/model, but mainly interested in system percentage breakdown. Get those calculators fired up!!

Anyway, here are my four entries:

Reference System ($20-25k msrp):
Speakers: 46% (L,R, and sub)
Amp: 27% (integrated)
Source: 9% (streamer/dac)
Power Conditioner: 5%
Cables: 13%

Secondary System ($10-15k msrp):
Speakers: 42% (L, R, and sub)
Amp: 32% (power amp)
Source: 15% (streamer/dac)
Power Conditioner: 3%
Cables: 8%

Office System ($1-5k msrp):
Speakers: 65% (L, R, and sub)
Amp and Source: 25% (super integrated, all-in-one with streamer)
Power Conditioner: 4%
Cables: 6%

Portable System ($0-1k msrp):
Speakers: 15% (L, R)
Amp and Source: 80% (super integrated, all-in-one with streamer)
Power Conditioner: 1% (surge suppressor)
Cables: 4%

I am just getting started on this journey.  So, I don’t have much money invested to this point.  My strategy is to prioritize things, so that the money I do spend produces the most results.

For things I don’t prioritize:  Radio and, so far, phonograph. And tape not at all.  I listen to radio in the car or while working in the garage and yard — serious listening, not so much.  But I wanted the option, so I found a 40 year old Fisher tuner on Craigslist that the guy wanted $20 for.  When I got there, the tuner stopped going into stereo, so the guy gave it to me free.  I fiddled with it and got it working OK.  Phono:  I paid $280 for a Denon DP-300f with free upgrade to Ortofon 2M Red cart.  Another $140 or so on record washer, album sleeves, protractor and cart alignment chart and stylus TF scale..

Priorities:  Bought 2 Martin Logan 60XT towers for $2200.  Bought used Parasound A21 amp and used Parasound P5 pre-amp for $2100.  Bought Bluesound Vault 2i for $1300.  

Not Unimportant but not sweating:  Cables and surge protection.  Bought a Furman for about $90 and was gifted another Furman that cost about $55.  Tower cables around $50.  Sub cables around $85. XLR cables to connect amp and pre-amp around $35.  I figured that the effects of connections would be more crucial in higher-end set-ups than in my modest system.  So:

Speakers:        35%
Amp/Pre:         33%
Sources:          27%
Cables/Surge.   5%

Interesting thread, thanks, OP. Interesting too, that I also am coming back into the hobby (disease?) after a long hiatus.

I'll save the explanation and genesis of this system for another thread, but briefly, I wanted to see what sort of hifi system could be had for $2000. After a good bit of work, this is what I ended up with and the cost percentage breakdown:

Component         MSRP % Of Total Actual $ % Of Total
Integrated Amp
  (Music Hall 15.3a)                      $550      19%         $550   27%
CD Player/DAC
  (Music Hall 15.3c)                      $550      19%         $550   27%
  (Wharfdale Denton 80th)            $1,000   35%         $500   25%
  (Monoprice Monolith 32)            $140         5%         $140   7%
  (Kimber PBJ)                              $105         4%         $80    4%
Speaker Cable
  (Audioquest CV-4, 6ft)                $450        16%        $130  6%
  (damping, Sorbothane, sand)     $75            3%        $75   4%
                                                      $2,870                    $2,025  

hmmm.....never really thought about it before..

Speakers:          41%
Integrated Amp: 41%
Streamer/DAC:  10%
Cables:                8%