What is the most important component to consider while building a new system?

I recently viewed a You Tube video featuring Paul McGowan from PS Audio discussing the most important component when building a new system. I love Paul's video's and feel they bring a personalized touch to the discussions of all things audio. In the video mentioned Paul took a generalized approach in stating the speakers were the most important component to consider and that the relevant importance of each successive component rested in the chain down stream of the speakers. I am writing this to humbly disagree. I am in the mist of building a new system from scratch over the past 9 months. It has been my experience that if proper care is taken to the quality of the amp. pre-amp. and cables (with an emphasis on cables) you can get away with relatively inexpensive speakers that sound better than they have a right to. This is my own opinion based on recent experiences.
What is the most important component to consider while building a new system?
The room and the position of the speakers

Cheers George
Speakers probably #1, but after that, I'd put line-stage preamp and/or phono stage. 

This is my purpose made room 12ft ceilings, no equipment racks or anything between the speakers, just a short wall for bass loading 1mt behind the speakers.
I heard this similar setup back in the 1980’s at Sydney Symphony's orchestra conductors house, and I’ve never heard/seen image and depth sounding stage like it, until I did it myself, the depth of image goes out into the backyard.

Cheers George
Speakers, acoustic treatments and DSP, Source material preferably good digital. The rest of the electronics as long as distortion and noise is below human audible level are not that important.
Simply put, great loudspeakers sound better than great components with crappy loudspeakers.
But I'm willing to hear the OPs experience. 
Garbage in, garbage out. Assuming relatively decent speakers, every improvement from source to amps will allow the speakers to reproduce the music with increasing accuracy.
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Speakers for me.  Never buy an amp and then try to match speakers to it.   Then if you get WAF, room acoustics.
Every link in chain is important, so in a way I can't say any single component is most important. And yes, the room should be considered as a component! Having said that, over many years and many component changes I've come to believe the preamp may be the most important component. I consider it the 'heart' of the system, distributing the signal is like the heart distributing blood to the body, without properly operating heart the body suffers.
In general I’d have to agree with McGowan about speakers being the most impactful and thus most important on an absolute basis, but that said I’d hate to pair expensive electronics with cheap speakers or vice versa. Seems kinda silly either way to me. Better to build a balanced system that synergizes to your tastes with no glaring weak links. I will say this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say they’d emphasize cables — good luck with that, um, interesting strategy.
I give up. You guys are right. The Tekton Moab is the single most important component.
I'm a strong believer in the first watt theory if the first watt doesn't sound good you're just amplifying mistakes but before that, the source has to be as good as it can be.  Great speakers will never sound great with a mediocre source..  Even Moabs need need quality components to show what they can do.... And a comfortable chair and snacks
Room and speaker

As far as the electronics,
Ivor Tiefenbrun (Linn Sondek) had it right with his famous saying.
"It all starts with the source", get that right and the battle is almost finished, get it wrong and nothing you do after it can fix it.   

Cheers George
2:08am"I give up. You guys are right. The Tekton Moab is the single most important component"......Stop schilling Tekton, no idea why the site doesnt ban your postings
Avoid DSP at all costs. Good devices will cost you a decent amount and the poor ones are a disaster. Regardless of how much you spend you will hear them and it will get worse as your system improves. 

At least MC didnt mention S.R. and Raven. I dont believe in censorship but enough already! I urge them (the Gon) to put an end to this nonsense.
... if proper care is taken to the quality of the amp. pre-amp. and cables (with an emphasis on cables) you can get away with relatively inexpensive speakers ...
Are you actually saying that cables have a greater impact on a system's sound than speakers, provided the cables are given the proper "emphasis?" If that's truly your opinion "based on recent experiences," I encourage you to get more experience. Listen to some better speakers.
I would think having a great amp with enough clean power would be #1 then quality speakers. If your amp doesn't have enough power or isn't good it doesn't matter what speakers you have.
"I give up. You guys are right. The Tekton Moab is the single most important component."

Do you get paid a flat fee or per post?

50% room, 40% speakers, 9% amp/pre, 1% everything else. 
A good amp and pre amp is normally good on everything unless you have some type of specialty speaker (horns etc). If you get the speakers right to taste you don’t need to chase amps to tune them imo. 
I am in the wires don’t matter as much as people think crowd. Good copper 10g and call it done for me. Again goes back to getting the speakers and room right and not having to chase tuning. 
Assuming music collection is respectable, I would start first with the source (old school) then speakers with amp, followed by power distribution, cabling and support. I have not included the room or any treatment, as normally it would be the second in my hierarchy and indicating also speaker size and drive needs, but nearfield listening can work great also.
The room is the most important.

After that its making sure you have a good source. Seriously- if your source(s) aren't doing the job right it won't matter how good your amps and speakers are- they can't make up for lost or distorted signal downstream!

Of course when moved to my current room first thing I did was to make a dedicated line.
Of course they all matter. However.

There are lots of rules of thumb with regard to different components. Over most of the last 50 years my system has had Speakers that were more in the 10% of system cost as opposed to the 30% or so recommended investment. I believe my system always sounded good for my investment level. But you must be good at component matching.

My emphasis has been:

1. Preamp
2. Phonostage / DAC,
3. Turntable / Streamer
4. Speakers and amp
5. Cables / interconnects
6. Power conditioning
7. Power cords
8. Other tweaks (dampening, lifters… etc)

FIRST; The right domestic partner or at least an animal friend. Mountain Gorilla is a little tough on some gear.. Maybe a terrier..

Then pick what ever you want.. Won’t have to navigate the narrow path of domestic bliss behind some MAN purchase vs WOMAN purchase vs Gorilla vs Terrier purchase..

SECOND; Speakers and room, or room and speakers. Either way.

THIRD; To get started (an option) I went out and powered 2 serious speakers including the bass section with two 59.00 2.1 class d and a 79.00 dollar tube head set/dac/WiFi/Tone control and everything else under the sun. Thing.

I was floored, just floored.. I used a Galaxy S3 for a source.. I did use really good cable though.. :-) Smart a$$ neighbor blabbing about how class ds were junk.. Shut him up.. 200.00 wonder system..

The amps were 50x2 & 100x1. The bass (100), mids (50) and highs (50).. The heaviest part was the cables at least 3 times the weight of 2 amps, 1 preamp and 3 PS.

DIY like me on the room and DIY some gear/speakers/cables/things/stuff/do-dads..

I did buy a new phono/tape pre amp, second new purchase in a long long time. The first went back.. I always by used..

New Parts.. Used Gear.. Fast women, (not to fast) ;-)
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Setting up the system correctly in your room and making sure your whole system gels with your kind of music is the most important part of your system. Also i would say playing good recordings is an essential part related to this.
Like Paul I make some portion of my money selling electronics or at least designing them I totally agree the answer is speakers. No I would say to more important things are the room in the recording/mastering but those are not part of your “system”
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Wallet is the most important component. You can't build anything without it.
Would you guys stop arguing about "Tekton Moabs"....I'm in marketing and simply put: If you don't respect Eric for his efforts building speakers and a company on top of that....and the creme is everyone knows them...a Marketing Coup.....the guy is a genius in many ways
Not referring to you (OHM)


There isn't a thing on earth that really bothers me until I went to the Social Security office this morning. The Feds still have all their offices shut down. EXEPT for new SS numbers. GUESS WHO was getting those appointments. Not a baby in the bunch..

NOT ONE as they turn every flippin person who showed up AWAY and instructed everyone to send any information IN, THEY would sort it out..
via MAIL..

I almost went into riot mode. GD Lazy SOBs..
YOUR tax dollars NOT working but collecting a pay check. IF I didn't understand Spanish pretty well I couldn't have understood the person I spoke to, as they poked their head out the door with an Vet Marine guard, NO CRAP, HTG. We spoke in Spanish it was just easier.

I'm an American Irish kid. ONE year they have not fixed my payments.. Thank GOD I don't have to depend on the money.. BUT it's MINE.. PERIOD.. 

To bad you're gonna hear it.. Crap I don't drink.. Maybe I should start..
WE have a broken lazy LAZY SS system.   BTW YOUR SS info is being hacked by every nitwit in the world, because of the SS web site.. It has one function. To put your information for the world to hack.. It has ZERO functions otherwise.

You cannot leave an Email, make an appointment only READ the information being hacked by everyone else on earth.
NOW you know where your information is going FOR REAL...

WTF gonna erase it anyways.. :-)

Turn the FU(#in' music UP.. Geez..
I would be more interested to hear about changes to the OP system to effect this experiential change in opinion…. Pretty light on before and after….details

I vote speakers too because it is the most personal choice. You may find only 1 pair of speakers suitable for you. Nothing to do with % of budget. First get speakers you like then there should be a good choice of amps known to work well with it. Once a good partnership is installed you can keep it for 10+ years. DAC and source are much easier to figure out.
Amp + speakers + room = a "system within a system". These three need to work together well.  Not saying these are the most important individually, but imo their synergy is. 

I wish to say first and foremost that I think this has been a great discussion and I thank all who have contributed. And I've learned something; that room dynamics and dimensions are a huge part of the equation and need to be taken in account as one's system is planned. That said, I must state that comments shared by ghdprentice are most in line with my own philosophy. Thanks again to all who have responded. Regards, Scott
Please don't say Paul McGowan is wrong in that video. I saw it too before buying any components for my new system and allocated resources  accordingly. Also if you consult Mr. McGowan he will reassure you he is correct. 

+101 Room/Speakers. Then the best you can get to go with ‘em. Praise Jah.

+ 1001 on a partner who lets you do what ever you want and can afford to do. Don’t ask, don’t tell also acceptable.
if you consult Mr. McGowan he will reassure you he is correct.

Naturally, he would say that, but who can say...

I give up. You guys are right. The Tekton Moab is the single most important component.

I see they are offering an upgrade package for $300.00: Mundorf or ClarityCap (depending upon real-time availability) within the tweeter section and an oversized Jantzen or Erse Sledgehammer inductor.

A no brainer.