- Source: 12.5%
- Amplifier: 12.5%
- Speakers: 17.5%
- Cables: 12.5%
- Supports: 7.5%
- Room: 17.5%
- Electricity: 12.5%
- Others: 7.5%
The numerical values of the % are completely arbitary – I do not have any proper methodologies, let alone scientific basis in arriving on the % values. There is no scoring method for the matter either. Forget about the values. What I want to illustrate is the “relative contribution/ranking” of each major audio component/accessory category to the final sound quality that we can discern from an audio playback chain.
My points are these:
- The room and loudspeaker each contribute and influence the audio signature of any audio system the most. Together, e.g. 35%, the room-speaker interaction/pairing will dominate the sonic character of the audio playback system and will immediately make-or-break the perceived sonic fidelity of an audio playback system.
- Cables and electricity quality (voltage, noise, dynamic current availability) are each by themselves as influential as either the source or amplifier in determining the resulting sonic quality. They are all ranked equal, e.g. 12.5%. In suitably transparent systems, the magnitude of sonic differences that can be heard from cable changes or mains conditioning/enhancements is as great as if one is changing sources or amplifiers.
- Paying attention to the supports for your audio equipment yield surprisingly significant dividends. The likes of Mana Acoustic racks, Black Diamond Racing cones, Shun Mook platforms and the endless home experimentation with granite, ceramic, wooden, blue-tack and air-suspension contraptions all come to mind.
- Other factors, mainly tweaks in phenomena which have not resulted in widespread audiophile acceptance, collectively also yield surprisingly significant dividends. These include cable elevators, any sort of RF noise-busting/shielding devices (especially with digital components) and ‘static charge buster’ devices/pratices. There are many more examples in this category and no doubt there will still be more to be discovered.
If one has not experienced the magnitude of changes as I alluded to above for variables like cables, electricity, room, supports etc., it may be a combination of the following:
- one’s system overall set-up and interaction masks the magnitude of the changes due to these variables (a topic I will blog about the next time which I hope will not be too dry for some)
- one is not sensitive to the type and/or magnitude of the changes brought about by these variables
- one is psychologically biased against these variables because of what one can/cannot see with the eye/mind (e.g. a source perform a complex function but a cable’s function is so simple – so cable changes cannot yield profound sonic differences) or previous preconceptions/notions of these variables. Only blind A-B tests can eliminate/expose one’s biases in these areas.
Now, irregardless of the validation offered by your experience on the above issue of “relative contribution/ranking”, we need not necessarily allocated $$$ and spend in accordance to this principle. I am not aware of anyone who would spend their audio budget according to the “relative contribution/ranking” concept. Neither will I.
But it is possible to get good sound for little $$$. For example, if you believe the room indeed contributes significantly to the final sound, it is possible to get staggering improvement in the overall sound quality with comparatively little dough since room treatment and speaker placement can be had at low outlay. Of course, you can have the whole she-bang and spend a lot on a customized room for audio (a previous project of mine which I hope to blog about in the future).
In the end, I say you should ‘blow-it’ as you financially can afford to in order to explore areas that interests you (just like traveling the world - some like scenery, others on the culture & way of life, others yet on adventure – ultimately whatever grabs your fancy but certainly constrained by your budget). Just don’t regret. Do you?