What is the weakest link in your audio system and why?

Stereophile's picture
Nothing in audio is ever perfect—or is it? If you have a weak link in your audio system, what is it and why?
What is the weakest link in your audio system and why?
Source component
13% (48 votes)
Preamp
4% (16 votes)
Power amp
2% (7 votes)
Integrated amp
2% (7 votes)
Receiver
2% (8 votes)
Speakers
20% (74 votes)
Room
38% (140 votes)
Cables
3% (11 votes)
Other
14% (52 votes)
It's all perfect
2% (6 votes)
Total votes: 369
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Comments
Max L's picture

I don't have a class "A" system, and don't aspire to one either. I have put together a collection of equipment that allows me to enjoy the music in a big way. Is there a weak link? Probably, but I'll be damned if I know or care what it is.

John's picture

I was forced into the garage&3151;it sucks.

NeoN's picture

I have a very small room, with everything in it. So, my main speakers are not sitting on stands, but on shelves. I'm not complaining, the whole system sounds very good, but I think that maybe it's not perfect.

Chris Heinonen's picture

I bought too cheap a receiver to get HDMI. Now I need one that gives me a better upgrade path to a pre-pro/amp setup.

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

Recently downgraded my speakers because of lack of space and I'll soon have children. When the child's grown up a bit I'll upgrade again.

Isiah's picture

Honey, can I hire someone to build me a custom room to bring out the best in my audio equipment? " Why yes dear. Anything you say." A man can dream can't he.

Annoni Mouse's picture

I have a pair of large, heavy stand-mounts and having upgraded my source, mains, and interconnects, I knew they were the weak link. So, first I invested in a pair of Kimber 8TC—big improvement, but still not as good as they should have been. Next I got some really solid stands that got the tweeters to the right height (1m) and then mass loaded them. Problem solved. I was expecting a further improvement, but not on this scale.

Hoser Rob's picture

The 95% or so of my recordings that aren't as good as the rest of my system. I hate almost all audiophile recordings. If I don't like the tunes and/or performance, I don't care one bit how good it sounds.

Paul's picture

I would have thought it was the room in most people's cases. It is even shocking to see photos of rooms in which writers review components. I have chosen "other," however, to echo the concerns of another recent vote: the recording! If that's not good...

Mike Agee's picture

After much component, support, and tube rolling, my analog front-end still sounds alternately shrill, dull, unbalanced, etc.. Occasionally great, sometimes OK, and usually bad, in my system for the last 10 years or so the respective stereotypical roles of CDs and vinyl are reversed: CDs are more musical, vinyl is frequently shrill and insubstantial. The party-line and fading memories of my own positive experiences with vinyl sustain my quest, but my patience is wearing thin. I need to get some professional help before it's too late.

Antonio G.'s picture

Definitely my room would be the weak link. It's almost a perfect square and there is a large opening on the right side which leads into my hallway. Also, the wife does not want any room treatments done. Some amount of speaker toe-in and relocation of furniture has helped a little.

steve r v's picture

I need to figure out how to make enough money to get better speakers

Bruce K's picture

The most critical component is the room—unless maybe you're a headphone junkie!

Tim K's picture

There's only so much I can do with my room without major remodeling, which is out of the question.

SAL's picture

My Anthem AVM2 being uses as DAC. How old is 5-6 years in Digital Years?

Joe's picture

In my system, the resolution of the recording itself, or the medium, is almost always the issue.

df's picture

Always hard to say, but at this point it could be my speakers—the oldest components in the mix. I've always felt they were the best I could do at the prices I paid, but with my 22-year-old DCM TimeFrames for mains, and seven-year-old Polk fxi30's and Ci40 for surround, I think my receiver, Yamaha RXv1000 and universal deck (for SACD and DVDA playback) are providing more sonic goods than these otherwise really nice speakers can deliver. Waiting for our next move as an excuse to get all new gear, starting with speakers.

Zee's picture

The room will always remain the weak link for 99% of all listeners.

Skogman's picture

But I shall get to them, given time and money. Mostly money...

Austin's picture

Me.

Claudio's picture

CD/DVD player, cables and turntable not in the same level of quality of the integrated amplifier and speakers. The reason is lack of money.

anonymous's picture

Room acoustics is problem number 1 but nearly 99% of audiphilles are solving this problem at last. When they finally understand importance of this significant "component" and all other ways with diffrent components, cables, and any kind of hi-fi voodoo are not aiming to solve their sound problem.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

I should have a bigger room! WAAAA...I want a bigger room. WAAAA...I want a bigger room with nice looking acoustic treatment and acoustics-friendly construction. WAAAA...I want...WAAAA

Woody Battle's picture

I recently moved to a new house. The new living room is fairly square. That gives it much more bass boom than I am used to: definitely sounds less accurate. However, it also sounds warmer and much more musical. I am going to have to be very careful whenever I change the room configuration or add bass traps.

xanthia01@gmail.com's picture

Recording—it's always the recording. Good sources do not exist unless we're talking about a mic directly into your preamp. Just look at the crappy high-efficiency amps and professional speakers in live music venues, but because the source is good (ie live) then it all sounds fantastic.

Keith Suppe (Liquid3D)'s picture

Signal quality as generated by the source component is distorted as soon as it sees the op-amp or initial amplification stage. Therefore our attempt at system "synergy" is nothing more then a circumlocutious process whereby we replace links in defeatist chain. I've read a term that best described the ideal source circitry as a "wire with gain." Until we take one step forward and ten back in our propensity to over-engineer we remain in denial of the inconsistency of the source material itself. We are chasing our proverbial tail.

Dismord's picture

Recording engineers, because many of them are almost deaf.

Jim Dandy's picture

The weakest link is the software.: CD, LP, etc. An audio system can only sound as good as its source material and, quite frankly, all source material falls well short of realism. And isn't that what we all strive for— the realistic reproduction of music in our homes? It starts with the very weakest component,the microphone, and quickly decays from there. Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but in spite of the great strides I've heard during the past 50 years, we still have a long, long way to go. And should you doubt this, just listen to the fidelity and quality of today's CD or LP and compare it with what you hear at a live performance. Pittiful.

HS's picture

Software, mostly.

Stephen's picture

Just about to improve it.

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