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
Scott Hays's picture

My rack does not allow me to do proper isolation/vibration control. My DAC does not have the proper space needed. I have heard the before and after in vibration isolation and it is truly night & day to a good system.

WalkerTM's picture

At this point ,all the equipment I have augments each other equally. There is no component that is more aberrant than the other. That being said, they all are far from perfect. In this hobby, I tend not to focus on one component but make decisions based on a synergistic balancing act of trade offs. In short I choose the components that compensate for one other's weaknesses. For if you listen to a lot of live music even th finest and most accurate components never quite get there. Don't even get me started on the limitations of a listening room.

Xenophanes's picture

The room is almost always the weakest link, followed by the speakers though my speakers are extremely good. I have a very good TT and cartridge, though the latter might be marginally improved upon. My CDP, preamp, and amp, like many others, are close enough to perfect it doesn't matter. My interconnects and 12 gauge speaker cable are as good as any—I don't need expensive or exotic audio jewelry.

Russell Finnemore's picture

Weakest link? Everything! Just kidding. I've achieved a system that doesn't irritate me too much. However my vinyl system is not as good as my digital one and I think I'd like new speakers. Definitive Technology? Nothing that money can't fix.

Greg Abarr's picture

Money

Joe S.'s picture

L-shaped dorm rooms suck.

Teresa's picture

Really, I am so satisfied with my system I don't lust after any other! I especially love music from SACDs and high resolution downloads. If there was anything I could change, I would go back in time and bop Sony on the head for not waiting six short months for a 50kHz CD as was suggested by Soundsteam, Telarc, and RCA instead of rushing to market with a 44.1kHz CD. As Peter Green would say, "Oh well!"

Ryan Fox's picture

I use my dad's old Yamaha r-50 stereo receiver, and it sounds excellent with a good pair or speakers. Unfortunately, all I'm using are some Klipsh bookshelfs that came with my iPod system. I'm looking into buying some Paradigm Mini monitors.

Douglas Bowker's picture

I'm very happy with what I have, but I am also aware that, by choice and WAF my room ain't gonna get "treated" any time soon. It's a decent size, but there are areas I hear ringing when I speak, and definitely some excess bass reinforcement around 80hz. Still, I'm not complaining, but since you asked... :)

Robin H's picture

The real limitation is the fact that 90% of my music is locked in Red Book format. Having heard SACD and such for classical and jazz, I know what my system is capable of and it's maddening to know that every "24-bit remastered" CD I have paid money for has a 24-bit file somewhere in a storage room that my system could easily play.

Oliver's picture

The room and the equipment are "perfect." But my ears are not perfect at all. Plus the records often are not even good, but if I like the music, I have to live with the recording.

olivier Lagarde's picture

I'm dreaming of an auditorium with acoustic treatment : no flutter echoes, no bump in the bass. Whatever the system, you need always a sonically good room!!

Bob D's picture

My speakers, Acoustic Energy Aegis Ones, are over a decade old. They are without a doubt the limiting factor in my set-up, but I have yet to find a pair of loudspeakers that trumps them for midrange purity this side of $1000. I'll keep hanging onto them until I happen upon something that significantly betters them in every aspect for sensible money. Yep, I'm cheap, but I'm also sensible (and poor).

Daniel's picture

Definitely my room—it's virtually square, with a high ceiling.

Bates's picture

When I tried an EAD 2000 CD player in my system, it made the best change. I will be going to server based music so i guess it means that I must get a decent DAC.

Steve R's picture

I have a room resonance in the lower midrange area that, with certain songs, will muddy the voices of the singer. I need to add some more room treatments to fix the problem, but I haven't been able to come up with the money to purchase them as they are quite expensive.

Nodaker's picture

Right now I'd say it's probably my DAC, but I will correct that down the road, and I have a great CD player so I can listen up when I want. The DAC plays stuff off my computer through my Squeezebox Duet and for background or back yard listening, it's just fine for now.

Jari's picture

Musical Fidelity V-DAC killed some Rega-magic, someday I'll kill it, or just sell it.

ACF's picture

Using every trick in the book, it's good, as in very, very good, but still short of what is possible. That's part of what makes all this fun. Getting "there."

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

If there wasn't so much good stuff on records, I would upgrade my CD player, but I just don't care. Life's to short to drink cheap beer, drive boring cars, or listen to dry, lifeless CD's.

bro's picture

I have an old linn lk-280/spark. It's musical, but lacks resolution

Nik from Chicago's picture

On my budget, I am still using speakers from a neighbor's garage sale. It is these speakers and my turntable that I have yet to invest in the way I have on the rest of my system.

Dennis(Netherlands)'s picture

Floor of stone, stone walls, little furniture, no curtains....

toomasp's picture

It's the speakers & room interaction that's the most troubling part.

TOGA's picture

All cables I have tried have their own strong character. They are all like an unadjustable EQ and digital effect.

Bob S.  in Stokesdale, NC's picture

Wow. All I can say is how addictive this hobby is. Right now I am researching the best option for digital playback, in all its forms. Next would be interconnects, I'm gradually improving these as I go. Since my system doubles as movie viewing, I want to have all the surround speakers match my mains. Next, I want to convert my garage into a listening room with home theater capability. Anyway, since most of my big rig listening is on vinyl playback, I'd say choosing Source does not include the turntable. With the explosion in the last couple of years of various new storage, playback, and connectivity options for digital, such as affordable DACs, USB, HDMI 1.3, Blu-Ray, iTranport, dedicated servers, and my computer—to name a few, I will be doing a lot of reading and listening before I find what best fits my preferences and budget.

F.  Chasinovsky, Van Nuys, CA's picture

My ears.

Laughing Magpie's picture

Nobody with a life lives in a recording studio!

Michal's picture

The room—and probably this should be the most frequent answer, but it's unlikely. We talk audio business not construction business.

Rick's picture

NYC apartments are always too small.

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