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

What is the weakest link in your audio system and why?
Source component
13% (48 votes)
4% (16 votes)
Power amp
2% (7 votes)
Integrated amp
2% (7 votes)
2% (8 votes)
20% (74 votes)
38% (140 votes)
3% (11 votes)
14% (52 votes)
It's all perfect
2% (6 votes)
Total votes: 369

Nothing in audio is ever perfect—or is it? If you have a weak link in your audio system, what is it and why?

LGE's picture

Recording quality of most of my CDs.

DG's picture

Phono stage, but it's not that I can't live with it.

Jim Tavegia's picture


Ken's picture

My hearing. I basically can't hear above 10Khz, and my ears also ring 24/7. Stuff happens.

Austin Kuipers's picture

Probably the worst B&W speakers ever made: the DM580's (top of what was essentially the 600 series in the early '90s). Its metal dome tweeter is shrill and obnoxious, completely negating the smooth mids and better than decent bass. (It'll have to pass until I get a real job after high school and college) I'm running a warm-sounding Pop Pulse t-amp with it helps quite a bit. rest of the system is Adcom GFA-535 (other amp driving B&W DM620i's which IMO sound better than most of the new 680 series), Acurus L10 (pre), AQ interconnects and AR master series digital coaxial, Denon CDP, Sunfire subs.

Rob Gold's picture

First and foremost, with all systems, are the recordings themselves. Yes, some are quite good, but the variations are a mess.

adam's picture

Living in a city apartrment sucks!

Noah Bickart's picture

I need better transducers.

ch2's picture

Actually, I'd have to admit it's the old ears—the final element in the chain. Or is it the ear/brain connection? Or then maybe it's just the speaker cables.

CB in NJ's picture

My room is the weakest link. Stuck in the basement in an asymmetrical corner. I'm just happy to have a place to set up and play my music.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

It all depends on whom I choose to listen to (or not).

SnowmaNick's picture

Planning on upgrading within the next few weeks. Over the last couple of years, the rest of my system has grown beyond what my speakers can keep up with.

Mike Colvin's picture

Definitely the room!

Dimitris Gogas's picture

As usual it's the speakers. They're flawed, but I love them. I don't see me changing them soon.

Rollo Tommasi's picture

Second story duplex, oak floors, lathe & plaster walls, original window casings from 1925, out of code, out of phase wiring. It could be worse, I can't complain.

Lila's picture

Still can't afford large bass horns for the Lowther speaker drivers.

denisov_g@rogers.com's picture

I burnt my speakers, and now I am listening a very simple ones.

Graeme Nattress's picture

Always the room.

MJS's picture

The weakest link in my system is the source material I feed it. Not all CDs (or LPs) are created equally. When they are recorded and produced well, they sound very, very, good. When they are average, they sound it. My components always do their job very well.

Jay's picture

Speakers, even though they are Stereophile Class A. They aren't active and the crossover happens after amplification. I notice Stereophile/the hi-fi industry pays very little attention to such speakers, despite their considerable advantages over passive speakers.

RP's picture

Pretty much all of it. Even the digital stuff has some flaws still and after source forget about it—it's interpretations of the original. Heck, even recording and mastering have huge problems like the loudness war.

Dim's picture

WAF. I can't place my speakers where they would sound best.

Andy from Burlington's picture

Actually, everything but the turntable

Max's picture

Difficult to compensate for an asymmetrical room

Anonymous's picture

I mostly use my computer to listen to music, and I could use a new USB/optical DAC.

Dave ion Dallas's picture

I think it's my sense of hearing.

G.C.  Van Winkle's picture

The room is the weakest link in most listeners' systems—certainly mine. While I have located the speakers and listening chair well away from room boundaries, the untreated room is still impacting bsss response and to a lesser degree sidewall and ceiling reflections. Ethan Winer's Real Traps will be my next upgrade, along with a subwoofer.

Wheres My Beer's picture

Power. I live in a suburb and share a transformer with all my neighbors. By the time the power gets to me, it is a grungy mess. I have been working to improve it through AC regeneration & good power cables that shield out all the bad stuff that happens to power in crowded neighborhoods.

morris swift's picture

The mastering engineers that compress CD content, and then record it so that the digital level is right at max. for most of the time, with no head-room, and most of the available resolution thrown away.

tzed's picture

Wall of glass.