Hi-fi stereo component impact ranked - your experience?

I want to know people’s opinions, based on their experience, of what components have the biggest impact on the stereo system. That is to say, if you were to upgrade one, or to decide where to spend your money, what components give the biggest bang for the buck.

Here is my experience (everything matters - but so does your wallet):

1.) The Room, Room Treatments, Speakers, and placement of the Speakers
2.) Amplifier, Speaker Cables
3.) Power, Phono Stage Preamp, Stylus
4.) DAC, Preamp
5.) Source, Power Cables
6.) Interconnects, Reclockers/Scales, Audiophile Ethernet Switch
7.) Tweaks, HF noise absorption, Vibration control, Furniture, Grounding, Dedicated Power lines, audiophile outlets

Side note: I have found that dollar for dollar, you get more from analog equipment than digital. That is to say, you have to spend more on digital equipment (about 20%-30%) to get the same fidelity as analog. Perhaps analog is easier to build, or uses less or cheaper components?

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1./2. Speakers
1./2 Room

[The first and second spots might flip depending on how bad your current room/room set up or current speakers are.]

  1. Sources
  2. Preamplifier
  3. Amplifiers
  4. and beyond - Take your pick

Recommendations completely depend on two questions:

  1. are all of those components currently on a well balanced, common level or not and do they sound generally satisfying in the room they play in?
  2. on which level are they? (best to describe by naming components)

I was posing the question in a general sense… all things being equal.

The speaker, followed by the room. From there on i is a matter of selection to dial in the sound one wishes to achieve.

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It all starts with a plug. A dedicated line is worth every penny.

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I am probably the new kid on the block here but in my experience:

  1. Speakers
  2. Power amplifiers
  3. Streamer / Server
  4. DAC
  5. Preamp
  6. Clean regulated source power
  7. Cables
  8. Other tweaks

I haven’t been able to do any “audiophile” room treatments other than rugs and things like that so nothing to offer there.

The BACCH is going to be my next piece and I expect it to be #1 or #2. It is the science based audio playback breakthrough of the century IMO. My fear is the wait list will become as long as Decware’s is.


When this is the precondition and everything is well balanced and overall level is quite high, then complete cabling concept, then maybe preamp.

Same situation, just everything on lower level, then sources first, then preamp.

In case one component is the weak point, then things change and it depends on the component if this is to change or 2 things at the same time.

Speakers always last except if they don’t satisfy and play the room.