Most Important Aspect of an Audio System - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: What (in order of preference) is the most important aspect of an audio system?
Speakers, Room, Electronics 0 0%
Room, Speakers, Electronics 0 0%
Speakers, Electronics, Room 0 0%
Electronics, Room, Speakers 0 0%
Room, Electronics, Speakers 0 0%
Voters: 0. You may not vote on this poll

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Speakers > Most Important Aspect of an Audio System
RMK!'s Avatar RMK! 03:23 PM 03-20-2012
In thinking about all the components that make up a good HT/media room sound system I was trying to rank them. That was the inspiration for this Thread and Poll. In order of importance, what do you consider the most important elements to a good HT audio system. I am including subwoofers with speakers and source, processor, EQ, and amplification with electronics. The room is the room ...

I know I missed several possible combinations but for brevity these 5 options were chosen.

Khaos's Avatar Khaos 03:32 PM 03-20-2012
I'd say room, speakers, electronics.

A room plays a big part in how a speaker sounds, even the most amazing speaker can sound terrible if the room isn't treated properly. The thing is, most rooms have minor issues where treatment may not seem necessary but regardless, treatment will always give a huge improvement.

Obviously speakers do more then electronics do for sound, I'm sure everyone would agree on that. The only exception is if your poorly powering a high end pair, however; you have to assume most people would be pairing their speakers up appropriately, at least to satisfy the minimum.

- Kh[a]os
MrEastSide's Avatar MrEastSide 03:36 PM 03-20-2012
I'd personally put the room last, unless it's an absolutely terrible room.
Ratman's Avatar Ratman 03:37 PM 03-20-2012
I didn't participate in your poll. but here are my opinions:
1) budget
2) restrictions
3) expectations
Jay1's Avatar Jay1 03:51 PM 03-20-2012
Speakers, room, electronics. Those Bose cubes aren't going to sound good in a professionally treated room
Ratman's Avatar Ratman 04:00 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Those Bose cubes aren't going to sound good in a professionally treated room

WTF!
Did anyone mention Bose? Why put a match to start another flame war?
Khaos's Avatar Khaos 04:06 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Speakers, room, electronics. Those Bose cubes aren't going to sound good in a professionally treated room

If your room is acoustically terrible, then getting any type of speaker will sound terrible. In general most rooms are already acoustically satisfying to some degree, so usually that step is taken care of without any work necessary. Most people don't think about it, however; its a step I would look into making sure before buying any type of speaker. Even though you (people in general) may not have acoustically treated your room, it was still necessary first that the room was able to accommodate speakers while eliciting minimal sound issues.

- Kh[a]os
Djoel's Avatar Djoel 04:07 PM 03-20-2012
Room, Speakers, Electronics..

I heard some great speakers in terrible rooms just sound awful, I've walked away with a headache.

I've hear mediocre speakers sound great in well treat rooms and sound good.

Djoel
RMK!'s Avatar RMK! 04:16 PM 03-20-2012
Well I'm with the minority (thus far ) and have it: Room, Speakers, Electronics.
Wonder if posting this in the Speaker Section is the reason speakers over room is preferred ... Interesting
buzzy_'s Avatar buzzy_ 04:20 PM 03-20-2012
Sorry, this is a non starter. Electronics doesn't belong on the list.

Room does, but with the right placement in you can usually eliminate a lot of the room effects. (Might not be a practical in terms of space use or traffic pattern, but it will eliminate them.) No question about that. (And in general people here spend way too little time experimenting with placement.)

So that leaves speakers.

What really matters is the content you feed in. Not the electronics, or the bit depth of the recording, but the actual content.

And what matters is the listener. It helps to know what you need and like, and how you'll use the system. So much of the advice given in this forum is tossed off without any regard to that. That's just spew.
Drew Eckhardt's Avatar Drew Eckhardt 04:48 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by RMK! View Post

In thinking about all the components that make up a good HT/media room sound system I was trying to rank them. That was the inspiration for this Thread and Poll. In order of importance, what do you consider the most important elements to a good HT audio system. I am including subwoofers with speakers and source, processor, EQ, and amplification with electronics. The room is the room ...

I know I missed several possible combinations but for brevity these 5 options were chosen.

Speakers with uniform, monotonic off-axis curves will sound great in a wide variety of rooms and excellent once you surround yourself with the things we like to live with (rugs, drapes, book shelves) that keep rooms from being too live.

Mediocre speakers still sound that way in great rooms.
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01 04:52 PM 03-20-2012
Speakers, Room, Electronics

I already have the room, and I am not going to rebuild a room, or move
every 6 months. There are a lot of good speakers out there - the key is
speaker set up, and a room that has some furniture, curtains, rugs and
something on the walls to help diffuse the sound. My goal/aim is taming
the echo, and tame first reflections. After that, reliable electronics with
the power to drive the speakers.

I have owned a whole lot of speakers, and most of them sounded good
in a so called average room.

For the most part, the general public will not go real deep to treat a room,
and a lot of them may not be able to discern the difference.
HardBat's Avatar HardBat 04:56 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

WTF!
Did anyone mention Bose? Why put a match to start another flame war?

Cuz it's fun to bash Bose
holt7153's Avatar holt7153 05:10 PM 03-20-2012
Like most I voted electronics last, but after a recent upgrade I'm pretty shocked at what a good room correction (XT32) can do to my existing room & speakers.
ccotenj's Avatar ccotenj 05:13 PM 03-20-2012
^^^

me too... i guess i looked at the question as not including dsp...
holt7153's Avatar holt7153 05:17 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

^^^

me too... i guess i looked at the question as not including dsp...

aah, I lumped it in with electronics-please disregard.
g_bartman's Avatar g_bartman 05:18 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by holt7153 View Post

Like most I voted electronics last, but after a recent upgrade I'm pretty shocked at what a good room correction (XT32) can do to my existing room & speakers.

I agree. I don't have a bad room, probably about average. XT32 makes it sound much better. I know the room is above electronics but some of us are limited by where/if we can place absorbtion pannels, etc. Speakers are where the rubber hits the road. Good speakers can be made to sound even better in a treated room or XT32 type processing but so so speakers will not magically sound better in a treated room. Just my opinion.
ccotenj's Avatar ccotenj 05:22 PM 03-20-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by holt7153 View Post

aah, I lumped it in with electronics-please disregard.

nah, i think you had the right idea...
Espo77's Avatar Espo77 11:55 PM 03-20-2012
I have purchased spkrs blind a few times based on several observations: good reviews, fit and finish, posted info on quality of parts, and simply getting a good deal on them. The enjoyment is in the tweaking process- moving the spkrs around in the room and finding the best placement for sound quality.
Along the way, through the years, I pursue, (or shall I say, I have a weakness for top performing separate components)...so I purchase them first before the spkrs...a high powered THX multi channel amplifier, an "audiophile" grade pre-pro, (I'm on my third one, trying to chase after higher performance and the latest features.)
So my point is that although I am aware that this activity may be somewhat backwards, or different than many other shoppers approach, I seem to always be a little ahead with the components and dreaming about a higher performing speaker package that I can't afford. I am not saying that I am unhappy with my system. I just have this approach that I can't change.
I feel no need to conduct the poll, as long as the systems components match. If I was starting from an empty room, I would however try to properly treat the room with the right balance of diffusion, absorption and bass control...perhaps hiring a professional company to get the room tuned.
uscmatt99's Avatar uscmatt99 06:43 AM 03-21-2012
I voted for room, speakers, then electronics. The room will ultimately limit the performance of any speakers or electronics. The speaker design will limit the capabilities of even the best electronics. The quality of electronics, while important, will contribute least to the overall listening experience, presuming there is adequate amplification. Admittedly, DSP should be looked at as icing on the acoustical cake, and can be very helpful in many circumstances, particularly with challenging rooms.

Why didn't you put cable lifts as option 4 to spice things up a bit?
AV Science Sales 5's Avatar AV Science Sales 5 07:04 AM 03-21-2012
Speakers first, with room close second then electronics. Does not matter how good the room is if the speakers are not capable to do what you are wanting. In my case I want to be able to cleanly reproduce the dynamics of movie sound tracks at higher levels. No amount of room acoustics or room correction would make a difference if the speaker is not capable of the task. The room is also very important, because as others have said, even a good speaker can sound bad in a crappy room. Room correction of electronics can add the finishing touch. I too am very pleased with what XT32 has been able to do in my treated room.
Rijax's Avatar Rijax 08:32 AM 03-21-2012
I will gladly differ to those who know more about this than I, but it just seems to me the room is the more important, if only by a whisker.

If you have a bad room, no speaker, good or bad, is going to live up to it's potential. In other words, a bad room is going to hurt any speaker's performance.

If you have a good room, whether the speakers are good or bad, at least they will deliver the best performance possible. Just my uneducated perspective.

Either way, the quality of both room and speakers is pretty doggone important.
RMK!'s Avatar RMK! 09:22 AM 03-21-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by uscmatt99 View Post

Why didn't you put cable lifts as option 4 to spice things up a bit?

Why didn't I think of that ... actually, I have some if anyone is interested

I think the lopsided results are interesting. A case could be made for just about any of these options. For me, HT the speakers need to be capable of clean un-distorted output at reference levels. A high quality source, electronics that are capable of driving the speakers to those levels and an EQ is essential to smooth out the room response. A perfect acoustical space really allows all of the components to shine. I guess it 's "horses for courses".

Thanks for all the great input.
Veda's Avatar Veda 09:48 AM 03-21-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Speakers, room, electronics. Those Bose cubes aren't going to sound good in a professionally treated room

Probably better sounding than the most expensive Wilsons in a glass room though
RMK!'s Avatar RMK! 10:36 AM 03-21-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Speakers, room, electronics. Those Bose cubes aren't going to sound good in a professionally treated room

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veda View Post

Probably better sounding than the most expensive Wilsons in a glass room though

I agree and if you believe Wilson's advertisements, that is exactly the kind of room they are in ...
thxman's Avatar thxman 12:22 PM 03-21-2012
Room - Speaker - Electronics. The funny thing folks will say, crap speakers will sound like crap anywhere. But to be fair, if you take the worse possible room (not just compromises), you could probably make any speaker sound like crap. In the end, most of us will make the most compromises with the room (including speaker placement) because that is life.
JohnAV's Avatar JohnAV 12:31 PM 03-21-2012
The speaker should come first as you can always get better and better electronics to maximize your audio quality, but the speaker is what reproduces your audio to any degree of accuracy.

I place the room last, as you can use a pre-pro, or AVR's room calibration to improve the systems response for a given room. Of course some construct a home theater with proper acoustics, but thats not the norm with most people, they instead use what room in their dwelling for this purpose.
Jay1's Avatar Jay1 12:32 PM 03-21-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5 View Post

Speakers first, with room close second then electronics. Does not matter how good the room is if the speakers are not capable to do what you are wanting. In my case I want to be able to cleanly reproduce the dynamics of movie sound tracks at higher levels. No amount of room acoustics or room correction would make a difference if the speaker is not capable of the task. The room is also very important, because as others have said, even a good speaker can sound bad in a crappy room. Room correction of electronics can add the finishing touch. I too am very pleased with what XT32 has been able to do in my treated room.

Exactly. 20hz-20,000hz cant be achieved without proper speakers, as I was getting at with my Bose comment. You first have to have speakers capable of doing what you want.
gillcup's Avatar gillcup 05:09 PM 03-21-2012
My experience is that the following are the most important:

1) source material (LP/CD/SACD/DVD-A...etc)
2) Speakers
3) for vinyl, turntable/cartridge otherwise, Room

I get the biggest bang for the buck when I find the best vinyl pressings or a well mastered CD/SACD/DVD-A.
cavchameleon's Avatar cavchameleon 05:33 PM 03-21-2012
Room, Speakers, Electronics! I've heard awesome speakers in bad rooms = unimpressive sound. Speakers of course need to be capable (does not mean 'expensive').
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