The most important component in a system is…
… the loudspeaker / amplifier pair. [OK, yes, this is really the two most important components…:-]
Like Laurel and Hardy. Abbot and Costello. Arnold and his body…
You get this pair right and the supporting cast: sources, preamplifier, cables etc. can be customized to fit individual taste… or used to optimize, highlight, support the amplifier / loudspeaker team.
The kicker here is that good teams are hard to find. Really hard.
And without a team such as this, the results are almost always boring at best, distressing at their worst. [Martin and Lewis both went on to make good movies without each other, IMHO, so there are exceptions…:-]
This is why we are so happy, exuberant even, about how well the Lamm ML2.1 amps team up with the Marten Design Coltrane speakers. The EDGE Signature One worked really well, but some people just have to have a tube amp. The high-gain Audio Note Kegons work fantastic, but they work fantastic with everything and they cost $50K. The ML2.1 at $30K are a lot cheaper and have a nice synergy going – unexpected really. I originally poo poo’ed the idea of even trying the two together.
Our Sound Lab Ultimate 1 speakers sound way, WAY better than any U1 speakers that we have ever heard at shows, no matter how many accolades they get from reviewers and show attendees – but I feel we still have not hit upon the great amp for these speakers yet (but we did find great speaker cables for these speakers: the Pranawire Cosmos speaker cable).
Now we have to try lots of amps with the Kharma Mini Exquisite speakers. We expect the ML2.1, which sound so right with the smaller and harder to drive Kharma 3.2 speakers, will work very well on the Minis – but you never know these things until you try them.
That is part of what makes it so hard, finding these super-synergistic amp-speaker teams – each combination has to be tried and tested.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. Something that many, many people seem to ignore, at least the way I read things:
The associated equipment: source, preamplifier and cables, powercords, and rack – cannot suck… or you will never hear if the amp and speakers are performing beautifully.
Even a great team can’t overcome a plot, script and director who just really are not up to the task. Such a team will remain forever in obscurity.