Amp first approach to build a system. Anyone did it ?

As opposed to classical speakers first or source first.

I didn't do it, but if I started today I would keep the amp I have and probably replace everything else.


That’s how I did my latest system.

Amp/Preamp first, and then just added to it as I could afford to/found good deals.

I'd say it has worked out pretty well.

@inna I abandoned tubes many years ago. ymmv. The CHARACTERISTICS I FIND IMPORTANT, only great, class A ss, works for me. To each his own. Speakers 1st, room 2nd, and everything else comes next. That is how I roll, and how I have been doing it for over 50 years. For clients, as well as myself. Enjoy ! MrD.

mrdecibel, amp first approach is only if you just really want to use particular amp or preamp/amp, normally it's either speakers or source first, of course. As for the room, well, yeah, unless you move frequently.

jl35, that's a good point. In fact, I was thinking of upgrading speakers first soon but couldn't resist getting VAC amp when I saw it. So now it's amp first and speakers later for me.

inna I did  the same thing pretty much back when I started I was obsessed about tube amps so focused on amps first and speakers later. I now would do that totally backwards and was fortunate to end up with a well balanced system.

I could easily see being in that position.

I have been upgrading my systems for fifty years.

After a few years in, I had taken out my very first bank loan for $5,000 ($19K in todays dollars) to buy a Threshold s500 amp. One of my next purchases would have been speakers… and I am sure there was no way I was thinking about swapping the amp.


I have also given up on solid state amps. So if I upgrade again I would be keeping my ARC Reference 160… or maybe upgrading to an ARC Reference 320… but that really isn’t a change.

Having been an audio dealer ,and includes all system synergies given to the 

$$ budget . You first have to decide what is your max budget 

from my vast experiences the front end dac or turntable and quality of Everything 

especially cables, power cords Linear power supplies all effect the end result 

being the most important since music Starts there ,once the signal compromised,

it cannot be made up down stream, the Loudspeaker  too is on par for most important , that being said ifyou are starting with your existing Amplifier

what is yourTotal budget, and what power amplifier are you going to use ?


Speakers first. Why? Because the room is the thing you have the least control over so gotta get the speakers and their setup right.

From there, choose an amp capable of driving the speakers to their max, add a good quality source, and voila!


Is there a rational argument for amp first? I suppose if one has a strong preference for a specific amp. A SET comes to mind. If that is your thing then perhaps nothing else will do. Your speaker choices might be more limited but the right ones are still probably out there somewhere. To each their own.


I’ve always considered the source and speakers first and move on from there.

I’ve always considered the source and speakers first and move on from there.

While I have not done this myself, I might be tempted given the amp I currently own (a clone/re-build of a Western Electric 133A amp).  The other amps I have are also low-powered amps that require fairly high efficiency speakers.  Really good amps make a lot of difference, so it might make sense to at least look primarily at that type of speaker, that is, if I were in the market.  Right now, I am more into upgrading my existing speaker.

It would be best if you tell us the specific model number of the amp you will keep and use, then it is more a question of avoiding a poor speaker choice.

I had a pair of vintage tube mono blocks 30wpc, 4,8,16 ohm taps, big transformers. They were the start, period, then compatible speakers, and a tube preamp.

You are going SS, no problem, but we need to know the amp's specifics to give you good/avoid advice, not specific speaker models, just what to avoid technically.

I own 3 systems, a living room one, a smaller dedicated room one, and one I setup outside during summer months. All have evolved, sometime having speakers looking for an amp, sometimes having an amp and looking for speakers. Sources have also changed. 

More than one way to accomplish a satisfying result.

To paraphrase J. Geils vocalist Peter Wolf “First I look at the room”.

Then speakers.  Then…..


I have always wanted either Lamm or VAC. I have also wanted to leave the world of SS amplification. 

As everyone tends to espouse what’s in their rack so to will I. There are several used Rodgers High Fidelity KWM-88 Integrated Amplifiers (some w/ warrantys) some without. A tube monster.