Matching components together

March 29, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

One of the constant challenges we audiophiles face is the matching of components.

Pairing together two products to make musical magic.

We can rely upon a previous matching effort like that of the manufacturer. (An all PS system, for example, is a known quantity)

We can also rely upon the equipment matching suggestions of reviewers and their systems.

Or, we can boldly go forward and trust ourselves to make great matches.

However we get to the point of pairing together products to make the final output our systems are capable of, the goal is always the same.

Turn the lights low, press play, close your eyes, and connect yourself with the music.

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18 comments on “Matching components together”

  1. When I started my HiFi journey top class receivers not only allowed to switch the phono input from MM to MC but also to select different values for impedance or capacitance for best matching the characteristics of the phono cartridge. For connoisseur it was also relevant to select the correct tonearm-mass best fitting the cartridges being used. And then there were some crazy loudspeakers whose impedance dropped down to values below 2.5 ohms now requiring most stable power amps. But what are the criteria for a best match of other components? Couldn’t a decent digital equalizer do the job much better?

  2. One of the best adventures this hobby of ours has to offer. System synergies that work is a lot of fun finding.
    When I started I went with a very neutral, clean sounding amp and paired with a DAC that has good bass and decent warmth in it, so I wouldn’t have too much of a good thing being neutral reference.
    I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m planning on getting another pair of headphones to join my sonic universe, but man are they expensive! That is why we save. 😉

  3. Technical Audio Devices (TAD) Laboratories Inc. is the only other high-end
    home-audio company that I know of that makes everything from CD transports
    all the way through to loudspeakers to keep the synergy at it's optimum within
    the whole system.

    However the cost of the TAD Inc. gear is far greater than the reasonably priced
    PS Audio gear.
    Also TAD don't have a DSD recording studio.

    1. There’s also Audio Note UK—everything from source (turntables, arms, cartridges and CD transports and DACs) to amplifiers/preamplifiers to speakers, plus cabling. A different sound than PS Audio and TAD but for me (and many others), musical magic in abundance.

  4. I have never had a one brand system. I have a lot of PS Audio gear, both current and discontinued ( which I still use ). To do an entire audio system under one brand would take a pretty big staff.

  5. The room and your personal preference for sound quality ultimately put the ball in your court, not in any given manufacturer or reviewer. You have to do your own homework. Although as Steven/Steven might argue, a good retailer can be a good coach. 😎

  6. Very true. However in the early days, it was not so much the 'matching' consideration, it was more the 'what can I afford' and hailing from a relatively small town 'what is available'. There were no high end stores locally so Pioneer, Sony, Sansui, Yamaha, Sanyo, JVC, Technics... were about it for component choices. (More variety in the speaker area though) McIntosh, Tannoy, Naim, Marantz, Accuphase - those were just things in magazines! And out of range of my bicycle.
    Luckily, today the local purchase lock is long gone but technically it is still 'what can I afford'.
    But now there tends to be an extra zero on that amount.

    I have a fair amount of visible collected vintage audio gear stacked in my work office and subsequently get fellow audio geeks dropping in. "I saw your gear in the window and I just had to come in.." And the passion conversation ensues. Which is very enjoyable. I often deliver my jestful, yet true phrase that I've been uttering for years:
    "Everybody spends WAY too much money on SOMETHING that makes everybody else say: Pfft - You're an IDIOT"
    One fellow responded recently "Oh I KNOW... I collect axes. I have about 1200 of them. I can tell you who built them, who designed them, what style they are, what country, what period they are from, what handle they originally came with..."

    Who knew?
    An axe is an axe.
    Just like an amp is an amp...

      1. Oh my, maybe he WAS referring to guitars... Pfft - I'm an IDIOT!!
        No, he described some.. I wasn't aware there were 1200 types of axes...
        There probably is an axe forum and website out there somewhere. (With adze... )

  7. When I read about component synergy, two things come into my mind:

    1. Most define synergy as tonality matching to their room situation. IMO this will mostly mean, they didn’t catch the best sound quality synergy.

    2. If choosing components of a manufacturer would mean “best synergy”, the manufacturer should have compared/comparably voiced this combination extensively with joining in other brand’s components to find out if this is a fact. Do we think this was done? We surely can rely that components of a manufacturer match without any problem and are voiced at least to the taste and equipment of the manufacturer. But does it mean, there’s no better match (absolutely and depending on one’s environment)?

  8. Can one system do it all? I think not.
    My mate is in love with his Klipsch La Scalas. Correct for his music taste. Not mine.
    He would laugh at my Stax F81 “second system” which I love.

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