Originally Posted by Simca
You're disillusioned and are placing a stupid amount of emphasis on the amplifier. The amplifier is an important component but nowhere near as important as you're making it out to be. The amplifier doesn't produce some super magical effect that makes music sound better. A proper amplifier will run speakers to near it's maximum potential. You can get a proper amplifier for speakers and headphones for less than the headphone is worth and it's NOT worth spending more than the headphone on the amplifier because you're getting almost all of the potential out of the headphone or speaker from decent amplification. If you want better sound you'd see much better results upgrading your headphones or speakers. Spending 2x or 10x or some stupid absurd amount like 10,000 on an amplifier for 300 dollar speakers is stupid. There's no nice way to put it. It's absurd. You're delusional if you think it's worth spending 10k on an amp for 300 dollar speakers. You'd see infinitely better results if the amp and speaker prices were swapped.
You can buy whatever you want, but if you're on a budget like 98+% of OCN, there's certain ways to spend your money that'll maximize your sound with your available funds.
It's not rocket science. No one will agree with you that the amplifier is as important as you're making it out to be. That's the simple truth and there's nothing more to say on that.
My bad, I removed a sentence I had included about wildly different amounts being ridiculous, so I do agree with you on that.
The amplifier does more than you give it credit for though. Did you know that the most famous studio in the world - Abbey Road - had B&W 802 Nautilus' (£8,000) paired with Chord Electronics SPM 14000B Monoblock Power amplifiers (£14,500/pair) and that's not including the pre-amp as I can't remember what they used. And that was in their master recording and monitoring suite. I highly doubt some of the best recording engineers in the world are doing it wrongly.
Yes, you can get a 'proper' amplifier for a speaker for the same value as that speaker, but an amplifier which is slightly outclassing the speaker is always a good idea. For example, my spare room has a Musical Fidelity A3 integrated with Monitor Audio GR10s. The amplifier definitely outclasses the speaker in that situation and as a result it allows them to shine their little hearts out - and my god are they good. The trick is finding two products at roughly half your budget each, and playing with the budget. B&W 683s with an Arcam A18 don't sound too special, but Monitor Audio RX6s with a Roksan Kandy integrated sure do get the music going.
You get -as you said- "almost all" of the potential from a speaker with a cheaper amp at half the value of the speaker. But you get to hear 99% of the detail in a song with a pair of £80 Shure SE215s. Hi-fi is about that extra percentage. You can't 'get' more from an amplifier, and putting one in which is allowed free reign by its speaker is a bad idea - if your speaker still has performance to give, then hear it. I'm constantly astounded by how good some really cheap speakers are sounding because I'm putting great amps on the end of them for testing.
There does come a level with amplification where you wont get any more from a speaker, but it's higher than you may think and the difference between that level and what you consider an adequate amplifier is actually quite a lot. When you hit that top end of what the speaker can do, it comes alive. It wasn't designed to be run with a sub par amp (in most cases anyway), it was designed to be controlled properly and to sing its heart out, not just shout loudly.
A thought experiment: The Monitor Audio RX1s I mentioned. Find an amplifier which costs the same as them (£400 rrp I'm sure) which will get everything out of them.