Loudspeakers and the room are more important factors on sound quality than anywhere else in the amplification chain, although there is some amount of variability between the sound of high end audio stereo components.
Put a great Turntable system, preamplification, amplification and speakers in a really crappy room and the sound quality wont be very good.
Put good equipment in a good room and good sound. Put great equipment in a great room, as I have the fortune to experience and it’s great!
Beginning or end?
Linn’s Ivor Tiefenbrun famously suggested that if you can’t get the information off the vinyl disc in the first place then nothing else you do afterward matters.
There’s much truth in what he said (though I have never agreed with the conclusion that some make that turntables are more important than loudspeakers).
But this thought process has deeper implications when it comes to capturing sound.
In my experience, DSD is a far better capture technology than PCM. Why this would be is something we can over time sort out (is it the format or is it the capture hardware?).
Regardless, using the finest A/D hardware available there is a clear and undeniable sonic advantage to capturing sound in DSD. Later converting that DSD capture to PCM has far less loss than either recording in PCM in the first place or converting DSD to analog for mixing and then back again.
There are plenty of folks who do not agree with me on the latter part of my statement (conversion) but let’s leave that debate for another day.
Here’s the main point. Like the difference between a great turntable/cartridge and a mediocre one, there’s no valid argument possible when it comes to capturing the information. You either do or don’t capture what’s on the disc (or case in point with what is available for capture on our microphones).
If you can capture all there is available, what you do afterward is less important than putting the right effort into the initial capture.
As Ivor said, if you can’t get the capture right nothing else you do down the rest of the chain matters.
When you grab a copy of an Octave Record you know the capture was done properly with DSD.
Once we have captured the data without loss, it doesn’t matter as much the form you listen to it in.