What you need to decide when choosing your home audio system
Home Audio systems come in many varieties. You can get compact systems, build your own systems, surround sound, different size amplifiers. There is a lot of choice and your decision will depend on many factors.
What You Need
A home audio system can be compact or assembled from separate components. Either of these options will have all the essentials:
Stereo Amplifier or Receiver: which is like a control center and is used to connect and control the sources of the music (Radio, Disc Player, Bluetooth, Streamer etc) and the speakers.
Stereo systems require two speakers, one for the left channel and another for the right. You can always add central speakers, bass speakers and other types for improved sound quality
Pre-Packaged Stereo Systems
These are ideal if you are a casual listener, have a small room, or a limited budget. A compact system may be the right choice as it provides everything you need to start listening to music. Additional features may also include a built-in CD player and/or additional inputs for connecting more devices.
Make Your Own System
This is more for the music enthusiast who wants better sound quality, Has more space and listens to music often, You can assemble a system using a separate receiver or integrated amplifier, speakers, and source devices. This type of system provides flexibility for your preferences and budget as you can choose the components and speakers you want.
STEREO RECEIVER CORE FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Your Amplifier Must support a two-channel speaker setup. This is to ensure a stereo sound set up with right and left speaker. You can also look out for amplifiers that offer setting up a central speaker and other speakers.
An AM and/or FM tuner. Digital Tuner for Radio:
Analog audio inputs:
For connecting compatible devices like your mobile, mp3 player etc.
ADDITIONAL STEREO RECEIVER CONNECTION OPTIONS
Included on most stereo receivers to connect a turntable. Today once again turntables are becoming increasingly popular
Digital Audio Connections:
Digital optical/coaxial audio inputs may be provided to access audio from select CD players and most DVD/Blu-ray players, cable/satellite boxes, and TVs.
A/B Speaker Connections:
Allows connection of four speakers but surround sound listening isn’t supported. The B speakers mirror the main A Speakers. Half the power goes to each pair of speakers. The A/B speaker option allows listening to the same audio source in a second room or provides more coverage in a large room.
Select stereo receivers include a Zone 2 Output, which supplies a stereo signal to a second location but requires external amplifiers. Zone 2 allows different audio sources to play in a main room and a second location. So you can have the same music in the living room and the kitchen at the same time
Select stereo receivers allow the connection of a subwoofer. A subwoofer is the loudspeaker used to produce the low bass frequencies that give music depth and richness.
Wireless Multi-room Audio:
This allows music to be sent to speakers anywhere in the house.
Ethernet and/or Wi-Fi may be included to access music streaming services, and network audio storage devices.
IBluetooth allows wireless music streaming from smartphones, tablets, laptops etc.
A USB port allows music from flash drives and portable hard drives.
SPEAKER TYPES AND PLACEMENT
Speakers come in a variety of types and sizes, and placement is important. If you have limited space, bookshelf speakers may be best, but consider floor-standing speakers for a large room, especially if the receiver doesn’t have a subwoofer output.
It’s best to place the speakers about 6-8 feet apart and approximately 3-4 feet from the center of a wall or in a front corner. Do not place speakers flat against a wall or corner. Space is needed between the speaker and the wall or corner.
Speakers should not face directly forward, but angled to face the primary listening spot, providing the best sound direction balance.
Stereo System vs Surround Sound
Some people have a stereo system for music and a separate surround sound system for TV/movie viewing.
However, home theater receivers can also be used for stereo music listening, as almost all have a stereo listening mode. This turns off all speakers except for the front left and right speakers. So really you only need one system for both surround and stereo sound
Home theater receivers can also process stereo signals for distribution to five or more channels via Dolby ProLogic II, IIx, DTS Neo:6 or other audio processing. This provides more immersive music listening.
Before you reach into your wallet, consider the following:
Are you a Casual Listener or a Music Enthuisiast?. If so try out the system or components you’re considering in the store. If it doesn’t sound good, it won’t sound good at home.
Do You Have A Small or Large Room? If you have a small room, a compact system may be fine. If you have a large room, make sure your choice can fill the room with great sound.
Will you be listening to just music or do you want Movie and TV sound as well. If you want to use a stereo system for TV and movie sound as well, consider a system that enables you to connect a subwoofer and provides video connections.
If you’re mainly a TV and movie viewer and only listen to music occasionally, consider a soundbar or home theater receiver and a set of surround speakers. Remember a home theater system can have stereo speaker set up features as well for music listening.