Choosing a larger stereo system

Choosing audio systemsChoosing a larger stereo system. It is always hard to know what to look for when choosing audio systems. And this subject is asked many times.  I will do my best to explain just what to look for and what not to do.

Choosing a larger stereo system

Why change?

The first thing that you have to do when choosing a larger stereo system is to ask yourself what exactly do you want to achieve. Are you planning to move from one room to your present home to a larger room? Or are you planning to relocate and will have a larger listening room at your new residence.

Do you want to have more power from your system? Or maybe you think that you want your system to have a better look? Then you will have bigger enjoyment when you sit and listen to your music. Maybe you are planning to add a DVD or a Blu-ray player to your system. And there are a few ways in which you can. And at the same time still, retain the HI-end quality of audio playback.

A larger system will give you more headroom and this is essential for movie playback. But you must understand a CD ply back is not recorded and formatted the same way as a Blu-ray disc. And the sound will never be the same. First, you must decide what you really want to do and why do you want it. Then go to the next step.

System cabling – Choosing audio systems

After you have determined why you want to upgrade your system your next step is to check all your cabling is sufficient. If you have chosen wisely in your first system then you will already have a good quality power cord. Also a good quality pair of interconnect cables and last but not least a good quality pair of loudspeakers cables.

You do not have to think about changing or upgrading cables as it is not really necessary. The cables you have are sufficient to supply most of the amplifiers, CD players, Blu-ray players, turntables and loudspeakers.

The weakest link

When you are considering to move up to a larger system, you have to remember that everything has to work together. Each component is like a link in a chain. Your system will only be as good as the weakest link.

Many people do not understand and think if you buy a bigger better amplifier then everything will sound better but this is not the case.  When we are talking about an audio system we are then introduced to synergy.

Sometimes we are able to bend the rules just a little bit. And if we have chosen our components wisely when we built our first system then we are able to upgrade our system sound for less than we think

Turn it up

The amplifier we are using for our stereo playback is the first item to look at and is a simple operation to find an amplifier that will give you more power. We must look at how much power do you really need.

The power output of an amplifier is rated differently between a Valve amplifier and a solid-state amplifier which causes confusion. If a person does not understand exactly how much power is really necessary, this can become a real problem.  

Do you want to retain the type of amplifier you already have to say a Valve amplifier or do you want to change it over to a solid-state amplifier? Or maybe a hybrid amplifier? Do you want to leave the world of stereo and enter into the world of surround sound? They have different qualities and you could be excited about one quality but could be disappointed with another as the formats are different?

Stereo upgrade – Choosing audio systems

The first thing to decide upon is how much do you want to spend to get more power into your system. At this point, I need to remind you that you will pay more money but only get a small difference in the level of sound output that you actually hear. This is due to the way in which the sound is actually measured.

 The change of an amplifier does much more than give you a power increase. It also gives more dynamics, transparency, better separation, bigger sound stage and a better tonal range. By changing a valve amplifier from say 10 watts to 18 watts, will give to a very big difference in the sound heard. But by changing a solid-state amplifier from say 10 watts to 25 watts then you will only hear a small increase.  

At the end

If you have chosen your speakers correctly, it should not be necessary to change the speakers under normal circumstance. An amplifier giving another say 20 watts of power will not really make much of a difference to the speakers you have. It is only when you are doing a very big upgrade with your amplifier that you will need to upgrade your speakers.

If you want to upgrade your speakers because you want a different style or want a bit more bass or a larger room to fill, then a bigger cabinet is required. Usually, with a bigger cabinet, you will have a larger driver giving you a much better response which is a very good upgrade to have.

Changing over

If you have decided that you want to change from a stereo amplifier to surround sound amplifier you must understand, surround amplifiers have a much higher power output and operate in a different way. You are always able to select the stereo function on the amplifier and use it as a conventional stereo amplifier. But you must remember that it will have a different sound character than a stereo amplifier.

Movie playback and Digital playback are a different format and are of a very different quality.  When you are changing over to a surround sound amplifier you will need two or even three additional loudspeakers and also, additional cabling to suit the system.

The cost

If you have decided just to upgrade your amplifier and not change you should expect to pay 1200 to 1700 USD for an amplifier that will give a good improvement. If you are looking to upgrade your source machine then you should expect to pay 1500 to 2000 USD for a machine that will give you a good increase in performance.

Finally, the speakers you should expect to pay 1500 to 2000 USD for an increase in performance. Unfortunately, the difference you hear is only about 15%. If you have decided to upgrade by switching over to a surround sound system then you will pay 1500 to 1800 USD for the amplifier, 1200 to 1500 for a Blu-ray player and 2500 USD for the loudspeakers.

Performance

Now you have a choice and for the same money, you can get either a stereo system or a surround sound system. What about the performance is one better than the other and why? This is a very good question and it comes down to your personal preference.

The sound from a conventional high-quality stereo system is warm rich and open with great space and air and has a truly realistic and lifelike sound. The sound from a high-quality surround sound system is very fast and responsive with great detail and bass definition but tends to feel a bit on the cold side and lacks the warmth of the stereo system.

Choosing audio systems

Many people actually have two systems one for stereo and one for movie playback. But it is a personal choice and can be confusing as which way to go. Each system has good points to offer and this, of course, will lead to the next level in audio that is known as Hi-End. Choosing a  larger stereo system is a bit more complex than it first sounds!

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