Question what to look for. Just exactly, what do you want, when are you choosing a different system? And, who do you ask? I hope my ‘Question what to look for?’ will help you choose wisely. Because we certainly have different requirements and also different hearing. And, our hearing is one of the biggest problems we face when involved with audio.
I have spent hours talking to people about what to look for when buying an audio system. And, so I thought it could be a good idea to share my knowledge and ideas with you.
The first step
I have written this ‘Question what to look for’, blog to help you with your search. And if you require more information or help, please feel free to contact me.
The very first question a person asks is what sort of amplifier should I buy. Sorry to stop you right there. But the question to be asked is what sort of power cord should I buy to build my system on.
Imagine you are a builder and building a house. What does the builder do first, build the foundations? Good power is the key to good sound because our amplifier amplifies everything it hears.
If the power is noisy the amplifier simply amplifies the noise. Because, that is what an amplifier is there for, to amplify. There will also be other sounds, which are unheard by human hearing. But, they are still there and the amplifier does the job and amplifies.
Which to buy
The first thing you have to do is decide how much money you wish to spend. And, must allow enough money for the purchase of cables. Because cables always seem to get neglected. And, it is only after a person reads information, or gets talking to a friend they discover there really is more to buying a system.
A power cord comes in many forms and can look beautiful. And, can have brightly coloured ends and nice thick heavy outer coverings, you can hardly get your hand around. But, a book can never be judged by its cover. And, this is very true, because there is far more to a power cord than its look!
You can start by spending 100 USD. And, this will buy you a power cord that is good. Nothing special, but it will a better sound to your system. But, If you spend 750USD, the difference in sound and performance is very noticeable.
At this stage, most people say they need a power conditioner. Maybe, a unit that filters the rubbish from the power. Or, maybe a cleaning unit. Although these items have their merits, you must first you must look at where you live.
Living in the country will be very different from living in the city. You may live in an old estate or a new modern complex. And, where you live the power will be different. I would leave the power plant or the filtering system down the road. Because in most cases, it is not really an essential requirement.
The first piece
The first item is the source machine. And, this can be either a CD player, SACD player, Turntable, Audio streamer or Portable storage device. Personally, I think is it always better to buy a component that has been used. And the reason is, a used unit has been broken (or burned) in.
You must decide on how much you wish to spend. But, you are able to buy an excellent turntable with a cartridge for about 250 USD. Also, you will be able to find a good CD player for about 350 USD. And, at the same, a good quality audio streamer or laptop with storage can be considered.
Also, you will need a pair of interconnect cables. The interconnect cables, must have the same quality as everything else. And, as a rule of thumb, any interconnect costing 50 USD will give you a good sound. But, it is worth to pay a little bit more say 350 USD for a good cable. Because the difference is easily heard.
The second piece Question what to look for
The next item in the chain is usually the amplifier. Which can be either a tube, transistor or a hybrid amplifier. And, each has its own particular sound signature. When we talk about amplifiers you will often the word “speed”. Which, means the speed in which the amplifier is able to pass the signal through.
When listening to different amplifier sometimes, the music feels and sounds very lively and happy. But, with a different amplifier, the same music will feel it has been slowed down and is holding back. Unfortunately, there are other factors to take into consideration. Power cords, interconnect and speaker cables. You must listen to different amplifiers and decide which is best suited to your equipment.
The final piece
This is the most interesting part of the system. Because this has to be the best looking and best sounding pair of loudspeakers. They will become part of the furniture and the biggest part of everything. The speakers are just different in every way. Because each has it’s own sound, depending on the drivers used.
The configuration and number of drivers can make a big difference to the overall sound. Sometimes it is virtually impossible to decide which are the best speakers for your system. There are many great sounding loudspeakers starting as low as 350 USD. And, is something you can decide when listening at home.
At this stage of the operation, we must decide which cables to use to connect the loudspeakers. Which, is very hard for some, because they have no knowledge of loudspeaker cables.
I will say if you spend 100 USD on a pair of speaker cables your system will sound good. But, if you spend 750 USD you will have a pair of speaker cables which will give you a much better sound. The technology is advancing and we have to keep up with the latest developments.
We have a source machine, an amplifier, power cords, interconnects and a pair of loudspeakers. And, with cables add up to about 2000 USD. Which, is a very reasonable price to pay, for a good sounding basic system.
We can add other items at a later date. Such as, power filter, Insulation spikes, sound pads and the list goes on. The aftermarket goodies of which some are really beneficial. But, that is something reserved for birthdays and Christmas. The question still remains. Do you know what to look for?
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