Buying guide for HI FI

hawkish

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The world of high fidelity music reproduction is getting confusing. It seems everything from poundland earbuds to the 20K
speakers from Audio T will be sold to you as being "HIFI" products. The truth of the matter is that the only true hifi products
are speakers and headphones designed for monitoring music in recording studios. These are intensely accurate to the original sound
and that is all well and good. The problem is that the sound from monitors is flat and unexciting.

You can of course buy monitors if your main application is mixing desk work but the rest of us will turn to the usual manufacturers
for our kit. Hifi brands of separate systems and speakers all "color" the sound to make it more lively and to listening tastes. This
is why every system is different in sound. Obviously there are certain rules to follow that will save you hours of listening.

Good pointers

The more you spend the better
Quite obvious really but buy what you can possibly afford at the time. separates can be bought as you build the system, you only need speakers, an amp and
CD player to get started. Keep in mind that there is always something better and more expensive to look at and that the more expensive
the units, the less the difference in sound (diminishing returns).

The heavier the better
A silly old rule that still seems to apply. If it is heavy you should find beefy coils and an acoustically dampened chassis inside.

Match your music collection
If your music is mainly on compressed formats like MP3 you ought to invest more in a DAC to help with the loss in quality that
compression has introduced, if you are cd based spend more on a cd player (preferably with SACD built in) and if you mainly use vinyl
then you are in a world of turntables, preamps cartridges and styli.


Cables matter
Hifi is very much an analogue system. This allows for different tones to travel to the components and is all part of the magic
you need to invest in your interconnects. Never use the leads the units come with as they are only there to meet a legal
requirement and are the cheapest cables possible, As such they are poor conductors and will not transmit the sound properly.
It is far better to have cheaper components connected with good cables than expensive kit connected with cheap leads. Try before you
buy!

Speakers
Speakers have come a long way in the last 10 years advancements in cone design means further travel in and out of the cabinet and
rotproof designs. Stand mounted speakers tend to be punchy and sharp at the same time, a trick much harder in floorstanders. If
you have a smaller room invest in standmounts and if you have a larger room and the budget go for floorstanders.

Don't compare in wattage
So how come a £100 all in one stereo is 1500 watts and separates are only a measly 25 - 200 watts? Wattage in systems are calculated
in rms (root means square) rms is a helpful figure for applications in science when the power of a particular polarized energy
needs to be worked out. For buying amps its a useless figure. If you play into the numbers game you will end up with a system that will distort
horribly before you can get any loudness from it.

Listen
Listen before you buy and make sure there is a returns policy. The kit may sound good in the shop but can sound different in a home environment.
Hifi shops will be happy to try a different sound till its right for you.
[SIZE=-3]Use your own CDs for testing.
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