Understanding and Choosing your Home Stereo Equipment - Part I

We help you understand the audio world a little better.

After finally saving up for your dream system, we understand when one takes months to
decide on the long awaited audio system. The entire process is a hassle for most of us, partly
due to competitive brands, and partly due to lack of awareness. Here we help you bust those
myths to make the road easier for you.

Buying an audio system is a critical task, especially if you know nothing or very little about it. Even today, some misconceptions prevail as people continue to believe in incorrect or incomplete information; a common phenomenon in countries like ours, with multinational brands teeming in the market. Here we’re attempting to solve some mysteries while suggesting a few important tips on how to buy or what factors to bear in mind before buying an audio system. Before we get to that, you should know some basic audio sets.

 Understanding and Choosing your Home Stereo Equipment - Part I

Mini-Compo/Micro Systems
Mini-Compo/Micro Systems are basically all-in-one box package systems, where you get a player, an amplifier, a radio, a pair of speakers, wires, probably a set of free CDs; DVDs, and gift hampers (if the company gives you some kind of heavy discount offer during festival seasons). They are very popular budget systems manufactured by many reputed audio-video manufacturing companies. These are the best options for those who are not particular about sound quality — for beginners or for those who are price-conscious.

Discrete System
A discrete system requires a separate player (CD/ DVD), an external amplifier (integrated or pre/power amp), and a pair of good quality loudspeakers. These are the best choice for those who are keen on
sound quality and are not budget-conscious. However, this doesn’t mean that discrete systems are always the best; in fact there are few minisystems which sound just as good as the reasonably priced discrete systems. After all, the choice is yours. If what sounds good to you falls within your budget, it would be the best deal and the best music system for you. But acquaint yourselves with other products in the same range before buying that audio set up. We will start from the first component of the entire audio chain i.e.: a player, whether it be a dedicated state-of-the-art CD player or a multitasking SACD/ DVD player that can play SACDs, CDs, MP3s, DVDS, CDR, CDRWS...anything!

Breaking Into the Audio System Chain
After a brief orientation to the types of audio systems, we zoom into the individual units that can make or break your system. Keeping an aspiring buyer in mind, we have put together some crucial factors for you.

CD Player
This being the first component and input source of the entire audio chain, it should be nice and reliable. Do not compromise at the input stage. Buy any standard and branded player based on your affordability. There are several players in the market, priced between few thousands to few lakhs. Certainly, there is a difference between them which is due to their sonic performance and long lasting durability. It all depends on your budget for the optimum choice.

When selecting a player, check for the following features:
The player

  1. Should have an RCA analogue, a 2 Channel L/R out (for music application) or a 5.1/6.1 RCA analogue out (in case you are planning to upgrade your system to a home-theatre for the future).
  2. Choose a player that has a digital coaxial or optical out.
  3. Decide whether you are looking for a dedicated CD player (for only dedicated music application) or a multitasking DVD player (for movies and music application), which can play CDs, MP3s, DVDs, SACDs, CDRs, CDRWs, etc.
  4. A USB in and HDMI out will be an additional feature.
  5. Video outs: Composite video, S-video, Y CB CR component video, Y PB PR video (in case of home-theatre movies application).
  6. It must be capable of reading read and decoding DivX, Dolby Digital and DTS formats (for movies application).

In short, you can use any branded/reputed regular or a dedicated CD player for music applications or any branded multitasking regular or dedicated SACD/DVD player, which can be used as a music or movie (home-theatre) application. Almost every audio-video manufacturer offers the same features
with their equipment. Better features do not influence the actual sound or sonic quality of the equipment.

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