The beginner’s guide to home audio

So you’re sick of listening to the lo-fi sound supposedly coming out of your computer speakers or those cheap headphones that came with the phone? Well, you are not alone, there is a growing movement amongst consumers of the world to move away from the attractive prices of the low end audio devices on the market and get back to the idea of quality sound. We can see this in the massive popularity of certain brands that trade on their superior sound quality and even in the vinyl revolution, where people want that warm sound that used to be the norm.

Hardcore sound nerds will talk to you forever about audio and if you get seriously into it, you may never be heard from again. But for those who just want a bit of quality without the serious outlay of time, there are a few easy things to look for in a good sound system.

Where are the beats going to be?

It is really important to think about where the speakers are going to be as this can have a massive difference on the sound. If you are just going to put them in the lounge room and blast them while you sit on the couch then your set-up is going to be more straightforward. But if you’re looking at having a set-up that runs throughout the house, using wireless speakers might be your best bet. Consider obtaining a professional opinion to get the most out of your system.

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Technical terms

You are going to want to spend some time getting to know the lingo that is used to describe the different features of an audio system and their technical capabilities. You don’t need to be an expert, a little research will go a long way to make sure you don’t end up with the wrong device or paying way too much for a system that’s going to be too loud and just get you into trouble with the neighbors. So do you know your receivers from your amplifiers and your tweeters from woofers? These terms have nothing to do with pets or social media, but are the names of the two main components of your speakers that produce the high and low frequencies that come out of your stereo. The woofers provide the base and the tweeters deal with the high and medium frequencies.

In the shop vs online

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a drive and the same should go with a sound system. It’s important to get into the shop and hear what the speakers actually sound like and don’t take the advertising material at their word. Take some music with you that you know well and will be able to differentiate the differences on various systems. You will also be able to have a conversation with the staff that know what they are talking about and can give you valuable advice. Once you know exactly what you’re after, you have the choice of purchasing in-store or alternatively, take comfort in the joys of shopping online directly from your lounge room couch.

Can I mix and match brands?

You can absolutely, but it isn’t always a great idea. Brands design their systems to work seamlessly together and even though mixing, say, an amp and a set of speakers will definitely work, there is a chance of unexpected results and diminished sound quality. So it’s best to stick with one brand for the whole set-up. The exception though is with sub-woofers, where specialized brands will have a better product than brands that design entire systems.

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