Buying A Stereo System

Buying a stereo system can be frustrating but several rules of thumb can help narrow down the options and point out cost effective solutions.

Buying a stereo system can be one of the most daunting tasks undertaken by an audio enthusiast or a casual buyer just looking for a good set of speakers. A glut of technologies has filled the market with dozens of items that leave the uninformed clueless as to what equipment is quality, cost-effective, and even necessary.

The first step to buying a stereo system is deciding what exactly you need for yourself. For example, do you prefer listening to music at high volumes or low? Do you have a lot of CDs, or only a few? Do you need a stereo system that can play music and sound from your computer or television? How much money are you willing to spend? These questions are crucial to narrowing your options down to a reasonable few without requiring a great deal of thought or effort on your part. If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to making a buying decision.

The volume you listen to music at is critical because most people think they need much bigger speakers than they actually do. Many buyers empty their wallets for huge speakers that they will never even turn up to a quarter of their capacity. The large floor speakers that cost $300 or more each are not necessary for most home users. Think of it this way: in a confined area it only takes four to six such speakers to blast deafening music for a party of several hundred people. This makes them a wasted investment for most people. Even large home stereo systems only need about 300 Watts total among their speakers.

The number of CDs becomes critical when deciding how big of a CD changer to purchase. Most one-piece stereo systems come with a two to five changer built in, which is adequate for many owners. However, buyers who own over a hundred CDs may want to seriously consider purchasing a larger CD changer. There is not much of a price difference between the massive 300 CD changers and the basic 5 CD changers, so need should be more of a factor than price in this case. One feature to watch out for with CD changers is the ease of inputting the names of CDs. Large CD changers are used to permanently store all of the owner's CDs. If it is difficult to input the titles of the CDs, then it can be a nightmare finding specific albums among the dozens in the changer.

The ability to receive input from TVs, computers, or other sources can also be very important in deciding what to purchase. One-piece stereo systems rarely provide inputs for external sources, making them undesirable for those who wish to hook the stereo system up to either their computer or TV. If this is the case, a buyer would do better to purchase a receiver and separate speakers. These systems tend to be more reliable overall because individual components can be replaced if problems arise.

Price can be the deciding factor in many stereo purchases, but most buyers are hard pressed to distinguish between bargains and cheap junk. A bit of simple research can clear up many of these issues for buyers. Magazines such as Consumer Reports often run issues on stereo equipment that outline which brands are high quality and which cost way more than they are worth.

Buying a stereo system can be quite an ordeal, but remembering to narrow down options with simple questions and rules of thumb can greatly reduce the frustration and hassle involved with purchasing a stereo.

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