Literally thousands of options are available when setting up a home stereo system. From small shelf units to full fledged surround sound systems, the options are seemingly endless. To get the most for your money, it’s important to first understand what you want and which options are best suited to your needs.
Types of Systems
There are five main categories of home stereos: Portable, Shelf, Central Audio Source, Dock and Home Theater. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Portable, shelf and dock systems are typically smaller. Audio source and home theater are often larger, but much more customizable than other systems.
A portable stereo requires batteries to run. You can often purchase an AC adapter to use the system in your home as well. This is perfect if you want to move your stereo from room to room or even use it outdoors. A portable system is often referred to as a boombox and typically includes a radio and CD player. Many now include an auxiliary-in port for MP3 players. Sound quality varies, including frequencies and bass.
Shelf systems have larger speakers, but are still small. The sound quality is typically much better than a portable stereo. Shelf systems come in a variety of sizes and shapes. However, they are made to easily fit on shelves or tables. You can find a variety of combinations of components on a shelf system, including: radio, CD player, docking station, auxiliary-in port, tape deck, turntable and inputs and outputs for connecting speakers and other devices.
Central audio source systems are a build your own type of system. Basically, you purchase the main controller. You then purchase the components you want to add, such as different types of speakers, CD player, MP3 player, satellite radio and even turntables. All connections are on the main controller or box. This lets you create a small or large system, depending on your needs.
A dock system can be a part of any other system or a system to itself. Dock systems are made to play specific models of MP3 players or radios, such as iPods or Zunes. If your only reason for a home stereo system is to play your MP3 player, satellite radio or Internet radio, consider a dock or specialized system for your device. These systems often include other components such as a CD player or radio.
A home theater system offer the best in audio quality. These systems are perfect for listening to music, playing movies and getting the most sound possible from your television. These systems must be central to all your devices in order to work. These are typically the most expensive, but offer the highest quality sound available with surround sound speaker systems.
Things to Consider
Before buying a home stereo system, determine where the system will be. Space is a major consideration. If you want to connect other electronic devices, such as a DVD player or television, choose a location close to these devices to minimize wire length.
If you’re looking for the best sound possible, look for stereos offering equalizer settings, support for low-bass sounds and the highest watts possible within your budget. Speaker size isn’t always the best indicator. Small speakers now offer the same or better quality as larger speakers. If you can shop for a home system in person versus online, try out the systems. You can listen to radios, take a CD or connect your MP3 player.
If you want to listen to your system throughout your home, consider a home stereo system with wireless speakers. Speakers can be placed throughout your home and turned on or off. This lets you place your system wherever works best for you and still listen in any room. You can use wired speakers as well, but setup is difficult.
The best thing to do before stereo shopping is determine exactly what features you need, the maximum size of the system and your budget. With these three things in place, you’ll narrow down your choices much faster. If you need help in choosing a system, ask a sales person in an electronics store or read the reviews on possible systems before buying. This will help you determine whether a system is right or not. Custom stereo specialists are available both online and offline to help you determine which components you need. Many can build your desired system at a price that fits your budget.
Overstock – http://www.overstock.com/guides/stereo-buying-guide
Do It Yourself – http://www.doityourself.com/stry/homestereosystem