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Want high-end? Here’s 10 things to think about – Part 2

Take reviews with a pinch of salt

Just because a review says it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s good. A common mistake among beginners or even audiophiles when looking for guidance is to select components on the basis of a rave review without listening to the product themselves.

There’s also a huge difference between reviews in high-end magazines and reviews in mainstream magazines for the mass market. High-end magazines cater to reader purchases, meaning a more transparent opinion. Whereas mainstream magazines are more advertiser driven.

Of course, be wary of reading a review that only praises.


System matching

Sometimes, it’s not about how much you spend on a system. A great choice of budget components can be more musically impactful than a system that’s four times the price. Consider this, a modest car, tuned with precision can beat a luxury car in a race.

Likewise a well selected, modestly priced system can sound better than a shoddily put together system with premium products. A good Hi-Fi specialist will always be happy to help you with your choices.


Let your ears be your guide

High-end brands with big budget marketing doesn’t always guarantee great sound. Follow your ears, and go for the equipment that gives you the best sound for your buck, rather than following well-known names. You’ll be quite surprised with the quality some lesser-known brands provide.

Having said that, do consider a company’s reputation for build quality, customer service and product reliability.

Remember, big brands may not mean big sound.


Relationship with Hi-Fi retailer or specialist

Your local Hi-Fi retailer or specialist is far more than just a sales person moving boxes for profit. He or she is a dedicated music enthusiast who wants to provide the satisfaction of a great sounding product. A good specialist knows his products and can be your guide. One of your specialist’s services could also include setting up your system at home.


Things aren’t great right out of the box

A premium speaker positioned incorrectly in a room can sound worse than a modest speaker in the perfect place. A Hi-Fi specialist can guide you with specific procedures for each component in a playback chain. You can also personally tweak a system’s placement according to your needs. You’ll get better at this with time and experience.

A great sound system, selected and positioned correctly is a work of patience and time, but thoroughly worth the results.

Want high-end? Here’s 10 things to think about – Part 1

Choosing a high-quality sound system can be daunting. But with the right direction from a specialist, you could own a system that could be life-changing. It’ll be like listening to your favourite music for the first time again.

Choose a budget

Coming up with a budget depends on just two things: priorities and what you want.

Let’s look at your priorities. Some would consider a $5,000 dollar stereo system a luxury, while others wouldn’t mind spending $10,000 on a trip. Knowing how much you could spend on music is often the first building block for putting together your sound system. This also depends on how important music is to you.

So how about what you want? Head over to your local dealership, and have them play systems of various quality. There, you’ll be able to generally decide on what you want for a start. When you’ve decided on what you want, versus your priorities, you have a budget.

Choose a system to suit your needs

For every audiophile, there’s a perfect system out there for you. A system must match a person’s musical taste, but also a person’s room and listening needs. Large rooms require larger drivers to push more air, filling the room with great sound. Whereas the same large speakers could overload a room with too much bass energy, causing a difficult listening experience. Knowing your room, and the type of speakers that best suits your room is critical.

Amplifiers should then be chosen to match your speakers. Smaller rooms require less amplification power. However, check your loudspeakers, as low impedance means more amplification power.

Cherry pick the parts of your system

Sports cars are tuned for performance. In the same way, a system is made out of different parts starting from the source, to the speakers. This means your system is only as good as the weakest link in your chain. For instance, having bad cables, or a wrongly matched amplifier might cancel out an upgrade of an expensive component.

However, this also means that a modest, but well selected system, could achieve an incredible sound. For help with this, check it out with your Hi-Fi specialist.

Plan out incremental upgrades

Spare some thought for buying full sets. Manufacturers often build an entire system to be sold together as set. This often means quality sound is expected from the start, as the system has already been tuned to fit together.

You could also pick out a system that’s made up of components within your budget. The wonderful part about that is upgradeability. You could swap out parts of your system when you decide.

It’s a good idea to check in with your Hi-Fi specialist to work out a plan that best suits you.

This leads us to our next topic.

Plan your upgrades

Many audiophiles have planned audio upgrades in the future. Think about the weakest link in your system and have your wish list ready. When it’s time, swap out that part for something brand new. The idea is to get the best improvement overall for your system by swapping it with something better. You’ll get better at this with more practise you get, and that’s part of the fun of being an audiophile. Your Hi-Fi specialist will be able to help identify the parts of your system that are ready for a swap.

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