Are you getting the best out of your existing stereo system, or do you think there could be improvements? It is a question that bothers audiophiles constantly in their search for perfection, and perhaps you feel the same.
There you are, sitting back with the hottest drum and bass tracks from around the world playing, but something doesn’t seem quite right. Or perhaps you are simply in the market for some new audio equipment and want to make the right choices.
Getting the best audio setup for some means spending rather large sums of money, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. You might just need to change one or two components. Sometimes all that needs to be done is to adjust the layout and acoustics.
Whatever your particular needs are, you may find some help below in getting the best out of your music system.
Why do you need to ratchet up your audio quality?
Since Emile Berliner’s gramophone of 1888 was launched to the public, people have enjoyed playing music at home. For about one hundred years, nothing much changed.
Sure, 8-track tapes and music cassettes had varying degrees of success during this time, but vinyl discs were the most popular form of music for a long time.
In the 1980s, things started to change. DAT tapes arrived, followed later by compact discs, and then the MiniDisc. Different ways to record, store, and play music were threatening vinyl.
Since then, music sales have largely become digital, and the download market has moved on a long way from the days of Napster and illegal MP3s. The quality of recordings has also changed, and music systems cannot always get the best out of them.
What you put in is what you get out
There is a school of thought that one way to get better sound from your existing stereo is to change what you feed it.
If you are playing heavily compressed music that you downloaded from an illegal torrenting site, you may not have the best quality files.
Use lossless file formats such as FLAC, AIFF, or WAV. Sure, these files will be way bigger, but if your enjoyment of the music is improved, then so what? You may have saved the need to invest in new audio equipment.
Alternatively, if analog is still your favorite way to go, then look at 180-gram vinyl for more durable records.
Look at what audio components you already have
Before you go mad with your money and splash out on new speakers and other components, have a good look at what you have.
Have a look around and see if anything is obviously wrong. You may find that replacing old wiring brings a vast improvement. Your equipment’s default settings may also be causing noise problems.
Equalizers may be doing more harm to your sound quality than actually helping. Consider turning off default settings and re-evaluating your system.
Set your budget
If you are at the point where you are going to switch out components or have a total upgrade, then set your budget.
You will need to make the most of the dollars you have, and be realistic about the improvements you will make.
It could be that by replacing all your audio equipment, you achieve very little except that you empty your bank account.
Making the most of your dollars may mean fewer wholesale changes, and just making one or two good selections.
Buy brand names
Cutting corners won’t help when it comes to improving your audio system. If you have committed to making some form of an upgrade then get the best you can for your money.
If you have a choice of a no-name brand for $X or one that is branded but will cost you $XX, then go for the latter. If you cannot afford it, then upgrade later.
Use dedicated audio experts that stock the best brands such as SoundImports, and try to get technical advice on the changes you are looking to make.
Consult the experts
Many audio equipment suppliers were started by, and run by, audiophiles themselves. These people should have a wealth of information and advice to help you improve your sound quality.
You are happy to use the best electronic dance music resources for this area of your life, so don’t ignore the value of audio experts. Although there are many retailers with little knowledge of their products, there are many others only too happy to dispense advice.
Make those small changes to your system
If you find that you are not ready to upgrade the whole system then look at smaller changes. Remember the cabling mentioned above? Well, perhaps looking and changing some of your connections will make an improvement in your sound.
Copper and silver are the best conductors for speaker cables, and hardwired components will sound better than wireless. There is a great trend for everything wireless in the home now, but the sound quality from these setups cannot match hard-wired ones.
Choose the best speakers you can afford
Even more important than speaker cabling is the speakers themselves. If there is one part of your system that can significantly change the quality of the sound output, then it is the speakers.
You can spend an enormous amount on speakers, and some audiophiles say it should be your biggest outlay. Advice ranges from spending fifty percent of your total budget on speakers to just spending as much as you can possibly afford.
If you are on a small budget and you’re looking to simply buy a sound system out of a box, then you should look for one with the best speakers you can find. These systems often come with speakers of lesser quality and can disappoint.
Build your own speakers
One way to make sure you get the best out of your sound system is to build your own speakers. This can be a complicated process involving selecting the best components from woofers, tweeters, an amplifier module, and crossover parts. Or it can be made simpler by using DIY speaker kits.
Find quality components
It isn’t just about buying brand names you recognize, it is also about buying quality components.
Many big audio names have lower-end equipment that might not do you any favors at all in your quest for good music.
Look for quality amplifiers from brands such as Hypex but compare the specs next to alternatives to make sure you make the best choice. Also, think about how you are building your audio system. For instance, a good DAC could really boost the quality of those compressed digital files you have been listening to.
Before you head out to any music stores, have a good listen to your existing system. In fact, ask your friends to listen to it as well. You may be able to identify some simple changes, and they might be down to the quality of your audio files.
You may also have issues with your WiFi connection, or just need a good DAC to bring out the best sound in your music.
If you do decide to upgrade, then get good advice from a supplier who cares. They can recommend where you should invest most of your dollars, and where you leave alone.