There’s an art to getting home sound systems spot on. It’s possible to spend thousands on this equipment and still not achieve the impressive sound quality you’re after if you fail to get the basics right. This brief guide highlights some must-have equipment that all audiophiles can benefit from.
There’s no point in splashing out on a top-quality hi-fi or turntable if you don’t match the standard of this product with the speakers you select. It might seem like an obvious point but the speakers you purchase will have a massive impact on your listening experience, so it’s worth putting plenty of time and effort into finding the right ones.
One issue you’ll need to consider is whether to get stand-mounted speakers or floor-standing versions. There is no right or wrong answer in terms of which style of product is best. You simply have to decide which would suit your setup more. However, bear in mind that floor-standing speakers can be particularly effective at producing bass weight. In contrast, stand-mounted versions are sometimes thought to create a more agile sound. If you opt for products that fall into the latter category, make sure you get a dedicated speaker stand too as this will have a major impact on the overall effect. The right stands will help to produce a tighter bass response and they will also enhance the soundstage. In addition, they will ensure that the speakers are positioned at the optimal listening height.
Top-notch audio speaker cables are a must too. Some experts suggest that the quality of these connectors is just as crucial as the standard of the hi-fi components that they connect. Regardless of whether you subscribe to this belief or not, there is no denying the importance of quality cabling. Audio specialists like The Cable Company offer an impressive variety of products to enhance your experience, so you won’t be stuck for choice.
Speaker cables are the wires that run between speakers and amplifiers. They have three key qualities that you must watch out for. These are resistance, capacitance and inductance. The most important of these features is resistance. Cables that benefit from low resistance allow more of the power source through to the speaker coil. In turn, this gives a better sound.
As well as selecting the right cables for your hi-fi, it’s important to make sure these wires aren’t too long. Keeping the length of cables down helps to lower their resistance. This means that you should look to minimise wire length while still positioning your speakers at a suitable distance from one another.
Headphones are another important piece of kit. If you can’t listen to your music out loud, or you simply prefer the personalised experience of keeping your tunes to yourself, you’ll need the perfect headphones.
The largest of these products are over-the-ear, or circumaural, headphones and they come in both closed-back and open-back versions. The open-back designs allow sound to escape and many people think they produce better sound quality. However, if you don’t wish to let outside noise in or you don’t want your music to be heard by the people around you, closed versions may be more suitable.
Alternatively, perhaps you’d prefer on-ear, or supra-aural, products. These items can be less prone to overheating than their circumaural counterparts, but their sound quality is not always as good.
It’s also possible to purchase special noise-cancelling headphones that produce antinoise. As you would expect, these products are designed to reduce any ambient sounds.
As long as you put plenty of thought into the speakers, speaker cables, headphones and other bits of equipment you buy for your home music system, you should be able to achieve the sound quality you’re after.