Hi-fi or high-fidelity audio is popular for its higher quality audio sound, which is noticeably better than that of standard and inexpensive audio equipment. While hi-fi standards vary from brand to brand, hi-fi offers lower distortion, cleaner audio, and typically more power than standard audio. Hi-fi brands and buying options can be confusing, especially because standards are lacking, but you can purchase your own system with the right information.
Integrated vs. Separates Hi-Fi Systems
The first part of buying a hi-fi system is deciding whether you need integrated or separates. Integrated systems include amplifiers, receivers, preamplifiers, various players, and sometimes speakers. Hi-fi separates systems use individual devices for each of these functions. While both options have their pros and cons, an integrated system is the best option if you have a lower budget, limited space, or want an easy system. Integrated options include anything from a mini hi-fi system to a CD player with integrated amplification. Separates systems require more thought and consideration but also allow you to purchase each element to meet your specifications.
Hi-Fi Sound Standards
While there are no minimum sound standards required for manufacturers to use the label 'hi-fi', it is important to pay attention to the system's sound specifications. For example, power, impedance, Ohms, decibels, and other data all affect the quality of the audio output. Most hi-fi systems list their harmonic distortion (the lower the better), dynamic range (CD quality is 90 dB), and power in watts, but you have to choose one based on the size of your home, how loud you want your system to be, and your own hearing preferences. Usually, the best practice is to match the standards on the hi-fi to any other audio system that you intend to integrate it with.
It is important to choose speakers that match the hi-fi system, because using poor-quality speakers with a high-quality player reduces the quality of the audio. Ohms refer to the impedance of the speaker. Most speakers have an impedance rating of 4, 8, or 16 Ohms, and it is important to purchase speakers according to the maximum impedance of the hi-fi system. If the impedance is too high for the speakers, then you could damage the amp or the tube, and in reverse, your speakers do not operate at maximum capacity.
Features are always a personal consideration but they are extremely important. Consider writing down the features that you need in your hi-fi system, and then look for an option that matches your needs. For example, if you are setting up a hi-fi separates system and want a CD player, turntable, and home audio system integrated into it, then you have to ensure that it has the correct number of plugs and the right set-up.