How to Buy the Right Speakers for your Hi-Fi

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How to Buy the Right Speakers for your Hi-Fi

The term "Hi-Fi" (short for "high fidelity") identifies speakers that are of a certain high quality. The sound distortion is much lower in Hi-Fi speakers, and they have an accurate frequency response. Because they are so well made, Hi-Fi speakers also have a tendency to be very durable and last a long time. Buyers should learn some basic information about Hi-Fi speakers before a purchase, such as the types of drivers and the number of channels designed for different systems.

When choosing Hi-Fi speakers, there are seven important factors to consider. These are 1) power handling, 2) impedance, 3) design, 4) size, 5) finish, 6) sound, and 7) placement. These factors directly impact the quality of the Hi-Fi speakers and the overall sound of the system. Buyers should try to optimise each of these factors for the designated location of the system, and to use the correct wire gauge when connecting the speakers.

Quality Hi-Fi speakers are available in electronics stores, department stores, audio specialty shops, and at online marketplaces like eBay. eBay has a large selection of Hi-Fi speakers at a variety of price ranges. Speaker prices vary depending on the brand and model, as well as on the size, and type.

Driver Types

There are three primary speaker types: tweeters, midrange speakers, and subwoofers. Subwoofers produce low frequency tones, and are the largest speaker drivers. Midrange drivers produce a wide range of frequencies in the middle of the audible sound spectrum. Tweeters are small, and produce very high frequency tones.

Hi-Fi Speaker Channels

A stereo system's "speaker channel" is the number of speakers it has. Mono audio has one channel. A stereo (or dual speaker) system has two channels. The industry standard nomenclature is to use a number with a dot and then another number to describe a system's speaker channels. For example, a speaker channel of 5.1 indicates the system has five speakers; the second number indicates the number of subwoofers the system has.

Hi-Fi Speaker Considerations

As mentioned above, the seven important factors to consider when picking out Hi-Fi speakers are the power handling, impedance, design, size, finish, sounds, and placement. Each of these factors has an influence on the overall sound of the system. The sections below discuss each factor in some depth.

Power Handling

Amplifier manufacturers write the suggested amplifier power on an information sticker attached to the back of the speaker. The speaker's impedance is also found on the information sticker. Hi-Fi speakers are not designed for large auditoriums; they are made to be used in homes. It is important that users note their power handling capabilities to avoid stressing or blowing them out due to excessive power from the amplifier.

Impedance

A speaker's impedance, which is measured in ohms, should match the amplifier's output. If the amplifier has already been purchased, look at the back of the amplifier to see its impedance range. A speaker that falls within the amplifier's impedance range is suitable to use with that amplifier. Generally, it is okay to use a speaker with high impedance on an amplifier with a lower impedance rating, but it is not okay to pair a high rated amplifier with Hi-Fi speakers that have a low impedance rating; this can overload the amplifier.

Design

The three primary speaker designs are 1) reflex, 2) acoustic, and 3) transmission line. Reflex speakers have holes on the front or back.

Acoustic suspension speakers have a sealed enclosure. This makes it easier to set them up, and it gives them a high quality sound. Acoustic suspension speakers are generally made of wood. Air cannot move through the back of the speaker; it only moves out of the front.

In reflex speakers, the pressure is directed outward. This is done by using small holes in the back of the speaker.

The transmission line design is similar to the reflex design. The sound is diffused in all directions, making this design a good option for rear channel speakers.

Size

Floor standing speakers are typically tall, thin, and made to stand freely on the floor. Stand-mounted speakers are designed for use with speaker stands, and vary in width and height. Bookshelf speakers are generally much smaller, in order to fit on shelves. Users should note that sound quality is impaired if bookshelf speakers or stand speakers are not properly shelved. Stand-mounted and bookshelf speakers are typically less expensive than floor standing speakers, but nevertheless offer excellent sound quality.

Some drawbacks of smaller speakers are that they produce a weak bass sound, and they draw a lot of power in order to increase volume. Too much power flowing through a small speaker can burn it out or distort the sound.

Floor standing speakers produce a very deep, powerful bass sound, and the cabinets and cones are large and easy to keep clean. Unfortunately, floor standing speakers, because of their size, may not fit in smaller rooms. They are also considerably more expensive.

Finish

There are a variety of real wood and laminate finishes available for speakers. They are available in many colours, to suit the style of almost any room. Solid wood makes a great finish; it limits vibrations and speaker interference. Quality speakers generally use wood finishes, although there are some high quality laminate available as well.

Sound

Sound is the most important factor when choosing Hi-Fi speakers, since a speaker's sole purpose (aside from being a place to set drinks) is to produce high quality audio. If purchasing the speakers online, buyers should read reviews of the speaker to help with the decision. Even after reading reviews, however, buyers should make every effort to listen to the speakers in person before purchasing, if that is at all possible. Though experts may recommend one speaker over another, sound preference truly is a personal matter.

Placement

Speaker location is important. Sound quality can be compromised if speakers are not placed properly. For example, users should avoid placing speakers in corners or close to walls. Listeners should remember that stereo speakers sound best when placed 1.5 times as far away from the listener as they are from each other. Both should face the seating area, and should turn inward slightly. Tweeters should be about ear height. When mounting speakers, shoppers should refer to the manufacturer's placement recommendations for that particular speaker.

Hi-Fi Speaker Wiring

When a high quality speaker system is created, it needs the proper wiring infrastructure to maintain high quality audio. Wire gauge is one of the most important factors when selecting speaker wire. Gauge is a measure of wire thickness. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire. Lower gauges (i.e. thicker wires) are best for long cable lengths. The table below lists varying wire lengths and the recommended gauge for each.

Wire Length

Recommended Wire Gauge

1 - 3.65 metres

22 gauge

1.5 - 6 metres

20 gauge

2.4 - 9.8 metres

18 gauge

3.65 - 14.6 metres

16 gauge

6 - 24.3 metres

14 gauge

9.1 - 36.5 metres

12 gauge

15.2 - 60.9 metres

10 gauge

Ranges overlap because a smaller ohm rating needs a thicker wire than a higher ohm rating for the same length. For an ohm rating of two, go with the shorter length, and for an ohm rating of eight, the greater length is suitable.

How to Buy the Right Speakers on eBay

Begin your eBay search for Hi-Fi speakers by entering "Hi-Fi speakers" into the search box on the eBay home page. This should return a great many listings. To limit the number of results, type more specific, descriptive words into the search box. Decide which factors are important to you and use those as keywords to limit the search. When you have found some items that you like, be sure to read the detailed item description to ensure that the speakers have all the correct components for your setup.

Review the seller feedback from previous buyers. The feedback can give you an idea of customer satisfaction over the previous 12 months. Because speakers are large and sometimes heavy, you may want to specify your location under the distance tab to find sellers in your area. If the buyer and the seller are agreeable, an arrangement might be made whereby you can pick up the speakers and save on shipping costs.

Conclusion

Hi-Fi speakers are high quality speakers that add quality sound to your audio system. There are important considerations when purchasing speakers, including the driver types, speaker channels, as well as the speaker's power capabilities, impedance, design, size, finish, sound, and placement. There are three different types of drivers: tweeters, midranges, and woofers. Tweeters produce the high pitched sound in a system, while midrange speakers covers the middle frequencies, and woofers produce the low bass tones. The number of channels in a system is the number of speakers the system utilises. The other considerations mentioned have a large impact on the sound quality of the system. Little details are important when optimising the Hi-Fi system. Wiring is another important factor. The correct wire thickness should be used, especially when wire lengths are greater than a few metres.

Hi-Fi speakers are available in electronic stores, and online. eBay has a large selection of different Hi-Fi speakers available to fit a variety of rooms and setups.

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