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Home Audio System Basics
So you want to build a home audio system and you don't know where to start? You have come to the right place! To be able to build the perfect system for your room you will need to consider a few things and browse the net for the optimal hardware choices for you. The basic building blocks of a home audio system are the following: Speakers and a subwoofer, a receiver, a music player system, cables and optional extras.
To get the best out of your music you should purchase 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound speakers where the first number is the number of speakers, while the .1 refers to the subwoofer. Make sure that they are voice-matched which means that they are similar in build and especially in material, this is very important for smooth, seamless sound. Speakers will (in most cases) be visible in the room so choose wisely and with style.
Receivers will be the heart and soul of the system, they are responsible for processing the signal from the music system and distributing them to the speakers. It is an added extra that receivers are able to control video input to, so you will be just two steps away from a home theater system (DVD player and TV). You have to look out for three things: The receiver must have enough power for the speakers and the room, bigger power = higher volume, but it also means more dynamic range. You should check that power ratings are performed over the 20 - 20.000 Hz range, not a smaller part of it. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) has an effect on the cleanness of the amplification and for the best sound it should be below 0.1% (except digital amplification).
The Music Player
The music player you buy should be of reasonable quality, even if the hard work is done by the receiver. You can buy a micro system or any other one you like, but ones with detachable speakers are best, as you won't need them anyway. You can also get stand alone players without the speakers that are specifically designed for home audio.
Cables won't really be an issue as you will get the necessary equipment when you buy the components, although if you're a hardcore home audio builder you may consider alternative cableing options. More important are extras like surge protection, line conditioning and A/V stands. You really should spend the extra cash to get a power outlet with built in surge protection which will leave your system unharmed if lightning strikes and a line conditioner to clean that dirty electricity, this provides better audio quality. A/V furniture is a must, you want to be able to show off the looks of your new home audio system, not just the sound. You should match all components to the feel of the room and the A/V stand to the components, so good luck!