Stereo Systems Product Guide
In some homes or offices, available space is a rare commodity. There are compromises. Instead of a large sofa, you have a chair. Instead of a giant television, you opt for a smaller one. For those that appreciate stereo sound and music, compact stereo systems offer an alternative that hardly compromise on sound quality. These stereo sound systems are sometimes referred as minisystems or microsystems because most are designed to fit on a table, desk, or shelf.
They combine the performances of several audio components in one device. Home audio systems are available at an enormously wide price range, from as little as $100 to over $2,000, and are designed to meet the tastes of regular people to the most discriminating music fans. For the most part, you get quality sound and popular features in one space-saving unit for a relatively small price. They may be used anywhere in your home, a dormitory, den, and office. In many cases, an auxiliary input lets you connect your television or VCR for improved stereo or surround sound.
The only disadvantage is that, for the most part, you can't really choose your individual components - you have to stick with the speakers and features of the system. But that's the whole reason why you're interested in getting an audio system in the first place. There really are so many to choose from. It's really easy to find the one that meets your needs and expectations.
Typical Stereo System
A typical stereo system consists of 4 pieces:
- A central base unit, usually with a radio tuner and a CD player. Sometimes a cassette recorder/player is also built-in.
- A left-channel separate speaker with connecting wire
- A right-channel separate speaker with connecting wire
- Remote control
These systems generally occupy very little space, the central unit and two separate speakers (when together) are often less than 18 inches wide and about 10 inches deep. They have more power for loudness and clarity than a portable sound system. Speakers offer a wider frequency-response range than a portable stereo. They are also more attractive in a home or office setting.
Watts are a measurement of sound clarity and loudness. In these systems, large numbers are less relevant. Stereo systems are designed in such a way that all pieces and features are perfectly matched. So the number of watts offers minimal relevance. A system with 100 watts of power may not sound as pleasing as a system that has 25 watts power output. When a manufacturer develops a system, it gears the system to deliver a concept that is universally appealing.
Virtually all have a CD Player. Most have a single CD player while a few may offer a CD changer.
All have an AM/FM radio. Some may be ready for XM or Sirius Satellite Radio but an antenna and service subscription is required.
Illuminated Multifunction Display
Virtually every home audio system features a multifunction display. This screen is used to show CD track information, radio station, mode, and more.
Equalization is an electronic process of altering the natural frequency response of a sound. Most systems may have a selector to make the music sound as if it was in a hall or club. Some may also offer electability for Rock, Jazz, and Classical. Equalization helps the system optimize the performance of the music you're listening.
Some units have a port to connect an MP3 player for play through the sound system. Several models may even offer an iPod dock as an included feature or as an option.
These systems add a subwoofer to the speakers. In addition to the two speakers, you'll get a subwoofer. The subwoofer goes deeper than most speakers to deliver richer, deeper frequencies that enhance the sound. The drawback is that the subwoofer adds more size to the overall system
Some systems offer a Karaoke feature. In some cases, like the Sony Muteki, a built-in LCD screen displays Karoke images and lyrics.
Add a headphone for listening in your own private space
Some systems have a timer modes for music to play based on a programmed time. A sleep timer lets you set your system to play for minutes up to (about) an hour to lull you to sleep. Few of these might have an alarm mode.
Audio systems offer the best value for space-conscious individuals and families seeking music entertainment. Though not pretending to be audiophile quality, these systems offer surprisingly great sound for their size.
Systems may be found in traditional and contemporary styles to suit any possible décor.
Seek out features you need. A digital media port or an iPod port lets you connect your portable player and enjoy listening to stored tunes through the stereo system. Some systems feature a CD changer that holds three discs or more, while many have single disc players. A few may offer DVD play capability so you can listen to a DVD. Those that offer DVD play might also offer TV connectivity. Make sure it offers a port for decent visual quality on your TV. (DVD play is usually found on multichannel systems for home theater sound. These are covered in another guide.)
How do you decide on the best system for you? First, consider your budget and where you want to place the system. Second, decide which features are necessary for you, as there is no point in paying for a function that you will never need or use.
Ultimately, all these stereo systems are designed for convenience and easy use. In some cases the speakers are already connected to the main unit. Just take it out of the box, plug it in to AC power, and you're ready.
So whether it's for your living room, bedroom, kitchen, den, office, or personal gym, enjoy listening to music, talk, sports, and news.
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