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How do I Choose the Best Home Stereo System?

Kay Paddock
Kay Paddock

A home stereo system can be used to listen to music, and it can be hooked into a television to provide stereo sound during movies and TV programs. Those who want to attach the speakers to a television or DVD player to create a home theater will probably want to look into surround sound systems for a cinema experience. Listening to music, on the other hand, only requires stereo sound without surround capabilities. In most cases, the way to get the best home stereo system is to make sure the speakers are high quality and in the configuration you need.

The receiver/tuner is the part of the home stereo system that processes sound and radio waves. It may hook to a television, a turntable for playing vinyl records, a cassette deck, a CD player or a digital music player. Many receivers on the market today come with special ports where MP3 players and smartphones can be plugged in to play digital music through the stereo system. Choose a receiver that has enough input ports to handle any devices that will need to go through it, such as a television, DVD player or CD player.

A home stereo system requires at least two speakers.
A home stereo system requires at least two speakers.

A home stereo system requires at least two speakers. Systems with one speaker will usually only produce mono sound, which means all of the sound travels on one channel. Stereo speakers work together, each handling different qualities of sound, to create a richer, fuller sound than mono speakers can. An important component of stereo sound is a special speaker or part of a speaker known as a subwoofer.

The subwoofer handles the lowest bass sounds that a home stereo system is capable of producing. Without the ability to amplify the low bass tones, even quality stereo speakers can produce a sound that is tinny or sharp. Some large speakers have the subwoofers built in, but a separate component will usually produce better sound. Surround sound systems will typically need a separate subwoofer to come close to movie theater sound quality.

Surround sound systems generally have two basic speakers designed to go on the left and right of the receiver, a central speaker that goes in the center, a subwoofer, and either two or four surround sound speakers. A system with two surround speakers is known as a 5.1 system. The more advanced systems with four surround speakers are known as 7.1 systems. The 7.1 systems come closer to a true cinematic experience and usually produce a richer stereo sound.

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Discussion Comments


@SkyWhisperer - Of course, if you want the best sound, you not only need the best system but you need to know how to install it properly as well. One tip for home stereo installation is to keep your speakers level so that they don’t shake or hum surrounding furniture.

Also set your speakers further apart from each other in order to achieve optimum sound. Learning a little about how home theater systems work will go a long way towards ensuring that you have the best audio experience.


@everetra - Home stereo and computers are two different things. I agree that I wouldn’t fuss too much over the computer audio speaker system. But I would go all out with a home stereo receiver.

I will offer one caveat however. Don’t play your stereo full blast, all the time. I know it might be tempting to do that, because the sound is so good, but eventually you can blow out your subwoofer.

Then you have to replace that, and believe me it’s an expensive proposition. Try to stay within the mid range when playing music through your system. Of course it depends on what kind of music too. Hard rock will take a greater toll than classical music will, in the end.


@nony - Well, in general I agree. But I can think of a reason not to use surround sound. If you’re looking for computer speakers, I think the surround sound is overkill. I haven’t noticed better sound performance coming out of stereo speakers for computers.

It all depends on the quality of the audio really. For most gaming applications you will gain no benefit by having surround sound in your computer speakers.

The real immersive experience for computer gaming is the video experience, not the sounds themselves, which are usually computer grade and don’t exploit the quality of your sound card even if it can deliver surround sound.


Nothing beats surround sound for a home stereo theater system in my opinion. I have it and I will never go back. It provides a rich experience, like you’re in the middle of it so to speak, and it makes orchestral, symphonic performances come to life like nothing else can.

I listen to a lot of classical music and with surround sound I can hear different parts of the orchestra coming through different speakers. It’s as if I have a seat in a live performance. You simply can’t get that effect with an old mono system. Frankly, I can’t think of a good reason to use a mono system.

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    • A home stereo system requires at least two speakers.
      By: Pavlo Vakhrushev
      A home stereo system requires at least two speakers.