Complete beginner wanting to understand


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Aug 10, 2019
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Hi Everyone I am a "complete beginner" when it comes to Audio but seeing as my Financial Director (the Wife) has agree to me spending some of my hard earned cash on a system - approx £1500 I know that may not sound much for the below requirement but I'll start with the bsaic setup and add.

I have been trawling the internet and forum's for information - I like to know in fair detail what I'm getting and why to make sure that

a) when I go into a shop I don't look a complete twonk
b) don't get conned into buying something I don't need or get ripped off
c) I get the best for what I can afford

My requirements are:
- Play CD's
- Play MP3's
- Play Vynil Record's
- DAB or Analogue Radio not sure which is best
- Hook up to TV, DVD and games system
- Play in other rooms from where the system is

Are there any recommended website that tell you what each of the items does and why you need them. There is obviously the Glossary on this website but I would like to know more.

For example
Amps - understand that they take an input and send it to an output amplifying the sound as it goes, but what other functions does it do, what can it connect to ?? all of my requirements above..... what benefit is a pre amp and power amp (realize from reading the Glossary that they are the separate components of the Amp).

MP3 - what is out there for MP3 music, I was kinda thinking of a HD type device that had wireless so I could update content from my PC... is that possible or does it have to be some other way ie. streamer direct from PC.

Hooking up to TV/DVD/Games Console - can these be plugging into an Amp, can an Amp provide surround sound 5.1, etc or do I have to have a Home Cinema device that then plugs into the Amp that sends sound to the speakers

Multi Room solution - is it possible to play radio in one whilst TV is being played in the other room, whilst CD is playing played in the garden (extreme I know but may happen)

Speakers - ?? the most important part, what doI need to look out for, shielding, size , watts, ohms, etc, etc

What I'm looking for is a Beginners guide to what stuff does, why and how I set up and I have not seen this as yet. I have seen these for Home Cinema set ups but not for HI Fi separates

The above may end you sounding a bit wooly but I like to know what I'm talking about before I start looking so any help starting me of would be gratefully received.




Do you want an old style 2 speaker set up, or a more enveloping cinema sound with more speakers?Also, knowing what you already have to connect it to will make it easier, what television you have for instance.


"a) when I go into a shop I don't look a complete twonk
b) don't get conned into buying something I don't need or get ripped off"
Everyone's got to start somewhere, and a good dealer won't laugh in your face just because you don't have a wealth of knowledge, so don't be afraid to ask. Also, a good dealer will know that if they look after you, and you get the hi fi bug, they'll have a steady source of income for years to come... Anyway, the point of going to a hifi dealer is that they're supposed to be in a position to advise people like you and I, who don't know all that much about it. Wherever possible, try to get a listen to whatever you're buying first, if you're not sure, walk away and sleep on it, you can always come back the next day, and when looking around for kit you might want to leave your credit card at home initially, just in case you see something you really, really like...

The amps that you'll have seen being discussed on this forum are hifi stereo amps, and as such will only play music from one source at a time (i.e. you can't use them to listen to a CD in one room whilst listening to the radio in another). Some amps can drive 2 sets of speakers simultaneously, which you can have in different rooms, but you'll be listening to the same music from each.

If you really need to listen to different music in different rooms, and you're into MP3, something like the Phillips Streamium might be worth investigating:
I don't have any experience of this type of kit. Maybe someone else on the forum can advise?

As regards your other requirements, these can be met with a "standard" hi fi amp. I have my DVD player, iPod, XBOX, CD player and turntable running through mine. For your £1500, you can get a respectable entry-level set of stereo separates. Don't be put off by the phrase "entry level". If this is your first foray into proper gear after plasticky midi systems, you'll be very pleasantly surprised. Alternatively, you might want to start off with an amp, CD player and speakers and add more later, when the wife is amenable to the idea.

Good luck.