Knowing what you are aiming for makes it a great deal easier to determine the best way to get there. Despite the blizzard of audio formats, electronic devices and forest of loudspeakers, building a great audio system is easier today than it ever has been.
Sound sources, amplifiers and loudspeakers are all greatly improved. Like automobiles, you now have to go out of your way to get something truly awful.
But working your way towards superb high fidelity still takes some thought.
Pick an acoustically good room and match the loudspeakers to it. Check our Acoustic Room Treatment page. You can’t change your house but you can make the best choice possible of loudspeakers which will work the best in your chosen listening room.
Make an effort to understand dispersion issues. Which dispersion pattern best suits your room? How many people will be listening at most? Critically or casually? Where will they be sitting?
A high ceilinged room with log walls and wood floor will be a better environment for a dome tweeter based loudspeaker than a room with a 7' ceiling, tile floors and glass walls.
Once you have nailed down the room/speaker options you can look at the electronic issues. Chances are your choices will be wide open. If you have chosen very low impedance speakers or low dynamic speakers then your choices are more narrow but still abundant.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is possible to substitute a large budget for good planning. There are many absolutely superb audio systems out there which cost under $10,000 everything in and there are many (but fewer) $100,000 horrors.
Who will be operating the system? What kind of complexity will the least technical operator tolerate?
Is the system going to start out as stereo and grow into home theater? What is the final architecture going to look like? What is the ultimate system to which you can realistically aspire?
Here are the ultimate options. An acoustically ideal room with perfectly matched loudspeakers driven by first rate amplifiers fed by digital crossovers and all controlled by a perfectly transparent room correction preamplifier. The sources will range from vinyl LP to FM radio to an upsampling high resolution music server.
Where on the complexity and cost curves are you going to get off?
Now that a large amount of the audio chain is digital, it is safe to say performance will continue to go up while the cost goes down. If you want to have the best hifi system you can afford installed all at once, by all means buy the best possible. If you are intending to build your system over a period of time, relax and take your time because high fidelity value will only get better the longer you wait.
Don’t buy state of the art electronics and expect it to be relevant 5 years from now.
Loudspeakers Unsurpassed in Soundstage, Transparency, Detail and Dynamics in High End Stereo and Home Theater Systems