Frequently Asked Questions
To answer this, one first needs to define what constitutes a good system. A good system is one which allows the listener to become absorbed in music or be engrossed by a movie. Mass market packaged home theatre and mini systems don’t have the ability to do this. A good Hi-Fi will entertain, allow you to connect to your music, relax you, make you want to dance, make you want to come home and push play. A good system doesn’t reduce music to the background but instead draws you in.
For a pure stereo Hi Fi our entry recommendation consists of:
- NAD C516BEE – CD player
- NAD C316BEE – Stereo amplifier
- Mission MX3 – Floor standing speakers
- Supra 2.5 and Dual – Speaker cable and interlink
The above combination sells for R 21 900 vat incl. It is musical, punchy, dynamic, images, has a deep controlled bass and above all makes music. If one is looking at building up a system the above components are also sold individually allowing you to use existing equipment and upgrade over time.
For a good entry level home theatre system we recommend
- Yamaha RX-V483 – Home theatre amplifier
- Boston Classic Series theatre package – Consists of floor standing front speakers, centre channel, wall mountable rear speakers, 10 inch powered sub woofer.
- Supra 1.6 – 30m Speaker cable
The above home theatre sells for R 23 900 vat incl. It offers a level of performance streaks ahead of mass market home theatres and will allow you to appreciate a movie’s soundtrack well beyond most commercial cinemas.
This depends on how the system is going to be used and what one’s performance expectations are. A dedicated two channel stereo system will always deliver a more musically satisfying performance and a home theatre will provide a more dramatic and engaging cinema experience. Ideally one would have two separate systems; in practice most of our clients require a system which has a level of competence for both music and movies.
The real issue lies with the very different requirements that music and movies have. Movie soundtracks have a very wide dynamic range, dialogue and on screen effects are mixed to play on a centre channel speaker, surround effects for ambience as well as directional steering, and have a dedicated bass channel. Music recordings are almost always mixed to play in two channel stereo, are typically dynamically compressed and truly deep bass effects are rare.
In a music system correct pitch and timbre are absolutely critical for instruments to sound realistic. This is less important in a theatre where speakers which can handle dynamics are necessary. In a theatre we are also less critical of audio due to our attention often being focused on the screen. Audio in a theatre has a supportive role whereas audio in a stereo system needs to excel on its own. For a home theatre, a sub woofer’s function is to supply room shaking effects and for music one requires a tuneful accurate bass which integrates seamlessly with one’s speakers.
If the above seems confusing, then the best advice is to come through to our showroom where we can discuss and clarify your requirements and demonstrate different options for you. Over the years we have had many clients who initially approached us for a theatre but eventually purchased a stereo system and vice versa. Our objective is to supply you with the most balanced and appropriate system.
If you can’t choose between the two, then get both. The above system features Conrad Johnson tube amplification and B&W 802 speakers to take care of music appreciation and a NAD theatre amplifier coupled to Klipsch speakers for an awesome theatre experience.
The most significant aspect of sound quality from an IPOD is determined by how an album has been transported into one’s iTunes library. In our dealings with customers, we have found that most IPOD users are unaware of settings within iTunes which determine how much data from the original CD is brought into iTunes. The default setting is 128kbps, compared to a CD which has a bit rate of 1400 kilobits per second. Compressing and removing data allows more music to be stored on an IPod but with a significant drop in sound quality. The minimum setting to balance quantity with quality is 320 kbps. To achieve maximum sound quality Apple Loss Less should be selected. Keep in mind when purchasing music on iTunes, Apples sells you music at only 256kbs, which is less than 20 percent of the data on a CD. The best way to purchase music digitally is still to get the CD. It sounds better and gives you a physical copy with album art and liner notes.
The method of connecting an IPod to one’s amplifier is the next factor influencing sound quality. The most basic method is to simply connect the IPod with a cable from its headphone socket to a RCA input on the amplifier. This is the least effective method. A docking station is a better solution. This provides dedicated RCA sockets yielding a more secure connection, a charging facility and a remote control. In both cases the poor audio circuitry of the IPod is used. The best result is achieved by using a dock which extracts the digital signal out of the IPod and then allows it to be sent to an external DAC (Digital to analogue converter). This bypasses the IPods circuitry and allows for significantly better performance.
The final aspect to achieving great sound from an IPod is the quality of the amplifier and speakers to which it is connected. Here the range is both wide and potentially daunting. A visit to our showroom is invaluable in helping and guiding you through the different possibilities, from basic to state of the art.
The least useful specification of speaker is its power handling. It gives neither any indication of how much power is required to drive the speaker nor how loud it will play. The common misconception is that a 50 watt amplifier couldn’t possibly harm a 100 watt speaker, but overdriving the amplifier will probably break the speaker. A 200 watt amplifier on the same speaker would be less likely to damage it, since the amplifier has a smaller possibility of distorting at a higher volume.
The efficiency or sensitivity of speaker, measured in dB, is the best indicator of amplification requirements. Most Hi – Fi speakers have an efficiency of 88 dB to 92 dB. To hear a difference in volume one requires either a speaker which is 3 dB more efficient or a doubling in amplification. To this end, unless one has a very powerful amplifier, it is best to avoid speakers of 87 dB or lower. For large rooms and or where high volume is required an efficient speaker is recommended over a low efficiency speaker with a large amplifier.
In brief, it depends on your requirements:
If you are on a tight budget and require a screen smaller than 42inch, then LCD.
If you want a large screen with the best possible picture quality, then Plasma.
If you are after a thin, light screen which is going to be used in a very bright room, then LED.