Over the past 80+ years, sound systems have evolved from the very basic AM radio receiver that had a single-speaker to complex electronic systems that reproduce music and other-entertainment from both recorded formats and over-the-air signals. Nowadays, a complete sound system is typically made of several technical and nontechnical components. It needs speakers, audio and video source components, amplifiers, receivers, connecting cables, projectors, and other accessories. The over-whelming number of sound system choices can make the-average customer’s head spin. Here, we’ll give you a-grasp on the very basics of today’s multi-faceted “infotainment” systems. Whether you are a stereo novice or an experienced listener, this overview covers the essential components of a sound system.
- Stereo Source Components
The source component is first in the sound reproduction chain and it’s just as important as speakers or a receiver. Many sound systems today can play audio from a-staggering array of sound sources: CD, radio, portable music players such as the iPod, SD cards, USB flash drives, Bluetooth audio and hard disk drives. The source components can either be digital or analog. Examples of digital source components include CD or DVD players, while analog source components could be a phonograph or tape player.
- Stereo Speakers
Stereo speakers determine the overall audio quality of your sound system more than any other element. They basically work by taking the electrical signals coming from the amplifier and converting it into acoustic energy, thereby creating sound. There are several different types of designs and models of speakers, as there’re multiple different ways to achieve this task. The different types of speakers do have different strengths and weaknesses. Sound is a very personal decision and so you should listen to a number of models before purchasing speakers. There is no best’ speaker per se, only the one that is right for you and meets your preferences and needs.
The most basic speakers have been designed to be “full range,” which means they cover the entire sound frequency range as perceived by human ear (20 Hz/very low-bass to 20,000 hertz/very high notes). However, these speakers have a drawback – bass response is typically nonexistent and higher sound frequencies are-dull. You can obtain more precise sound reproduction through use of a variety of speakers that are dedicated to reproducing smaller sound range. Woofers and sub-woofers are large speakers that are designed to re-produce only low-frequency bass-sounds. The aptly named mid-range drivers handle the-middle range frequencies. Some sound systems take it one-step further and employ a specialized mid-bass driver to handle-the troublesome sound-frequencies between low bass and mid-range. Tweeters are the-smallest of the specially-designed drivers and re-produce the upper-treble frequencies.
Also known as a receiver, the amplifier pulls the whole sound system together. A good receiver is required to accept audio and video signals from all source components in your sound system. It magnifies audio signals which are transmitted to the speaker. A standard amplifier is actually 3 or 4 components in-one. It features a tuner, which’s what you typically use to-listen to the radio. It also contains a-pre amplifier, which accepts signals from your other source components, lets you to pick among them, allows you set the sound volume, and offers some degree of (mostly-current) amplification; and it does contain a power-amplifier, which accepts signals from the preamplifier and produces signals that actually drive the-speakers. If the sound receiver has a phono-input (few do these days), then it also does contain a phono preamplifier, which accepts the very-low level signals from the turn-table, applies RIAA-correction, and then amplifies it to a level fit for the main pre amplifier to handle. For home theaters, you need a receiver compatible with your surround sound system.
Cabling is considered to be a system component. It certainly makes a difference. Better cables can get rid of a-number of obstacles to music enjoyment. Intuitively it sounds like it is adding to the sound quality but logically you’re just hearing less degradation. The sound qualities can include more natural high frequencies, more detail, better bass, more spacious, blacker silence, etc. Although it seems counter-intuitive, digital cables can also make a difference. While its 1’s and 0’s being passed along, it’s the precise timing that is essential and good cables help prevent timing errors. Timing errors (jitter) as small as 100 picoseconds can be audible. Different sound system cables perform different functions. There are customized sound system cables as well as simple wires with multiple uses. You may want to hire an electrician to perform the wiring for you.
- Stereo System Accessories
Accessories can help you get the most from your sound system. They include premium speaker wires which can improve performance and make your listener experience more enjoyable. A speaker stand is useful for getting the best audio from bookshelf speakers and a high quality headphone can be a good substitute for sound system in an apartment, condo or dorm room.
Beyond the basics or essential components of a sound system includes advanced surround sound speakers, automatic room equalization systems which compensate for typical room acoustic problems, and HD projectors. When all parts of a sound system come together, you can truly enjoy theater-like ambiance and audio quality at home. As you can-see, sound systems have come a very long way since the first AM-tube radios were produced.
Make sure to check out this great video about speakers that I found!