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  Hi-fi Systems Buying Guide. Date Posted 27/08/2001.

Hi-fi Systems have all the components you need to listen to music. This often includes an amplifier, a CD player, tape player and a radio. Usually speakers will be included as well. Sometimes they may include other units, such as a CD-recorder or minidisc player. The Grundig Fine Arts system reviewed, is an example of a separates hi-fi. All the units are separate and match, plus you can use the same remote control, all the components are designed to be used with one another, hence it is easy to copy CDs to tape, without pressing hundreds of buttons. Some audiophiles prefer to make a do-it-yourself hi-fi, with each separate not necessary being of the same make and model range. Given that they nearly always have the same inputs and outputs, there is nothing to stop you mixing and matching different makes of separates, and buying the right set of components to get the sound you want. The main disadvantage is that they will not match and you usually can't use the same remote control. Also it will take time to try out different combinations of separates to get the right sound.

Some hi-fi systems are integrated into one unit, such as the B&O Overture, which tend to be mini-hi-fis. I think these are smart alternatives to a separates solution, but they don't offer the upgradability of a separates solution, also you have to buy the whole system not just the CD player or tape etc. Although not always true (eg. with B&O's Overture), midi hi-fi separates/systems which are bigger and often more expensive often offer better sound quality when compared to mini-hi-fi separates/systems. You have to decide what you are after, just sound quality, or style, or size, or price, or probably more likely a combination of all of the above!

Buying Hi-fis. When buying hi-fis you must consider not only the components, but the cabling which links them. Also try to make sure that if you are mixing and matching components each are of approximately the same quality. Buying an expensive CD player, is fine if your amp is good and so are your speakers. However, if the rest of your system is average, it would be a waste of money, since your system would be limited by the average components.