How to Choose a Mini Stereo System: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Good sound often comes in small packages. Choosing the right mini stereo system breathes new life into any space, projecting clear music into the environment. Like any other category in consumer electronics, mini stereo systems encompass multiple variations and levels of quality. Some are geared towards maximum bass output and punch, while others offer a level of refinement typically reserved for more expensive audiophile systems. Mini stereo systems even allow connection of an MP3 player or subwoofer, increasing versatility while improving sound quality.


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    Essential Features: Although many mini stereo systems include CD and sometimes cassette players, increasingly these systems are designed around MP3 playback. Whether it means streaming music from a smartphone via Bluetooth or offering an integrated iPhone or Android dock, manufacturers are paying attention to the sources today's listener uses. Any mini system includes speakers, either integrated into the chassis of the system or as outboard, detached units. Built into the unit is an amplifier to pump out the sounds and, usually, an AM/FM radio. Advanced units aimed at digital music listeners might include Wi-Fi capabilities to stream Internet radio stations or via iTunes.
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    Upgrade Paths: Mini systems are sometimes modular units, able to be upgraded in key ways. Speakers impact overall performance more than any single audio component. Better mini systems have detachable or separate speakers, giving you the option to upgrade to a better if not larger pair. A good tip-off that the integrated amplifier is up to snuff is the presence of binding posts securing the speaker wires. Moving down the quality chain, spring clips and hardwired speaker wires are the norm. If the mini system has external RCA or digital audio inputs, you can add a DVD or CD player if the unit did not include one, increasing playback options.
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    Jacks and Connectors: Mini systems sometimes feature a USB port on the front panel, ready for connection to an iPhone, Android or MP3 player. Some units even allow you to control the portable device via the system's remote control, so you don't have to manually select artists and tracks you wish to hear. If the system has a subwoofer connection on the back, you can augment the typically compact speakers included with the stereo, providing the low end smaller speakers cannot.
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    Sound Enhancements: Many mini systems offer preset equalization curves, designed to alter or enhance the sound. Examples of these sound fields include "Hall," "Club," "Stadium" or "Bass Boost." If the mini system includes these there is a high likelihood that you can manually make changes to the EQ, boosting or reducing frequencies to your liking. Although not essential for accurate sound, EQs sometimes help boost bass and treble that is otherwise lacking on highly compressed MP3s and poorly mastered CDs
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    Power Ratings: Amplifier ratings on stereo mini systems are determined in two primary ways. Most commonly found on units with loud bass and flashing lights, "total system power" refers to maximum power output and distortion at levels you probably won't listen at. Total system power ratings are usually higher if the system includes a subwoofer, which draws more power than the satellite speakers included with the system and will be included in the ratings total. Look for "RMS" power ratings which will most likely be more conservative and honest. Effectively referring to average power output, RMS ratings help guide you if you want to match a better pair of speakers to the system as you upgrade. Generally speaking, you can evaluate the accuracy and relevance of the rated amplifier power by evaluating not only the name brand but the overall build quality found throughout the unit.

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Categories: TV and Home Audio

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