Hi Fi Receivers
Hi Fi Receivers are simply an amplifier with a built in radio tuner, this space saving addition means one less unit in your system although for the true audiophile this would be a lesser option to having separate units. The main reason separate units work better is because each separate has its own rated power supply independent from each other and providing in most cases enhanced musicality particularly at higher volume level’s, allowing the demands of the amplifier to catered for with ample supply of current needed by independent power supply’s, the effect of this is an enhanced and more open range of dynamics and an immediate reduction in distortion levels at higher levels of volume.
How many watts per channel
This is a question that is asked by many customers, amplifier power is measured in watts per channel and also measured by different terms, so unfortunately many comparisons are quite meaningless so ensure that you compare like for like, as well as taking into account the distortion levels, an amplifier will not produce a good musical experience unless it has a low distortion level, most amplifiers will distort at high levels of volume and signals will be clipped as the power supply runs out of available current. An amplifier with 200 watts per channel does not necessarily mean better quality that an amplifier of 50 watts per channel, it the quality of the amplifier that is important. A final note on this is to always choose an amplifier with a higher measure of watts per channel than your speakers, we have seen many customers fry the speaker coils by over stressing them with smaller amplifiers running at higher volume levels, remember that smaller amplifiers at high volume levels will create distortion and this distortion creates high transient spikes which will eventually overheat your speakers and burn out the speaker coils and crossovers.
Both Hi Fi Amplifiers and Receivers are really the centre of your system providing connections from all your sources such as Compact disc player, your turntable or other ancillary equipment. The pre amplifier section of the amplifier allows you to easily switch or select the audio source you wish to listen to. Today there is a choice of enabling you music from your mobile phone as a source and also the ability to stream music from your computer or other devices such as a digital streamer, so before choosing the amplifier or receiver always consider what inputs are needed and also reflect what spare capacity will be required for the future.
Separate Pre-Amplifiers or Combined
Separate pre- amplifiers provide additional benefits for improving sound quality the main ones being additional shielding by having separate units and improved transient response, shielding within a combined amplifier is always limited so mains hum at higher listening levels can be reduced by incorporating a separate pre-amplifier. Transient response is the ability of the amplifier to respond to loud and soft signals at the same time, so that the power supply in the main amplifier does not hinder a softer note because the pre amplifier is running its own power supply.
Transistor Versus Valve amplification
This debate has been going ever since transistor amps first became available, and it shows no sign of abating any time soon, so what are the differences, certainly in the early years of transistor amplifier design it was seen to be a very hoarse and hard sounding when you compared this to the more laid back sound of a valve amplifier, today with more improved semi-conductors and a wider choice of specific semiconductor’s the design of modern Hi Fi amplifiers reduces most of the benefits of a valve amplifier although I must admit there is tremendous nostalgia in owning valve amplification.
Additional benefits to consider before you purchase are Subwoofer outputs terminals which are essential for those who have a separate subwoofer, this extra feature means the ability to listen to the natural extra base response that cannot be heard on your average speaker system, and most speakers have a frequency response that do not reproduce the full frequency range that the amplifier can produce so by installing a subwoofer you not only gain all the benefits of being able to listen to the full frequency response of your amplifier but you gain a tremendous befit of enhanced and more open sound with a much wider sound stage.
Speaker cables can make an enormous difference to the overall sound quality, keep both left and right channel speaker cables at the same length, ensure a good quality cable suitably match to the quality of your amplifier and speakers, there is much choice in speaker cables, HiFix stock many leading brands such as Chord, QED, AudioQuest, also ensure you use good quality speaker terminals at both ends, most amplifiers and speakers will have banana type speaker termination. Remember that bi-wireable speakers will provide a more open and musical sound stage.