In­stant ex­pert... hi-fi sep­a­rates

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Av & Hi-fi Racks Continued -

Why match­ing pairs are a win­ning com­bi­na­tion

We ad­vo­cate sep­a­rates over all-in-one sys­tems. Sound-wise, sep­a­rates tend to per­form bet­ter, but when buy­ing we still sug­gest you demo the same maker’s match­ing amp and CD player. The kit usu­ally shares the same de­sign team and will son­i­cally com­ple­ment each other: if you like the sound of the amp, you’ll prob­a­bly en­joy the CD player, too.

Lis­ten to your favourite mu­sic, not the dealer’s

Hi-fi deal­ers should have a de­cent CD and vinyl col­lec­tion for demon­stra­tion pur­poses, but we sug­gest you take your own. Take tunes you know so you can con­cen­trate on how the kit is per­form­ing, rather than on the new mu­sic. And don’t just take your ‘good’sound­ing CDS. If you lis­ten to lots of com­pressed pop, take it along as well and hear ex­actly how it sounds.

Po­si­tion be­fore you lis­ten – and don’t stack it, rack it

You’ve bought your shiny new sys­tem. But you’re not go­ing to stack your new amp, CD spin­ner and turntable on that rick­ety ta­ble, are you? And don’t even think of putting the kit on the floor. To sound its best, hi-fi kit needs a dust-free, level and se­cure base. In­vest pounds in a ded­i­cated rack, and the sonic (and vis­ual) re­wards jus­tify the out­lay.

Give your am­pli­fier room to breathe

Well done for buy­ing that nice equip­ment rack, but be­fore you undo all your good work, make sure you give your stereo am­pli­fier room to breathe. Th­ese ma­chines get hot, and the chas­sis vents should not be cov­ered up. The top shelf of your rack is ideal, but if you also own a top-load­ing CD player and/or turntable you’ll need clear­ance for all.

There’s noth­ing op­tional about es­sen­tial ex­tras

Be­fore you hit the shops – and we rec­om­mend you buy from some­where you can hear your kit – work out your to­tal bud­get. Al­low roughly the same amount for each com­po­nent (in­clud­ing a pair of speak­ers) and then add 15-20 per cent for ex­tras such as cables, speaker stands and a ded­i­cated equip­ment rack.

Have you got a screw loose?

New hi-fis are like bi­cy­cles. Sort of. Three months af­ter pur­chase, dig out your span­ner and tighten up the sit­u­a­tion. You’ll most likely find the bolts of the equip­ment rack and speaker stands have worked a lit­tle loose. Dou­ble-check your kit rack is still level, too.

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