ARTICLE: BASIC HIFI SETUP
27 November 2021
GENERAL PLACING AND SETUP FOR THE COMMON HOME HIFI
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPEAKERS
Stereo speakers react differently depending on their position in a room, and on how close they are to each other and to any walls – so the best-sounding pair when listening at a dealership might not be the best-sounding pair when you get them home. We always recommend measuring the dimensions of your room when it comes to choosing the right speakers. Don’t be blasé when it comes to positioning – they’re likely to come with a manual with the manufacturer’s suggestions for placement. That said, there’s nothing like experimenting with a keen ear so go with your gut.
CONSIDERING ALL POSSIBLE OPTIONS
Of course, you may not be building the perfect hi-fi system from scratch. Perhaps you already have one or more elements? We often make the point that you shouldn’t dismiss a product simply on its What Hi-Fi star rating, but this is a particularly pertinent point if you’re looking to add to something you already own. Certain products may not be flawless all-rounders, but they could well have the blend of talents you’re looking for. So often in life it’s the little things that can have the biggest influence, and that’s the case with system building.
BUDGET ON THE EXTRA
Set aside funds for quality cables, speaker stands and AV racks – or you simply won’t get your money’s worth out of your system. The golden rule, as always, is: never buy anything without having heard it first. A good support lets your kit perform optimally. Turntables in particular are sensitive and respond well to a rigid, low-resonance platform, so steer clear of those wobbly floorboards or uneven bits of carpet. And if you can use a dedicated mains outlet, that would be ideal – and avoid placing mains cables and signal cables too close to each other, as performance can suffer.
BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS
So there you have it. A few tips and tricks to building the perfect hi-fi system. And to help you on your way and provide a few sparks of inspiration, we've put together a few systems over the years that we know work together. We've covered various bases here: using different sources and system components, setting various budgets, selecting the best products of their time, and reflecting changing listening habits – along with some helpful alternatives.
ESSENTIAL CONNECTION OF SPEAKER CABLES (SIMPLIFIED TUTORIAL)
- Place the speakers and receiver where you want them, ideally with easy access to the connection panels.
- Lay the speaker cables in such a way that you’ll be unlikely to trip over them. There are many ways to secure and conceal cables from ducts to adhesive backed tape. You can even hide the cables behind foam mouldings along your wall.
- Line up the speaker cable with the correct output on your receiver or amplifier. This is actually quite easy as the connections are clearly labelled. The cable from the speaker on the right side of your stereo or surround system connects to the output marker “Speaker right.”
- Unscrew the binding posts on your AV receiver or amplifier enough so that a gap appears. The gap must be big enough to accomodate the stripped end of a speaker cable.
- Thread the stripped cable end into the terminal in such a way that none of the strands that make up the wire split off.
- Take care not to attach the cables to the wrong poles. The cable ends connected to the positive poles on the loudspeakers need to connect to the positive poles on the receiver. If the poles are not aligned, the driver membranes will work in the opposite direction. But not to fear: Speaker cables are colour-coordinated in order to help with this process.