Of course, the all-too-seductive temptation here is to visit our Awards site, study the most expensive Award-winner you can afford, and purchase them. After all, doesn’t it follow that if it’s the best we think you can get for that amount, it’s the best for you?
Some of you will strike it rich. Some of you will be able to do just that, and the speakers will seamlessly integrate into your setup. However, it’s always a good idea to do a lot of homework before making a purchase, and to keep those items in mind when auditioning pairs. And after you’ve chosen your next pair of speakers, there’s always a lot to consider when it comes to properly setting them up.
We’ll go through all of this and more as we walk you through the process of selecting the right pair of speakers, from testing to purchase to installation in your hi-fi device.
Ok, maybe. But be cautious. After all, if you took that approach to house or car shopping, you might end up commuting in your McLaren Speedtail from your 10-bed mansion in the Scottish Highlands to London every day. For certain people, this is not an ideal situation.
There’s a difference between getting the most for your money and getting the most for your money in a more personal context.
That’s where we can help.
Having said that, the most important decision you’ll make at the start of your speaker quest is how much money you’re willing to spend.
There are some obvious arguments to be made here, as well as probably a few not-so-obvious ones.
For example, if you set your budget first and then look at what’s available, rather than the other way around, you’ll be able to significantly narrow down your quest.
If you’re buying a complete device, it’s pointless to spend 90% of your money on speakers just to have them shed a harsh light on all the shortcomings further up the chain.
Similarly, if you already own a device that you got for next to nothing at a car boot sale, that grand may not be better spent solely on a pair of stunning floorstanders.
But be cautious. Although frugality and prudence are admirable traits, there is also a need to plan for the future.
If you’re planning to upgrade other components in your setup, for example, you may want to rethink your budget to make room for speakers with enough sonic stretch to show those upgrades.
Spending a few extra pounds now could save you money in the long run if you plan ahead.
Calculate the size of your room.
The next critical step is to determine the size of your listening room. The amount of room you have can require or limit you to a specific form of speaker, and it should help you narrow down your options in terms of placement.
Most speakers need a certain amount of free space to work at their best, so if you can only fit them in close to the wall, keep that in mind while you shop.
The consistency of the product you end up taking home need not suffer as a result of this; there are plenty of sonically excellent speakers that don’t mind having their backs up against the wall, such as the Dali Menuet SE.
Only keep in mind that you’re dealing with sound waves, which can be influenced by anything they come into contact with at any distance. It’s best not to push your luck if a manufacturer says you need two metres between your speakers and a wall.
Standmounters or floorstanders?
Floorstanders or standmounters, also known as bookshelf speakers – names that are usually indicative of their size – or a subwoofer/satellite hybrid, which pushes the lower frequencies through a sub in conjunction with a more easily accommodated pair of main speakers, are the options.
Bigger speakers, on average, can offer higher volumes, better dynamics, and more bass, but this isn’t true for every device – it’s all subjective.
Are those adorable little bookshelf speakers going to be enough to liven up your gathering?
Is it better to have a biwired or a single-wired system?
Biwirable speakers have two sets of terminals, but they aren’t needed to be used together. Take note of the ties that connect each pair.
Many speakers have four terminals where you can attach your speaker cables, allowing you to biwire them.
Both frequencies are propelled into your speakers with a single set of cables. Your amp will drive upper and middle/low frequency signals independently if you biwire with two sets of cables, resulting in a purer, more precise tone.
It’s possible that your amplifier won’t allow biwiring, or that you really aren’t interested in doing so.
If you want to connect each speaker with a single wire, they come with conductive links between each pair of binding posts, ensuring that your music gets to each driver. However, keep in mind that a speaker with only two connectors would eliminate biwiring as a future alternative.
Most speakers are passive, meaning they get all of their power from your amplifier, which is then routed through a crossover to the speakers’ individual drivers.
A driven speaker, on the other hand, amplifies the signal inside the speaker cabinet, necessitating a separate mains feed for the speaker.
A ‘driven’ speaker and a ‘active’ speaker are two different things. A driven speaker has its own amplifier, but the signal is routed through a passive crossover. The signal is amplified before being divided into frequency bands and fed to the drivers, in other words.
Active speakers, on the other hand, have their own amplifier for each driver. Since the crossovers operate at the line level rather than the speaker level, you can use more precise components and calibrate with greater precision.
Right now, the best active speakers on the market
The biggest disadvantage isn’t so much the price – driven speakers are more costly at first sight, but you’re still getting amplification, so they can end up being better value for money than a separate speaker and amp combination. It’s almost that if you want to update your device in the future, you’ll have to upgrade it all at once.
You will end up spending more money in the long run if you do this.
We generally find that better sound can be achieved more effectively with separate components – a source, stereo amplifier, good speaker cables, and audio interconnects, and a separate pair of best speakers for classical music– but powered/active speakers are an obvious exception if done well.
The separates solution isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t have the space or inclination for several boxes in your living room, there are plenty of excellent powered speakers to choose from.
Handling of power and obstructiveness
Another note on power: although it’s less of a concern these days than it was in the days of valve amplification, if your speakers are difficult to drive, you’ll need a powerful amplifier to help them.
Look at what happens when the impedance drops to four ohms, not just the headline power figure. If the number nearly doubles, your amplifier has adequate current delivery and can drive more demanding speakers.
What Hi-Fi are you listening to? Our star ratings are almost entirely dependent on sound-for-pound – but that isn’t the only factor that people consider.
You won’t want to spend hours sitting in the same room if you can’t bear the sight of a pair of speakers, no matter how good they look.
Along with ensuring that they look good in your room, you should consider the environment in which you will be storing your speakers.
Thankfully, some speakers come with tweeter grilles, allowing you to shield your speakers while still admiring their style.
Our reviews are here to assist you.
Before you go to the store to make your purchase, you can do a little more testing. Of course, given the current economic environment, finding your nearest hi-fi store is proving to be difficult, but hopefully, in the coming months, we’ll see more progress in this region.
Dare we suggest that you already understand the importance of the What Hi-Fi? website as you read this feature? So trust us when we say that before you join the dealership, you should read the related speaker reviews.
And we don’t want you to actually agree with anything we’ve said about a particular speaker pair. However, in addition to assisting you in excluding items that do not meet your requirements, it can also assist you in determining what you should be listening for.
If we mention that the treble is a little coarse, and that it can wear on your ears after a long period of listening, that may not be instantly apparent in the shop’s listening space.
For more information, visit: https://compareget.com/
Thank you for reading at Digitally Mag.