Investing In Home Audio System

By: Gregory Grubbs

It used to be much easier to buy an audio system. You would go to the stereo store, listen to several systems, choose your speakers buy them and take it all home and hook it up. In today's far more sophisticated audio market we are no longer talking about single standalone stereos. Rather now we're talking about fully integrated home entertainment systems.

Whole house audio and video -- your selected entertainment available in every room of your home -- on demand.

While millions of Americans have multiple home computers connected in networks, the real fun can be in connecting all your home entertainment devices into a system and enjoy audio and video anywhere you want in your home.

Although this article deals specifically with the issues you need to take into consideration when making an investment in a home audio system the basic principles apply to video as well.

These are the main considerations you need to take into account:

1)Start with what you want in your system. And let's start with no restrictions. Here is my ideal/dream system description:

** I want to put all my CDs, records (yes I still have vinyl), and MP3 files on one device.

** I want to be able to pull any music I want up immediately even if I can't remember the album title.

** I want to be able to select music by either the mood I'm in or the mood I want to be in. (Pumped up for a work out or mellow to relax after a hard day.)

** I would like the music to be mobile and follow me through out my home.

*** If the family is at home I want each family member to be able to select the music they want to listen to where they want to hear it.

2)Next consider your current home infrastructure. Are you wired for whole house audio or video? Are you about to do a major re-model and want to include this wiring in the project?

3) Is wireless an option?

4) Will it adapt to equipment I have?

Sounds like an impossible dream doesn't it? Well it isn't anymore! There a lot of choices on the market at different price points with different features. While the choices can be confusing they really boil down into two categories:

1)Hobbyist or do it yourself solutions. These solutions vary but tend to be much lower priced however the work begins when you bring your new purchase home. Many of these products have fairly complicated set up requirements such as external computers, an understanding of how to set up the device on your network, complicated setup to name a few. If you know how to do these things already then you'll have no problem but if not it is the equivalent of going to buy a car and going home with a box of parts and a box of tools. At the end of the day you might be able to put it together and make it work but if you wanted a car you could drive off the lot this is definitely not the way to go!

2)Ready to play solutions. These solutions contain more complete features such as integrated storage, complete user interfaces, components that integrate into existing systems. They tend to include more advanced features and while they are certainly more expensive, for those who don't consider themselves computer wizards this is an excellent option. Continuing with my car analogy this would be the car you drive off the lot.

The prices and features are really quite varied from a gadget you can connect to your computer for a few hundred dollars all that way to a system that includes a raid array for tens of thousands and there is a lot in between. If you are in the market for a home audio system be sure to look carefully at all the options and decide which type of system you want first before you even start narrowing down which system you want to look at. Then key to choosing the right decide what features are must haves such as controlling music from any room or is it OK to use a wall panel or turn on the TV. Is central control important to you or are several music libraries acceptable. Would a wireless option be of interest to me or is my home already wired? Once you have your list of must haves then it will be easier to narrow down the choices that are right for you.

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