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Other Audio systems buying guide

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Other Audio Systems Guide - An Introduction

Audio systems come in several different formats, such as a wireless music player, radio tuner, juke box, cassette player, cd recorder, and mini disc player. Choosing the right type will depend on your music playing needs.

The first practical device for recording and playing sound was the phonograph cylinder, which was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. His invention quickly spread around the world, creating a growth industry over the next two decades. After the phonograph, the most significant advance in sound recordings were the vacuum tube in 1906 and several inventions regarding circuitry that made high fidelity amplification possible.

In recent years, technology has expanded to include several different types of players. Magnetic tape, such as cassette tapes, meant you could record, erase, and re-record sound on the same tape. The invention of digital recording, which led to compact discs, or CDs, brought increased durability to consumer recordings. Audio systems have continued to evolve, including wireless systems that increase the portability of your sound system.

If you are searching for an audio system, Price Inspector can help you find the right variety and model. Our buying guide gives you the tips to sort through all the different types, finding the right one for you. When you have selected the perfect audio system for your needs, we make sure you get a great deal. Our Inspectors compare prices around the UK to bring you the cheapest prices available.

Radio Tuners, Turntables, and Wireless Music Players

Simply put, radio tuners let you listen to radio, whether it’s a home system, car audio, portable device, or Internet radio. One of the newest advances is a DAB radio tuner. DAB refers to Digital Audio Broadcasting. With this type of tuner, you can listen to more channels with crystal-clear reception. In some areas, you can receive up to 40 channels for no cost.

  • The Denon S-32 Internet radio comes with built-in speakers and alarm clock. It can stream Internet radio or play music from attached devices, such as through the built-in iPod dock. The built-in speakers are clear and powerful, designed to provide powerful bass and excellent sound reproduction. It can play music either wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable. The alarm clock has two alarms and automatically sets the clock via the Internet.
  • The Kenwood KDC-MP242 lets you listen to radio in your car, as well as other audio formats like an MP3 player or CDs. The faceplate is detachable to deter theft. The tuner has 18 FM presets and 6 AM presets, and it has two output connections for future expansions. The remote control lets passengers, even those in the back seat, control the music.
  • The NAD M4 Master Series is the most advanced tuner from NAD, combining style, quality, and performance. It has a highly sensitive tuner to provide the best radio reception for both AM and FM channels, even in urban areas where the FM dial is more crowded. It also provides excellent reception for DAB broadcasts.

    Other popular radio tuner brands include:
        * Onkyo
        * Pioneer
        * Sony
        * Teac Corporation
        * Technics
        * Yaesu
        * Marantz

If you are looking for a turntable, consider the Pro-Ject Juke Box This high-performance model has a solid steel platter to treat even your rare discs with care. The front of the player has power and volume controls, and there’s a pre-amp and digital amplifier that provides up to 25 watts of power to each channel. The system has gold-plated connectors for your speakers, and you can connect up to three additional audio devices in the rear.

The Philips GoGear juke box offers a stylish design, touch-sensitive interface, an FM radio tuner, voice recorder, and colour screen. The battery is not replaceable by the user, and the case shows fingerprints. If you like its touch-sensitive interface, you’ll enjoy the GoGear.

The Sony VAIO wireless music streamer lets you listen to your computer’s music files wirelessly. It can play files recorded on iTunes, Windows Media Player, SonicStage, and other formats.

The Logitech Squeezebox is a wireless music player with Wi-Fi Internet radio. It provides an affordable way to listen to music in any room of your house. The convenient, stylish design is perfect for any room. With its Wi-Fi network and internal antennas, you are no longer tied down by cables or connectors. It comes with a directory of Internet radio stations and works with Pandora’s and Rhapsody’s music collections. The Internet music is available even if your computer is powered off.

Cassette Players, CD Recorders, and Mini Disc Players

Although cassette players have been largely replaced by CD players, there are still many popular brands, including:

  • The Aiwa Walkman is a stereo cassette player and digital AM/FM tuner. It has 30 preset stations and built-in “Super Bass” for high quality sound. The compact, stylish player comes with Aiwa ear buds.
  • The Kenwood KRC-435 is a cassette player with detachable faceplace. It has feather-touch controls, and the auto-reverse function automatically replays the tape when the tape finishes one side. The built-in AM/FM receiver has 24 presets. The audio system provides 47 watts of power, and it has two outputs to connect separate amps. It has an LCD display, Dolby noise reduction, and a remote control.
  • The Panasonic RQ-L31 is a portable cassette recorder that has a slide microphone. This handheld recorder uses voice activation to save tape, and the microphone offers good sensitivity.

Other popular cassette player brands include:

* Philips
* Sony
* Technics
* Denon
* Marantz

For CD recorders, consider:

  • The Denon CDR-W1500 is a dual-drive black CD recorder. The first deck is a CD player that can play CD-R or RW discs. The second deck is a music CD recording drive that offers double-speed disc copying.
  • Marantz CDR420 is an MP3 and CD recorder in one. The 20GB hard drive provides automatic time and date stamping. The keyboard lets you easily name your files. The system offers copy, cut, and paste functions for editing.
  • The Sony RCDW500C is a compact disc player and recorder that has a 5 CD, dual deck, providing high-speed dubbing. It can record CD-R and CD-RW discs, and it can play CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 files.
  • The Sony MZ-S1 is a MiniDisc player that records MP3s or CDs from your PC, CD, radio, and other sources. It has a one-hand joystick control and backlit LCD screen. It can provide up to 54 hours of playback on a single AA battery. The water-resistant case and reflective hand strap make it ideal for use while jogging or other exercise.

Other popular brands include:

* Akai
* Boss
* Fostex
* Philips

Tips to consider before buying Audio Systems

  • If possible, test the system in person before you buy. Even if you buy online to get a cheaper price, you want to feel the controls and listen to the sound quality before you buy.
  • Consider whether the audio system will let you connect other devices, such as an iPod or other MP3 player. Some will charge your player while you listen to music, while others just let you use the better speakers on your audio system.
  • If you wish to play both CD-R and CD-RW discs, make sure the system you are considering accepts both types. Some models, especially those at the lower price range, have limitations regarding format.
  • There are two main types of CD recorders: those with a single deck and those with two decks. If the player has two decks, you can copy CDs, which is much faster than having to burn each disc individually.
  • Even if you don’t currently listen to DAB radio, you might consider buying a radio tuner that has that functionality. It still receives your favourite AM and FM stations, but it will also provide dozens of additional stations for free. This is the latest advancement in radio, likely to expand even more in the future. Buying a radio tuner with DAB capabilities means your system won’t become outdated as quickly.
  • If you have already downloaded a large library of digital music, make sure your wireless music player can support the type of music files you want. For example, iPod players play iTunes but not Windows Media Player.

Jargon Explained

WattsWatts are a measure of the amount of power your audio system pushes through the speakers. Higher watts allow you to play music at higher volumes.
High FidelityThis refers to sound reproduction with little to no sound distortion. A high fidelity audio system will provide truer sound quality for increased listening enjoyment.
WiFiA wireless connection that lets you listen to Internet radio or your MP3 player without the need for a cable connection.
GBgigabyte. This is 1 billion bytes of data. If you will be storing music files on your audio system, such as an MP3 player, high gigabytes means you can store more songs in your digital library.
CD-R and CD-RWCD-R is a compact disc that can only be recorded once. CD-RW is rewritable, meaning you can record over previous material. Some older CD players are not able to play CD-R files, so it’s important to know which you have. 

Buying Guide to Other Audio systems
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