Choosing The Right Music System

by Sukumar Thingom

Posted on September 20, 2017

For a true audiophile, a decent music system is always on the must-buy list. However, the variety of brands on offer in the market and the features available make it a daunting task to come up with the right stereo system that serves one’s needs and that fits right within the budget. Then also comes the design. So, ultimately when a potential buyer sets out to buy his equipment, he looks into the features, the design, and the price. He buys when these three criteria are met.

Components in a Stereo System

Most stereo systems comprise Speakers (two or more), a Receiver (the pre-amplifier, the amplifier, and AM/FM tuner) and a Source (CD/DVD player, mp3 player, a turntable or an auxiliary source). The Receiver and the Source are usually packaged together mostly, although these can be bought separately too. All the three components can be bought separately, which, of course, requires a perfect identification of the technical specifications (specs) of each component, the compatibility of each component with one another, the performance when linked together and one’s needs.

Picking the Right System

What are your needs?

One of the most important criteria for selecting a music system is the “needs” of the buyer. Depending on the need, the system is bought either as a packaged set or in separate components. Though most needs are met when bought as a packaged system, some people buy each component separately to suit their needs. Music systems are used in different ways for different people:

  • for listening to music only
  • to watch movies (as a two-way speaker system or surround sound)
  • for playing video games
  • for use in a lounge area of a hotel/restaurant or dance floor
  • for use in parties, festivals, etc.

Even here, those who look for music systems for home use, for listening to music only, the systems are different according to the choice of music. So, a buyer who listens to rock music will buy a music system different from the one who listens to classical music mostly. Finally, when all is settled, most buyers are left to deal with the dilemma – whether to opt for a system that one feels is perfect or to stay within the budget.

Do a proper research of the market and models available

One should do a thorough research of the market before settling on any music system. After all, we do not buy a system only to change it after a few months. This will be a possession that you want to be proud of and which you might need to show off in front of your envious friends! For checking out the best and latest systems in the market, what better place than the internet to look for it. Read the reviews and customer feedback on the models that you have narrowed down on, and settle for the best.

Set aside a budget

It is easy to get flummoxed by the sheer number of models and the range of music systems available in the market. If one can identify the needs clearly, then it makes sense to set aside a budget within which one can make the necessary comparisons before deciding on a particular choice. An all-in-one home stereo system is most of the time cheaper than buying the components separately. But if you are on a tight budget, a good all-in-one will serve the purpose. However, if you are willing to invest a larger budget (it is an investment, after all for the numerous hours of enjoyment), then go for a “customised” arrangement where you procure the components separately according to the specifications of your choice.

Compare with the available alternatives

The market is full of products that meet almost all your needs. At the same time, even if you have a music system that you think fulfils all your criteria, there are many other models that have the same features and at different prices. Within a particular budget range, there can be many alternatives to choose from. So go ahead and compare the models whether you are planning to buy the packaged all-in-one types of as different components. Be informed of the choices available so as not to leave any chances for regret later on.

Do a physical check if possible

Unless one is buying online, it is best if one can actually have a physical check of the system before buying. If one opts to buy the components separately, the most important component would be the speakers because it is from them the sound is going to come out. Then the rest (amplifier, receiver, etc.) can be considered.

Consider how the service will be after buying

As a customer, it is important to know how the service would be from the manufacturer. Always read customer reviews or if you know someone who bought their system from the same manufacturer, ask how the response is when queries come, for replacement of faulty parts, for servicing, etc.

Some important questions

  • How will you use the music system?
  • What is your musical preference?
  • Have you considered the acoustics of your room where you plan to place the system? The room acoustics can significantly affect how your system would function.
  • Does your system fit in with your room décor?
  • Does your system provide you with the option to upgrade one or some of its components to a higher version later on?
  • How’s the servicing? Are hardware parts readily available? Are the parts costly?
  • How’s the customer review/feedback?
  • Does the system allow multiple types of auxiliary inputs?

Try answering these questions and see if the system which you are planning to buy perfectly fits the bill. Happy shopping!


  1. Hey Sukumar,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on choosing the right sound system. I completely agree with your advice and methods. As a matter of fact, it’s exactly how I go about making all of my major purchases!
    Personally I like to determine what I will be using my sound system for the most as well as my budget. I then go through my due diligence process and whittle my list down to 2-4 total. After that I do the physical test and go to an electronics store and check them out in real life. Great advice. Speaking of which:
    Do you have any recommendations? I am looking to get a new system and would like to build it with components. It’s been so long I don’t recall what’s good.
    Thanks again,
    Mat A.

    • Dear Mat A.,

      You seem to be a person who knows what you what from your system and so selecting a system of your choice might not be difficult for you unlike many people . However, I cannot recommend a particular model or brand because of the question of their availability in one’s market. It’s nice knowing that there are still people like you who wants the old-fashioned component system. Check their availability in your own market and I’m sure you’ll definitely come up with an amazing choice. By the way, do check out if the Bose Wave SoudTouch series models are available in your market. Although cost-wise, slightly on the higher side, they are definitely good systems. Thanks for the comments!

  2. This is a great article and something that I have a lot of interest in. I’d love to have an amazing stereo system for listening to music and eventually for watching films.

    I currently am mostly streaming my music via Apple Music now, do you know of any really good stereo systems that allow for high-quality streaming? Thanks!

    • Glad to know that you like the article. Check out the availability of Bose SoundTouch series in your market. It provides excellent online streaming of songs via the TuneIn which is integrated in the SoundTouch app.

  3. This is a nice read Sukumar! I wish I have read it 2 years ago before we bought our sound system. Well we kind of bought it as an impulse because it was on sale. When we went home, we were a little bit disappointed because it wont match our current living room setup. So the money we saved from the sale went to buying more stuff to fill in the gap.

    Now our problem is how to set up the speakers because everything is just by our tv. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Marinelleb!
      It all depends on what kind of a speaker set-up you bought. Whether it is a two-speaker system, a 2.1 or a surround 5.1 system. If it’s only two speakers (left and right channel), the placement headache is less and one could place them (if you have space) on both sides on the TV. The same with a 2.1 system with the subwoofer placed anywhere near the TV (and not necessarily in the middle). If it’s a 5.1 system, you need to seriously see if indeed your living room has the space to do justice to the system.

  4. Hey there! This is really helpful since I’m moving to a new apartment and I wanted to have a music system. I want my music system to be all around and I can play anything with it. For example, I can watch movie through it, my video games’ sounds and also when I play music. IS there any music system that is all around?

    • Hello John!

      Since what you’re looking for is a system that allows you watch TV/movies, play video games as well as listen to music, you could get an all-in-one system that has auxiliary input for other sources (TV, video games, etc.). The system would allow you play your music, and if you wish to jazz up your movie/TV experience, you could connect it to your system either directly or via Bluetooth (if provided). Similarly for video games.

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