Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Purchase A Sound System

Hints and Tips on How to Purchase an Edifier Sound System

Purchasing a new sound system, or even upgrading an existing one can be a daunting task. The following hints and tips by Peter Duminy, Edifier’s Executive Director of Research & Development, may well prove useful for you to consider.

I have several stages for you. Firstly, try to establish your budget. From here, one can then start to look at your musical tastes, choice of movie soundtracks, and also gaming needs. Bear in mind, that the choice loudspeakers will affect the sound quality more than any other component in your system. With this in mind, try to purchase the best speakers you can if they are not in a pre-packaged system.

Next, comes shopping at the store you have chosen. Try to pick a quiet time of the day so you can listen in a more relaxed atmosphere. It is always a good idea to bring along a few of your favorite CDs and DVDs for reference. Try listening to a few systems in your price range, or if you are shopping for loudspeakers, choose no more than three brands and models. This will make your final decision easier after extensive auditioning.

Now you have a good idea of what your needs are for your new purchase or upgrade. Next, I am going to suggest the critical listening stage and what to listen for. All of the following topics are important, and are in no particular order.

The human voice is always a good test for this category. How convincing does the male or female singer sound? Can you hear breath, texture, and realism? Make sure the voice is clear of chestiness, nasality, and sibilance. Musical instruments should sound very defined and embody as many elements of a live or studio performance as possible. Remember, that bright sounding speakers may sound exciting at first, but can become quite tiring after a few hours of listening.

Bass Punch & Slam

These sonic characteristics tend to apply only to speaker systems that have either satellites and subwoofers, or that are of a larger size, for example, medium sized bookshelf and floor standing models. Pinpointing punch and slam refers to the rhythmic force which you feel as much as you hear, for example, in a kick drum or tympani. Musical style and tastes will also affect the overall bass quality and quantity you hear. For example, Rap and Reggae will have more of a profound deep bass presentation, than say Classical Chamber music. The above attributes are a good guide of overall speaker power and transducer quality.

Overall Timing
This term describes the accuracy of the musical notes embedded within the recording. A good loudspeaker system should be able to communicate the rhythms within the music scores with high precision and tautness. As a result, you may well find that unknowingly, your hand or foot may have been tapping to time of the beat.


A rather complex issue regarding phase and time, a fine system will convey the placement of voices, instruments, and sound effects, in front of and between your speakers. In the case of higher end loudspeaker systems with wide dispersion, you will find that the stereo image will extend past the far left and far right of the enclosures. If you close your eyes, you should be able to sense the atmosphere of the recording, and feel you are actually there at the performance.

The ambience, together with imaging, will provide you with acoustical clues as to where the recording was made. For example, if you hear a rather spacious echo from a recording of say a sizeable Orchestra, the chances are it was performed in a large Symphony Hall. The best loudspeaker systems are also capable of reproducing the “air” around the voices and instruments within a recording. This attribute further enhances the realism of detail and spaciousness.

Now that you have purchased or upgraded your sound system, I have a few hints that can make your listening experience all the more enjoyable.

  • Try to set up your sound system for the best possible chance of success. Try to keep your speakers away from corners and sidewalls to avoid standing waves and unwanted room resonances.

  • For desktop Multimedia systems, find the most comfortable chair you can, and place it midpoint between the satellite speakers on your desktop. If possible, try to listen 18-24” away, if your satellites are about 28-36” apart. For Home Theater systems, try to listen 6-10 feet away, if your speakers are 6-8 feet apart. These distances will give you fine imaging and depth.

  • Try relaxing and listening to the music or movie soundtrack, and not to the sound system itself. You may find after 10 minutes or so, that you are completely immersed in the performance.

If you follow the above advice, you may well find that music that was once used for just background enjoyment, has now become your primary source of entertainment.

Happy Listening!

Peter Duminy Executive Director of Research & Engineering
Edifier International Inc.
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