What's the definition of a great hi-fi? It's the one you're listening to. Not just for background "listening," but actual, focused listening.
Investing a lot of money on a hi-fi isn't the only way to get there. In fact, spending as little as possible on decent gear is the best way to get acquainted with good sound. Who knows, you might become an audiophile.
My friend Matt Calderone might be on his way. He was given a used Denon DP-7F turntable, and recently bought a Kenwood KA-701 integrated stereo amplifier on eBay and a pair of Klipsch speakers through Craigslist. All told, he spent less than $200.
Calderone is 26 years old so I was curious about how and why he wound up with a hi-fi. He says he's always been interested in LPs, and he likes listening to them over a decent stereo, not computer speakers. Calderone thinks good speakers make a big difference.
It's not just that the sound is better, music engages on a different level when heard over a hi-fi. Calderone frequently winds up just sitting on the couch and get this, he listens to entire records! The music is the main focus; vinyl has that effect on some people. Calderone is going to add a CD player soon, but for now his system is analog only.
The hardest part of buying a used hi-fi is picking the right gear. If you're new to hi-fi ask an older relative who knows audio about which brands are worthy, but for starters I'd recommend steering clear of Sony and Bose products. I like Creek, Denon, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha amplifiers and receivers; look for used Advent, AR, Boston Acoustics, DCM, Epos, Infinity, Klipsch, Magnepan, Mirage, Monitor Audio, NHT, Polk, Snell, or Vandersteen speakers. For a few hundred bucks you can put together a very listenable used system. … Read more