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Amplifiers


Amplifiers: Buying Guide

The amplifier is the centre piece of any good home entertainment system, so choosing the right one is extremely important. In this article, we'll show you how to select the best unit.

Quality sound
Personal sound amplifiers, musical instrument amplifiers and even cell phone amplifiers all work on the same principle. They take a small signal and boost it to a meaningful level so that it can be heard. This is achieved electronically by an amplifier circuit.

Role
Amplification introduces electronic noise which can reduce the quality of the final signal. The most important factor when choosing any kind of amplifier is to buy one with the lowest signal to noise ratio (SNR) that you can afford. This way, you can be sure that you are getting the best out of your equipment.

Aside from the quality of the electronics, there are also some other factors that you need to consider :

Design
You will want to choose an amplifier that matches the finish of your other home entertainment products. Bose amplifiers for example are available in matt black, silver and gold finishes. If you intend to display your equipment in a prominent place, then you may even want to colour match your amplifier to your existing products.

Functionality
When buying an amplifier, you need to make sure that it is easy to use. Look for displays that you can dim and that possess simple, easy to use remote controls.

Inputs
Modern amplifiers have a huge range of inputs. In particular, it is important to have RCA, digital coax, optical TOS link and line in. If you intend to play vinyl records, then you should also look for a phono stage.

Outputs
Unlike amplifiers for guitars, home entertainment amplifiers do not have built-in speakers. When choosing your amplifier, make sure that you are able to connect it to your particular speaker system. Spring clips are the lowest quality connectors so avoid amplifiers that use these. Instead, look for amplifiers that allow you to bi-wire your speakers for best performance.

Signal Processing
Home cinema amplifiers need to be able to process a multi channel surround sound signal from a games console or DVD player. As a minimum, home cinema amplifiers should be able to process a 5.1 signal, but ideally look for units that can deal with THX and DTS signals.

When choosing your amplifier, first decide if you need a full home cinema amplifier for movies or whether you can make do with a standard stereo set up.

Do not be afraid to ask the advice of experienced staff at independent hi fi shops.

 
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