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Beginner’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Audio Setup?

Are you ready to set up your first home sound system? Building your own system is a thing of beauty and to customize it however you like can provide great self-satisfaction. However, due to multiple combinations of stereo components available for your selection, picking the right setup for your listening becomes a challenge. There is nothing wrong with getting a bundle that includes the essentials: speakers, cables, a stereo receiver, and a turntable. But if you want to pursue a remarkable audio experience, take every component in your system into account, especially the speakers, one of the most important components you need to consider when building your home audio system.

Five Factors to Consider Before Buying Stereo Speakers

When it comes to building a home speaker setup, a large number of choices can seem overwhelming these days. No matter what your listening needs are, and no matter if you are going to want something different from your home audio setup or not, this guide will set you on the right path.

1, Room & Listening Style

Speakers come in a variety of types and sizes. Consider how much space you have to fit in the speaker type you want.

For a large living room with a tall ceiling, floor-standing speakers will be an excellent candidate, offering big, natural sound with solid bass thanks to their large acoustic chambers.

For a limited space such as a bedroom, a pair of bookshelf speakers like Edifier R2000DB, R1280DB, S880DB are fine examples to fit your room better, while delivering stereo and immersive sound for your music listening and movie watching. With their compact size, you can flexibly place the speakers on stands or desks or use them as rear speakers for a surround sound environment.

S880DB
Edifier S880-DB Hi-Res Audio Certified Powered Speakers

If you want your bookshelf speakers to play more deeply, consider adding an extra powered subwoofer like the T5 Powered Subwoofer to deliver powerful distortion-free bass, making TV show and movie sound effects feel realistic and enriching music to your system.

Edifier-T5 Subwoofer
Edifier-T5 Powerful Distortion-free Bass

If you like blasting your music super loudly, placing large floor-standing speakers in your living room might be a better option. On the other hand, if you prefer to listen at more moderate or lower levels, you can consider a pair of compact bookshelf speakers in your home office. What do you appreciate more: smooth sound, bright tones, or heavy bass? Taking some time to think about it will help you avoid over-or under-buying.

2, Passive vs Active Speakers

The biggest difference between passive and active speakers is the way they are amplified. Passive speakers require an external amplifier or receiver, you cannot plug your components directly into passive speakers, they need to be connected to the receiver with speaker cable. Active speakers have built-in amplification, and are equipped with various input ports, so you can plug all your components into them directly.

Passive speakers like Edifier P17 and P12 are more flexible for your home audio system, as you can experiment with different types of amplifiers or stereo receivers according to your needs and upgrade it over time without having to replace your speakers.

Edifier P17
Edifier-P17 Passive Bookshelf Speakers

With active speakers, what you see is what you get. If you do not want the added expense of multiple components, a stereo pair of bookshelf speakers like R1280 series or a 2.1 system that includes a subwoofer like S360DB 2.1 Speakers might be a better option for you.

3, Wired vs Wireless Speakers

In general, wired speakers deliver the best audio quality. Wired connection between audio source and audio output is fixed, fast and stable, ensuring better quality of audio output. If audio fidelity is most important to you, then wired speakers like Edifier R1280Ts are worthy to be considered for your music and home theatre needs. But the drawback is that they are less convenient to use and more difficult to set up. You have to place the wired speakers in a proper position where the wires can reach and spend some serious time and effort concealing or organizing them. As technology evolves, more and more wireless speaker systems are emerging on the market, and with the improvement of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards, more equipment is appearing with these wireless technologies built in.

Wired or wireless? Which option is actually better? If you want a straightforward, multi-room setup, and to play numerous songs through music apps and experience intelligent functions like voice assistants to control your music, then wireless smart speakers may be preferable. On the other hand, if you need a really high-end, overall sound system for your movie, the wired speaker is more recommendable.

4, Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi Speakers

Bluetooth establishes a point-to-point wireless connection, pairing a Bluetooth-enabled transmitter (your phone or computer) with a Bluetooth-enabled receiver (your speaker) to play music. Bluetooth connection is direct and easy to set up and does not demand much in terms of power. If you prefer a speaker without an input wire and without a power wire, Bluetooth can be a great choice.

Another feature of Bluetooth is that it can stream high-quality music thanks to technological advancement – the latest Bluetooth 5 standard can provide the equivalent of CD-level sound quality within a limited range of around 100ft (across walls or obstacles will reduce that). R1280DBs, R1700BTs and S1000MKII are great examples of speaker systems with Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connection.

Edifier R1700BTs
Edifier-1700BTs Bluetooth speaker with Rich and Detailed Sound

Bluetooth is appealing for its portability and convenience which allows you to use it on the go without the need to log into Wi-Fi. However, it is not quite as high-fidelity or as powerful as Wi-Fi multi-room audio.

Wi-Fi is also a wireless connection you use to connect your devices at home to the internet, by using an internet router or home hub. Compared with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi speakers can offer a higher audio fidelity, and can cover a wider range, so you can play music all around the house without worrying about distances. Some speakers are compatible with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection like Edifier MS50A, so you can take your pick according to different scenarios.

Besides the actual audio, thanks to its direct connection to the internet, Wi-Fi speakers can give you more functionality, for example work with Alexa, support for Apple AirPlay 2, access to music streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music and more, support for voice assistant to allow you to control your speaker by voice interaction, and many other extra functions.

Multi-room audio means a system can manage multiple speakers at once, playing from one or more sound sources to one or more speakers at a given time. A few Bluetooth speakers support linking, chaining, and mesh networks that connect multiple speakers to each other. It is much easier to set up multiple Wi-Fi speakers around the house for multi-room audio. Take Edifier MS50A for example, tap into the Alexa APP to access any or all speakers connected to your home network by using Alexa’s multi-room system feature and play music from dozens of different streaming sources on multiple speakers simultaneously.

5, Budget

Speakers are an important investment. The right set of speakers, if properly taken care of, will last significantly long. The price of speakers come in a wide range. Generally speaking, higher-end models deliver better sound, but sometimes they lack the features you might expect for the price. In order to get the best sound, along with the features you want, at a price you can afford, you may need to spend a week or even a month researching the market.

Edifier, specialized in premium sound systems over the past two decades, offers reasonably priced and high-performance bookshelf speakers that received good reviews from its customers. A few hundred dollars speakers like R2000DB, R1280DB, S880D can go along with this great-value brand.

If you have a flexible budget and want the best of the best, you can consider its Airpulse series – Airpulse A80, Airpulse 200, Airpulse 300 and Airpulse 300PRO which uses optimal materials, symmetrical acoustic and electrical design, producing Hi-Res studio-quality sound to elevate your audio experience.