How to Build a Hi-Fi on a Minimal Budget Part 1

How to Build a Hi-Fi System on a Budget

In this edition of Hifi Gear’s ‘How to’ Guides, we are going to look at building a superb Hi-Fi system on a budget that doesn’t cost you the earth. This edition focuses on the critical combination of speakers and amplifiers.

At Hifi Gear, we do believe that everyone is entitled to a superb Hi-Fi system. And, especially in this economic climate, we realise that not everyone can afford the best of the best. So, for those who are just getting into Hi-Fi, or looking to build a good system with a set budget in mind and those who appreciate a system that’s a cut above the rest, this guide aims to help you by looking at what we have on offer in terms of our range of system components, exceptional and relevant advice, as well as information and support after your purchase.

So, let’s start with the basics…

Getting Wired for Sound:

The basics of a good Hi-Fi system mainly consist of an amplifier and a set of speakers that are set to perform at a similar output to that of the amplifier.

In essence, when looking at an amplifier’s output, remember that it’s not all down to the Watts that it can churn-out – it’s how it does it that really matters. Many modern systems are designed to compensate by pumping-out more bass than really necessary. An amplifier that gives a natural performance is ideal, and tone controls are really where you can personalise your desired sound performance.

Speakers also require an amplifier that has enough power to work at their best, but not too much power to the extent where they become distorted when playing under light conditions. The best way is to see if a speaker’s output power range matches that of the amplifier manufacturer’s power recommendations.

Often we find that floor-standing speakers below £300 don’t perform as well as their similarly-priced bookshelf counterparts. This is because the components in a lower priced floor-standing speaker aren’t as good as that of the ones found in the bookshelf. This is because the cheaper floor-standing speaker often has more money spent on the cabinet than that of the drivers and internal components. When buying on a budget, usually more sound performance can be sourced from a bookshelf speaker instead.

Below are two tables, one for speakers and one for amplifiers, which specify brands and specifications of components that are all under £300.






Onkyo A-9155

65w/per channel at 4ohms minimum

Phono equalizer, tone controls, audiophile capacitors


Pioneer A-109

40w/per channel into 4ohms minimum

2x tape loops, front AV in & tone controls


Denon PMA-510

45w/per channel into 8ohms

Phono stage, 2x tape loops & Source Direct capability


Marantz PM5004

45w/per channel into 4ohms

Phono stage, 2x tape loops


Yamaha AS-300

60w/per channel into 4ohms

Phono stage, 2x tape loops, iPod connector socket for Yamaha docks



120w/per channel into 4ohms

2x Video inputs, tone control, motor-driven volume control


Rotel RA-04SE

40w/per channel into 8ohms

Tape loop, phono stage, tone control



40w/per channel into 8ohms

Tape loop, Power-drive circuitry & tone controls


Yamaha AS-500

2×85 watts per channel

2x tape loops, tone controls, phono stage


Denon PMA-710

85w/per channel into 4ohms

Source direct function, tone control, 2x tape loops



90w/per channel into 8ohms

Tone Controls, 2x tape loops & motor-driven volume control


Project Stereo Box ‘S’

30w/per channel into 4ohms

Small size, superb performance




B&W 686



Monitor Audio BX-1

70w Maximum


Wharfedale Diamond 10.1



Mission MX-1

100w Maximum





Epos ELS 8

100w Maximum


Elac  BS-53







Remember, a price doesn’t reflect performance in every situation. But, however, a ratio of a similar price for both speakers and an amplifier will help to determine accurate matches.

Look out for our ‘How to’ guides on finding CD players and other media items on a tighter budget, coming in the near future.


*Indicates a price that is a special offer. Hifi Gear may change this to the original price without warning at any time in the future. Please call or refer to the specific website pages for further details.