If you want to hear the closest sound to live music, buying a hifi system comprosing hifi separates is the best route to go. By hi-fi separates we mean hi-fi turntable, DAB FM/AM tuner, CD player, hi-fi amplifier, stereo receiver, cables, bookshelf speakers or floorstanding loudspeakers, hi-fi equipment racks, and these days often an iPod dock and hard disk music server or Sonos zoneplayer - we often have special Sonos deals on offer.
The sound performance of these hi-fi separates will almost always be superior to a 'one box system' such as a mini system at a similar price, where all funtions are housed in one enclosure. The reasons are that in a mini system, all components are sharing the same power supply, and noise created in one section then pollutes another section, which inevitably degrades the overall sound quality. Hifi separates also enable you to gradually upgrade your audio system piece by piece, without having to start all over again, which is a more affordable way to get more enjoyment from your music listening.
Our h-ifi separates start at prices below £100 per unit, and rise to many thousands of pounds per unit, and sound performance improves as you go up the range.
We are often asked what proportion of the overall system budget to spend on each item. Loudspeakers invariably make the biggest overal contribution to the sound of an audio system, so you would be unwise to save money on this item, however system balance is important too - don't waste excessive expenditure on say, fancy audio cables when you only have a budget CD player and amplfier, as you will not hear the benefit. If you have a budget of say £700, our advice would be to spend 30% on the speakers, 20% on the CD player, 25% on the amplifier and 25% on cables and stands/ rack.