Advice on choosing the best hifi system for apartments and small spaces.

Apartment Systems

Music in Your Apartment

Selecting a high fidelity music system to work well in an apartment or small room is a challenge. Space is at a premium and consideration has to be given to neighbors and integrating the system in a harmonious way. Here are our "do's and don’ts".

The Speakers

·       DO Choose your speakers first and then select the partnering equipment second. Speakers are the item that gives your system its voice and so you need to be comfortable with the kind of sound they produce.

·       Medium size speakers will play bass more effortlessly and play at low listening levels better. Speakers that occupy small floor space are preferred, but this does not imply tiny speakers on stands or on walls are better. A small speaker has limited bass capability and low efficiency. Simply put, it doesn’t sound as good!

·       Seek out a speaker that works well when placed in close proximity to the wall behind the speakers (say 10 cms). Speakers that do not perform well until pulled out into the room are annoying. You do not want to be walking around the speakers all the time.

·       Listen to articulation at low volume as well as your louder preferred level. You want your speakers to express music well at low listening levels rather than having to crank the volume for them to jump to life. This is important for late night listening.

The Amplifier

·       Speakers need an amplifier. You can have the amplifier built inside the speakers, called active speakers, or a separate amplifier with passive speakers.  Active speakers still require a pre-amplifier to switch between sources and control the volume. Either way you are committed to one box in addition to your speakers.

·       You can buy valve or solid-state amplifiers. Valve amplifiers generally sound warmer but can suffer from colouration, non linearities and distortion due to low power output. Nowadays there are some extremely good solid-state amplifiers you can choose from which offer the spatiality and vivid, rich harmonics of valves, without the complications of low powered valve amps which are inefficient, put out a lot of heat and require expensive matched valves to sound their best. No longer do solid state amplifiers limit the musicality of your system, yet they vastly expand the choices for speakers due to their higher wattage output and higher dampening factor.

·       Energy consumption when in use and on standby is a consideration today. Choose an amplifier that consumes less than 1 watt in standby and has some kind of Eco Mode to keep power consumption as low as possible. Here is where Ncore amplification shines as in the Kii active speakers and the MolaMola amplifiers, this is very small, efficient and does not produce much heat.

The Sources

·       Most systems today are centered on a digital sound source be it CD Player or Computer. In most cases a dedicated DAC (digital –to-analog converter) will give you much improved sound quality, so plan to include one in your system at some point.

·       Don’t forget good old analogue! There is life left in the vinyl LP and many audiophiles consider the sound from vinyl to be superior to digital. You be the judge, a modern turntable can be a work of art as well as a musical instrument.

Stereo vs Home Theatre. A well chosen and set up stereo music system will sound better than a “home theatre in a box” that costs the same money. Many people seeking the ultimate listening experience are abandoning home theatre in favor of a high quality stereo system. Movies sound great on a high quality stereo system that is properly set up.

Allow sufficient money to get the job done right first time. It is better to wait until you can afford to buy the right system than to under-budget and buy something that you will soon tire of. You will waste a lot of time and money if you get it wrong and have to buy again.

Ask us for advice. We have lots of products that meet the above criteria and the experience to help you avoid making mistakes.