Stereo Component Features and Specifications

5 Things You Need to Consider

Amplifier bass
Amplifier. Daniel Limpi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Stereo components (receiver, integrated amplifier or separate components) are the heart and brains of a stereo system. It's the point where all source components are connected, it powers the loudspeakers and controls the entire system, so it's important to select the right components. If price was not important, we would all buy separate components, but good, even great audio performance is possible with a moderately priced receiver and a well-matched pair of speakers. Start by reading this overview of stereo components to learn the advantages of each type of stereo component.

How Much Amplifier Power Do You Need?

After deciding on the type of component, power output is the next consideration. Power output needs are determined by the speakers, the size of the listening room and how loud you like to listen and are commonly misunderstood. An amplifier with 200-watts per channel will not play twice as loud as an amplifier with 100-watts per channel. In fact, the difference in maximum volume will be hardly audible, about 3 decibels. A typical amp playing at a moderate level will output a small amount of power to the speakers. When the music reaches a peak, the amplifier will output much more power, but only for brief periods.


How Many Source Components Do You Want to Connect?

Some stereo systems include a CD Player (or SACD player), DVD Player (DVD-Video and/or DVD-Audio), Tape Deck, Turntable, Hard Disk Recorder, Game Console, video components and others, while basic systems may have only a CD or DVD player and a receiver or amp. Consider the number and type of components you have or may add when selecting a receiver, amplifier or separates to ensure you have the required connections for source components.


Important Features to Consider When Purchasing a Stereo Component

Stereo receivers are generally simpler than home theater receivers but still have plenty of features you may want in your system. Performance features include source direct controls for pure audio reproduction, amplifier design characteristics such as dual mono construction, bass management and others. Convenience features include multiroom audio outputs, on-screen display, remote controls and more. These links will provide an overview of some of the features to consider when purchasing a stereo component.


Understanding Stereo Terms and Specifications

There are many terms and specifications used to describe and measure the performance of stereo components, and many can be confusing. Some specifications are important and others are not. Specifications can be used as a guideline, but in general, components should be selected by using your ears and listening skills as a guide and by choosing the features you want, not by reading a spec sheet.


Stereo Component Reviews and Recommendations

After considering which type of component is best for your needs, how much power you need and the features you want, here are some ideas to consider for stereo components, speakers and in-wall speakers. You'll find reviews and profiles of different components and speakers in a variety of price ranges.