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Recommended Equipment

Bookshelf speakers

Bookshelf speakers deliver clear, detailed sound, yet are compact enough to fit on shelves or stands. Bookshelf speakers are commonly used in a stereo music system. They’re also ideal for the front or rear channels of a home theater in a small- to medium-sized room.

Floor-standing speakers

Floor-standing speakers are several feet tall and are relatively narrow. That’s why you’ll often hear them referred to as “tower speakers”. They have larger internal air space than bookshelf speakers do, and frequently employ multiple woofers. This gives tower speakers deeper bass and fuller sound than their smaller bookshelf counterparts.

If you have a large room, tower speakers are the way to go for creating a powerful listening experience.

Center channel speakers

A home theater’s center channel handles the dialogue and much of the front soundstage information. The center channel is often the hardest-working speaker in a home theater setup, so it pays to get a good one.

Ideally, you want your center speaker to share the same tonal qualities as your main right and left speakers. In other words, “voice match” it to the left and right speakers. This ensures that your front three speakers all produce balanced, consistent sound. Matching bookshelf or tower speakers are available for nearly all of our center channel speakers.

Integrated amplifiers

Integrated amplifiers are just like stereo receivers, but with no tuner section. They offer better internal construction and use more robust power supplies than most receivers. See our integrated amplifiers buying guide to choose the right one for your system.

Preamplifiers and power amplifiers

Want the best possible music experience from your speakers? Go with a separate preamp and power amplifier. Each component has just one purpose, so you get maximum performance and minimal noise.

Separates also give you system flexibility. As technology changes you may want to upgrade your preamp section. You can replace it to stay current, while keeping the same power amp in your system for many years.

Speaker wire

Passive speakers use speaker wire to connect to their source of amplification. Our speaker wire guide has detailed information on choosing the right wire for your speakers.

In a nutshell. A home stereo system includes two speakers for two good reasons. Most recordings have two separate and distinct channels. And you have two ears.

When you listen in stereo, recorded music sounds more like a live performance. It’s a feeling you won’t get from a single wireless speaker.

Most stereo systems include three things:

  1. A stereo receiver or amplifier
  2. A matched pair of speakers
  3. At least one music source

Parts of a home stereo system

A home stereo system typically includes three main ingredients:

  1. A stereo receiver or amplifier
  2. A matched pair of speakers
  3. At least one music source

We can help you choose

Have questions about home stereo systems? Call, email, or chat with us today.

Our expert Advisors know the gear inside and out. Your Advisor can send specific Bright Audio pages to your screen, saving you a lot of browsing time. You’ll get a shopping cart loaded up with everything you need.

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Bright Audio – Home Audio
In a nutshell. A home stereo system includes two Home Audio speakers for two good reasons. Most recordings have two separate and distinct channels. And you have two ears.When you listen in stereo, recorded music sounds more like a live performance. It’s a feeling you won’t get from a single wireless speaker.Most stereo systems include three things:A stereo receiver or amplifier
A matched pair of speakers
At least one music source
This article will help you choose a home stereo system that suits your lifestyle and your listening space.Wireless speakers are super convenient. One box is all you need. And some of them sound surprisingly good. For background music, I love them.But stereo recordings have discrete left and right channels for a reason. They give you the unmistakable impression that you’re in the room with the performers. In this regard, a pair of speakers always beats one.Listening to music in stereo gives you the experience the artist had in mind. And it’s just plain more fun! You can hear the musicians spread out across a three-dimensionsal sound stage.With stereo, different instruments come at you from different points between and beyond the speakers. You hear your music in three dimensions – just like you hear real musicians positioned in different places on an actual stage. You experience the music and the space in which it’s played.Will a stereo system work with my phone?
Stereo receivers with home networking capabilities give you access to an endless variety of music.Think stereo systems are strictly old-school? Think again. Many of today’s stereo systems have Bluetooth® and/or Wi-Fi® built in, so you can easily connect your phone and listen to Spotify or You Tube™.Think they’re just for well-heeled audiophiles? You might be surprised by how little you have to pay to get a decent system.A stereo system takes up more room than a single wireless speaker. But for music lovers, that’s a worthwhile trade-off.Parts of a home stereo system
A home audio stereo system typically includes three main ingredients:A stereo receiver or amplifier
A matched pair of Home Audio speakers
At least one music source
The music source could be an external component, such as a record player or CD player. It could be a receiver’s built-in AM/FM tuner. Or it could be a wireless connection to a smartphone or a home network.What is a stereo receiver?
Traditional stereo receivers combine an AM/FM radio tuner with a 2-channel power amplifier and a preamp section. The preamp section gives you control over source selection, volume, tone and balance.What’s an integrated amplifier?
An integrated Home Audio amplifier is just like a receiver, but without the radio. Some models are as large as a typical receiver. But there are plenty of compact amps, too. For more info, see our integrated amplifiers buying guide.For a super-simple system, try powered stereo speakers
A turntable and a pair of powered speakers make a great compact stereo system.If you’re looking for an even more compact system to liven up a dorm room, kitchen, or small apartment, consider a pair of powered stereo speakers. With the amplifier (and, in some cases, the Bluetooth receiver) built in, these speakers save a lot of space.Want your music streaming sources built-in, too? Try a pair of wireless multi-room speakers linked together in stereo mode.Stereo amps with wireless multi-room audio built-in
Want to enjoy the benefits of a wireless multi-room audio system, but with real stereo speakers in at least one room? record playersConsider mating a pair of regular (non-powered) stereo speakers with a powered zone component. It’s a very compact wireless multi-room music player with a stereo amplifier built in. Amplified zone players are also made by Bluesound.Speaker options to fit your taste and your space
Your library, home office, spare bedroom, or any other small, relatively private room can become your sonic sanctuary. Bookshelf speakers are perfect for small rooms. They can be wall-mounted or placed on speaker stands.Floorstanding speakers are great for large rooms. They produce plenty of deep bass. They’re hard to beat for big, room-filling Home Audio sound.For more speaker selection tips, see our article on choosing stereo speakers.

Don’t forget the speaker wire
Most speakers don’t come with any wire. You’ll need to get some to connect the speakers to your receiver or amplifier. For more info, see our article on choosing and installing speaker wire. record players

How many watts do you need?
If you’re buying a pre-packaged system, you don’t have to worry about the finer points of matching speakers and amps.

If you’d like to put together an a la carte system, you can get some advice from one of our expert advisors. Or you can follow these simple guidelines:

Look at the recommended power range for the speakers you want to buy.
Choose an amp whose RMS power output (watts) is within the acceptable range.
If you already have an amp (or you’d rather pick your amp first), make sure the speakers you choose can handle the power it puts out.

If you’re using 4-ohm Home Audio speakers, make sure the amp you choose is compatible.

To get the most from a small amplifier, choose efficient speakers (as reflected in their sensitivity rating). The higher the number (in decibels or dB), the more efficient the speaker, and the louder it plays with a given amount of power.

Setup makes a huge difference
Toeing in your speakers (pointing them toward your seat) can make a dramatic improvement in their sound.

The placement of your speakers relative to your listening seat plays a large role in your system’s sound.

The speakers should form an equilateral triangle with your listening position. This means your speakers are the same distance apart from each other as they are from you. For more tips on how to set up your speakers, see our article on speaker placement for stereo music listening.

There’s no shortage of headphones out there. We offer more than 350 different models, spanning all types of styles, colors, and features. So how do you find the best headphones for you? As someone who’s written about and tried lots of headphones, I can help you narrow down your choices.

The right headphones for the situation
Here’s the most important thing to think about: how and where you plan to use headphones. Different headphones work better in different situations. In the sections below, I’ll take you through the main categories and uses, and point out some features to look for.

Fit options
There are some basics you should know about fit. Here are the three styles:

Over-ear headphones surround the ears completely. On-ear headphones rest on them. In-ear headphones/earbuds fit securely inside the ear opening or canal.

You’ll find that earcup sizes can vary greatly. That’s why we take photos of most of our on-ear and over-ear headphones on a mannequin to show scale. Look for them in the photo carousel at the top of product pages.

Open- vs closed-back
Open-back headphones allow air to flow through the earcups. This typically ensures sound that is more spacious and natural. Closed-back headphones help keep sound from leaking in or out.

Open-back and closed-back headphones

Wired vs wireless headphones
Most of our top-selling headphones right now are Bluetooth headphones, and I expect their popularity to keep growing. They let you listen to music without connecting a wire to your phone — where most of us keep our music and podcasts. That makes them super convenient.

Plus, Bluetooth’s sound quality and reliability have greatly improved over the past 4 or 5 years. And now that that the iPhone and other popular phones no longer feature a headphone jack, even more of us are turning to wireless.

Even so, audio purists prefer wired headphones to deliver the best possible sound. And the highest-end headphones rely on a wired connections. When I’m not checking out a new pair of headphones at my desk, my go-to listening rig includes a pair of wired over-ears. record player

Noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones take sound isolation a big step further than closed-back headphones. They use internal circuitry to neutralize the sound around you. I strongly recommend them for air travel — they can block out the plane’s engine drone so you can watch movies or listen to music at safer volumes.

Home Audio Features to look for:

“Adaptive” or “Adjustable” noise cancellation. Some noise-canceling headphones can be adjusted according to your environment. While some offer manual adjustments, others do it automatically based on the level of external noise.

“Truly” wireless headphones
Since then, we’ve seen a wave of Truly Wireless headphones (also called “true wireless”). Just like other in-ear Bluetooth headphones, they’ll play music wirelessly from your phone. But each earbud rests in your ear without a cord connecting the two, making them 100% wire-free.

Feature to look for:

Charging case. Most of these headphones recharge wirelessly inside their included charging case — check our product details to see how many hours of power the case can bank.
Wireless TV headphones
We always get questions about headphones for watching TV. I think Sennheiser’s line of transmitter-based headphones are the most reliable TV headphones. The transmitter connects to your TV or stereo and beams sound wirelessly to your headphones. Perfect for late-night viewing.

Feature to look for:

Effects modes and/or dialogue boost. What matters most to you? Clear, intelligible speech? Rollicking, immersive surround effects? Rich, balanced music sound? There are transmitter-based headphones that excel in each area.
Watch TV at the volume you want to, without disturbing others.

Audiophile headphones
Brooklyn-based headphone shop Grado gives a personal touch to each of their wooden earcups.

I prefer listening to a great pair of record player headphones over a nice pair of speakers. It’s not the most popular stance to take here at Bright Audio. But I just love the absolutely unfiltered connection you can get to an artist, song, or performance when you have the right headphone setup. You can really sink your teeth into the clear, dynamic sound that top-flight headphones can deliver.

The most-respected headphone manufacturers all bring something a little different to the table. Some brands to look for include Sennheiser, Grado, and Audeze.

Comfort Matters
How your headphones feel plays a big part in how much you’ll enjoy them. If I’ve had a test-run with a pair of headphones, I like to tell you whether they fit relaxed, snug, or somewhere in-between. Scan the product bullets or read “my take” for fit details on the headphones you’re considering.

Smartphone control for on-the-go listening
A three-button in-line remote gives you the most control over your smartphone’s music and call functions.

If you’re commuting or listening on the move, consider headphones with a built-in remote/mic. They give you control over some of your phone’s key functions.

Feature to look for:

1-button vs 3-button remote. See if the in-line remote has one button or three. A single button offers control over music playback, phone calls, and other phone features. Three-button remotes add volume control.
Headphone amps and DACs
High-performance headphones often require more power to perform their best. A Headphone amplifier can make a world of difference. For the best sound, you also don’t want to rely on your computer or phone’s digital-to-analog converter (DAC). An outboard DAC can squeeze out every musical detail – soft or powerful —from a recording, record player

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Bright Audio is an online store with a very different attitude. We have been in the business of high-end audio sales for over 15 years in New York City. We understand that reputable stereo and audio stores are not readily available to everyone. The products we sell have limited distribution and are safeguarded by the manufacturers who build them.
So at, it is our goal to provide the best kind of online access to quality products, video guides, recommendations, and help with technical issues and installation. You will receive the kind of attention and service you would expect to receive if you walked into our store in New York City.
So click on the inquire tab next to any product and ask whatever question you may have, browse our video page or related links. We have a great blog with guest posts from some of the top names in the audio industry and we produce our own videos featured here and on our unique YouTube channel with the single intent of better informing and helping our customers.

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