3 Audiophile Systems for 3 Budgets
Yes, you can have an audio system that plays nicely with two-channel and surround sound—we asked 3 pros to mock up some proposals.
April 01, 2013 by Robert Archer

For years it seemed that in the mythical audio sandbox, two-channel audio and multichannel home theater couldn’t coexist. Two-channel guys didn’t like the concept of 5.1, 7.1 and other surround-sound incarnations, or the means it took to produce music and movie content in a surround format. And some home theater fans viewed two-channel audio as an antiquated solution that couldn’t deliver the bang of a true movie viewing experience. Over the past couple of years, however, the audio playground has become civil. Thanks to a maturation of digital audio technologies, including digital files, portable devices and new hardware products, a more symbiotic relationship between the two parties has developed … and your theater and listening rooms are the beneficiaries.

There’s never been a better time to appreciate both two-channel and surround systems, too. Music sales for the first time in years are growing, and factions within the music industry are even looking at expanding their products with options like better access to high-resolution audio files. So you’ll want a system that can handle powerful Dolby and DTS uncompressed surround-sound formats like what Blu-ray offers, as well as sweet stereo for everything from streaming audio to CDs and vinyl to high-res 24-bit/96kHz or 24/192 digital files.

Custom electronics professionals are being asked more and more to design and install systems that cater to all things audio. Last month we showed you three very distinct, fully completed audio rooms (“The Lowdown on Listening Rooms” ); for this issue we asked three veteran CE pros to recommend three theoretical systems that incorporate these various technologies. We also asked them to address the typical budget, performance and user-friendliness considerations to allow these solutions to easily transfer from the world of make believe and into reality.

Check out the systems on the next page:

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Robert Archer - Senior Editor, CE Pro
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.


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