Not every music fan has room for a full-blown stereo. If you are looking for a small hi-fi system for the office, living room, sleeping room, or children’s room, you are better advised with a compact system. The devices combine several components in the smallest space, are relatively inexpensive, and still provide decent results. What should i.e. consider when purchasing a compact system?
Memory stick instead of vinyl and cassette
CD players and radio tuners are now part of the basic equipment, even in the class under 100 euros. If the system has a DAB tuner for digital radio stations on board, you have to reach a little deeper into your pocket. Devices with integrated turntables are hardly found anymore, also cassette decks are becoming increasingly rare. Modern interfaces such as USB jacks and SD card readers have taken their place, allowing you to play MP3, WAV and other music files without burning them to a CD blank first. Here it is worth taking a look at the technical data sheet because not every system with USB or card reader processes all formats. And not every drive plays self-created MP3 discs in addition to purchased audio CDs and can handle all storage media (CD+/-R, CD+/-RW).
Bluetooth, network and other additional features
Some USB jacks can only be connected to memory sticks, while others can also be used to accept hard drives and Apple players. Sometimes you have the option to convert the tracks of an audio CD to MP3 format and archive them to a mass storage (CD ripping). In addition, many manufacturers install a dock for iPod and iPhone. If you want to reinforce a flat-screen TV, A TV receiver or other sources, you should pay attention to analog and/or digital audio inputs. Systems with Bluetooth module for wireless audio playback or with Ethernet port and/or WLAN functions are becoming increasingly popular, even with the compacts. You can stream music from local servers via LAN or wirelessly via Wi-Fi, which is possible via DLNA or AirPlay. Usually, radio stations from the Internet can also be used.
Loudspeaker and output power
In addition to the connection options, the supported formats, and the additional functions, the sound of a system is crucial. It is fair to say that a model for 50 euros can never sound as good as a system that is more than ten times more expensive and relies on high-quality components. And it makes a difference whether the speakers have been installed in the device, can be set up separately, whether they are 2-way or 3-way boxes, and whether – as with the Yamaha PianoCraft MCR-N560D – a preamplifier output is available for active subwoofers. The performance data of the manufacturers should be taken with caution: Often only the advertising-effective peak or PMPO performance is mentioned, but not the actual rated power. It is certainly helpful to compare the test results of the trade magazines precisely, whereby one should listen to the desired model in the best case test. Because here, too, the tastes are different.