Beginner Guide: What Can I Play in My Hi-fi System?

June 25, 2024

Whether you're in the market for a hi-fi system, or you already own one, knowing what it can and can't do is important. A hi-fi system is a significant purchase, and knowing how to get the most out of it can increase both its value and functionality.

You should choose your hi-fi based on how it is going to be used. While there are the obvious uses, there are also a few less well-known uses that your hi-fi can provide. To help you get the most out of your purchase, we have put together everything that you can play in your system and some practical things to take into consideration.

1. Compact Discs (CDs)

If you're still into physical music playback, you'll be glad to hear that the CD is a core component of hi-fi. They provide high-quality sound and are rather everywhere. Most hi-fi systems come with a CD player built-in, so you can hear your favourite albums in crystal-clear audio.

2. The Radio

The traditional AM/FM radio remains a feature of most hi-fi systems. This is great for listening to local stations, news, talk shows, and music. Internet radio is a feature in most hi-fi systems that enables the user to access a couple of thousand radio stations worldwide. This feature is great for finding new music and enjoying broadcasts with different genres and regions.

3. Vinyl Records

Over the last decade, vinyl records have had a huge comeback. Whether you're new to vinyl or have an old collection in a box somewhere, gathering dust, you will be able to get the most out of your records by playing them through your hi-fi.

Depending on what your hi-fi system has, you will need a phono or aux cable to hook it up to your record player. You will also require an external preamp to amplify the sound of your record player or hi-fi lacks one. If your hi-fi system comes with a turntable attached, then it can play vinyl records, which many audiophiles feel is the best. Vinyl's analogue sound can provide a warm, rich listening experience that other digital formats cannot.

4. Digital Music

If most of your music collection is digital, consider a hi-fi system with a USB port or an Apple Lightning dock. Some people refer to this as an iPod dock or even an iPhone dock, although it will work with your iPad as well. Either way, the dock and USB cable let you plug your MP3 player, smartphone, laptop, or tablet into your hi-fi system, generally letting you charge your device while you listen to your music over the hi-fi speakers. A few hi-fi units have SD card slots for extra storage and playback possibilities.

5. Bluetooth & NFC

Both Bluetooth and NFC can be used to wirelessly connect your hi-fi to another device. It is quite easy to connect smartphones, MP3 players, tablets, and laptops to your hi-fi; you can play music from your music library or from the internet. Such convenience allows you to play any audio content directly through your hi-fi system without the need for physical connections. If your hi-fi doesn't support Bluetooth, you can plug in a Bluetooth audio receiver. Note that NFC applies only to smartphones, and you'll need to have it positioned no more than 20cm away for it to connect to your hi-fi.

6. Streaming Services

As digital streaming has gained popularity, many of the hi-fi systems now also come with integrated support for services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others. This feature will enable one to stream millions of songs directly through your hi-fi system, often controlled by a dedicated app on a smartphone or tablet.

7. External Devices

Your hi-fi system probably has a number of inputs, either AUX or RCA, which allow you to plug in a variety of external devices. Older MP3 players can be plugged in using a 3.5mm AUX cord, allowing you to play your music library on the hi-fi system. You can also upscale your TV audio by running the sound through your hi-fi system for a fuller, richer experience. Connect your gaming console to the hi-fi system, and you could be going to a whole new level of gaming experience with high-fidelity sound.

Hi-fi systems are versatile pieces of equipment that can play all sources of media in a number of ways to enhance your experience. From the analogue warmth of vinyl to digital file convenience and all the variety of streaming services, there's something to offer here. Knowing the options will enable you to optimise your hi-fi system and enjoy your favourite music in the best possible way.

 

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