Looking to get a new amplifier to spice things up in your home audio environment? This is arguably one of the best purchases you can make when your goal is to improve the overall quality of your audio, even compared to a new set of speakers. A good amplifier alters the sound in subtle, almost imperceptible ways that may require a trained pair of ears to recognize, and it’s a very worthwhile purchase in the long run. This goes double when you consider how long a good device can last for with proper maintenance, and high-end models are built to last.
Stereo or Mono?
Comparing stereo and mono amplifiers is a big topic in the community of audio lovers, and unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect to get a solid answer from either side. As a general rule though, stereo amplifiers tend to be the ideal solution for those who want something that’s simple and straightforward to setup, while still providing an adequate sound quality and performing according to your high expectations. The crosstalk issues that used to be prominent in some stereo amplifiers in the past are no longer present in any high-grade devices, so if you want the most convenient option, take a look at our guide to choosing a stereo amplifier and get started.
Proper Testing Environment
If you want to run a proper test of your new amplifier, doing it in a large open room with lots of people present is probably the worst way to go about it. Sure, it’s normal to want to show off your new power to all your friends, but you should put that off until you’ve actually had a chance to test the device yourself. There are various subtle issues that will only become noticeable in a more isolated environment where you’re additionally not distracted by the people around you. Give it some time and set up a proper testing location, and you won’t regret it later.
Crosstalk and Noise
We already touched on this above, but crosstalk is an important issue to consider if you live in a house with lots of different audio gadgets. Pieces of equipment can interfere with each other in different ways, and it’s a good idea to know what to expect before you’ve even committed to a purchase in the first place. Noise is another factor that may play a large role in the situation, although this should only be considered by people who have a lot of different pieces of equipment in their homes. In most cases, you should not experience too many issues related to noise as long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for that specific model, and you additionally use an appropriate combination of different devices for the overall setup.
The way you’re placing the audio equipment throughout your home – including the amplifier itself – can matter quite a lot in the quality of the audio you get in the end. Those who live in homes with poor audio insulation will need to pay particular attention to that, as sometimes the degradation of the audio quality might be too severe and will ruin an otherwise good investment into a quality amplifier. Consult someone more experienced with the topic if you’re not familiar with it yourself, and make sure to run some tests to figure out how different physical layouts affect the overall output.
Investing in some additional equipment to keep your speakers and amplifier steady and isolated from the rest of the environment might also be a good idea if you want to make sure that things will go smoothly with your neighbors, although if this becomes a problem, it’s probably indicative of something more generally wrong with the way your home is set up and soundproofed.
Do you have all the right connections for your new amplifier? This may sound like a straightforward thing, but the truth is that audio equipment is a bit diverse in how it connects to other components, and not every device is automatically compatible with every other model on the market. If you want to be sure that you’re not about to waste a lot of money, make a list of all the different types of connectors you’re going to require in your new model, and pay attention to what you’re purchasing to ensure that it fits the bill.
Adapters may sometimes be able to address the problem in an elegant way without requiring you to get a lot of extra equipment, although be careful not to run your signal through too many different steps – you’re going to degrade it too much at some point. This is particularly true in cases where you’re using cheaper adapters, which will have a noticeable impact on the way your audio works.
Maintenance and Support
Read through some reviews carefully to find out what you can expect from the manufacturer in the long run in terms of support, as well as how much maintenance their model requires in the first place. If you’re not too comfortable making DIY repairs on a regular basis, you should look for a device that’s both less prone to breaking as well as backed by a solid warranty policy by the manufacturer. There are various companies on the market that can serve you quite nicely in this regard, so make sure to take your time and explore what’s available before settling on any particular model. After all, it’s not a small investment and you should make sure that it’s a good one.
There are some other less important factors that are going to play into your decision as well, such as the overall appearance of the amplifier and how well it blends into the environment in your home. But these are usually things that can be adjusted – worst case scenario, you’ll have to get a custom box made for the amplifier – and it’s much more important to pay attention to what you can expect in terms of audio quality, interference, and maintenance requirements after several years of active use.