9 things to look for before you buy a stereo or hi-fi

July 28, 2015

Buying a stereo or hi-fi can be a stressful experience. Before making your choice, consider these 9 easy tips to make the transaction as easy on your wallet as it is on your ears.

9 things to look for before you buy a stereo or hi-fi

1. Always do a price check

If you are buying an all-in-one mini-system, visit a store with a listening room that will allow you to compare sound quality. Once you have decided on the product you want, call around to other stores or go online to see if you can beat the price.

2. Stick to basics

Stereo manufacturers produce dozens of similar models, each with an added feature or slightly higher power output than the next. They want you to decide on more features than you really need.

  • Don't get taken in; before you go shopping, make a list of your must-have features.

3. Don't be a fashion victim

Electronics makers frequently change the styling of their stereos to make them look up-to-date without changing the specifications. Use this to your advantage by hunting out last season's stereos — look for dealers who specialize in discontinued stock.

  • You'll still get a full year's guarantee and the same sound quality as current models, but you'll make significant savings.

4. Consider buying used

  • Hi-fi and stereo equipment is usually very reliable, and it's a good value buying used equipment because most depreciation happens in the first year.
  • If you're buying from a private seller, test the equipment before buying — especially if there are moving parts, such as a turntable, which is expensive to repair.

5. Unwanted gifts

It's a fact of life that not all gifts are wanted. Where gifts can't be returned to the original store, they are often sold through classified newspaper ads or online auctions. Browse an auction site shortly after Christmas and you'll find plenty of bargains.

6. Too good to be true

Beware of merchandise being sold at temporary locations, such as closed-down stores.

  • The prices may be appealing, but the goods are often poor quality and you have little redress if things go wrong.

7. "Bait and switch"

Watch out for shops that advertise amazingly low prices but have sold out of the special deal when you reach the store.

  • It's a common sales technique to get you through the door. Don't buy something else; return home and do some more research.

8. Systems versus components

If you are looking for a higher level of sound quality, it is better value to buy the components separately rather than a high-end all-in-one system.

  • Begin with a decent amplifier, cables and speakers. Separate components allow for easier upgrades on sound.

9. Avoid extended warranties

Retailers offer tempting warranties that insure goods beyond the initial guarantee period, but they are rarely good value and are often unnecessary.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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