Welcome to the world of high-fidelity audio. Here, you can learn all about what goes into quality audio reproduction from square one. Our goal with this guide is to provide you with all the information you need in order to get the most out of your music, whether it be by purchasing new or used equipment, making changes to your existing equipment, or improving the source of your music.

First StepsEdit

First, audio is not scary. Often you can make very simple or very cheap improvements to your setup to achieve drastic improvements in sound quality. For under $100, you can find a secondhand or used system, or a set of budget headphones, which will beat many consumer audio systems costing hundreds more, and it only gets better from there.

Next, think of how you already listen to your music. How do you enjoy it best? Do you like headphones but want better ones? Do you like your surround sound system, but wish it were more realistic? The categories to follow will guide you down the path that's best for you.

Note that the following is divided into two categories: a Getting Started Guide for learning the concepts behind the gear, and a Buyer's Guide to find a best fit for you in your price range. The buyer's guide also goes into great detail on used, secondhand, and vintage audio gear. If you just want a recommendation on what headphones to buy, skip to the Buyer's Guide section on Headphones.

Getting Started GuideEdit

  • The Basics
    • Overview and Basic Concepts
    • Portable Audio & Headphones
      • Headphones
      • Amplifiers
      • Sources
      • Putting Everything Together
    • Home Audio
      • Speakers
      • Amplifiers/Receivers
      • Sources
      • Putting Everything Together
    • Audio Formats and Digital Sources
    • Cables
  • Advanced Topics
    • Digital
      • Digital Formats
      • The Digital Playback Process
      • DACs
      • Digital Music Systems
      • Portable Digital Sources
    • Analog
      • Vinyl Records - A Primer
      • Technical Details of Vinyl Playback
      • Record Players
      • Cartridge Types
      • Tonearms
      • Phono Preamplifiers
    • Headphones
      • Headphone Types
      • Headphone Design Considerations
      • Amplification
      • Tube vs. Solid State
    • Speakers
      • Speaker Types
      • Speaker Components
      • Speaker Positioning and Room Acoustics
      • Amplifiers
        • Pre-Amplifiers and Integrated Amplifiers
        • Power Amplifiers
        • Tube vs. Solid State
      • Building a System
    • Miscellaneous Tips