Introduction to High-End Home Stereo Systems

High-end home stereo systems can easily run you tens of thousands of dollars, and some audiophiles argue that they're worth every penny. If you've got money to spare, or just want to dream, here are some high-end components for home stereo systems that would make even the most critical audiophile happy.

High-end home stereo systems require high-end receivers.
The heart of home stereo systems is the receiver. Everything in home stereo systems goes into the receiver, and everything comes out of it. Therefore, the receiver is arguably the most important component in any high-end home stereo system. Most home stereo receiver manufacturers offer high-end versions of popular products, including Pioneer's VSX-72TXV for around $5,000, and Onkyo's TX-NR1000 for around $5,500. High-end stereo receivers offer speaker switching, plenty of connectivity options and support for the most recent sound and video technology.

High-end Speakers
There are no two ways around it: high-quality stereo speakers are vital to producing beautiful, rich sound with high-end home stereo systems. Not sure what to look for in high-end stereo speakers? Klipsch makes some great high-end stereo speakers and subwoofers, ranging in price up to $4,000 per speaker for high-end folded horn driver speakers. Really want to dream? Consider Hyperion Loudspeakers by Rockport Technologies, ringing up at over $90,000.

High-end stereo speakers tend to have better drivers and better design, delivering stunning sound quality efficiently, without using a lot of power. High-end stereo speakers are especially effective when you  use a crossover to send low frequencies to a subwoofer and drive mids and highs through the speakers.

Home stereo system purists still prefer a pre-amp.
Even with all the capabilities offered by high-end stereo receivers, many audiophiles still prefer a preamp for their home stereo systems. Preamps are specially designed to preserve and enhance sound quality from multiple components, and power the signal through the system.

The question of tube versus solid state preamps is ongoing, even though transistor-based preamps deliver accurate sound quality reproduction. Some audiophiles argue that tube preamps produce a warmer, cleaner sound, and assert their superiority over other preamp types. Tube preamps can easily cost over $3,000, and often more. If you really want to dream, consider the Ongaku amplifier, running over $80,000 and hand-made in a shop in Tokyo.

The differences between high-end home stereo systems and components that the rest of us can afford.
At the bottom line, high-end home stereo systems don't offer a lot of features that regular home stereo systems can't provide; they simply do the same thing much better. High-end stereo system components and stereo speakers are made with more expensive materials that often perform better than inexpensive components. Designs may be more complex, and functions isolated so that each individual step of sound reproduction is handled in the optimal manner. Are the extra features worth the high price tag? To the average user: probably not. To the devoted audiophile: definitely.

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