If you’re an audiophile and ready to listen to the highest sound quality for your favorite music, you’ve probably looked into setting up your hi-fi system. It’ll significantly improve your listening experience to have a complete setup. However, a high-quality sound system seems way too expensive – why does hi-fi cost so much money anyway?
Hi-fi is so expensive mainly because of the quality of the equipment and the demand of the market. Some hi-fi equipment is hand-made or personally customized, and even the less expensive equipment is specially designed for high fidelity audio quality. The high clarity and rarity add to the price.
In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss why hi-fi equipment costs so much and the market demands around hi-fi setups. We’re also going to detail what goes into a personal hi-fi set and how to save a little money when you’re beginning to buy the equipment.
The Price of a Hi-Fi Setup: An Overview
A hi-fi setup is all of the audio equipment parts – a source, an amplifier, and a speaker. If your audio setup is hi-fi, then at least one of these parts is a hi-fi quality piece of equipment. Hi-fi is more expensive than standard equipment, for more reasons than just the sound quality or niche marketing.
Of course, there are levels to the amount of money paid for audio equipment. Some people don’t spend as much for a more straightforward setup, and others can pay thousands of dollars for customized materials and the highest tier of musical equipment. It’s important to remember that the cheapest options aren’t always the worst.
Every hi-fi setup and rack is different, so the price depends on several factors: the caliber of speakers and amplifiers you want, how many pieces you’re looking for, and if you get any other add-ons (such as a hi-fi rack, extended cords, or a complete surround sound setup). Your hi-fi setup is unique to you and will cost whatever you’re willing to put into it.
Hi-fi is not just a better sound quality than regular audio. Many factors go into the price of hi-fi equipment, including the market, the particular setup, and the equipment demand. Even with the high cost of a hi-fi setup, the prices are better than they’ve ever been with the latest technology and marketing advances.
These are only a few of the factors that lead to the hi-fi prices being what they are. There are many other reasons outside of the music industry – societal norms, market capabilities, and the expense of specialized materials, to name a few. However, inside the music industry and market, the following factors affect the price of a hi-fi setup.
High fidelity is all about the reproduction of sound. The perfect sound is completely lossless – everything recorded is heard. Most regular speakers and setups don’t have the intense clarity of hi-fi speakers, and the listener will miss some of the sounds. This clarity costs money to produce, but the difference is audible, especially for audiophiles.
Amount of Equipment Needed
If you want a proper hi-fi setup, you’re going to need more than one piece of audio equipment. While some only have the primary three – source, amplifier, speaker – and are happy with that, other music enthusiasts or recording artists put together a more complex speaker system. Of course, the more components you have in your hi-fi, the more money it’ll cost you.
Quality of Components
Because the audio is better, the components in a hi-fi system will be of a higher quality. Some manufacturers use specific kinds of metal for their wiring or special casings made with a custom mold. The technology behind hi-fi audio makes it more challenging to craft a good hi-fi speaker so that the finished product will cost more.
Difficult To Find
Audio stores are few and far between. While some audiophiles choose to purchase their equipment online, many still prefer a brick-and-mortar store run by an expert. Some specialty items can only be purchased online or in certain stores, which adds to the price tag. The less available a piece of equipment is, the more expensive it’ll probably be.
Some of the most expensive hi-fi audio equipment is hand-made for optimal performance. Even the existence of boutique speakers and amplifiers can make all hi-fi equipment seem more expensive. There are also mass-produced items with high levels of craftsmanship, such as amplifiers with gold conductors in the wiring.
In reality, an equipment rack costs what the market dictates – as long as people are willing to pay that amount for good quality equipment, the manufacturers will charge it. The economics of the music industry are always at play here. The number of people requesting these products is small so that the price will be higher.
What Do You Need for Hi-Fi?
As we’ve said, a hi-fi setup only has three base components: a source, an amplifier, and a speaker. Of course, they have to be high-fidelity components, or else you could use a regular phone. You technically don’t need any more than this to put together an ideal hi-fi setup and hear the most of your music. However, many audiophiles have multiple sources, amps, and speakers in their perfect arrangement.
How do you listen to music? Whether it’s through headphones or a speaker, you have a source of music. Sometimes this is a vinyl disc, sometimes a CD, and often a computer or mp3 player. Whatever you prefer to listen to music on, you’ll have to buy a source that is compatible with the other pieces of audio equipment in your setup. A computer usually works just fine.
If you don’t have an amplifier, you won’t hear your music. Amps come in all shapes and sizes – you can buy a power amp, an integrated amp, a pre-amp, or a receiver and be fine. Amplifiers connect your music source to your speakers, so you can’t go without them. However, many amplifiers work with hi-fi speakers, and you can save some money by getting a cheaper one that works just as well.
Speakers are generally the part of hi-fi that cost the most. They’re what makes the sound come out so clearly and crisply, without losing any of the recorded quality. The more speakers you have, the more enveloping your audio can be, but it’s totally fine to splurge on just one speaker of the highest quality. A speaker is the last piece to add to your hi-fi setup.
How Can You Save Money on Hi-Fi Equipment?
Although hi-fi setups will always cost some money, there are ways to cut down on the cost of buying personal equipment. If you keep an eye out for quality used equipment, you can find deals on some of the components. The complete customizability of hi-fi setups means that you can pick and choose what you want to be a part of yours.
Studios and private homes will often have a sale on their equipment, including hi-fi components. You can keep an eye out on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or online chat forums for big deals and individual pieces of equipment. Local audio stores might also have some resale items to save your wallet.
Unless you’re incredibly technically savvy, you probably won’t be able to make your hi-fi equipment. However, you can fudge some of the smaller components with cheaper items. It all depends on what’s the most important to you – if you have the best speakers, you might not need to splurge on an amplifier as much.
If you decide to pursue an actual audio hi-fi setup, you’ll probably be investing some money (and time) into finding the perfect equipment for you. While it’s expensive, many audiophiles find it completely worth it for the higher quality of music and lossless audio. The higher price reflects the craftsmanship, finetuning, and demand of your hi-fi equipment setup!