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How to Build a Stereo System on a Tight Budget

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Introduction

Stereo systems range in price from a few hundred dollars to - well, the sky's the limit. However, building a new stereo system that satisfies your tastes and budget doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, a new system can be very affordable, especially if you shop in the right places and know where to look for the best deals. Here are some suggestions about building a good sounding stereo system on a tight budget by purchasing new or used speakers and components.

The best places to look for bargains on a stereo system are your local electronics store, craigslist.org, ebay.com, a thrift shop and the classified ads in your local paper.

Start with Speakers

Speakers are the most important factor in determining the ultimate sound of a stereo system. Speakers should be selected first because they also determine the amount of amplifier power you will need to power the speakers. If you already have speakers you enjoy listening to and they are in good operating condition, consider using them in your new system.

If not, here are a few suggestions for buying speakers. First, check out your local stereo dealer or electronics store for bargains on demonstration speakers or clearance models. Make sure they are in good condition and come with a factory or dealer backed warranty. Minor scratches can be repaired easily, but damaged speaker cones or cracks in the cabinets might present a bigger problem.

Next, look on Craigslist.org for a pair of used speakers. Craigslist is like a local classified ad list on the Internet. Sellers post various items for sale, usually with a photo, a price and contact information. The best part about Craigslist is it's local and you can see and hear the speakers before you buy them. I've purchased used speakers on Craigslist with good results. They needed a bit of work on the finish, but they worked well and I got a great deal. Don't be afraid to negotiate a lower price if you think you can get a better deal.

Another place to look is a local thrift shop. You may find some real bargains. I have a friend who purchased some very valuable electrostatic speakers at a thrift shop for a ridiculously low price because the merchant thought they were room dividers. They needed some reconditioning but he walked away with a real bargain.

Choose a Receiver or Amplifier

An important reason for selecting speakers first is you know how much power you will need in an amp or receiver. Some speakers need more power than others to perform well.

Electronic components last a long time so consider using your existing stereo receiver as long as it matches the power requirements of the speakers.

Check out Craigslist.org for bargains on a used stereo receiver. Another place to look is ebay.com. Ebay is an auction site where you compete with other buyers before a final price is determined. On ebay.com, you may be buying a receiver from a seller far away, so ask questions of the seller via email before you place a bid.

Look in the classified ad section of your local newspaper or weekly flyer for deals.

Check out your local electronics dealer for sale or clearance items. Receiver models change frequently and last year's model my have the features you need most. Make sure it comes with a written warranty.

Select Source Components

A stereo system needs a source component, such as a CD, DVD disc player or even a turntable. Disc players are very affordable, as low as $49 or sometimes lower even though they usually have only basic features. All DVD players will play CDs, so you might as well buy a DVD player to play movies as well as music discs.

Your local dealer, Craigslist.org, ebay.com and the classified ads are all good sources for used stereo components.

Summary

As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Buying used speakers and components is a good way to buy a stereo system on a tight budget. You may find some real bargains on high-end components that still work well but have been replaced by the previous owner.

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