Micro hi-fi buying guide

As the name suggests, micro hi-fi systems are compact, stylish and have excellent sound quality - offering most of the benefits of a full-size system in a neat little package.

Micro hi-fi systems are ideal for student bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, and great for areas where you don't want to take up too much space with a full-sized sound system. Plus, they're a great choice for those not wanting to choose or install a system made up of separate units, but still want superior sound compared to smaller portable speaker options.

Systems usually come in one piece, with moveable speakers that can be placed for the best sound, and most offer the functions you would find on larger systems: CD player, radio tuner, tape deck, and MP3 or iPod connections.

To consider:

  • Sound quality

    Power output is measured in Watts RMS. You can get a good idea of the power of the stereo speakers from their Wattage - anything from 1-Watt per channel and upward. Generally the higher the number the better, higher-end models will offer between 10 and 20 Watts RMS per speaker.

  • What can it load?

    Nearly all machines will be able to play CDs, but some may be able to support other formats. For example, it may have a tape deck or mini-disc player. Some stereos provide CD-R support so they can play MP3 files from them.

  • MP3, USB and iPod support

    If you listen to MP3 tracks you might want to find a system that can connect to your portable MP3 player (this will usually be via an AUX port), but some offer a USB port for flash drive support. Dedicated iPod docks enable a system to charge and provide control for your iPod whilst playing tracks.

  • DAB radio

    Most micro hi-fi systems will provide at least a FM/AM radio turner, but keep an eye out for DAB radio capabilities for a greater selection of stations.

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