Written by Charles Peacock
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There are two keys to any good home audio system: the speakers and the amplifier. Too many people spend a fortune on their speakers and then buy a cheap amp, assuming that the speakers are doing all of the work. In reality, the amplifier is the crucial part of the system: it is the unit that processes and distributes the sound signal, and in many ways it is responsible for the quality of sound that your system produces.

Things to Look for When Buying an Amplifier

The first test of a good amplifier is physical construction. It may sound silly, but the heavier the amplifier is, the better it will probably sound. Sturdy, hefty amps are usually made with high-quality components, in contrast to the cheap plastic-filled lightweight units that you'll find at a big-box electronics retailer.

Unit and remote control design are also crucial things to look for in a good amplifier. Too many amps are designed by technology geeks who don't think much about good user-interface design. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on an amplifier that you don't even understand how to operate. Look for easy-to-read, logically marked buttons both on the main unit and the remote control.

The final thing to think about when buying an amplifier is the input and output options. If you're planning on setting up speakers in multiple rooms, for instance, make sure you're buying an amp that has enough outputs. In addition, make sure the amp has sufficient inputs for all of the components you'll be adding now and down the road.

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