Building a cheap (and decent) Hi-Fi


I want a cheap and decent Hi-Fi. I was wondering, can i get something better with what people normally pay for a Hi-Fi? I know the off-the-shelf home theatre systems can go as low as S$250, but the itch to go the DIY way was just too hard to overcome. So, without actually evaluating any ready-made home theatre system, i decided to go ahead and build one!

The whole idea of a DIY Hi-Fi actually came from stumbling upon the T-Amp on ThinkGeek site. It is touted to be a US$30 amplifier that sounds like something 100 times its price (review here). Now that’ll fit my criteria for cheap and decent!

The next thing i acquired was the Creative USB Sound Blaster Digital Music SX. What caught my attention was the ability of this product to act as a pre-amp which is basically the equivalent of a receiver. I managed to get this piece of hardware at S$107, which is much cheaper than what receivers typically cost. I foresee that i wouldn’t have more than 2 or 3 sources of sound input so this will work just fine. It even comes with a remote control which is handy for controlling sound volume. The built in USB sound card was just an extra feature that i eventually used for sound output from my laptop.

Finally, to complete the set-up, i needed speakers. Again my search is based on “best among the budget”. Very quickly i settled my choice on the Monitor Audio Bronze BR2 as well as the Wharfedale SW150 subwoofer, both of which had been What Hi-Fi award recipients.

All in all, i spent around S$1300. Not cheap compared to the ready-made home theatre systems, but relatively cheap for a real Hi-Fi system. Amplifiers can easily cost S$1300. So how does my Hi-Fi sound? It is superb! Now i’m no audiophile, but i know it when i’m hearing clean and clear sound, with details exposed i never knew existed before. In fact, it reveals so much detail, i found out that some familiar tracks don’t sound as good as i thought they did..

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