What is the best hi-fi system

Stereo systems: tests & test winners

Whether separate or integrated speakers, whether WLAN, Bluetooth or DAB + reception: Today there is a suitable compact system for almost all requirements. We are currently showing you best compact systems on the market. For that we have Tests and opinions evaluated and added to an overall grade. The last test is from.

654 tests, 68,200 opinions

Advisory: stereos

Criteria when buying a compact system

Key facts at a glance:
  1. Integrated loudspeaker (all-in-one system) or separately
  2. many playback options (e.g. radio tuner, USB port, SD card slot)
  3. more and more often with DAB digital radio tuner
  4. high variety of connections depending on the system (e.g. Bluetooth / WLAN-capable, smartphone interface)
  5. Compatibility of audio formats and storage media depends on the system

Not every music fan has space for a full-blown stereo system. Anyone looking for a small hi-fi system for the office, living room, bedroom or children's room would be better off with a compact system. The devices combine several components in a very small space, are relatively inexpensive and still deliver decent results. What should you consider when buying a compact system?

Compact system basic equipment: memory stick instead of vinyl and cassette

CD players and radio tuners are now part of the basic equipment, even in the class under 100 euros. If the system is to have a DAB tuner for digital radio stations on board, you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket. Devices with integrated turntables are hard to find, and cassette decks are also becoming increasingly rare. They have been replaced by modern interfaces such as USB sockets and SD card readers, with which you can play MP3, WAV and other music files without first burning them to a blank CD. It is worth taking a look at the technical data sheet, because not every system with a USB or card reader processes all formats. And not every drive plays self-made MP3 discs in addition to purchased audio CDs and can handle all storage media (CD +/- R, CD +/- RW).

Bluetooth, network and other additional functions of modern stereo systems

Some USB sockets only accept memory sticks, while others also accept hard drives and Apple players. Sometimes you have the option of converting the tracks on an audio CD into MP3 format and archiving them on a mass storage device (CD ripping). In addition, many manufacturers build a dock for iPod and iPhone. If you want to amplify a flat screen TV, a TV receiver or other sources, you should pay attention to analog and / or digital audio inputs. Systems with a Bluetooth module for wireless audio playback or with an Ethernet port and / or WLAN function are becoming more and more popular, even among compacts. You can stream music from local servers via LAN or wirelessly via WLAN, which is possible via DLNA or AirPlay. Usually radio stations from the Internet can then also be played.

It's the sound that counts: speakers and output power

In addition to the connection options, the formats supported and the additional functions, the sound of a system is decisive. One can argue that a model for 50 euros can never sound as good as a system that is more than ten times as expensive and relies on high-quality components. And it makes a difference whether the speakers are built into the device, whether they can be set up separately, whether they are 2-way or 3-way speakers and whether - as for example with the Yamaha PianoCraft MCR-N560D - a Preamp output for active subwoofers is available. The manufacturer's performance information should be viewed with caution: Often only the effective peak or PMPO performance is given, but not the actual nominal performance. It is definitely helpful to compare the test results of the trade magazines exactly, whereby you should hear the desired model yourself in the best case. Because here too the tastes are different.

Author: Jens Claaßen


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Test winner of the trade magazines

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Which stereos are the best?

The best stereo systems according to testers and customers:

»Read on here

How does Stiftung Warentest rate stereo systems?

"Great sound for little money" (published 12/2020)

How are stereo systems tested in comparative tests? The trade magazines pay particular attention to the sound of stereo systems, which for the most part flows into the rating. Are crisp basses coming out of the speakers? Are the volumes high enough? Do highs and mids prevail in the sound? In addition, the operation decides ...

»Read the full test summary

Which stereo systems are the current test winners?

Test winner of the trade magazines:

»To other test winners

All prices include statutory VAT. The shipping costs depend on the selected shipping method, they are minimum costs. The offer information is based on the information provided by the respective retailer and is updated using automated processes. There is no real-time update, so the price may have risen since the last update. The decisive factor is the actual price that the retailer is offering on his website at the time of purchase.


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