The micro chains have become one of the best christmas gifts for music lovers, as they allow you to enjoy a reasonable sound quality in a small and often portable equipment, which triggers the possibilities inside and outside any house.
The absolute dominance of mini-chain systems in Spanish salons has been giving way over the last few years to micro chainssome stereos generally more portable and versatile than their older brothers, also equipped with the latest technology to deliver the best sound anywhere.
First of all, before thinking about spending money on any music system, be it a mini system, a micro system, speakers or even headphones, the best advice is always to try before you buysince only then will we know what nuances it is capable of capturing, especially if the test is carried out with the music you listen to regularly.
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On the other hand, before buy a mini chain or a micro chain It is essential to reflect on What kind of needs will it cover? inside the house: if it is going to be used to connect it to the television, if it is necessary or not to have a CD player or if, for example, it is important that it have a wireless connection.
Brands often highlight the digital signal processing (DSP) that incorporates its micro or mini music chain, a fundamental and differential element that hides too many technicalities for the general public, so at the moment of truth the fundamental thing is compare the sound that offers a sound with respect to another with the same source.
Differences microchain and minichain
The micro chains They are small and compact stereos, ideal for a relatively small room. often include CD player, radio tuner and sometimes a dock port for connecting a iphone or a iPod. The speakers are usually less powerful than those of the mini systems.
The mini chains They are larger and heavier music equipment, designed to provide sound in a large room or even work outdoors. They usually have trays to insert several CDs and change playback from one to another easily. The speakers are usually more powerful and some also include a subwoofer to better represent the bass.
Keys to buy a music microchain
Although it seems obvious, many forget that the speakers are the most important part of any stereo. You can often buy a mini or micro system for a few built-in speakersbut you should always make sure that they are going to offer you the sound that you want.
No matter how old they are HiFi speakers will always sound good. That is why audiophiles recommend taking care of the old equipment present in any house, since it can be easily connected to any modern device through the optical connection.
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As a general rule some large speakers they usually offer much richer sound than desktop speakers. It is advisable to check if the speakers are one, two or three way and the size of your drivers: woofer for bass, driver for midrange and tweeter for higher pitched sounds.
The most demanding ears recommend that, as a minimum, the woofer of a speaker is 6 inches to faithfully represent the bass, but these dimensions are not very compatible with the concept of micro-systems, often portable.
The frequency range of most loudspeakers sold today in any specialized trade covers the spectrum audible to the human earwhich evolves over time but is between the 20Hz and 20kHz. Speakers with higher frequencies do not necessarily have to be better, since the fundamental thing is how they reproduce the sounds of each frequency.
Conversely, if the frequency response of the speakers in a micro system starts beyond the 60hz Most likely, they offer poor bass, so it will be advisable to look for another option or buy a separate subwoofer.
Maximum power and sensitivity
One of the tips to buy some speakers or compare the ones that each mini system incorporates, is to look at the maximum output power (RMS) what are you offering. This concept measures the power in watts that a speaker supports before the sound distorts and begin to damage the speaker by not dissipating the heat produced by the electrical current, melting the insulation that covers the copper wire of the coil.
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RMS power is measured in watts (W) and, to give you an idea, to soundproof a small room 20 watts per channel is sufficient, for a total power of 40 watts.
A concept closely linked to power is acoustic sensitivity, which measures to what level can the speakers reproduce sound: here a larger number is not necessarily better as speakers with higher sensitivity -and power- run the risk of distorting the sound at maximum volume.
USB ports and dock for iPhone
Many of the cheapest microchains already incorporate some USB port to play music, a functionality that most users demand. Of course, not all mini-systems are the same because some accept fewer formats than others: the most demanding audiophiles tend to listen to music on flac formatsomething that is not compatible with all microchains.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons for choosing a micro chain is the possibility of burn music from a CD directly onto a USBwhich allows you to change the format of songs in a fairly simple way.
Some devices allow you to play music through a docking port which also serves to recharge the mobile devicebut in this case it is always essential to look at the fine print to check exactly which smartphones it is compatible with.
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As much as physical sales decline, most micro-chains that are sold incorporate a CD player to listen to old music that anyone may have at home. Some mini chains incorporate a multi-disc traywhich is very useful in practice.
Another key when buying a micro system is to find out if it is capable of playing discs with songs recorded in Mp3 format and, furthermore, if the equipment is capable of reading the ID3 tags to display the name of each song.
Modern mini chains, also some hifi micro systemincorporate a DVD or Blu-Ray reader in order to connect the amplifier directly to the TVwhich avoids buying a player expressly.
Wireless connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth and AirPlay
Undoubtedly one of the keys when buying a microchain It’s your wireless connectivity. The most modern stereos usually incorporate Bluetooth, which makes it easy to listen to mobile music through the speakers, although this usually does not translate into high fidelity sound.
Streaming via Bluetooth compresses music files, even though the loss of quality becomes negligible if both devices are compatible with the aptX codec developed by Sony CSR or LDAC.
If you are going to use the microchain with several mobile devices, it is highly recommended that you incorporate nfc for a fast pairing with a single touch and, if possible, that has memory to remember several mobiles without having to continuously synchronize them.
Either way, a wireless connection over Wifi its alot faster and more stable than via Bluetooth, which also guarantees a higher sound quality. Micro-systems with WiFi are usually much more expensive, but they also drastically improve the experience, with some interesting extras such as SpotifyConnect.
Spain is a radio country, so most of mini chains and micro chains that are sold in large stores and specialized shops incorporate a radio tuner. In this section it is very important to check if it tunes to both AM and FM and if it has RDS, the protocol that allows each station to be identified by name.
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Some of the mini and micro systems incorporate a tuner of digital radio (DAB)a very interesting extra because it notably raises the sound of conventional radio but unfortunately it has not finished taking off in Spain, with still very little coverage in certain areas and a limited supply.
Audio inputs and outputs
One of the best tips when it comes to choose a micro system or a mini music systemwhich most people tend to overlook, is to look at the back of the amplifier to see what kind of connections it allows.
High-end appliances incorporate HDMI ARC ((HDMI Audio Return Channel) that collects the audio sent by the TV to deliver it without loss or delay through the speakers, creating a home theater experience.
In the cheaper micro chains It is interesting to see if you have headphone output so as not to disturb the flatmates and, of course, if you have an exit to connect a subwooferwhich opens the possibility of improving the team.
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There are cables for all tastes and pockets but not for all ears. The reality is that the majority of the population finds it very hard to distinguish sound differences depending on whether one cable or another is used, fulfilling its mission perfectly conventional cables that are sold in any store.
Unless you want to ride a hifi equipment -in that case, you are probably not interested in buying a mini or micro chain- it will help you with common sense, that is, look carefully how is the cable on the outside and what kind of coating does it have. In addition, the longer the cables, the greater the risk of loss they will have.
You can follow these to the letter or not tips and keys to buy a micro chain or mini chainbut remember that it is always highly advisable to test the sound quality in person before buying.