How to build a complete Hi-Fi system? Questions to ask before making a purchase

How to build a complete Hi-Fi system?

Do you wish to discover the Hi-Fi world, but do not have any Hi-Fi equipment? You will need to purchase and build a complete Hi-Fi system. To help you, here are a few questions to ask yourself before purchasing a Hi-Fi system. These questions will help you better understand what you need and thus help you make a choice.

Question 1: What Hi-Fi equipment do I need?

1.1. Audio source

1.2. Audio signal amplification electronics

1.3. Hi-Fi speakers

1.4. Cables

Question 2: What are my criteria (music, design...)?

Question 3: Do I have enough room for a Hi-Fi system?

Question 4: What budget do I have to purchase a Hi-Fi system?

Question 5: Is there everything I need to build a Hi-Fi system on

1. What Hi-Fi equipment do I need?

To build a complete Hi-Fi system, several Hi-Fi devices are essential.

1.1. Audio Source

The audio source is the device that will deliver the music. Therefore, this corresponds to the very first link of your Hi-Fi system.

You can choose your audio source based on the format of music you listen to. For example, if you listen to vinyl records, you will need a turntable. If you are a CD collector, you will need a CD player. If you listen to digital music, you will for example need a streamer.

Hi-Fi system

1.2. Audio signal amplification electronics

In a Hi-Fi system, it is essential to have audio signal amplification electronics. Indeed, the signals coming from the different audio sources that you will listen to are very low and inaudible if they are not processed and amplified beforehand.

1.2.1. Phono preamplifier

The phono preamplifier is essential to listen to a vinyl record. It is this Hi-Fi device that will process the audio signal coming from the turntable, and more precisely from the phono cartridge.

Indeed, Hi-Fi cartridges have a very low audio signal, almost inaudible without the use of a phono preamplifier.

Moreover, the phono preamplifier will inverse the RIAA curve engraved on your vinyl record (for more information, do not hesitate do read our information sheet on phono preamplifiers).

If your Hi-Fi system includes a vinyl turntable, the phono preamplifier will come between your vinyl record player and the next amplification electronic. To connect your turntable to the phono preamplifier, you will need a phono cable.

1.2.2. Preamplifier

The preamplifier also processes and pre-amplifies the audio signal transmitted by a Hi-Fi source (CD player, tuner…).

Having a separated preamp (ex: Atoll PR100 SE preamplifier) in your Hi-Fi system can thus improve the sound restitution. However, this is more expensive as you will also need a power amplifier to amplify the audio signal.

Atoll PR100 SE preamplifier

In a Hi-Fi set up, the preamplifier comes between the audio source and the amplifier. To connect these different Hi-Fi devices, you will need interconnect cables or digital cables.

1.2.3. Amplifier

There exist two types of amplifiers: power amplifiers and integrated amplifiers. Nevertheless, these two amplifiers have the same use. That is to say amplifying the audio signal transmitted by the audio source and the preamplifier (and/or phono preamplifier).

As mentioned before, the power amplifier, such as the NuPrime STA-9 power amplifier, simply amplifies the sound processed by the preamplifier.  

NuPrime STA-9 power amplifier

The “integrated amplifiers” have both a preamplifier and an amplifier. This is thus a more cost effective solution.

An integrated amplifier can have several inputs in order to connect different Hi-Fi sources.  

Some integrated amplifiers even have a phono input (phono preamplifier), which means that you can connect the vinyl record player to the amplifier via a phono cable. If you are just starting to listen to vinyl records, the Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 integrated amplifier will be for example a very good choice!

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 integrated amplifier

The integrated amplifier does not have any phono inputs? Do not worry, all you have to do is simply get another Hi-Fi device to connect to your turntable. Indeed, it is necessary to place a phono preamplifier between your vinyl record player and amplifier.

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 Phono Preamplifier

1.3. Hi-Fi speakers

To make the most out of your Hi-Fi system, it is necessary to install Hi-Fi speakers since these speakers will deliver the sound transmitted by the equipment mentioned above.

Hi-Fi speakers complete a Hi-Fi system. You must have Hi-Fi speakers in your Hi-Fi system!

Focal Sopra 2 Hi-Fi speakers in a Hi-Fi system

1.4. Cables

We have a tendency of forgetting cables, but audio cables are an important part of a Hi-Fi system. In a Hi-Fi system, there are various types of cables: phono cables, interconnect cables, speaker cables, digital cables

Do not hesitate to read our shopping guides if you wish to learn about the difference between a phono cable and an interconnect cable or to know the different type of audio cables that exists and their role, why it is important to invest in audio cables...

2. What are my criteria (music, design...)?

Like the saying goes “there is no accounting for tastes”… Everyone has different criteria, which are more or less important.

Before purchasing a complete Hi-Fi system, it is important to establish a few criteria such as the type of sound restitution you are looking for, the style of music you listen to, the design of the Hi-Fi devices, eventual upgrades (Read our shopping guides How do I upgrade my Hi-Fi equipment?)…

Hi-Fi system with a VPI turntable

Based on these criteria, some Hi-Fi devices will suit your needs better than others. To get the best advice possible and based on your criteria, do not hesitate to contact our technicians. They will be able to help you build your Hi-Fi system.

You can also find our advice on choosing a turntable, a CD player, a phono preamplifier, an amplifier, or Hi-Fi speakers.

3. Do I have enough room for a Hi-Fi system?

Before purchasing a Hi-Fi system, you need to make sure you have enough room to install a Hi-Fi system.

To have a Hi-Fi system with the best sound restitution possible, you need to have a big enough room. If you do not have any furniture to place your Hi-Fi system, there exist Hi-Fi furniture specifically designed and made for your Hi-Fi system such as the Norstone Esse Hi-Fi Vinyl stand.

Norstone Esse Hi-Fi Vinyl stand

Then, comes the question of the placement of your Hi-Fi speakers. Hi-Fi speakers are generally placed on each side of your Hi-Fi system. To choose your Hi-Fi speakers, you will also need to take into account the size of your room. Indeed, your Hi-Fi speakers have to be proportional to the size of your room in order to obtain a sound of quality.

4. What budget do I have to purchase a Hi-Fi system?

When purchasing a Hi-Fi system, you will of course need to establish a budget.

To give you an idea, 40% of your budget needs to be spent on the Hi-Fi source. Indeed, in audio, the source is the most important part of a Hi-Fi system. It is then recommended to spend about 30% on your amplifier and 30% on your Hi-F speakers.

Hi-Fi system with Focal Hi-Fi speakers

Whatever choice you make, it is important to have a balanced Hi-Fi system. Your Hi-Fi system also needs to have a certain coherence between the different equipment. Indeed, in order for your Hi-Fi speakers to deliver a good sound, your audio source needs to be of quality since it transmits the audio signal. You amplifier will also need to be powerful enough to power your speakers. One word to summarize a Hi-Fi system? Balance!

5. Is there everything I need to build a Hi-Fi system on

On, you can find a large choice of products and everything you need to build a Hi-Fi system from A to Z: turntables, CD players, DAC streamers, integrated amplifiers, phono preamplifiers, headphone amplifiers, Hi-Fi speakers, Hi-Fi cables, etc. There is therefore everything you need on our website.

To help you choose, we also have ready to listen packages if you do not own any Hi-Fi equipment and if you want to discover analogue. For those who already have a Hi-Fi source, we also have amp and speakers packages which will complete your Hi-Fi system.

Ready to listen package - Discovery Premium

All of our packages have been studied and made up in order to provide the best sound quality possible. All the products in our packages are perfectly compatible with each other. Ready to use, these ready to listen packages are the ideal solution for Hi-Fi beginners!


We hope that this guide answered the questions you may have before purchasing a Hi-Fi system. For more information and personalized advice, do not hesitate to contact our technicians by phone (+33 (0) 299 654 163) or by email (