National Geographic : 1973 Jan
How to get the for your money. Buying stereo can be confusing. One friend says you have to spend a mint. Another tells you about a "special" bargain on a foreign-made set. And overly enthusiastic salesmen might just confuse you with all kinds of technical specs. Well, fact is you do have to know a little bit about stereo to make sure you're getting the most music for your money. But you don't have to be an engineer. Or even a buff. Just an intelligent shopper armed with a few basic facts. So here they are. Start with the Receiver A good music system starts with a good stereo receiver. (A stereo receiver is a combination of a stereo amplifier and AM/FM/FM stereo tuner.) So that's a logical place to begin your buying. But picking the right receiver is no picnic. Because receivers by themselves don't do a thing you can see or hear. They just receive tiny sound impulses from a record, tape, or radio station, magnify them millions of times, with as little distortion as possible, and drive the speakers with the magnified impulse. All of which means that two of the most important things to look for in receivers are how much distortion takes place and how much power there is to drive the speakers. Distortion ratings (called T.H.D.) are simple. The lower the number the better. For example, Sylvania receivers CR2742 and CR2743 both have a rating of 0.5% at full power output, which is considered good. Power is a bit more complicated. There are several kinds of ratings. But the one that counts is the "continuous" or RMS rating. Here the higher the number, the more power you have to drive speakers. A receiver like the Sylvania CR2742, with a continuous power rating of 25 watts per channel, can easily drive four big speakers. If you want an even larger system, with speakers all over the house, the Sylvania CR2743 can handle them with a continuous power rating of 50 watts per channel. If you can't get a continuous power rating, be suspicious! The next things to check are the features. A good stereo receiver should have solid-state circuitry, Field Effect Transistors (FET's), and ceramic filters. We won't go into their technical functions here, but be sure to look for them while buying. Quality receivers will have them. Your receiver should also have a full-function jack panel (like the one on the back of the Sylvania CR2743 shown below) that allows you to add extra speakers, tape decks, headphones, or other equipment. And make sure there's built-in capability to adapt the new quadraphonic sound systems in case you want to expand in that direction. Every Sylvania receiver, for example, has built-in Phase Q4 matrix four-channel circuitry to enhance ordinary two-channel stereo. This gives the effect of four-channel sound. In addition, you can get true (discrete) four-channel sound simply by adding our special new DMQ2784W quadraphonic converter. (And of course in both cases you need two extra speakers.) Finally, check the price. As a guide, the Sylvania CR2742 gives you 50 watts total continuous and all the rest for $199.95.* The CR2743 gives you all that and 100 watts total continuous for $279.95* So no matter what brand you choose, make sure you get just as much for just as little. Onward to the Speakers The technical stuff's out of the way. Now comes the fun part.