Personal speaker systems: A buyer's guide

If you're one of the many people out there who owns an iPod or another similar MP3 capable product, there's a good chance that you'd like to have the ability to play your music aloud with top notch quality, rather than having to rely on headphones or poor standard built in speakers.

With plenty of choice available when it comes to personal speaker systems, it's very important that you know exactly what to look out for to get the best value for money.

Figure out your needs before buying

Simply jumping into things without first researching what you need and what you'll be getting is a recipe for disaster when it comes to personal speaker systems. You run the risk of being unable to use your particular MP3 player or music device through your new system if you neglect to check out whether or not it has the right kind of connections.

You also need to keep future upgrades and needs in mind when it comes making a purchase. If you have an Apple device, for example, then it may seem like a great idea to get a personal speaker system that works exclusively with iPhones or iPods - but what happens if you decide to get a new, non-Apple device down the line? You'll be stuck with a useless speaker system.

For this reason, we recommend you look for devices that work via BlueTooth, or which utilise the headphone output of your device. Since these kind of connections are universal, you'll be able to continue using your purchase even if you upgrade your media player.

Spend a little extra for better sound quality

While it might be tempting to go for a budget priced device, you will usually be forsaking sound quality by doing so. For a few pounds extra, you can usually go for a reliable brand name, such as Sony, LG or Panasonic, which will greatly improve the sound quality, as well as maximum volume, available to you.

Use it carefully!

One problem that we often see with people who have bought personal speaker systems is that the sound quality gradually decreases over time. This isn't usually because of the standard of the personal speaker systems in question, but more to do with user error.

It isn't a great idea to listen to all your music at full blast all the time - especially when it comes to digital music. Since there can be a huge variance in the volume of different songs, it is very possible for your to put your speakers under so much stress that they eventually give out, reducing the sound to a dull crackle.

For this reason we always recommend you leave a little headroom, rather than blasting your favourite songs out at full volume all the time! It'll mean your speakers last for an awful lot longer, saving you quite a bit of money in the process.

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