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What Can I Play in my Hi-Fi System? - A Beginners Guide to Music Sources

So you’re about to take the leap and buy your first hi-fi system, honestly we’re just as excited thinking about it as you are! But before you part with your hard-earned cash, the first step we recommend you take is to think about the way in which you listen to your music. These are going to be played through your system via a music ‘source’.


A music source at its most basic level is the music player in your system. So for example, a source could be a CD player. With that in mind, let’s look at the sources you can add to a hi-fi setup:


Network Player

Network Player Beginner hi-fi

Also known as a ‘network streamer’, the network player will handle all your digital audio. This includes digital files saved to a computer, USB drive or NAS drive. They operate over a Wi-Fi connection, so you won’t necessarily need to physically connect your music to it. Network players also give you access to your favourite streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, plus hundreds of internet radio stations from across the globe. The choices are nearly endless!


CD Player

CD player beginner hi-fi

If you’re still listening to your CD collection, there are still plenty of CD players you can add to your system. It might also be worth looking into CD transports too. These units simply read the data from the disc and pass them on to the DAC, rather than doing both jobs. We’re not going to go into it much more than that, but if you fancy some more reading on these units check out our full blog here.


Record Player

record player beginner hi fi

Bought into the recent vinyl revival or perhaps acquired some record hand me downs? Then you’ll want to add a record player to your setup. Something else you might need for listening to your wax is a phono stage. These little boxes (also known as phono premaps) amplify the small audio signals so it’s loud enough for an amplifier. Sometimes these are built into the amp or turntable, so it’s definitely worth researching before you buy one. You can read up on phono stages here.


So there we have it, just some of the main sources you’ll find in a common hi-fi. Of course there are many more out there (the humble cassette tape has seen some recent love), some of which are outside the realm of hi-fi (games consoles – we’re looking at you!) so have a look around and see what best suits your listening needs. If you're still stuck, check out our YouTube video below.

Whether you’re a hi-fi aficionado or a complete beginner, we’re always at hand to answer any questions and give you our advice. Leave a message in the comments section below.