Hi-Fi explained: Sources

We previously looked at how amplifiers work and why they are the first stop in your hi-fi system. Now we’ll have a quick look at some of the most popular sources you can connect up to get your music into your amp.


Since RCA Victor produced the first commercially available vinyl records in 1931, turntables and vinyl have been synonymous with music and sound. There’s truly nothing like the sound of a vinyl record when it’s played off a brilliant turntable into a great sounding amp! Turntables work by turning vibrations created from a needle moving in a record’s grooves into an electronic signal.

As mentioned in our amplifier guide, the output signal from a turntable is really quiet and needs additional amplification before it’s able to be put into an amplifier, handled by what’s called a phono stage. Some amplifiers will have a dedicated phono stage built in, so when you plug your turntable into the specific input, it’s signal is boosted and can be heard just like your other sources.

A good number of turntables on the market have a phono stage that is built into the turntable itself, meaning you can connect them directly into any line input of your amplifier. These are a great choice if you already own an amp that lacks a phono stage. Be careful that you’re not plugging this boosted signal into a phono stage on your amp, as the signal will get boosted again and cause distortion.

Should both your amp and turntable lack phono stages, fear not! Stand alone phono stages are readily available to remedy the issue.

Explore our full range of turntables.


Network streamers/players

They go by a few different interchangeable names, but network music streamers are truly the easiest way to quickly and easily access a mind-boggling amount of music.

These units use the internet connection in your home, which then allows them to access your music streaming services of choice, such as Spotify and Tidal. Once up and running, you can control everything from your phone or tablet, and in some cases even access the services directly from the streamer itself. While most music streaming services offer a ‘free’ version, it’s usually worth the small monthly fee to access ad-free content for a truly seamless experience.

Many streamers are also able to tune into online radio stations, ideal for those who want the familiarity of DAB radio.

Shop our full range of wireless network streamers.


CD players

While certainly no longer the ‘new’ kid on the block, CD (Compact Disc) technology completely revolutionised how we consume music, and is still a format used by many.

Much like the way a turntable’s needle reads the grooves of a record, a CD player uses a laser to translate the digital data on a CD into an audio signal that then gets fed into the amplifier.

Shop our full range of CD players.


Cassette players

A cassette: a blast from the past!

For a while, cassette tapes have been seen as a fun bit of nostalgia from bygone days, but lately the humble cassette has been making a real comeback, with lots of big name bands and artists embracing the format once again.

By using magnetic tape that creates signal when played across a magnetic playback ‘head’ cassettes are capable of producing a warm, slightly analog sound that’s more akin to vinyl, which can offer a nice alternative to the precision of digital and CD formats.

Check out the Teac AD850 CD Player and Cassette deck!


Bluetooth receiver/DAC

If you already own an older amplifier, or are purchasing a new model that’s a bit budget-minded, you’ll often find that Bluetooth isn’t a built-in option. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the convenience of streaming in your system; you just need to pick up a Bluetooth receiver.

These handy units are able to connect to your phone or tablet, and send the signal out and into your hi-fi via any auxiliary input, instantly adding an extra layer of utility to your setup. When selecting a model with the addition of a dedicated DAC, you’ll also notice a big improvement in the overall sound of your streaming music.

Shop our full range of DACs.


We hope this guide has been helpful in understanding some of the many options available to you, but if you have any further questions or just need a bit of friendly advice, our in store and Telesales teams are always happy to help.