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Digital vs Analog Hi-Fi Speakers

When you think of hi-fi speakers, what comes to mind? For some, it’s the large wooden cabinet speakers you grew up listening to music on in your parents’ living room. For others, it’s a modern digital system with enough ins and outs to connect every device imaginable. When you’re looking for a hi-fi system to enjoy music on, there are endless options available. In this post, we’ll compare two types of hi-fi bookshelf speakers—digital and analog—and help you figure out which is best for you.

First things first, what is hi-fi? Audiophiles and home audio enthusiasts use the term hi-fi to describe the high-quality reproduction of sound. Hi-fi audio equipment, like the Edifier S1000DB and S3000Pro bookshelf speakers, provide an incredibly intimate listening experience. In order to accomplish this, hi-fi speakers must offer impeccable audio performance with virtually no distortion or noise and a neutral, uncoloured frequency response. This is in great contrast to the experience you will have while listening on inexpensive, low-quality systems, which have muffled low-end or hyped, harsh highs.

But when it comes to choosing a hi-fi system, you might wonder which type of system is best—digital or analog? Let’s dig in and find out.

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Analog Bookshelf Speakers

For decades, those who wanted a high-fidelity listening experience at home used analog bookshelf speakers. Their relatively compact size made them ideal for smaller spaces like family rooms, listening rooms and home offices. However, the average set of analog bookshelf speakers often came with complexities or limitations.

Even though audio technology has advanced significantly over the last few decades, the world of analog bookshelf systems hasn’t fundamentally changed. Most analog hi-fi bookshelf speakers are passive, meaning they require an amplifier (usually integrated into the stereo receiver) to produce sound, albeit in high-fidelity. Things can get even more complex depending on your specific setup.

An analog hi-fi audio system is typically set up in one of two ways:

1. As an all-in-one integrated system: This type of system typically includes a receiver, bookshelf speakers and perhaps a turntable, cassette deck, CD player or iPhone dock, depending on the era. This is a simple solution, as you know that all of the system components were designed to work seamlessly together. Even so, these all-in-one audio systems can feel a little antiquated and cumbersome, with wires often required to connect the various components.

2. Mixing and matching components: You purchase a receiver from one company, the bookshelf speakers from another and the vinyl player from yet another. In this scenario, you have to take an additional step to confirm that the impedance of your bookshelf speakers is compatible with your receiver’s amplifier.

And yet, after you’ve successfully set up your analog bookshelf speakers, you should know that any analog audio system is still susceptible to interference, noise and distortion. If you experience these issues, they can usually be solved but often require additional investment in your system through higher-quality, more expensive cables.

Let’s recap the pros and cons of analog hi-fi speakers:

Pros

● Modular, easy to replace if you find new speakers you prefer

● Usually less expensive

● Many options on the market

Cons

● Most are passive, require an amplifier to produce sound

● Lack modern wireless connectivity options

● Require a central receiver to manage audio sources

● Wired connection results in limited placement options


Digital Bookshelf Speakers

The simplicity, power and flexibility of quality digital hi-fi bookshelf speakers cannot be overstated. For starters, many include convenient wireless connectivity in addition to traditional rear analog connections. Additionally, digital bookshelf speakers are self-powered and don’t require an amplifier or receiver to produce sound. Self-powered speakers are also often referred to as active speakers, so these terms are interchangeable.

Today’s digital hi-fi bookshelf systems offer so much more than your average set of consumer-grade Bluetooth speakers. By combining studio-grade audio performance, active speakers and modern technologies like Bluetooth, these types of wireless hi-fi speakers are essentially standalone audio systems that are perfect for audiophiles who desire a great listening experience without the complexity of traditional analog bookshelf speakers and the mess of wires they bring.

Perfect for Any Application

With so many input options, digital bookshelf speakers enable you to connect a wide range of audio sources, and without the need to purchase a receiver or amplifier. Edifier bookshelf speakers, like the S3000Pro, offer connectivity options for virtually any scenario. Wirelessly stream Spotify from your iPhone, connect your home theatre via an optical cable, connect a USB device. There’s even additional connections for coax, RCA and XLR cables (a professional-grade audio connection).

Let’s recap the pros and cons of digital hi-fi speakers:

Pros

● Additional connectivity options, designed for the past, present and future

● Usually active speakers, no amplifier needed

● Wireless, resulting in easier placement

● Multiple inputs with no need for a receiver

● Remote control included to switch between inputs and volume control

Cons

● Heavier compared to passive analog speakers

● More expensive compared to passive bookshelf speakers


The Way We Listen to Music Has Changed

Listening habits around the world have changed dramatically since the turn of the century. Many traditional brick and mortar music stores have closed up shop and have been replaced by streaming services like Spotify, Pandoura and Apple Music. There are even hi-fi streaming services designed for audiophiles, like Tidal. While certain mediums like vinyl have made a cult-like resurgence, we are living in a world of increasing digital audio consumption.

Digital bookshelf speakers, like the Edifier S3000Pro and S1000DB, combine award-winning studio quality audio with an array of connectivity options designed for the future, while maintaining compatibility with the equipment you already own.

Digital speakers are undoubtedly the future of home hi-fi audio, but if you are looking for a budget-friendly upgrade to your existing system, Edifier offers a great selection of traditional analog bookshelf speakers that are sure to impress even the most discerning listeners.


If you’re ready to experience speakers that deliver both incredible sound quality and unmatched versatility, check out our wide selection of digital bookshelf speakers.