All in One Systems... Are they the future?
Like everything, HiFi and Home Cinema move with the times. We have seen it across all platforms. We have moved from TapeDecks, to Vinyl to CD to Streaming and while all of the previous formats are still widely used, each has seen improvements in its reproduction. HiFi is no different, every year we see new and exciting technologies, ways to improve the sound and build quality.
Most recently one of the largest growing markets in HiFi has been the introduction of All in One Systems.
What exactly is an All in One System?
In essence an all in one system, is as the name would suggest, a HiFi system compacted into one single box. In a conventional system, you could have up to 10 different pieces of equipment (not including speakers) to allow you to enjoy all formats (CD, Streaming, Vinyl etc…) and while separates are still the go to option, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of manufacturers producing all in one systems.
Essentially most all in one system will incorporate a Pre Amp, Power Amp, Streamer, DAC & Phono Stage (some options also include Tuners, CD Players & even turntables) into one compact box. With most not exceeding the size of a standard AV Amplifier, they are certainly ideal for saving space, as in fairness not all of us have the option of having a dedicated HiFi Room.
Why are they becoming popular?
- Simplicity - One of the key reasons for the rise in sales of these type of systems is the convenience, and ease of use. With an all in one system, it is not necessary to have an overly wide range of expertise, as everything can be controlled by the front panel or remote control. It also alleviates any complications with wiring up separate pieces of equipment.
- Size - As mentioned previously, size is a big factor too, as all in one systems can be easily set on a table, shelf, AV Rack, sideboard etc… so they are ideal if you want an audiophile sound, but don't have the space for a large rack or numerous products.
- Price - Naturally with needing only one chassis, among other reason ,the price of these systems tends to be less than you would pay for separates.
- New Adventure - One of most common things we hear from customer when they are giving us feedback is that they were able to try new sources that they never would have dreamt off. In general, this is based around people having the option to try out streaming. Many people are aware of streaming, but the thought of sinking £££ int a streamer for them to hate it, it not something that appeals. However when the streamer is built in (as it is in many all in one systems) it is simply an “add on” that you can try. If streaming isn’t for you, the option is there, but doesn’t need to be used, so in reality its a “win-win”
So what are the downsides?
- No Upgradability - One of the few downsides of an all in one system is that there isn’t much of an upgrade path. In reality, you can upgrade the speaker cable and mains cable, but after that, there isn’t a lot of options for upgrades. In some cases you may be able to bypass some of the built in features and use a separate unit, such as an outboard phono stage etc.. but this is not always a possibility, and then begins to beg the question, are you better just changing to separates?
- Size - Although the price is very competitive, some customers tend to find that separates will give you a better overall sound. This is of course is quite a controversial topic, but one of the key points outlined is the fact that you are condensing all the parts into one box, as against having much more room when you are building a dedicated box for each element, so how could it physically be as good? Definitely a good discussion topic!
- Appearance - While many of the all in one systems are exceptionally beautiful products, they naturally have to be bigger and bulkier than most separates, given that they need to store more electronics. Some people also argue that “as a piece of furniture” an all in one system doesn’t stand out, or offer the same “WOW” factor as a full separates system but again this is a very controversial point and depends on where your priorities lie.
So to conclude there is no right or wrong answer. All in One systems certainly are here, and we think they are here to stay. For the most part, they offer exceptional value for money and fantastic performance without taking up a lot of space, and also offer some really nice features that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
In reality an all in one system is not going to appeal to people, who want separates and an upgrade path, etc… and in many cases an all in one will actually appeal more as a second system to this type of customer. However for someone perhaps wanting to get into HiFi for the first time or has maybe moved house and can’t accommodate a full separates system, an all in one option is the perfect answer.
There is no doubt that an all in one system has a lot of appeal, and for us as a dealer, it is totally understandable why they are becoming ever more popular and we are seeing more manufacturers bringing these systems to market.