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Stereo Systems of All Kinds
Stereos are aptly named so because they are capable of emitting stereo sound. This means that sound output is received via two separate channels and given off with two speakers to imitate natural sound coming from multiple directions. This will produce a better sound than monophonic although it will never be as perfect as new Dolby surround systems.
Stereos in the media world mean music systems that have two speakers attached. They come in amazingly varied shapes and sizes, some are capable of only CD playback while others are even have a small LCD screen for DVD movie playback. The only real limit to their "knowledge" is that they have to have two speakers only
Simple systems, or micro systems, only have one or two features. They are very puritan in looks, but what they actually to give you is given in quality. Many companies produce stereos that play CD's exclusively. This is because for most people this is the only medium they use at home, and if they buy a stereo they're looking for something compact. This way the console is pretty small, so can be put stylishly on a small shelf, while the speakers can be positioned further away. The Supersonic SC1926 or the Fisher Slim 1400 is a great example of one such system.
Medium systems give you a few more options and tend to be more robust in build than smaller systems. They are the most recognizable ones being quite tall and wide with the speakers built into the console (most can be detached). They offer two cassette decks and a CD deck as well as some equalization options. They give you the ability to record tapes from CD's and also may have more functions like alarm, etc. Most Aiwa products are in this category, and having personally owned one for ages I can recommend them! It is in these kinds of systems I have recently seen DVD playing capability with 4-5 inch LCD screens. This is a great gadget for many working people who would like to watch movies but can't sacrifice a part of their monitor to it.
Elaborate systems are full sets that give you control over every aspect of your music. They usually contain at least four decks, a cassette deck (dual), a sound processor/equalizer, a receiver and a CD deck. Optional decks can be added and with high end receiver you may also be able to extend your foot into the surround realm! Technic is known to make a lot of high quality modular systems like this so you may find them interesting.
All systems allow you to listen to radio with a load of presets to save stations and usually provide simple clock/alarm features. They also have audio in jacks so you can hook up an mp3 player to it for example, but I have used my system for playing guitar too! There are jacks for output too so you can plug in some headphones, or in some cases another pair of speakers. Almost all of these systems come with a remote that can control all options available, apart from actually putting the CD in the tray.