If you love music and want to appreciate every element of its sound then you need a high quality portable stereo. The marketplace is flooded with different types of stereos and there are a number of well-known brands to choose from, this makes it very confusing. Each one promises a superior audio experience which – while sounds great – the reality is when you’re parting with your hard earned cash you want to make the right decision. Firstly, the best thing you can do is buy from a reputable retailer.
My go-to for all my audio equipment has to be Amazon.com and the reasons are obvious in my opinion. You get a better retail price, the returns procedure is excellent and it’s quick and easy to use. Last but not least, the consumer reviews are invaluable giving you a clear indication as to whether your product of choice is going to be suitable for your needs.
So what should you look for when buying your portable stereo? Definitely look for portability, as you want something you can move to different places with ease you need something relatively lightweight so you don’t get arm-ache. You also want something which isn’t too large or cumbersome because if you’re travelling you don’t want another suitcase just to hold your stereo nor do you want to have to somehow manage your suitcase, hand luggage and stereo when you’ve only got two hands.
Ask yourself if it has AM and FM because you’ll no doubt want to listen to the radio at some point. If you play CD’s (and plenty of people do) then it’s important to have a CD feature and even cassettes are making a comeback so an added bonus is the capability to play them plus an in-built cassette player means you can record your own mixes. Depth of sound is crucial.
There’s no point buying a portable stereo with tinny sound – you want to hear every element of the music you’re playing especially the bass so something with good bass response or even a subwoofer built in is important.
So now you know what to look for – what is the best portable stereo to buy? In my opinion there are three to choose from:
Sony Portable Stereo Boombox CFD-S50
Sony is a trusted, reputable brand so it ticks all my boxes! This particular product is extremely good value when you purchase it from Amazon.com at just $49.87 and it has everything I’ve discussed above.
It’s small enough to travel, it plays music loud even at the beach or by a pool, it delivers outstanding bass sound and the music is never distorted. It’s compatible with other digital music players as it has an auxiliary audio input and particularly important is the CD and cassette function. Additionally it has AM/FM radio so it pretty much does everything you could want from a portable stereo. This Boombox takes 6 size C batteries and gives an incredible 19 hours of music play so there’s no risk of it fading out when you take it out for the day.
If you hop onto Amazon.com where I bought mine you’ll find plenty of positive reviews because it’s one of the bestselling portable stereos available. With 1,985 reviews it ranks 4.1 out of 5 stars (that’s 61% of consumers giving it a 5 out of 5, I’m one of them). Some people mention the bass is a little weak but for the money I think it’s great, the only negatives are for defective models but this is always easily remedied because of a good manufacturer’s warranty. Don’t hesitate – for the price it offers an excellent audio experience and brilliant portability.
Sony Portable Stereo Sound System
This is the upgrade to the CFD-S50 and is slightly more expensive at $79.95. A handsome looking portable Boombox, this one has a host of incredible features including MP3 CD player, AM/FM radio, 30 presets, USB, headphone and auxiliary jack. It also has a CD head cleaner so there’s no distortion. It comes in black and it’s very stylish, lightweight and portable.
I like the ability to listen to it in privacy with the headphone jack so I don’t disturb anyone, fantastic for working if you’re allowed to listen to music at your place of work. The only thing that’s missing is the record feature which you get on the other Sony product mentioned here, there is no cassette. The Amazon.com reviews score this one 4.1 out of 5 stars with 57% ranking it 5 out of 5. While it offers good sound quality for a portable stereo in my opinion the CFD-S50 is a better product and obviously it’s a less expensive model.
Philips AZ3811 Sound Machine Portable
This in my opinion is the best looking of the three and is a good price point of $74.42. It delivers an excellent quality audio experience with good sound and clarity plus you can hear the bass line which is of vital importance! It is digital and comes with an auxiliary jack so you can plug in your headphones or a mic if you want to.
The system takes 8 batteries, type D and gives hours of airplay. It’s a great portable system but does lose some of its sound quality when you turn the volume up very loud and the tuning output is a little fiddly to use other than that, all in all it’s a decent piece of equipment. The Amazon.com reviews rate it 4.1 stars out of 5 stars (with 40% giving it 5 out of 5) and this is mainly because of the sound issue when you crank that volume up.
Overall if I was to advise you to choose out of the three above I would definitely go for the Sony Portable Boombox CFD-S50 because it is excellent value for money, boasts terrific sound, has a huge range of useful features and it’s small and neat, exactly what you want in a portable stereo.
You should also look for streaming. If you want to stream your music through your iPhone, tablet or smartphone today you need this type of technology on your portable stereo so the Bluetooth feature is really important. Look for something with strong battery life, there’s no point in taking your beloved portable stereo to the beach for the day if it runs out of life after three hours – what are you going to listen to in the meantime? Also check the functions on the portable stereo you’re thinking of.