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Buying Guide

To most people, HiFi is a bit of a fringe hobby. It's not likely to be on the cover of Consumer Reports nor make the headlines on the evening news unless someone was killed with it (this, by the way, is highly unlikely). In short it doesn't get the same attention as consumer electronics do through advertising and being so ubiquitous.

So while it may not be obvious to people outside of HiFi, there are actually thousands of HiFi manufacturers to choose from. So for those who also want to put together a greener sound system, where to start? Well I have some suggestions. While I can't spend very waking hour reviewing products, I do have experience with a few brands that I can recommend:

  • Grado (sets the bar for headphones, IMO)
  • House of Marley (OK, maybe not traditionally Hi Fi, but it certainly is green)
  • Schiit (Funny name, but great products)
  • Wyred4Sound (Need a 500W amp w/o spending a mint? Here you go)
  • Magnepan (By far, the most bang for the buck in speakers)
  • Sonos (OK, not exactly HiFi either, but it is quite green and it can be modded)
  • Odyssey (Built like a tank, amazing specs, and made right here in the good ol' USofA)
  • Tributaries (Inexpensive, top quality cables w/o the snake-oil)
  • Mapleshade (I can't say I understand or believe it all, but Pierre Sprey, the owner, knows his stuff)
  • Zu (A revolution in audio, no question about it)
  • Cary (Another stand-up company with a stand-up owner)
  • Ayre (Pricey, but this stuff is made to last)
  • Escalante (Also expensive, but considering the work & research, understandable)

I have had good experience with all of these in my home and I consider them to be greener than others. Not all of them are green in the same way, though. For example, Magnepan makes excellent value speakers but it takes a kilowatt amp to bring out their best qualities (good thing there's Odyssey and Wyred4Sound). That said, they do score reasonably high on the GreenHiFi Criteria system (link below). Of course I realize this is not a complete list, and probably won’t build a complete system, but they are a good place to start.

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Of course, most folks will be choosing one of the thousands of other brands and models. For those people, I recommend using the same criteria I use. Here are some suggestions: