Dorm Room Audio Essentials

It’s almost time for school to start again and as many college students know, having a nice audio system can make dorm life much more enjoyable.  Headphones are great and probably offer the most affordable way to get you great sound on a tight budget, but they’re for your ears only and not practical for having a get together or watching a movie,TV or gaming with friends.  Let’s talk about what dorm room audio essentials, how to hook it up and where to find your music and video.

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Before I begin,  I’d like to take a few things into account;

  1.  Space is at a premium, and while I’d love to recommend a complete surround sound system, it just doesn’t make much sense for a 12x12ft space.
  2. Budget.  Good quality audio gear is not necessarily cheap, but it will last you for years if you buy smart the first time, and there are deals to be had that’s well take a look at.  Sure you can find a cheap iPod dock on clearance, but chances are it’s not going to sound good or last.  Also, if you get a nice pair of speakers you can always build a larger system around them, once you land that first job!
  3. Quality over quantity:  You want your system to play loud, but you need it to be clear, crisp and non-fatiguing as well.    After all, you don’t need huge speakers to achieve awesome dorm room audio.
  4. Connectivity.  All the systems I’ll recommend below would use a computer, Apple TV, game console or smartphone as your source.  We’re going to keep it simple.  And nowadays with a device connected to the internet, you can listen to just about anything and even stream it wirelessly to your speakers.

System #1.

Lepai Tripath Class T amplifier paired with Novus 5B bookshelf speakers.  The Lepai Tripath Class T amplifier is a budget favorite.  While it only puts out 20 watts per channel, it sounds amazing, especially for the price.  Pairing the Lepai up with pair of Novus 5B bookshelf speakers and you have a genuine low budget HiFi system.  You’ll primarily be using your computer for all media playback, but the audio quality will be clean and clear.  The advantage of using the 5B bookshelf speakers are greater stereo separation and a more even sound throughout your room.   The 5B is a speaker that’s built to last with a 5 year warranty, so they’re a great investment to build upon after college. 

System #2

Allaire Aris Speaker with Avantree Bluetooth Receiver.    The Allaire Aris is a great all around powered speaker that is built to last, doesn’t take up much space and can play loud and clear.  With the addition of the Avantree Bluetooth Music Receiver, this all in one system is ready to tackle anything you throw, or stream wirelessly at it.  Watch a video on your phone while sending audio to the Aris, or easily have your friend’s stream music from their phones without any difficulty.  With the included cables you can easily plug in your computer or smartphone for playing back anything from Pandora to NCAA football highlights of your team.  Your laptop becomes your media hub, TV, music source and game console.  Cost: $334 with Bluetooth included


System #3

This one may be a bit of stretch, but let’s say you only have one year in your dorm room before you get to rent a house with your buddies.  You’re going to want a system that can seriously rock, so think of this recommendation as an investment.   Aperion Audio 4T towers and an Onkyo A-5VL integrated amplifier with built in Burr Brown DAC.   The towers are going to  fill most large rooms with ample audio while the Onkyo amp will not only power the system, but it will allow  for the highest resolution of audio playback from digital sources using it’s built in 192kHz/24-Bit DAC.  I would recommend either a new PS4 or Xbox One as your main entertainment source and you’ll have all most all your bases covered. If the need arises, you can add a small subwoofer down the road and you’ll have a system that will last you for years to come and will be sure to impress.  Cost: $988


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