Three Ways Mini Amplifiers Can Help You Build a Cheap, Amazing Stereo System

Small machines, big sound.

Exterior of a stereo unit
Get great sound the old-fashioned way.Pexels

It used to be that building a stereo was expensive and finicky. Who wants to mess with receivers, bare speaker wires and endless buttons and knobs and switches? To take their place, another product has quietly been ramping up: mini amps.

Lepy LP-2020A Hi-Fi Digital Amplifier

Classic Digital Amp

The Lepy (or Lepai, depending on brand) started this whole mini-amp craze.Lepy

Mini amps take advantage of the miniaturization and vast reduction in cost of audio equipment. You can get a quality digital sound card for super cheap, and it can be really small. That’s led to a proliferation of mini amps: they include just the basics, they’re tiny, they’re cheap and yet they sound astoundingly good. Even audiophiles rave about the sound you can get out of these things. There’s no contest, comparing a setup with a mini amp to a Bluetooth speaker or soundbar: a mini amp stereo system will create louder, richer, deeper, clearer sound, every time.

BT20A Bluetooth 4.2 Stereo Audio 2 Channel Amplifier

Wireless Connection

This Fosi amplifier has built-in Bluetooth.Fosi Audio

These amps typically include connections for stereo speakers: just two classic bookshelf speakers, which you connect via standard speaker wire. These speakers can get expensive, if you want them to, or you can find a used pair that’ll still sound great. Unlike with a soundbar or portable Bluetooth speaker, you can plug ‘em right into a mini amp.

F900 Mini Bluetooth Power Amplifier Wireless Audio Receiver with Power Supply

Great Design Lookin’ Good, Soundin’ Good

This F900 mini amp sounds great and looks really cool.Facmogu

These mini amps will also have a standard 3.5mm jack—that’s a headphone jack, pretty much the universal input at this point. So you can plug them right into your TV, your computer, your phone or a smart hub like an Amazon Echo Dot. Basically, a mini amp is everything you need a full-on, high-class stereo to be—and on a budget.