Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speakers... With so many options, what do I do?

Have you recently thought about upgrading your sound system? As a normal consumer this can be a very tough decision. We all know that electronics we buy will be obsolete within 6-8 years. Speakers on the other hand, if researched correctly, should last much longer.

I compare purchasing speakers to purchasing real estate. I use the term real estate because you can buy an investment property or you can buy your dream home. As a disclaimer, this blog entry is for people looking beyond the theater in a box system. I had a great time in college at the University of Florida, but c'mon, it is time to step up. This would be comparable to a renter.

If you are a first time speaker buyer(i.e. first time home buyer) you are probably looking for a great value. You realize you are making an invstment, and you want that investment to give you satisfaction. For that reason there there are 3 major items to consider. 1. Sound Quality-this is always first in my mind, but that does not mean you need the ultimate sound. You want to get the best sound quality for the money you spend. Key factors to look for are woofer material and sound dispersion technology. 2. Look- being your first purchase, you may want to show off the speakers, i.e. towers or bookshelves. You may also want to take them with you to the next home you buy, considering that most people move every 3-4 years. 3. Price- obviously cost is an important factor in any purchase. If this is your first time, there is no reason to buy top of the line speakers. The receivers and amps you need to push those speakers will cost thousands of dollars, so wait until you are ready.

Well, you have got a couple of promotions now and you are ready to get the True Theater experience. You may have also just bought a bigger home and you want whole house audio. Time to show off your hard work with a house party. Let's take a look at the 3 major factors. 1. Sound Quality- with this purchase you really want to focus on mids, highs, and lows. Clarity is key. Weather you are listening to smooth Jazz or watching watching an action flick, you want to hear every available sound at a high quality. These type of speakers will offer very good volume dispersion, so when you are watching a movie you won't have the problem of not hearing dialect just so you don't get blown away with the action scenes. 2. Type of Speaker- do you want in wall or in ceiling speakers for asthetics or do you want an awesome design speaker that looks great with your furniture. It really depends on your interior design. A classic looking house is going to be more condusive to in walls or in ceiling speakers. A more modern look wall mounted or floorstanding. 3. Cost-again, your budget will come into play here. Most high quality systems in this range are going to be in the $3000 and up range for the speakers. Don't forget about the components you need to complement the awesome sound.

You have arrived! You just bought or built your dream home and want to complement it with an ultimate experience. You maybe an audiophile and want to hear the drop of a pin in a crowded room. Cost is the farthest thing from your mind, you really want the best of the best. I would recommend a few brands here. Klipsch, Speakercraft, JBL and B&W. There are many more great speaker companies but let's keep it simple. The three things to look for: 1. Box Design- you may want a custom box to fit in cabinets or to match your room design. A sleek mahogany or a deep black. You also want the driver to push all of the sound to your sweet spot. With an inferior speaker you lose sound if the box is not insulated properly. 2. Size- do you want to show off the speaker or the sound. If you are just trying to show off the sound there are high quality speakers available in small packages. 3. Sound Quality- the quality you get with high end speakers is impecable. There may be certain things you are looking for in your listening that will determine which speaker you get, so consult with a professional on this.

I have kept this somewhat vague, but this post could have gone on forever. Always "try before you buy" with speakers. Sound taste is not that different form taste buds. Things sound different for different people.

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