Speaker Shopping Do’s and Don’ts
Ten great buying tips for those about to venture out into the world of speakers.
October 09, 2007 by EH Staff

The good news: There are audio speakers available today for just about every need. There are big ones, small ones and in-between-sized ones. It used to be that only the bigger speakers could provide you with quality sound and power for a home theater system. And here’s the really good news: Innovations have made some of the smallest speakers sound great.  There are still bad speakers out there, though, so you should shop around with discerning eyes and ears. But you can get satisfying sound from a variety of options that fit every taste and decor. First, however, please heed our general rules about home theater speakers:

1) Don’t scrimp.
Your home entertainment speaker system is not the place to get cheap. You’ve heard the phrase, “where the rubber meets the road” to denote something’s importance? Just as a good set of tires is essential to the performance of an automobile, a good set of speakers is crucial to the performance of a home entertainment system—whether there are 20 speakers or just two.

The speakers are the last stops for sound on the way to your ears. So you can have the world’s greatest DVD player and amplifiers, all creating this beautiful sound, but if you have a lousy set of speakers, it will still sound lousy. In other words, your system will only be as good as its speakers.

There’s no set figure on how much you should spend on audio versus video, but a good benchmark is to try to budget for them equally, and look for a set of speakers to fit the audio portion. Try to spend at least as much on your speakers as you spend on your other audio components.

2) Leave Mr. Audio at home.
Everyone seems to have a friend or relative who is a self-professed audio expert, and when he—and usually it is a he—gets wind that you’re buying a home theater, he’ll suddenly become your self-appointed shopping consultant/escort/new best pal. Leave this guy at home. Chances are he will try to talk you into buying a system that he likes, not the one that is best for you. And he may be grossly misinformed. Consult him over the phone if you must.

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