home stereo - when should I buy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by motulist, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    I'm looking to buy a home stereo system (you know, receiver, 2 speakers, remote control, that type of thing). With christmas approaching, I'm wondering when the best time to buy it is. It's just for myself in my apartment, not a gift for someone.

    - Should I jump on a black friday deal?

    - Should I wait for a cyber monday deal and buy it online?

    - Should I wait till christmas is almost here and see if the retailers start to do a slow-sales-year deep discount?

    - Should I wait till a couple of days after christmas and grab a good deal on post-christmas clearances? Won't all the half-way worthwhile stuff be all gone by then?

    - Should I wait till a couple of days after christmas and try to buy an open box return from someone's returned christmas gift?

    - Should I do something else?
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    First of all, this is an Apple forum so I will assume you want stereo gear that works with iThings, ie offers an iPod cradle, etc... I have a Samsung blu ray player that offers an usb input, optical input and an iPod cradle. It also offers streaming netflix and pandora. It is adequate but I'd like something better (eventually). I plan to hold off and try to "get my money's worth" for a year or so more before shopping for a replacement.

    Have you done your research?
    1 - Stop in some stores and listen and see what you like.
    2 - Once you know what you like and how much you want to spend, start tracking prices.
    3 - Once you have begun tracking prices, you can answer your own questions about when to buy.

    Besides, the decision depends a lot on your preferences. You can probably save a lot of money by putting up with a lot of BS such as slow shipping times and lousy return policies. I find that more often than not, Best Buy and Microcenter offer "good enough" pricing and the ability to return stuff that doesn't work. I try to avoid mail order for larger electronic items like stereos because of the weight and the amount I whoud have to spend to send it back.

    Another decision is whether you want "all in one" or component style. I opted for all in one to avoid clutter in the family room and mediocre capabilities are the price I am paying for a small unit that doesn't consume a half dozen shelves that would be better used for books and family photos. But if performance is more important to you, consider the units that made up of separate components. Onkyo is one of the better (and pricier) brands.

    hope this helps...
  3. 7thMac macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2010
    Price is important but it is more important to take your time and figure out what you need. If you just want something cheap and basic then just buy whatever is on sale. If you care about quality then it will be harder to time your purchases to upcoming sales.
  4. evil_santa macrumors 6502a


    Sep 23, 2003
    London, England
    work out what you want, then buy when it at the price your happy with, spend as much as you can afford.
  5. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Personally I would at least build my own speakers. As you can not really find any good sized tower speakers anymore unless you want to spend a small fortune. If you are not too handy you can buy assembled speaker cabinets and crossovers. You also save a lot of money for a superior product.


    I would also look at eBay for used equipment as you can get a really high end pre-amps, equalizers and high wattage amplifiers for really low prices. My 20 year old 2-channel equipment still sounds amazing. It was only mid-grade at the time it was bought.

    I am planning on building cabinets with 15inch subs, my current cabinets have two 8 inch woofers. If possible I'll use car stereo speakers since there is a much larger choice and of high quality speakers than parts express has, though I am not sure if their are other differences that would effect sound quality. Then hopefully get a good used vacuum tube amplifier, if they are not too expensive otherwise I'll settle for a transistor model.

    As for buying new I would wait till after Christmas. Only a few good items go on sale on Black Friday and they usually only have one in stock. While after Christmas they want to sell the surplus to make room for next years models and to lessen inventory for tax purposes. Then I would buy the cable's through Monoprice or Newegg.com, don't cheap out with the cheap scrawny ones get the premium audio cable's (for the RCA connections) and low AWG speaker wire.
  6. ayale99 macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2007
    I'm in the same boat, for a receiver. Personally, I'm trying to hold out for a receiver that has Airplay. So far the only one is from Denon and it's $2k. There's got to be more coming around the corner.
  7. 7thMac macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2010
    You should reconsider this plan. It would be much better to purchase a whole kit from Parts Express. You can't just mix and match speaker components. Everything needs to be designed as a whole, including the cabinet and crossover. Car stereo speakers are not the way to go in speakers for home. Even an inexpensive kit using regular speakers, if properly designed, will sound better than what you are proposing.
  8. 7thMac macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2010
    This is a little too specific. Can you provide some more general advice? :)
  9. akapaul macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    get some polk audio monitor40 speakers and a nice receiver
  10. darkplanets macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2009
    Black Friday would be an okay time-- know ahead of time what you want to get though. I would recommend Denon or Onkyo.

    I personally have no need for a receiver here, but that's just me. If you're planning to later upgrade to more/better speakers (read: surround sound) or you have a lot of HDMI devices pushing audio, you might want to get an AV receiver, but be warned, unless you're willing to spend $$ many have drawbacks like poor DACs, etc. If you're just shooting for 2.1 you may want to wait on the receiver until you really need it.

    I personally run a 50ft HDMI (mini-DVI->HDMI) from my iMac to my 42" TV with the audio running out via optical from the TV and iMac (I use the TV as the receiver in essence) to my DAC which runs to my Klipsch Promedia 2.1s-- it's not the most graceful setup and it's not the highest quality possible, but it sounds good and was relatively cheap compared to the alternatives with receivers. If you're looking for cheap and simple stick to something like this, otherwise drop some money and go for a Denon.
  11. r0k, Nov 23, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010

    r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    My Samsung blu ray player came with cheap little plastic speakers. I picked up a set of Klipsch surround speakers at best buy at a slight discount (about $399 instead of $499 list) because they were display models. The only speaker I kept was the Sub that came with the Samsung unit. It works well enough and I didn't want to shell out another half a grand for the matching Klipsch powered sub. The Samsung speakers were rated 3 ohms while the Klipsh speakers were rated 8 ohms. Despite the alleged impedance mismatch, the Klipsh sound a LOT better than the Samsung (which are relegated to a plastic bag in the basement).

    Meanwhile, my 3 foot tall cabinet speakers with 12 inch EV woofers, 8 inch midrange and horn tweeters are downstairs in the basement alongside the CRT tv and 78 rpm record player. Yes, I have some 78 rpm records. I've made mp3's of the ones I want to "keep". Nothing raises eyebrows quite as quickly as an mp3 file that contains pops and clicks because it was ripped from a 78. :D

    BTW the real difference is always the speakers. I remember using my bulky speakers with a "close and play" and getting some stares from people who assumed I must have some expensive kickin' stereo driving those things. It's better to invest in better speakers than to spend more on a receiver and couple it with mediocre speakers. As for building large boxes, it's up to you but my wife demanded I get those big speakers out of there. They were too "old fashioned looking" and "took up too much space" and were "too loud". So I'm not saying the newer speakers are better, they just represent a better compromise when it comes to space taken up versus cost versus sound produced. Hey, if money is no object, there's always the $31,000 klipsch palladium speakers. :eek:
  12. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    There is always so much consensus in an AV discussion!!!!!!

    This is just for audio, an apartment stereo, but do you want to be able to go into a home theater at some point? If you watch TV, a HT system makes it a whole lot bette. HT receivers do a fine job in stereo-only mode.

    For someone just starting out, think simple, think decent quality, but not Uber Expensive. The middle ground is the best for almost everyone. The bottom is just electronic debris. The high end, even if affordable, is hardly better in a typical crappy listening area (although I know a guy who has around $200K in stereo stuff, just stereo, in a pretty cheesy apartment!).

    Speakers really don't get obsolete. If they produce the sound in the proper way now, they always will. There is no sound that is "better" than "best". So, spend what you can on quality speakers

    The best speakers for small listening areas are found in mid-sized bookshelf units paired with a sub. Teeny tiny speakers....you know the ones....and magic subs...well, no, just say no.

    Towers...fun, not necessary for an apartment. Your bass will come from a sub.

    If you get up into the midsized pair and a self-powered sub, then an affordable receiver will power them just fine.

    For an apartment, there are all sorts of very powerful 10-12" subs. Get a quality sub as they last forever, like the speakers.

    If you go the HT route, 5.1 makes a whole lot more sense the silly 7.1 let's-sell-more-speakers route (unless you have a huge and perfect dedicated listening room, but that is a different thing altogether).

    In the same vein, if you get rear speakers there really is no reason to get the same sized ones as the fronts. The rear output is mostly more ambient, so do get the same brand and series, but just the smaller, cheaper ones. The sub is producing the bomb blasts anyway.

    All this is, once again, for an apartment. If you have a real dedicated listening room in your McMansion, or a real mansion, then you need the size and power.

    Lastly, and maybe most important, get a receiver that has a microphone system for tuning it to your room!!!!!! This makes it soooo much better!!!

    If you go the HT route, or plan to do that, get a receiver that connects with HDMI single-cables. You simply can plug in the HDMI TV, the satellite/cable box, the Apple TV, the BluRay, etc. Have enough connections for any device you might be getting.

    Especially for an HT system, get a Harmony One or similar all-in-one remote!!! Otherwise you will have to juggle maybe five remotes. For a simple two-channel stereo the remote that comes with the unit will be fine.

    As for brands...there will be no agreement, ever. The cheezy WallofChinaMart stuff is awful on all levels. The tricky, magical systems are good only if you Believe. Again, for most people simple, solid middle-priced systems are excellent performers and will be good for years. The electronics then become a matter of features, style, price and reliability. Read Amazon reviews not because the reviewers are so knowledgeable, but because you will read about how mad they are that Brand X receivers break down after a few months, or that customer service is good or bad.

    Like everyone says, speakers are what you listen to and they all sound different, unlike the electronics whose sound differences are subtle in the same price class. I would read as many professional reviews as possible. I wouldn't necessarily go by any one review, but in time you will find a consensus about a brand or line of speakers.

    When you read professional reviews you must learn to read between the lines. Stereo magazines, etc. do not want to alienate advertisers, so criticisms are expressed more in the lack of enthusiasm that in anything directly critical. If rival reviewers agree that the Mark !V SuperTurboBass with Advanced Gas Flame tweeters (yes, for the least amount of inertia and such) are the best speakers they ever listened to, then you have to pay attention to that.
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    I was just thinking that since the custom car stereo market was so much larger the speakers would be better than those for custom cabinets which is a much smaller market. Assuming I matched up the speakers well. Though I did get a great Pioneer 15" (for home stereos) to replace a blown unit in one of my mothers Harmon Kardon towers and the two speakers matched up great together even though one still used the original sub (the Pioneer was the closest match available).

    So I probably will just get the speakers made for home stereo use. Though I will be building my own cabinet as I want it to match those Harmon Kardon's with a 15" sub, 4 mids and 2 tweeters per speaker.

    Just use them as a podiums for lamps or other knick knacks to be displayed upon. Problem solved for floor space used.

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