Cheap Dave's Home Theater


5 things to avoid when buying you HT system

Here are some pitfalls that I see:

1) Avoid feeling bad about spending more than you can afford

2) Avoid making impulse buys, unless it is a great deal and you know for sure it is a great deal.

Here are some pitfalls that I see:

1) Avoid feeling bad about spending more than you can afford

2) Avoid making impulse buys, unless it is a great deal and you know for sure it is a great deal.

3) Avoid buying more technology than you need, or not enough.

4) Avoid techno-babble double talk

5) Avoid putting you home theater off into the never gonna happen future

1) Going into a high end store with nothing but a checkbook and a vague idea is a recipe for disaster. If your first experience in the stereo store is in the "high end" speaker room you may get the impression that good speakers start at $1500 each and go up from there. There will probably be a good salesman there to confirm that belief. Obviously if you don't want to spend that kind of money it is a reflection of your lack of knowledge and appreciation for the finer things. Look walking into a stereo store without doing your homework is like walking into a car dealership and saying "I really need a new car today and I don't care how much it costs as long as I can make payments".

2) Once you have made some general decisions start watching those products you are interested in and see what the prices ranges are. Some electronic components like receivers have a relatively low mark up and don't go on sale very often. Others like speakers have a higher mark up and you might find a good deal if you are patient. Also don't be so set on just one exact brand or model that you pass up a better deal on something comparable.

3) I talk elsewhere about 1080P and DLP vs. LCD, HDTV etc. A lot of the latest technology can be a little baffling at first. Also these things aren't implemented instantly across the board. If you had jumped on HDTV 5 years ago you would have paid a premium price and had almost nothing to watch. The same can be said right now for 1080P and HD-DVD. These things will become more common but you can afford to wait a little while for them. At the same time you can get rid of the top loader VCR now.

4) I once had a deep conversation about the virtue of expensive speaker wire with a Home Depot employee who was passing on information to me that he had heard from a salesman at a high end stereo store. He know firmly believed that the sound travels down the outer surface of the wire and you really needed the higher end wire to get the full effect. I talked to one of my electrical engineering friends and he said the guy was partly right. But these so called "skin effects" happen in the megahertz range, way outside the realm of human hearing. Just make sure to set your BS detector to high before getting into a debate with a salesman. If it isn't something you can hear you probably don't need it.

5) I think people get intimidated by all of these things and their response is to do nothing until some magical date in the future when they think they will be able to afford their dream system. That is no way to live. Look at what you want, decide what you don't need, think what you can afford and see if you can do it in steps. In my article "The Home theater Experience and the Cheap Dave Philosophy" I give my basic philosophy and what I would do right now with $300. The HT experience is about experience, enjoy it now or soon not 10 years from now.