Last night, I reaffirmed my belief that a lot of people are probably spending waaaaay too much on high-end audio gear. If you're one of these people who absolutely has to have the top of the line gear for your home audio system, you're probably paying top dollar for equipment that produces sound only marginally better than cheaper alternatives. Over the weekend, I hooked up my surround-sound receiver/amplifier to my TV and found out that the expensive speaker system I had purchased a couple years ago was pretty much kaput - must've been knocked around too much during the move. My center channel speaker was buzzy and my two rear satellites were distorting something fierce.
So I went to Best Buy and looked around at some of the speaker systems they were selling. Many of these were over $1,000, but I decided on a speaker system from KLH that was around $150. It included six satellites and a powered subwoofer. Upon getting home and swapping out the satellites, I put Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones into my DVD player and was totally blown away by the distortion-free sound. I watched only the first 20 minutes or so, and even my Mom was impressed with the way starships seemed to streak from one end of the room to the other. It was pretty loud, but the speakers just wouldn't distort or clip or anything.
Now, what additional benefit could I have gotten if I had blown $500 or $1,000 on new speakers? Maybe the ability to blast the sound to the point that my neighbors called the cops. Maybe a premium label to impress houseguests with. Other than that, not much else.
Listen to the stuff in the stores. If it sounds good, it IS good. And forget about spending an arm and a leg to get the latest Bose Acoustimass system or whatnot. It's overkill.