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The Best Home Stereo Systems

Take Out The Earbuds And Listen Like A Man

I like music. You like music. We all like music. If you’re just puttering around the house, you can get by with earbuds and everything will sound fine. But, when making love to your lady, getting her to put in one earbud while you use the other just loses that romance in “Let’s Get It On,” not to mention any stereophonic effects.

You need something more than earbuds. You need a home sound system.

Of course, if you’ve gone down this road in times not so long ago, you probably have anywhere from a three to a three hundred CD changer so that you can listen to all of your CDs at once. Now, those tunes are all loaded in your laptop or iPod, minus of course that Jimmy Eat World CD that you just couldn’t bring yourself to waste waiting ten minutes for it to download.

So, to choose speakers for your music, first we have to know what we’re looking to buy. Fortunately, “How Stuff Works” gives us a primer on, not surprisingly, how speakers work. To simplify, speakers imitate the vibrations that a microphone picks up in a recording in order to play it back. Drivers are the pieces that cause the speakers vibrations and the more drivers you have for different ranges of sound (woofers for bass, tweeters for high notes, etc.) the better the sound. For just a speaker to hook up to your iPod let’s minimize price and maximize drivers.

Immediately looking at CNET, the Logitech S715i pops up immediately and hits the right notes with a $150 price tag

Better than earbuds

Better than earbuds

and eight drivers. Looking at the rest of their listings for iPod speakers, you can get up to $200, $300 or even $600. When the big drawbacks include not having a clock or radio, it sounds like a great place to start with simple good sound. I mean are you really planning on watching the clock when you’re with your lady?

If $150 is too much, you can just go bare bones with one speaker and get the Altec Lansing Octiv Mini M102 for $50. Will it offer you the range of sound that the Logitech will? No. Will you really care in the middle of your throes of passion? No. Will you like the extra $100 in your pocket? Yes.

But, you’re still dealing with a simple solution. Where are the controls to fiddle with so you can get the sweetest sound to your ears? You’ll need a receiver. Where are the sound devices the size of small hippopotami? Well, you’ll need speakers, regardless of how they compare with African river mammals. But, before going down this road, be aware that you’ll spend a lot of money and you’ll want to be sure that you have compatibility with your TV and many other bells and whistles as you’ll be well on your way to creating a home theater sound system.

Again, CNET has delivered us with a fine list of both receivers and speakers. If you have brand preferences, you’ll probably want to browse the list and look at the specs yourself. (That way you can figure out your own stomach for the prices – combined you could spend at least $1,000.) At the top of the list though was a model that caught my eye for the simple reason that it said, “easy iPod connectivity.” The Pioneer VSX-1020-K can connect your iPod via USB, so if you want quick access to your tunes, you’re there for about $500.

As for the speakers, the ones that caught my eye were the Energy RC-Micro 5.1. First of all, they are small and unobtrusive and second, they cost only about $400 while delivering great sound. Four satellite speakers and the center channel speaker each have two drivers and the subwoofer has one driver for your bass.

This is just a start and I know you can travel down the sound road and find even bigger and better receivers and speakers so that you can have a system that sounds better in your home than your local multiplex or concert venue. I wish you the best in your journey, but for me, I’ll just stick with a basic setup for my iPod right now and leave the professional sound for when I go out.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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