In 1998 our family boom box sputtered its last sound and died. After the memorial service, I suggested to my wife we splurge and buy a full stereo system. With her blessing, and a snug budget of $1,500, the shopping began.
Little did I know I was going to step into a kind of hell on earth I didn't know existed. So many speaker choices, dozens of them, and all displayed in an acoustically engineered showroom that didn't begin to resemble my family room. Then there was the sales shpiel, droned by a commissioned salesman I was sure had just been lifted out of a car seat, and who flat lined every time I asked a tough question. But it was the markup that made me swallow my tongue. I used to build speakers in high school. I knew what the parts cost, and I knew if I paid the retail price, I would essentially be buying the distribution channel, not the speakers themselves.