As happens on a regular basis, I got a call this week from a friend asking for advice about upgrading their home theater system. After years of delay, they had finally purchased a nice 50-inch plasma for their family room, but other than a DVD player had nothing else.
I asked some questions about their needs and priorities; they wanted it to look nice but were more interested in sound quality than aesthetics. They did not want sub-par equipment, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money either. All very reasonable points. After a little more discussion, I suggested two 5.1 speaker systems from manufacturers that, in my opinion, had an excellent price/value ratio. Both systems sold for about $2,000. My friend literally gasped at the price. He makes a very nice living, but the idea of spending $2,000 on speakers was shocking. He’d seen complete packages—ones sold by big box stores—for less than $500. I tried to explain that, at that price point, you get what you pay for. It didn’t seem to make a difference.
This is a common experience. People want a quality home theater, but when they weigh the cost of attaining it, quality often comes out on the wrong side of the ledger. It is important to respect people’s choices as to where they spend their money, especially when disposable income is a scarce resource. But sometimes, especially at the lower end of the market segment, those few extra dollars can translate into a different level of enjoyment.