Do you have an audio and/or video enthusiast in your household but never know what to buy him or her as a gift? Kevin Kost suggests products which any budding audio and/or video enthusiast would be pleased to receive.
Here are a couple of recommendations for inexpensive gifts that are sure to tickle that favorite audiophile!
Sometimes equipment cannot perform up to its potential because of environmental factors that are often overlooked. I was nearly resigned to believing that the low frequency performance of my Golden Tube SE-40 amplifiers would always be on the loose side, until I tried isolating the amplifiers from the shelf I was using with Vibrapod" vibration isolation pods. BINGO! No more low-end problems!!! The performance of virtually every piece of equipment I have has been improved by Vibrapods, but with tube equipment they should be considered mandatory! Vibrapods retail for $6 each.
Assembling the best system for the money begins with *education*. Aside from just being *fun*, Ive always benefited from reading a variety of audio and home theater magazines, including ones that might not enjoy the widespread circulation of the industry leaders. I suggest going into your local high-end audio or home theater dealer and looking for the magazines they sell that you cant find in the grocery store. Magazines such as Fi or Speaker Builder can offer insight and information that eludes the mainstream publication.
Many times the easiest way to improve your audio or home theater system is to correctly adjust the equipment that you already have. By using some inexpensive test equipment to make these adjustments, you can arrive at settings that are based on standards, which should minimize the differences between different source materials. You can get started with only a sound level meter from Radio Shack and the Video Essentials laserdisc or DVD, and whatever test CD you can find.
One of the best ways to get the most for your money, especially for the hobbyist is to make the most of used and demo equipment. In fact, Ive outfitted my 2500 watt Dolby Digital home theater almost exclusively with equipment that I didnt buy new.
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If this is an avenue that you think youd like to pursue, it is important to be able to evaluate the price of equipment purchases. Most people are familiar with blue book values when selling or purchasing automobiles, but few realize that this same type of reference material exists for audio equipment. Unless you are willing to constantly monitor the appropriate internet newsgroups to track equipment prices (as I do), you will benefit greatly by obtaining a copy of the Orion Blue Book: Audio 1999 from Orion Research. ISBN 0932089933. You can order this item from Amazon.com for $200. Its a great way to get a feel for current equipment prices, and to judge how different equipment retains its value! http://www.amazon.com/
If you are looking for speakers that are compact yet absolutely of audiophile grade, youd be hard pressed to better spend $600 than on a pair of Polk Audio RT25 speakers paired with their PSW 120 subwoofer. Ive had the privilege of hearing the set that John Potis had for his SMR review, and I cant think of any alternatives that provide anywhere near this performance at this price point.
Text © Kevin Kost; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © SMR Home Theatre, John R. Potis Jr., & Kevin Kost, cannot be reproduced without permission. The images on this page are digitally watermarked: Digimarc http://www.digimarc.com/
Last updated 21 December, 1999
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