Personal Budget for Home Entertainment Systems in America

Many of the newer audio and video systems for home entertainment systems have added many features the products. It is a minefield in trying to determine how much money must be allocated towards a system of ones choosing – especially when the consumer is not certain about the level or depth of the components may be desired.

Let’s take a look at the basic idea of a home entertainment system. There are really three general system ideas that are prevalent in the marketplace.

ONE: An audiophile system that is capable of High Fidelity reproduction of music. It consists of a stereophonic amplification system with two loudspeakers – maybe a subwoofer to extend the low frequencies – and a source device such as a CD player. This kind of system is for the serious music lover and is generally in a separate room or space from the tv or surround sound system associated with playback of video or multi-media programs.

TWO: Television and Video entertainment system – combining a television receiver, surround sound receiver and a set of loudspeakers. Usually contained within an entertainment room in the owners house and of great interest for television programs, movies, home video and other media programs. The number of loudspeakers is typically 6 – such as in a 5.1 playback environment: Front right, Front left, Rear right, Rear left and a subwoofer for reproduction of the low frequencies and special effects.

THREE: This is usually a variation of item TWO above but including a game system for home entertainment level games. The high level game player may be interested in PC based games also which requires a high performance PC for the more advanced game that are popular in the marketplace today.

Here we must talk about the range of product or classes of performance. Let us, in order to simplify the analysis, think of the consumer as being divided into three classes of seriousness of purchase: Good, Better and Best.

In category ONE above where the consumer is an audiophile and looking for a music system only the range of expense that will be needed can range from under $100 to as much as $5,000! A budget buyer can purchase a really good system from thrift stores for under $100 by shopping wisely. However, it is most likely the range for a “Good” system would range from, let’s say, $100 to $400.

A person in the “Better” category will need to allocate financial resources in the range or $400 to $1500. For example, a good amplification system will run $300 to $500 and a pair of speaker systems with subwoofer can easily fetch $1000 for “good” fidelity sound.

The “Best” sound which will satisfy the esoteric music lover can easily run up to $5,000 – or even more.

In category TWO above, we are talking more than just audio because it requires a flat screen LCD or LED television system. Depending on size the tv alone will run around $200 to $1000. Surround sound systems – all in one box like from Walmart or BestBuy can start at $100. So, for the lower end or “Good” category the range might well be around $400 to $1500 range.

The “Better” category of systems will run $1000 to around $3000. This level of system will have a larger screen, say up to 46″, 50 or even 55″. That alone will be $800 to $2000. The surround sound system will always be over $250 for a system of this quality. So, here we are easily up to $3000.

The “Best” category would likely be a 3-D television receiver with component grade surround sound which could not be gotten into for under $3000 and will easily build up to $10,000 range total for all the “stuff” necessary to complete the package.

OTHER: Keep in mind that cables, installation, system design and addition of game consoles would be extra for categories TWO and THREE. Installation can be a DIY project for those with the tools, the know-how and the desire. It is not an easy job to hook up everything, hide the wires, run them through walls, etc. Cabling and hookup connections can be down right aggravating if you have a complex system requirement for recording and time shifting, full motion cameras and so on. In a sophisticated system one may need the services of an engineer for system design.

CONCLUSION: We are looking at an investment of a minimum of a few hundred dollars and as high as several thousand dollars for a glorious and exciting comprehensive system with the very best performance parameters. We did not get into Internet connectivity but where that is desired another monthly cost must be added thereon.

For a person in the $120,000 annual salary class it should be expected that maybe one months salary could be a targeted budget for a system in the “Best” quality category.

Closing comment. This author recently desired a very “Better” grade audio system to add to a summer home – a system that would be used only for a few weeks out of the year. It was desired to be a low budget system but high performance. Solution: Visit a few thrift stores, watch Craigslist and follow a few threads on the Internet for good quality sound. Final purchase: Sony heavy, good quality pair of bookshelf speaker systems from Salvation Army for $5. A Kenwood receiver, 600 watts of power, from Craigslist for $40. Subwoofer with outstanding low frequency gut shaking bass output from Goodwill for $15. DVD/CD player new from discount store for $30. Conclusion: Very good sound quality with great power, thundering low frequency response all for under $100! You can’t beat that!

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