Bookshelf speakers

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 6, 2017, 11:00 AM | comments: 0

Way back in college, my dad gave me his old receiver, and I parked it in my dorm room. My academic advisor bought a nice pair of bookshelf speakers, and gave me his very old Radio Shack speakers to use with the receiver. I had to glue the cone back into the driver once, but otherwise, these beat up old speakers served me pretty well and sounded pretty good, even loud. The receiver was pretty old, but it had this satisfying knob on it to tune the radio. It was really heavy, and when you gave it a good whirl, the momentum carried it half way across the dial.

That receiver started to cut out on one side after a year, but I had the speakers for another three years before I bought a nice pair of Bose bookshelf speakers. They've made variations of the 301 series for decades now, and I've had mine for about 20 years. They sound fantastic to this day, and I think at this point they've been connected to at least four receivers. I also have a nice center channel speaker that sort of matches them, and that one is probably 18 years in service.

These days, TV's are gigantic, and the size of the picture always seems to be a stronger consideration than the sound. Thin TV's generally have crappy speakers, and despite some bending of physics to help, they never sound very good. But people don't typically buy big tower speakers or "sound systems" anymore either, because you don't need a rack of components as you did back in the day (receiver, VCR, DVD player, cassette deck, CD changer, etc.) since your media all comes from a little box you can pretty much hide out of sight. At best, people are buying these sound bar things, which sound OK, and try to fake directional surround sound by phase tricks. That works OK if you're sitting in just the right spot, but these devices still can't match the directional sound and range that larger, dedicated speakers can.

For me, once every device I had to plug into a TV supported HDMI cables, that was the point at which I bought a receiver that could switch on those cables and I watched and listened to everything via amplified sound to my old reliable 301's (and a subwoofer, of course). When we built this house, we had them install a couple of rear channel speakers in the ceiling, which sound OK.

The reason I'm thinking about this is that I'm sure we'll have an opportunity at our next house to decorate again, but it's still important to me to have my bookshelf speakers. Tiny speakers and sound bars just don't sound as good, especially when watching movies or listening to the Hamilton Mixtape.


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