— 10:57 PM on October 19, 2003

I've had my current component stereo system for about 15 years now, and I think it's time to replace it. However, being an old fart, I am mostly flummoxed by the consumer stereo systems on sale at the local Best Buy. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am computer geek, and I understand most of the technologies involved. However, I can't wade through the odd set of choices I'm presented. (I mainly use this system for TV and DVD audio, not just listening to music.) I can buy one of several five-speaker "home theater" systems with amps matched to speakers, but they all come with built-in DVD players. Those DVD players generally suck; they're not progressive scan, and I already have a decent DVD player with optical audio outputs and progressive scan. Not what I'm after. There are a few more conventional home theater system setups for sale, but they either lack key features or seem very pricey. Something like this seems close to what I need, but I'm put off by the fact there's only one or two choices in this class of system on the shelves.

I could go for the Logitech Z-680 or something similar. I kind of like the idea of matched amps and speakers. But these setups don't seem to have enough inputs, or enough input-switching capabilities, to anchor a typical home entertainment center setup. Again, not exactly what I'm after.

I'm getting the creeping feeling what I need must cost well, well upwards of $500 and come with a vaguely threatening German compound name. Has the middle of this market evaporated, leaving only highly integrated crap and exotic, expensive audiophile toys, or am I just shopping at the wrong store?

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