Monday, October 19, 2015

Got rid of a surround sound receiver

Like many, I have too much clutter, and it's time for the excess to go bye-bye. So recently I've been trying to do a little downsizing.

The decisions of what goes, however, are often difficult. More than once I've ended up thinking something like this:  When did I last use it? Oh, that long ago?!? Will I use this again? If I get rid of it, and find that I do need this item, how hard will it be to replace? Maybe I'd better keep it just in case... Oh, wait! I thought that last month ago, and decided if I were still flip-flopping this month, it would go. I sure...

Sometimes I wish I had a set of the complete recordings of Lawrence Welk. On 8 Track. Just to have one easy downsizing decision.

One of the easier decisions was a surround sound receiver.

I've never really done anything with home theater. Indeed, I was solidly stereo for many years. Around 2000, if you had asked me if I'd do home theater, I'd probably have said: "Not in the foreseeable future. If I make any investments in audio equipment, it would make more sense to improve the existing stereo system."

Obviously, my attitude changed when I got this surround sound receiver. Well, my attitude didn't really change. What did change was that home theater receivers had become dirt cheap in thrift shops. The shelves that once groaned under a plethora of old, well-worn stereo receivers now often held surround sound receivers. It was possible to pick up a receiver that was $500+ new for less than $20.

Of course, these receivers aren't going to be what audiophile types would look for when creating a reference surround sound system. But I do see decent receivers that are the sort audiophiles might buy for a second system that will mostly be used for movies and maybe background music. And this was what I ended up getting.

Of course, before I could do surround sound, I'd need more than a dirt cheap receiver. I would need speakers, any required stands, and cabling. My intention was to go cheap. I didn't want orphaned used bookshelf system speakers, of course. But I definitely wanted low cost. However, the right products never seemed to come along at the right price.

And so the receiver collected dust. At some point, I began losing interest in the idea of surround sound. I have limited space. I like having one system that handles both music and movies. I don't want to make large compromises in musical integrity. I don't have a pile of cash to throw at the problem. And right now I'm tending to like a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) philosophy.

The only good argument I had for surround sound was "artist intention." Modern movies are intended to be viewed with surround sound. Yet, even that wasn't a compelling argument. I don't have much interest in those movies that are nothing but 90 minutes of special effects, as air planes crash into each other, and monsters terrorize downtown LA. The movies I tend to watch would benefit less. (For that matter, some would not benefit at all, since they predate surround sound!)

So I came to realize the benefits of surround sound weren't enough. At least, not at this point in time. So the receiver went on its merry way. Irritating, because even though I got it for next to nothing, I got zero use out of my investment.

Or did I get zero use?

Perhaps there was value in one way: I probably wouldn't have given so much thought to the value of surround sound for me if I hadn't had that receiver. The questions I asked myself - and the realizations I made - are incredibly valuable.

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