Well, over the last year or so, my Sony MHC-991AV shelf top mini stereo system has been fading. Purchased some time in the late 90's (I was throwing a party and decided it was time to upgrade from a boom box), it has served me well. Recently it's only function was to take the output from my TV via two RCA plugs, and pump them through some speakers to give the TV a little better sound. (That's what the "AV" in the name means, in case you missed that bit.) Well, about a year ago, it developed this nervous tic where when you turned it on, the 3 CD changer carousel would eject. We'd shove it back in. No big deal. Well about 2 months ago, it would only eject the tray so far, and then it would sit there, grinding with the little motor running.
Imagining our home bursting into flame one day, we decided to replace it. So, I went out looking for another shelf top system that would take audio input. How hard could it be, right? I was dreaming of coming in under $200. I'd paid about that 15 or more years ago, and electronics get cheaper as time goes on, right?
Well, since my 46" LCD doesn't have an iPod doc; no luv on the cheap stereo. It seems that the ubiquitous RCA plug that has been around since the 1930's isn't being added to much any more. I did find one $500 Sony system that was orange and chrome and neon lights and huge as a house. No thanks.
Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to look at "home theater" systems. Total overkill for me, really. I live in a condo with hard wood floors and neighbors all around. I don't need a THX certified rumble, I just need better sound than I'm getting out of the TV's dinky speakers. To justify the price bump, going "home theater" would also replace my aging 2nd gen Blu Ray player that took 5 minutes of stuttering and flashing to spool up a disk.
Searching and scouring both on-line and a couple different Best Buys & Targets, I finally decided to try Abt Electronics. On-line, it looked like they had a model that would do me just fine. Abt is a Chicagoland electronics store. "Store". Singular. And awesome.
Cora and I drove up there a few weeks ago (passing THIS on the way) to finally buy the replacement. Abt advertises all over, and has a loyal customer base. Walking in, you see the head shots of all the people who have written to them about how much they liked the store and the service. Yeah, there's a lot of local sports stars, and newscasters and such. And then you see Obama up there. But he's not the most impressing.
The nerd-gasm is seeing an older picture on the wall. The man was talking the praises of how they'd set up his living room system. He said that it looked like it had more knobs and switches than mission control in NASA, and they when they put in the laser disc (yes, laser disc) of "Apollo 13" it shook the house like you were there. And Jim Lovell should know. Astronauts are cool.
Abt is a huge, beautiful store full of wonder. And I don't mean "beautiful" from just a merchandise POV, the place makes you feel like you are shopping in a high end boutique shoppe. That happens to be the size of the flight deck on a aircraft carrier. We found the right department, and after explaining what I was looking for, the clerk showed me the LG LHB336.
It had everything we were looking for, except a $399 price tag. (Amazon lists it for $329). Oh, but wait, it's "open stock"? Meaning someone bought it and returned it? It's got the warrantee? It's just missing the box and packing I was going to throw out anyway? And you'll cut the price in HALF?!?!
Well, sir, I think you have a deal.
And things were going so well until I tried setting it up the next weekend.
To be continued…