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Is mid level home theater dead? (1 Viewer)

Dave>h

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I recently walked into my local Best Buy (Victoria, Canada) and noticed a few things:

  1. Basically no AV amplifiers for sale, there might have been 3 Onkyo for sale but nthing else
  2. No Home Theater Room - pretty much completely dismantled, no TV, Amps to try, speakers etc.
  3. No movies to buy except a few new releases and Marvel catalogue items
  4. No stand alone speakers
Anyone else seeing this?

It seems the only Home theater equipment available was sound bars and subs but no dedicated home theater stuff at all.

Curious what other peopel's take is no this. Maybe it is just Best Buy getting our of the market here? Not sure...

Thanks for the input,

Dave
 

JWC1969

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Agree that inventory is thin. However, my local BB definitely has a bunch of Denons and Sonys available in the AVR section. So not a total loss. If one has a BB with a Magnolia (I don't), it's a totally different story. Was in one the other day. High end AVRs, speakers from Martin Logan and Bowers&Wilkins, etc. Night and day between what they carry in those stores within the BB stores and your random BB.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Haven't really bothered checking big box CE superstores like BB for HT gear, except TVs/displays, in almost forever now. They've never really been all that good for that anyway... though I suppose (what you call) "mid level HT" was never really quite the range that interested me all that much beyond the entry-ish level Yamaha AVR I bought to use as an inexpensive, temp prepro solution (that ended up lasting me quite a few years) during the early days of Blu-ray -- that and the entry level Technics DD/DTS decoder I bought during the early days of DVD before that. But I didn't buy that/those from BB, et al anyway since there were much better deals online and BB, et al didn't add any value to shopping for such w/ them... and it's probably been that way since the dotcom boom near the early days of DVD which I'm guessing has really caught up to them for mainstream shoppers who were previously in the market, but didn't know any better...

Nowadays, there's also much less interest from mainstream consumers... as CE evolved while they gravitate toward simpler, cheaper and/or smaller and less obtrusive, etc and embrace streaming over physical media (for both video and audio)...

And the pandemic and recovery aftermath seem to have further crippled "mid level HT" interest for BB, et al so far as well...

More or less as before, your best bet is still/again shopping dedicated boutique HT shops or etailers instead.

_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Agree that inventory is thin. However, my local BB definitely has a bunch of Denons and Sonys available in the AVR section. So not a total loss. If one has a BB with a Magnolia (I don't), it's a totally different story. Was in one the other day. High end AVRs, speakers from Martin Logan and Bowers&Wilkins, etc. Night and day between what they carry in those stores within the BB stores and your random BB.

I was never impressed w/ BB's Magnolia section even during their peak, but they certainly seem to have cut back a lot last I briefly checked/noted several months back.

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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If one has a BB with a Magnolia (I don't), it's a totally different story.

True but I think the trend is evident there as well. Greater ATL, where I live, has three Magnolia locations. I recently visited one hoping to see JVC and Sony projector demo's. Both were supposed to be available according to their website. When I arrived the Sony was nowhere to be found and they couldn't get the JVC to work. I drove 55 miles for this. When I asked if either was available at one of the other area locations they said both of those were in the process of being renovated.

I do know of two nice [one is world class] showrooms in my area but they are only interested in total integration projects, not individual component sales. The high end place has a minimum starting point of $25K before they'll even accept the project and is generally not even open to the public. I was only offered a tour through some industry connections.

It's a disturbing trend that's been getting progressively worse ever since Micro$oft abandoned WMC.
 

John Dirk

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But I didn't buy that/those from BB, et al anyway since there were much better deals online and BB, et al didn't add any value to shopping for such w/ them
That's all well and good for items with objective and verifiable specs but some things you really need to see and hear before committing to a purchase. I find the trend towards online-only channels very disturbing.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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That's all well and good for items with objective and verifiable specs but some things you really need to see and hear before committing to a purchase. I find the trend towards online-only channels very disturbing.

Thing is BB, et al had never really been good places to really "see and hear" though. IF one really needs to "see and hear" first, best to go shop at a dedicated boutique store instead -- BB won't likely save you any meaningful $$$, if at all, on the same gear compared to the boutique stores anyway.

In the case of audio, nothing beats trying out the gear in your own actual space/setup (for fairly substantial time) anyway. Meanwhile, "objective and verifiable" seems largely achievable enough for the video side.

And nowadays, most reputable online dealers offer good trial/return policies... much like reputable B&M shops.

I'm not suggesting just plain trial-and-error buying online of course, but IMHO, one can gather a decent sense of what may or may not work well at all before buying in order to reduce the "errors" and needing to return...

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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Thing is BB, et al had never really been good places to really "see and hear" though. IF one really needs to "see and hear" first, best to go shop at a dedicated boutique store
Fair point but "if that's all we got" it's disconcerting to see them apparently scaling back... As for boutique stores, I think that's the point here. Outside of Value Electronics in your area, I don't know of any. I used to, but no more.
In the case of audio, nothing beats trying out the gear in your own actual space/setup (for fairly substantial time) anyway. Meanwhile, "objective and verifiable" seems largely achievable enough for the video side.
Again, true about that being the "best" option but it's usually not easily achievable, especially with higher end products. I flew at my own expense to the home of a generous fellow enthusiast to audition the Legacy Focus SE's before purchase precisely because there wasn't a more expedient way to experience them.
And nowadays, most reputable online dealers offer good trial/return policies... much like reputable B&M shops.
To my knowledge this is simply not true. SVS is the only major player I'm aware of that offers truly risk-free trials. I'm sure there are a few others but I don't think "most" dealers are doing this by any means on the audio side and I can't think of a single one doing it for projectors.
 

Wayne_j

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I recently walked into my local Best Buy (Victoria, Canada) and noticed a few things:

  1. Basically no AV amplifiers for sale, there might have been 3 Onkyo for sale but nthing else
  2. No Home Theater Room - pretty much completely dismantled, no TV, Amps to try, speakers etc.
  3. No movies to buy except a few new releases and Marvel catalogue items
  4. No stand alone speakers
Anyone else seeing this?

It seems the only Home theater equipment available was sound bars and subs but no dedicated home theater stuff at all.

Curious what other peopel's take is no this. Maybe it is just Best Buy getting our of the market here? Not sure...

Thanks for the input,

Dave
My local Best Buy renovated and was closed for several months. When they re-opened they had no movies at all, not even new releases. Part of the store is still under construction so that could change some. I do think they are still supposed to have a Magnolia center when they are finished.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Fair point but "if that's all we got" it's disconcerting to see them apparently scaling back... As for boutique stores, I think that's the point here. Outside of Value Electronics in your area, I don't know of any. I used to, but no more.

Again, true about that being the "best" option but it's usually not easily achievable, especially with higher end products. I flew at my own expense to the home of a generous fellow enthusiast to audition the Legacy Focus SE's before purchase precisely because there wasn't a more expedient way to experience them.

For audiophile level gear, that's always been the case though -- there's always been an audiophile community willing/looking to share in such ways, which is also why there's long been a fairly strong 2ndary market for such gear.

Meanwhile, BB, et al have never been an option for such gear.

Granted, there used to be more boutique shops, but there also weren't much, if any, mail-order/online options back then.

To my knowledge this is simply not true. SVS is the only major player I'm aware of that offers truly risk-free trials. I'm sure there are a few others but I don't think "most" dealers are doing this by any means on the audio side and I can't think of a single one doing it for projectors.

Pretty sure all the audiophile level/wannabe companies/dealers offer some sort of reasonably good return policy even though they might not cover shipping costs like SVS does. That's (very) long been the case AFAIK.

Both ELAC and Emotiva as well as Hsu do for instance... though they don't cover (all?) shipping costs on returns. D-Sonic, your amp maker, also offers a reasonable return policy... though they apparently charge a 10% restocking fee.

Like I said, I'm not suggesting for anyone to do (brute-force) "plain trial-and-error" approach to shopping for such gear (and buy-try-and-return everything in rather careless/entitled manner). Many/most audiophiles have (just about) always even simply treat their whole hobby as inclusive of the whole (frequent) shopping (and auditioning) experience, including buying-trying-and-selling (and trading) regularly on the 2ndary market.

None of this is all that new at all for the audiophile community. Perhaps, we merely experienced a "bubble" in the AV gear shopping experience (along w/ other bubbles) over a 10-20-year peak/plateau in the recent past, and now, we're maybe just trending back toward what would probably always be the norm for this hobby (much like many other hobbies)...

_Man_
 

uncledougie

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My local Best Buy renovated and was closed for several months. When they re-opened they had no movies at all, not even new releases. Part of the store is still under construction so that could change some. I do think they are still supposed to have a Magnolia center when they are finished.
I fail to understand what the management at Best Buy corporate think their customer base is and what and how often they’ll be buying things if they don’t have discs, mid priced audio gear, including receivers, speakers, etc. Audio- and videophiles shouldn’t have to be wealthy enough to hire home theater designers and installers to enjoy top rate surround sound and 4K films. A very nice setup can be had for what amounts to a bargain considering modern quality of electronics, which may not achieve that last 5-10% of perfection, but can be quite satisfying without breaking the bank. My current main living room home theater has many items purchased at Best Buy, including the Sony 65” Z9D set, a middle level Yamaha Aventage Dolby Atmos receiver, Klipsch Atmos speakers and wireless subwoofer, Sony UBP X800-2 4K player. Speakers are Paradigm towers I bought for a song at an estate sale (sold my old smaller Paradigms on the local neighborhood app), and the setup even includes an old Pioneer laserdisc player. This is what I would deem a middle of the road system, but none of it cost a fortune, and though maybe high enders would find fault with some of it, it does the job very nicely. This level of technology ought to be readily available to a wide swath of consumers. I’d much rather patronize a local retailer, securing local jobs and enjoying hands on looks at what I’m buying, being able to compare ergonomics, picture quality, etc. If there are no local retailers and we are left to the uncertainties of delivery of items passing through the hands of many people who may not be too particular the way they handle containers, it’s a real loss to the consumer. Not to mention it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm surfing and clicking instead of dedicating time to get out of the house for an important purchase.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I fail to understand what the management at Best Buy corporate think their customer base is and what and how often they’ll be buying things if they don’t have discs, mid priced audio gear, including receivers, speakers, etc.

Unfortunately, maybe the reality is they're realizing there's actually just not enough $$$ to be made in this bizz (to satisfy their particular bottomline anyway), so they're scaling back until the bizz at least breaks even (or better) for them.

Disc sales had probably more often than not been loss leaders... and mainstream consumers have been shifting toward streaming in recent years. And mainstream interest in the overall bizz (besides streaming itself) just seems to have been flagging and dwindling for a long while now.

_Man_
 

GeorgeHolland

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I was a big customer of Magnolia Hi Fi, a local Seattle area company at the time that had a number of well stocked stores with nice demo rooms and most of my desired brands. Once Best Buy bought them I don't think I ever purchased AV equipment from them again.
 

John Dirk

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Meanwhile, BB, et al have never been an option for such gear.
...Until the Magnolia stores came along. The one I visited recently had audiophile-level gear from the likes of McIntosh, SVS, B&W, KEF, JVC and Elac, [among others] on display and available for audition.
Pretty sure all the audiophile level/wannabe companies/dealers offer some sort of reasonably good return policy even though they might not cover shipping costs like SVS does. That's (very) long been the case AFAIK.
I can't fault the return policies of most audiophile-level companies such as D-Sonic or Emotiva but, especially for heavy items like speakers and amps, return shipping is a significant expense and can make potential returns very costly. Of course, this is reasonable and SVS likely builds the return shipping into their initial price to some extent but I still prefer their method.
None of this is all that new at all for the audiophile community. Perhaps, we merely experienced a "bubble" in the AV gear shopping experience (along w/ other bubbles) over a 10-20-year peak/plateau in the recent past, and now, we're maybe just trending back toward what would probably always be the norm for this hobby (much like many other hobbies)...
Great points and possibly so. I realized while writing this that your experience may be a little different than most due to the unique nature of NYC. It's about the only place stateside I know of where real boutique style businesses still exist in significant numbers.
 

John Dirk

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I understand what WMC was, but I don’t understand the correlation between a defunct piece of software, Best Buy employees, the poor state of Magnolia, and custom high end integration showrooms.
Ah. Sorry. Didn't mean to be condescending. For me they all tie together as part of the decline of our hobby on a mainstream level. @ManW_TheUncool brings up a good point in that high end Home Theater and audio have always been niche hobbies anyway but I really do wish it were easier to audition high end gear such as processors, speakers and projectors. Magnolia is the closest thing to that [in my area] being reality so seeing them scale back concerns me.
 

Jason Goodmanson

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I was a big customer of Magnolia Hi Fi, a local Seattle area company at the time that had a number of well stocked stores with nice demo rooms and most of my desired brands. Once Best Buy bought them I don't think I ever purchased AV equipment from them again.
Same. There was a Magnolia in Tacoma (where I'm from) that I thought was really good. Thanks for confirming the PNW connection too - I wasn't sure if I imagined that or not.
 

Walter Kittel

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I am going to go on a bit of tangent here...

I recall many years ago when the main outlet for discretionary income as it pertains to electronics was audio. We are talking about the period before home computers, video games, home video recordings, larger televisions (anything over 25" on a 4:3 AR), internet, etc. Sure there were plenty of other outlets, especially automobiles, but in terms of electronics it was mostly audio/music. I recall some fairly impressive (by '70s standards) audio systems that graced the homes of many of my friends. Some fairly serious turntables, amps, and speakers. Lots of tube amps.

As these other outlets came along, this had the effect of spreading discretionary income across more outlets and high end audio became more of a niche. I am not arguing against innovation :) but I do wonder if the same effect is occurring with mid-level home theater. Just a thought, no real data to back this up.

- Walter.
 

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