Q I recently purchased the GoldenEar Aon 3 speakers you recommended. The guy at the local independent audio store said the sound of any bookshelf speaker is better on a speaker stand, so we bought them. Is that for real, or are speaker stands a high-margin item like an expensive HDMI cable?
A You should go back to the store and thank the person who sold you the speaker stands.
Although many speakers are called "bookshelf speakers," a better term for them would be "stand-mounted speakers." A speaker stand will provide solid support, allow the speaker to be placed out in the room where it can "breathe" and provide the best sonic performance. You also have practically unlimited placement flexibility.
Given the $999 price and class-leading performance of the Aon 3 speakers, I consider the speaker stands to be practically mandatory.
Given my harsh words about high-priced HDMI cables a few weeks ago, I would like to follow up with the other side of the coin in regard to accessories and the retailer.
Your local retailer was definitely giving you good advice and deserves your support. Margins on electronics are mighty low these days, and accessories are a higher-margin item that helps specialty retailers stay in business. There's nothing wrong with making a profit, and if you don't support the store, it won't be around to support you.
I'm not saying to throw away money needlessly or to buy everything that is suggested. But if you're pleased with the service and experience, buying accessories from your local independent retailer is a good way to show your support. You will have a single place to return to if you need help, as well.
I come down pretty hard on high-priced HDMI cables and will continue to do so. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Given what I know, the audacity and dishonesty of the scam is extremely offensive. What makes it more frustrating is that I get e-mails from readers telling me someone tried to sell them a $100 HDMI cable to go with their $60 Blu-ray player.
Buying other accessories such as speaker stands, audio racks and media storage furniture is another story. These accessories have genuine merit, and the products your specialty retailer has are much better than what you find in furniture and department stores, too.No worries for TV tuner
Q My girlfriend saw a USB HDTV tuner stick that lets you watch network TV on your computer laptop. She was afraid that it would use up too much of her monthly bandwidth so she didn't get it. Is there any way to use one without running up a big data bill?
A The TV tuner stick doesn't use any bandwidth, because it doesn't connect to the Internet. It uses an antenna to receive free broadcasts over the airwaves, or even unencrypted cable TV that she might already be paying for. The Internet connection won't come into play at all. Just plug the tuner stick into the computer, attach a cable line or antenna to the other end, install the software and you're ready to go.