Sound Advice: Leave well enough alone

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Question: I have a question about my audio system, which is rather old but still puts out good sound. (At least it sounds good to me!) I'm wondering if it is a decent system, and also about each of the components and their quality. I have Bose 601 speakers, a Pioneer VSX D608 receiver, and a Philips CDR 775 CD player. I just use it for normal music listening. I also run my TV sound through it. Should I replace it?


Excelsior, Minn.

Answer: It sounds like you are pretty happy with the sound of your system now and it is serving your needs. One lesson I have learned over the years from my own experiences with electronics and photography is, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it."

Your best bet may be to keep the status quo and keep enjoying what you have until something breaks, and then treat yourself to some new gear.

It's easy to recommend upgrades to enthusiasts, but when someone isn't pursuing it as a hobby and is pretty satisfied with what they currently have, then sometimes it is best not to rock the boat.

Of course, if you are not satisfied or really want to make a big jump in quality and are willing to make the investment, then it is easy to suggest you go down the upgrade path.

The biggest change would come from changing the speakers. The Pioneer SP-FS-52LR has great sound for only $250 per pair. A huge upgrade would be the Arx A3rx-c for $539 per pair. You can see these speakers at and

A newer receiver would allow you to use HDMI connections, which will make it much easier to use to play television sound. My favorite receiver for under $500 is the Marantz NR-1403 for $399. Some other good choices are the Onkyo HT-RC-430 for $279 or Pioneer VSX-523 for $249. See them at, and

If you get an HDMI receiver, I'd spend an extra $100 or so and get a Blu-ray player, too. The Panasonic models are my favorites.

Correction (Posted Feb. 4, 2014) An earlier of this version incorrectly did not include the letter writer's description of his equipment.

Read product reviews by Don Lindich at

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