The Art of Marital Compromise: Home Audio

Have you ever heard a woman rave about her surround sound system? Gush about the quality of her amazing subwoofer? Make you sit and listen to the powerful sound system she had installed in her car?

Me either.

I've decided audio is a man thing. I'm sure there are some women who are really into it, but for the most part, we don't care. Women usually don't see any need to upgrade the sound system that comes with our car or new TV. Men, on the other hand, can obsess over these audio details.

My husband is a bonafide audiophile. He can hear the difference between high quality sound systems and the kind that come with the TV. He looks at me in disbelief when I say something like, "It all sounds the same to me" while standing in the Magnolia section of Best Buy.

So anyway, this Mars/Venus situation came to a head when the husband went to an estate sale and came home with this gigantic home audio system for our den.

That's a lot of ugly black speakers, am I right?! Who needs a 10-piece surround sound system for a relatively small room?

As you can imagine, I didn't love the home audio system. After all, we spent so much time fixing up the den – painting everything, including the built-ins; installing new travertine; styling up those pretty shelves – and I knew those bulky black speakers were going to be distracting.

Here's the thing: I didn't want to squash the husband's hopes and dreams about having a nice home audio system. I know that is very important to him, even though I could care less. He was really excited about the new system and kept showing his friends how powerful it was. (It was LOUD. REALLY LOUD.)

I got lucky, though. The husband decided on his own that the speakers were too big for the room. (Sweet relief!) We decided to sell them on Craigslist, and I told him to keep looking for a sound system that was less intrusive and still gave us the home theater vibe that he wanted.

We actually made a profit when we sold them on Craigslist (he bought them for $390 at the estate sale and sold them for $600). I love it when that happens. And then he stalked Craigslist until he found a guy selling much sleeker, smaller and higher-quality surround sound speakers that I could handle, which are now mounted on the wall beside our TV.

These Paradigm "center, left and right channel speakers," as the husband calls them, retail for about $900, but we bought them for $300 from a really nice guy who was renovating an awesome old house in historic Dallas. It was kind of hilarious because he and Scott were both total audio geeks and they discussed sound systems (with great enthusiasm) for quite a long time while I wandered around the guy's house and admired his renovation work. It was one of those really pleasant Craigslist transactions where you feel a strange bond with the other person when you leave.

Of course to make this a real "surround sound" situation, we needed smaller speakers to place in the back of the room. We found these subtle white surround speakers by Definitive Technology on Ebay for $160 for the pair, which is about 60% off the normal retail price. I was totally OK with these (as opposed to bulky black speakers sticking off my ceiling) because they are sleek and coordinate well with our spotlights by the built ins.

It's so weird to have surround sound! Sometimes it totally messes with my senses because I'll hear the sound of rain coming from behind me when I'm on the couch, and I'll look out the window to see perfectly clear skies. Then I remember that the rain sound is coming from those crazy surround sound speakers! Gets me every time.

Luckily my husband's audiophile geekiness extends to the installation of those speakers, so he was able to do that himself. That always saves us a lot of money.

The last thing we had to do was customize our poor old Ikea console to fit the all-important receiver that makes all these fancy speakers work together. It was too tall for the existing cutout, so the husband used his jig saw to create a bigger opening. It's not exactly gorgeous, but I don't think many people would notice unless we pointed it out. We put it in the center so that the cutout wouldn't make the console feel off balance, so I think that helps.

All in all, we have achieved the perfect marital compromise with our home audio situation. The husband has the upgraded home theater experience he wanted for watching movies and football games, and I didn't have to sacrifice my cozy decorating scheme. Everybody wins!

 What is something that your husband/wife really cares about that doesn't matter to you at all? Surely we aren't the only ones!

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