Speakers of the House: Selling Girls on Boy Toy Electronics

What a beautiful pair. You can’t take your eyes off of them. And they’re so big. You double-check to make sure your wife hasn’t seen you staring. You know what she’ll say: “What are you looking at those for? You’ve got a perfectly good pair at home.”

But these are different, brand new. You reach out and touch them: they’re so sleek, perfectly shaped. And did I mention big? You rack your brain for some way to convince your wife to let you bring them home. I mean, after all, you want her to have a good time too.

You check the price tag. Forget it. She’s never gonna let you spend 3000 bucks on a pair of speakers.

Or will she?

Traditionally, audio speakers have been boy toys, but the market is changing. As audio-video products become less unnecessarily complicated and not quite so hideously ugly, women are taking notice. In fact, the International Consumer Electronics Association’s latest study shows little-to-no difference in the home electronics buying habits of men and women in the past year.

If we seem less than enthusiastic, it’s just that we want reassurance we’re not going to spend the next ten years listening to Metallica at glass-shattering decibels. You have to show us what this purchase will do for us, as in “Listen. These speakers are so good you can actually hear the exact moment Jewel’s heart breaks. Isn’t that worth $5,000?” But don’t even bother with “Let me have them please please please and you’ll never have to ask me to take out the trash again.” Not that that wouldn’t be worth $5,000; it’s just that we won’t believe you.

Also, don’t talk to us like we’re stupid. Most of us are not infinitely fascinated by the inner-workings of the woofer and the tweeter, but I’ve got news for you: it’s not really that complicated. It’s just boring. As is spending all afternoon listening to forty dozen different pairs of speakers, trying to discern differences that only a dog can hear. They’re all the same — pick one already.

By the way, bigger isn’t necessarily better. If it’s over three feet long, we better be able to throw a tablecloth over it and serve Christmas dinner. In-wall speakers — the kind that mount flush with the wall – are ideal, but if that completely offends your audio sensibilities, at least check out wireless models or some size and color that could vaguely blend in with the dÃ?©cor we’ve struggled so hard to perfect.

A summary of our general attitude toward speakers: 1. We like music. 2. We don’t like wires criss-crossing the living room. 3. After you’ve spent all that money on something, we would like it to actually work.

Which brings us to the final point: promise that once you’ve spent several thousand pounds, an entire weekend running cable all over the front room and drilling holes in the walls, and you still can’t get the TV audio to play through the speakers, promise us that you will call in a professional to do the job. It’s not that we don’t trust you, but that bookshelf you built still leans at a 20-degree angle, and the fast-forward on the video recorder hasn’t worked since you decided to “try a little something.” Let’s make a deal: call in a professional installer, and you can spend all afternoon standing over him, making helpful “suggestions,” and when he’s gone, we’ll let you pretend to all your friends that you did the job yourself.

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