Originally Posted by bdgtor
I like getting the best bang for my buck, so would be much happier spending less
The first thing I'll point out is that the audio industry (especially speakers) are very high margin products. The MSRP is frequently five to ten times what the parts are worth.
When you're buying some expensive speakers, what are you paying for?
You're not paying for better technology. Speaker technology hasn't changed much at all in the past 50 years. To put it another way, computer technology has improved more in the past one year that speaker tech has improved in the last 50.
You're not paying for higher quality parts, since the more expensive the speakers, the cost of the parts make up a smaller and smaller percentage of the MSRP.
So, what is a smart consumer to do?
Well, I ended up buying my speakers from Monoprice. They sound amazing, and I got a lot of product for my money. For less than your budget, I was able to do a 5.1 setup and also put audio speakers all over the house, including the cost of cables. As always, I encourage you to read product reviews before purchasing. Take a look at Monoprice product ID 7604 for the fronts, and 6317 for the center channel.
Total cost: $88.35 + $37.10 + shipping/taxes/duty/brokerage fees.
While you're at it, I also recommend Monoprice as a great source for in-wall cables.
Of course, if you're totally sold on expensive speakers, I'd like to sell you some Monster Cable to go with them.