There are really two types of stereo users in this world: those who will settle for nothing less than all-tube pre-amps with speakers bigger than a fat man's coffin, and those who make do with all-in-one shelf systems. The latter group is by far the larger, as most folks don't see the need to drop $2,999 in order to better enjoy the nuances of that Bob Marley: Legend disc they bought in 1997. Audiophilia is an exceedingly rare affliction in our society, for better and for worse.
Yet shelf systems, even on the low end, are a lot mightier than a few years back, 100 watts of power and dual tape decks were enough to make your dormmates jealous. And while the geek fixed-audio buzz is all about massive iPod docks, the store windows on 125th Street are all about shelf systems with Buck Rodgers looks and price tags on par with a 1-gig iPod Shuffle. After the jump, Low End Theory checks out the shelf-system scene at Record Shack. PLUS: One more chance to share your tales of Sharper Image excess.