I have found quite a few quality designer fragrances for under $40.00 that I am excited to share with you. I invite you to use this list to help build your collection at an affordable price. There are many solid online sites where these fragrances can be found for a steal. Nothing listed is of poor quality. As a matter of fact every scent listed could compete with fragrances costing double sometimes triple the price. Here are the ones I use regularly.
Fragrance notes come from Fragrantica.com and Basenotes.com.
“Carven Homme” by Carven
This one dropped in 1999. It comes in two sizes 1.6 oz and 3.3 oz. This is cinnamon, sandlewood, nutmeg, and amber balmy goodness. It kinda smells like the now out of production Gucci Envy. It is a gem you should have in your collection regardless of cost.
“Club De Nuit Intense Man” by Armaf
Most folks in the Fragrance community are familiar with the cologne this copies. It is the infamous “Aventus” by Creed. Aventus is a fragrance that is considered by many to be one of the biggest compliment getting fragrances of all time? Aventus however retails between $195-$395! This is the best copy of Aventus on the market in my opinion and you can get this one under $50.00.
“Intense Black” Lomani
This is a copy of another well liked fragrance from Creed called “Royal Oud”. It is one of the closest copies I have smelled. Primary notes are cedar, pink pepper and oud. It’s a smoky upscale fragrance that is suppose to represent luxury. You can find it for about $35-$45. Royal Oud retails for about $385 – $485. Hmmh…
“Wild” Joop! Homme
This is suppose to be a new version of the original classic “Joop!” that dropped in 1989. This fragrance is criminally slept on and works for casual nights out or a date. It is a boozy tobacco composition with a woody back bone and does everything well.
Rochas Man by Rochas
Rochas Man dropped in 1999. It is categorized as a woody spicy and is a perfect date night fragrance. It is a nice mix of sandlewood, raspberry, vanilla and patchouli. If you enjoy sweet smelling fragrances and need something to satisfy that this is it.
“Avant Garde” by Lanvin
Released 2011. Perfumer; Shyamala Maisondieu. Notes: Italian bergamot, Madagascar pepper, pink peppercorn and juniper. The middle is lavender, nutmeg, cardamom and beeswax. Base; Intensive vetiver blends with benzoin, tobacco and Georgywood. Great date fragrance. When I smell it I get chocolate, tobacco, nutmeg and beeswax. I think this scent is best suited to be worn at night. Also comes in very nice looking flask. Gem!
“Voyage” by Nautica
Released 2006. Perfumer; Maurice Roucel. This is probably the best deal you can get period! I picked up a 3.4 oz for $13.99. This is a top notch aquatic fragrance. It was highly recommended by the online fragrance community and I would have to say I agree. If you like scents like Armani “Acqua Di Gio” or Issey Miyake “L’eau d’ Issey” I believe you will also like this one.
“Individuel” by Mont Blanc
Released 2003. Perfumer; Pierre Bourdon. The top notes; rosemary, pineapple, coriander, cinnamon, lavender, juniper berries, mint, bergamot and cardamom. The mid notes; orange blossom, violet, jasmine and geranium. Base notes: sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, raspberry, vanilla, dark chocolate, oakmoss and vetiver. Look when I smell this It reminds me of “Joop!”. However this is more refined and not as loud. So if you like “Joop!” but want a modern updated version this is it. I have even heard it smells like “Original Santal” by Creed. I can’t confirm that as I don’t own it. Just so you know Original Santal costs a minimum $119.00 for a 2.5oz!
“M” by Perry Ellis
Released 2004. Opening notes; Cinnamon peel, lily and sage. Base; vanilla, musk, tonka bean, cashmere tree and vetiver. This is a very good fragrance by Perry Ellis. I think it works best as a date fragrance but you be the judge? You can get this for $20.00 but it smells like it cost 3-4 times that. When I smell it I get the cinnamon, vanilla and tonka bean. Can’t find anything bad to say about it.
“Harmony” by Cerruti Image
Released early 2000s. Great smelling fresh scent perfect for everyday. You can’t really say anything bad about this one. Its simple and does that very well. Every guy needs one like this in their collection. If you see this one do yourself a favor and pick it up. Really cool sprayer design!
“Euphoria Intense” by Calvin Klein
Released: 2008. Perfumer; Carlos Benaim and Loc Dong. Kind of an Oriental Spicy Fragrance. I get ginger and amber. I also get some myrrh and a pepper note. I like this one better than the original Euphoria. It has some kick to it.
“Paradise” by Alfred Sung
Released 2003. Perfumer; David Apel. There are two manufactures of this fragrance. One is based out of the US and the other is based out of Canada. You want the one out of Canada (Riveria Concepts)! The US manufacture is Elizabeth Arden. Trust me there is a big difference in regards to performance. The US version lasts about 2 hours while the Canadian about 6 hours! This has a fresh green vibe to it with a tart Papaya note right in the middle. Not like a sugary Papaya drink but an actual Papaya that is not ripe yet. You can get it for $20.00 all over the internet. I got mine off of Ebay. Remember to ask who is the manufacturer!
“CK One Shock” by Calvin Klein
Released 2011. Perfumer; Ann Gottlieb and IFF. When I smell the sprayer I get a tabacco note with pepper. When I spray it on my skin I get more of a warm amber and patchouli vibe with a hint of Lavender. The musk comes through on the dry down. This is a darn good scent for the price! I have a 6.7oz I bought at Marshalls for $20.00.
“Original Penguin” by Munsingwear
Released 2011. In this one you get an apple, vanilla and musk note in the opening. In the middle you get lavender, pine, pepper and patchouli. This could be a signature scent for a lot of people. To me this is the right balance between modern and classic. I picked up a tester from Fragrancenet.com for $20.00.
“Sun Java White” by Franck Olivier
Released 2011. I picked this up because I was told it smelled like Creed “Silver Mountain Water”. It is a nice scent with almost soapy/floral vibe. Haven’t worn it enough to tell you what I think so this is a work in progress.
Update: Went to the Creed counter and sampled Silver Mountain Water. This is a dead ringer! Why is that a big deal? Well just a 1.0 oz of SMW is around $125-$175! Now SMW does smell a little fresher than Sun Java White but that is it. This fragrance is not my favorite but does have a mass appeal that many will enjoy. Do your research and you will see SMW is highly regarded and a signature scent for a lot of folks. This is a steal at about $25.00 online.
Masculine Plus Plus by Diesel
Fragrancer; Arturetto Landi. Released 1997. Believe it or not this cologne has got a milky note to it. I know that sounds extremely weird but it actually works! I get cinnamon, nutmeg, patchouli, tonka bean and anise. There are actually a lot of notes listed for this one but thats what I get. Try not to listen to the naysayers. Put your nose on it and judge for yourself. Shake up your collection!
“Black” Mandarina Duck
Fragrancer; Nathalie Lorson. Released in 2009. This is a sweet smelling fragrance. I get vanilla, tonka bean, tangerine, sandlewood and bergamot. Good performance and a great pick up for under $30.00!
Raghba Wood Intense by Lattafa Perfumes
Great high quality fragrance from the middle east. I picked this up from a seller on ebay. It took about 3 weeks to receive but it was worth it. This smells like a blend of multiple woods with caramel and a rum. With shipping this was only $40.00 straight from Kuwait. It is a EDP! Powerful impact boom!
When I stop and think about it I am a collector of many things. Scents are another thing I’m into. For me it started in college. I always wanted unique scents and many of them. I wanted to smell different depending on how I was feeling. Cats back then were mainly rocking Eternity by Calvin Klein, Cool Water by Davidoff and even Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche. Not the kid…I was rocking Jazz by YSL, New West by Aramis and Bijan to name a few.
Class in a bottle. My favorite release of 2015. This is an uplifting fragrance that sparkles with a hint of sweetness. The bottle looks a classic microphone and feels very solid. The presentation matches the fragrance. Highly recommended!
Terre D’ Hermes “Eau Tres Fraiche”
Categorized as a woody aromatic this fragrance is perfect for the summer, In my opinion this is an all purpose work horse you need in your fragrance tool box! It is primarily orange/citrus and woody notes.
“Amber Man” by Halston
Very nice fragrance that I highly recommend. You get Amber, Myrrh, Cedar and Musk. This is a cozy luxurious fragrance that is very slept on! If you love Amber based fragrances you need to check this out.
Dsquared2 Potion “Royal Black”
Niche quality in a designer fragrance. A Rose based fragrance with notes of Incense, Leather and Tobacco. If you are a lover of Rose based fragrances put your nose on this one.
“Roadster” by Cartier
Released 2008. Fragrancer; Mathilde Laurent. The fragrance features French Labdanum, Patchouli, Vanilla, Bergamot, Mint and Vetiver. This could be your signature scent? It has a strong clean mint smell in a very good way. I enjoy wearing this at work and seems to give me a boost. Overall good performer and is pretty versatile. Plus comes in a very nice glass container with a magnetic top!
SUMMER 2015 FRAGRANCES
“Encre Noir Sport” by Lalique
This is a much more wearable version of the original Encre Noire which was primarily an Inky, Dirty Vetiver fragrance. This one tones down the Inky vibe and adds Citrus and Watery notes to give it a very clean invigorating feel that works.
“Lalique White” by Lalique
Released 2008. Perfumer; Christine Nagel. Top notes: Tamarind, Lemon Leaf, Bergamot and Elemi. The middle notes: Nutmeg, White Pepper, Violet and Cardamom. Base notes; Amber, Musk, Cedar and Oakmoss. When I smell this I get Lemon and Pepper. This is clean with a pop! In my humble opinion this is a timeless scent and would always be in demand. For me this has “signature scent” potential.
“Geir” by Geir Ness
This fragrance lists five notes, Green, Spicy, Woody, Citrus and Floral. It does not get into specifics and that’s cool. What I do know is this is a very well made fragrance that smells great. Now it does kinda have a floral vibe to it but don’t let that scare you. The other notes shine equally and work to balance each other out.
“Opus Homme” by Armaf
This was initially tagged as a copy of Channel Allure Edition Blanche. Smelling them side by side however I can say this one has a grape soda vibe where Channel Allure Edition Blanche has more of a Lemon Pie vibe. Performance is where Channel Allure Edition Blanche fails and this one excels. This may baffle some but I prefer Opus Homme…for me at the end of the day it’s about the juice and not the name on the juice.
“Meharees di Oasi in Oasi” by L’ERBOLARIO
Cinnamon, Amber, Vanilla and Sandlewood are the primary notes in my opinion. A pretty good performing fragrance with moderate projection and is smooth like butter. A definite compliment getter!
“Infusion D’Homme” by Prada
I lived in Vegas for a number of years and would DJ at many of the Luxury Hotels. If you have ever been in a Luxury Hotel and checked out the bathrooms they all seem to smell of very expensive soap? That is what this fragrance reminds me of. No need to list the notes just think expensive soap. If you like fragrances that have that soapy vibe here you go.
L’Instant De Guerlain Pour Homme
Released 2004. The perfumer is Beatrice Piquet. Notes are Citrus, Anise, Jasmine, Patchouli, Cedar, Sandalwood, Lapsang, Cocoa Beans, Lavender, Hibiscus Seed and Musk. This has got a classic feeling to it without smelling dated. Smells like a cool blending of Orange and Chocolate. It smells wonderful on my skin but has a distinct classy vibe that may not translate to all age groups. Put your nose on it before you purchase.
“Kokorico” by Jean Paul Gaultier
Released 2011. Perfumer: Olivier Cresp & Annick Menardo. If you read the reviews this one garners that love/hate type response? This is all because of the opening. The very green Fig Leaf note for some people is off putting. I however must say it only lasts about 5 minutes and then the scent makes a u-turn and smells like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Well that’s what it smells like on me. Weird right? But it works, is off the radar and I like it! Notes: Cacao, Patchouli, Fig Leaf, Vetiver and Virginia Cedar.
“Kiton Men” by Kiton
Released 1996. Classy and Sophisticated. Great longevity and projection. You will stand out in the crowd. Notes are Violet, Lily of the Valley, Pineapple, Musk, Tonka Bean and Bergamot. A little bonus to consider, this reminds me a lot of “Green Irish Tweed” by Creed. GIT as it is called by many is $175 – $350 retail. Not saying this is a copy because they are different but have certain similarities.This is a great fragrance in its own right and a confirmed lady killer.
“Kiton Black” by Kiton
Released in 2007. Listed notes; Bergamot, Violet Leaf, Lemon, Red Berries, Cyclamen, Cedar, Cardamom, Leather, Tonka Bean, Amber and Vetiver. Versatile classy fragrance. Put your nose on it and see if you like it.
“Antidote” by Viktor & Rolf
Released 2006. Now discontinued. Perfumer Alienor Massenet & Pierre Wargnye. So many notes are listed but these are the ones that stand out in my opinion; Bergamot, Mandarin, Bitter Grapefruit, Mint, Jasmine, Lavender, Violet, Musk, Amber and Incense. This smells a lot like “Romeo Gigli Uomo” that came out in 1991. I give this one the slight edge. This is a great fragrance and it won the FIFI award in 2007 for “Best Male Niche Fragrance”. A versatile fragrance that can be worn all year. This is definitely one you should check for and soon!!! It’s becoming hard to find for a reasonable price.
“Bvlgari Black” by Bvlgari
Released in 1998. Perfumer: Annick Menardo. This is the infamous hockey puck /rubber tire bottle design. I don’t know how but this smells like a rubber tire. What? Yup I said rubber tire. This made me realize that creating fragrances is an art! The rubber note last throughout but gradually fades. As it fades a smokey vanilla and tea note moves to the front. You will either love it or hate it. This was made to be worn by the man living in a highly populated metropolitan area.
“Eau Sauvage Parfum” by Christian Dior
Released 2011. Perfumer Francois Demachy. Listed notes are Bergamot, Vetiver and Myrrh. It is a Parfum and has a very warm, creamy vibe…it’s an updated version of the 1966 Eau Sauvage edt. Yet something about it reminds me of Dior Homme? It lasts all day and almost has a barbershop feel but not in a bad way. It’s actually very classy with an upscale feel. Great for formal events but could also work in the office and some casual situations. It’s not a crowd pleaser in my opinion. You rock this because you love it! A definite signature scent.
“Man in Black” by Bvlgari
Released in 2014. This has got that warm leather and amber vibe. Plus a boozy/spicy note to it. This is a great late night out/date scent.
“Pure Havane” by Thierry Mugler
Another modern day legend. Released 2011. Perfumer: Jacques Huclier. It’s got that tobacco, honey, patchouli, vanilla and bitter cocoa vibe. You very rarely meet someone that doesn’t like this one. Don’t take my word for it…put your nose on it.
“Chic” by Carolina Herrera
Perfumer: Jean Marc Chaillan, Carlos Benaim and Ann Gottlieb. This has a really nice watermelon note with some nice citrus notes. In the dry down you get the tonka bean, amber and sandalwood. This is one for the arsenal that every one won’t have!
“Dior Homme” & “Dior Homme Intense” by Christian Dior
Released 2007. Two modern day legends! You can’t go wrong with either one. They have that make up bag, almost waxy iris note that everyone talks about! Dior Homme is the people pleaser and Dior Homme Intense for the individual that wears the fragrance for themself. It is a masculine fragrance but some argue not masculine enough? You have been warned…It also has the title of lady killer! Let your lady decide?
“Men” by Marc Jacobs
Released 2002. Perfumer; Ralph Schwieger. Notes: Italian Bergamot, Tuscan Cypress, Cumin, Cardamom, Ginger, Fig Leaves, Rose de Mai, Cyclamen, Tonka Bean, Cedarwood, Nirvanolide Musk, Provence Fig, Indonesian Patchouli, Musk.
“L’Homme Libre” by Yves Saint Laurent
Released 2006. Perfumer; Olivier Polge and Carlos Benaim. A recent addition to my collection. I wasn’t up on this one until 2010. I think you can wear this for dress up/night out, office and even casual. This is a woody/fresh scent. Notes: Calabrian Bergamot, Violet Leaves, Basil, Patchouli, Vetiver. Star Anise, Nutmeg, Pink Pepper, Leather Accord. Great smelling scent that last all day.
“Armani Eau Pour Homme” by Giorgio Armani
Released 1984. Perfumer; Roger Pellegrino. Timeless classic. This is a staple in my collection and I will own it as long as they make it. Top notes; sicilian mandarin, californian green lemon, bergamot, citrus leaf, orange blossom, jasmine, lavender, nut, coriander, cinnamon and clove. The base; sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, oakmoss and patchouli.
“Romeo Gigli Uomo” by Romeo Gigli
Released 1991. This has been discontinued but can still be found. Notes; Grapefruit, Clove, Rosewood, Ginger Patchouli and Sandlewood. I first bought this one back in 95. I have picked up a few bottles since then. It is now out of production. What comes around goes around…I recently picked up samples of “Antidote” by Viktor & Rolf and personally believe it is a copy of this one? It also is now out of production. This scent lasts all day and is great for work or casual occasions.
“Joseph Abboud” by Joseph Abboud
Released in 1993. I picked this one up at Marshall Fields back in the day. I had totally forgotten about this one until I saw an add for Joseph Abboud. This is a very slept on vintage fragrance. I think I first got up on this at “Mark Shale” in Oakbrook Mall in IL. It’s a combination of citrus, woods and musk. It didn’t smell like anything else when it was released and still smells very modern. No matter what negative reviews you may read from the fragrance snobs I say “put your nose on it”.
“Body Kouros” by Yves Saint Laurent
Released 2000. Perfumer; Annick Menardo. One of my all time favorites! I first picked it up in Cancun Mexico in 2000. Notes; Camphor wood, Benzoin, Cedar, Sage, Incense and Eucalyptus. The Incense and Eucalyptus come through but not in a bad way. People notice this one. Note: Try to get the bottle in this picture. The fragrance has been reformulated and the new version is weaker than the original.
Aficionado by Cigar
Released 1997. My sister bought this for me some years ago and I just found another bottle last year. I remember this dropped around the time when Cigar Bars were the rage and popping up all over the place. This is Tobacco done well in a fragrance! It is hard to find…so more than likely when you see it, it’s going to be the aftershave. So know if you run across the cologne, snatch it!!! Notes; Patchouli, Tobacco, Chocolate and Amber. This one performs well and projects so easy on the sprayer. I recommend this for night wear but you decide?
“Feeling Man” by Jil Sander
Released 1989. Notes; Top notes are fruity notes, lavender, green notes, tarragon, anise and bergamot; middle notes are cyclamen, raspberry, balsam fir, orris root, jasmine and geranium; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, oakmoss, cedar and tobacco.. This is a great casual scent.
“DKMen Unleaded” by Donna Karen
Released 1995. In my humble opinion this is the modern day originator of the Tobacco/Leather note fragrances. Notes; Basil, Cardamom, Suede and Tobacco. This one has been discontinued and I really don’t understand why? It can still be found but you will pay loot for it. Wear this one anytime. One of my all time favorites.
“Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme” by Dolce & Gabbana
Released 1994. This is a classic and you should have it in your collection. This one projects…so be easy when you put it on. Notes; Lavender, Orange, Lemon, Cedar, Tobacco and Sage. This is a dress up or night out scent. If possible grab the bottle with the sticker, that is the original version of this fragrance. I say that because it has been reformulated and is a little different from the original. You may have to get it on ebay?
“Platinum Edition” by John Varvatos
I got this one recently for my birthday. It is already one of my favorites. I was dragging my feet on picking up “Vintage” or “Artisan”. I chose this one instead. Notes; Woods, Citrus, Black Leather and Amber. This is for leaders and not followers. I don’t really believe it has mass appeal but will become popular for those in the know…
“Xeryus Rouge” by Givenchy
Released 1995. Perfumer; Annick Menardo. Notes; Sandalwood, Cedar, White Musk, Pimento, African Geranium, Chinese Orange, Cactus and Tarragon. Projection on this one is beast mode so go easy on the sprayer. This smells so good!
“Le Male” by Jean Paul Gaultier
Released 1995. Perfumer; Francis Kurkdjian. This is a classic and an essential for your collection. You can wear this one anytime for any occasion. Notes; Mint, Artemesia, Cardamom, Bergamot, Lavender, Orange Blossom, Cinnamon, Cuman, Sandlewood, Vanilla, Cedar, Tonka Bean, Amber.
“Dunhill for Men” by Alfred Dunhill
Released 2003. Perfumer; Michel Almairac. Notes: Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Moss, Musk, Orris, Cedarwood, Lemon, Geranium. Great smelling casual scent.
“Iquitos” by Alain Delon
Released 1987. Very unique scent…very complex scent. This is not a scent for everyone. I haven’t really smelled anything that smells like it and struggle on giving examples of what it smells like? To me that’s a good thing! Notes; Coriander, Mandarin orange, Nutmeg, Lemon, Honey, Ginger, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Rose, Cardamom, Leather, Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Coconut, Civet, Oakmoss, Vanilla, Vetiver and Cedar. I just recently ran out of my latest 3.4 oz bottle. I have over 30 bottles of colognes so that speaks volumes on how much I like it. I even managed to pick this up twice at “Marshalls” for about $30.00. Biggest steal for a designer scent that is “Niche” quality. First time I found this it was in “96”. It has been discontinued but can be found for a small mint 😉
“Man Eau Fraiche” by Versace
Released 2006. Perfumer; Olivier Cresp. Notes; Lemon, Rosewood, Carambola, Cedar Leaves, Tarragon, Sage, Musk, Amber and Sycamore Wood. This is my new go to clean scent. For me it’s that “fresh cut, jeans, t- shirt and new pair of kicks” scent. It won’t knock your socks off…but you don’t always need that! Sometimes a really fresh clean scent is enough!
“Kenzo Pour Homme” by Kenzo
Released 1991. Perfumer; Christian Mathieu. Top notes are mahogany, sage, bergamot, lemon and sea notes; middle notes are nutmeg, carnation, juniper berries, orris root, peach, jasmine, caraway, lily-of-the-valley, rose and pine; base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, balsam fir, oakmoss, vetiver, cedar and labdanum.
“Hollywood” by Fred Hayman
Released 1998. The fragrance features rosemary, carnation, leather, lavender, green leaves, sage, cedar, bergamot, tobacco, amber, lemon, orange, sandalwood, musk and patchouli. This is so slept on. Another scent my sister got me for Christmas. Nice smelling scent and versatile. I wear it often and is one of my go to scents. Note: this fragrance has been reformulated. The newer version is weaker. You want the bottom to say Parlux Fragrances.
“1881” by Nino Cerutti
Released 1990. Perfumer; Martin Gras. Top notes are lavender, carnation, galbanum, bergamot, juniper, cypress and elemi resin. Middle notes are vetiver, ylang-ylang, rose, lily-of-the-valley and cassia; base notes are musk, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, cedar, pepper and pine tree. This was my signature scent from about 96 – 99! Just bought a new bottle for $20.00. Smells just the way I remember. It is a clean, fresh, classy scent with a hint of pine. If you been sleeping check it out.
“PI” by Givenchy
Released 1998. Perfumer; Alberto Morillas. Notes: Opens with aromas of basil, rosemary, tarragon and mandarin. A heart encompasses neroli, geranium, lily of the valley and anise, while base notes include: vanilla, tonka, cedar, benzoin, almond and yellow sugar.
“Quasar” by Jesus Del Pozo
Released 1994. Perfumer; Christopher Sheldrake. Top notes; banana leaf, fruity notes and banana. Middle notes; rosemary, lavender, sage and geranium. Base notes; sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss and cedar. I picked this up in late 1995 at Marshal Fields. For those that don’t know that was a Chicago staple before being purchased by Macy’s. Macy’s will never be Fields! Just saying…Anyway this dropped in my opinion right around the time everyone jumped on the “Sport” bandwagon. It’s funny for years I have worn this and could never tell what I smelled in the opening until now. Banana Leaf! This is a unique sport like scent but is not labeled as one. There is to this day nothing exactly like it. When you spray it give it time to dry down.
“Jungle Pour Homme” by Kenzo
Released in 1998. There are a lot of notes listed for this one. However what I get is cedar, a hint of nutmeg and cardamon. This is a very fresh woody scent. I highly recommend it.
Back in 90s I thought about starting my own company installing Home Theater. Oh well…Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Today everyone wants a Home Theater to watch movies, sports, play video games or just watch TV. However the average Joe doesn’t know much about picking a TV, Blu Ray player or Surround Sound system. Then with the new streaming capabilities that now come built in, it can be downright overwhelming. I have heard friends and strangers speak on how intimidating it can be when you go to a box store and you’re looking at a wall of TVs! Where do you even begin? Many folks would simply buy whatever is on sale. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure you are buying a quality product! I always tell people when they try to go the cheap route, It can cost more to pay less. Just think about how much time you will spend using your TV, Blu Ray and Surround system? Wouldn’t it be nice to get the purchase right the first time?
We can start with TVs…When it comes to TV’s there are basically three types out there now. There is Plasma, LED and LCD. Many will say get the TV with the best picture in your price range? However since picture quality is subjective I fell it is more important to focus on what you watch and where your TV/Monitor will go.
A plasma TV might be for you if:
You like rich, warm colors and deep black levels.
You do most of your viewing with low or modest room lighting.
You or others will be sitting off-axis when watching TV or movies.
You want the smoothest, most natural motion with fast on-screen action, like sports or video games.
Pros: excellent contrast and black levels; effortless motion; uniform illumination over the entire screen area, good picture depth; often priced lower than LED-LCD models with similar screen size and features
Cons: limited screen sizes: 42″-65″; some models not as bright as most LED-LCD TVs; not as energy-efficient as LED-LCDs and typically generate more heat; a plasma panel is usually a bit heavier and thicker than an LED-LCD panel
An LED-LCD TV might be for you if:
You want an ultra-thin TV — LCD TVs, especially LED-backlit models, tend to be thinner than plasmas.
You do a lot of daytime viewing in a room with windows lacking blinds, curtains or drapes. An LED-LCD’s bright picture will still look crisp and colorful in bright light; some LCD screens also resist glare.
Low power consumption is a priority — LCD TVs are more energy efficient than plasma models with the same screen size.
Pros: models with advanced local dimming backlights can have black levels rivaling plasma; LED-LCD panels are thin and lightweight — especially models with edge-lit backlights; this is the most energy-efficient display technology
Cons: picture may look a bit flat and less “film like” than plasmas; when viewed off-axis the picture may lose some contrast and color.
Details to pay attention to;
Resolution. Most current TV’s either show 720 or 1080 lines of resolution. You will see it listed as 720p, 1080p. These are the lines of resolution and the higher the better. I would only go with 720p if you are going with a 40inch or smaller. In my humble opinion I think 720p is fine for a small space. While looking you will also see 4k, which is the latest technology. With 4k we are talking 4,000 lines of resolution! That’s about 4 x the resolution of High Definition video and Blu Ray. The only problem…it’s still new and there is not really any content yet. Stay tuned!
Refresh rate. You will hear different things; I will just say you want at least 120 Hz. If you can get higher do it, even though they say your cable signal is only at 60 Hz.
Keep this in mind when trying to determine the size of TV/Monitor;
Viewing distance range
Here are a few I would recommend;
Panasonic 60” Plasma #TCP60ST50 Viera 1080P 600Hz $1,699.99
Next is the Surround Receiver. This is a key part of your set up because it’s the brains. Make sure it provides the features you are looking for and is compatible with current and future technology. More than likely you will use its remote to control all your devices and switch between various media. It will power all your speakers except your sub woofer and likely be in the family longer than other electronic purchases. The surround receiver was created to present the movie audio the way its creators intended. Movie Theaters use them with front/center/rear speakers and sub woofers to give you that incredible sound! The sound of something flying over your head, a rushing river in the distance or a loud explosion. Many surround receivers can even provide sound to multiple rooms. There are a lot of choices out there. Make a list of the media/devices you use most often and pick a receiver that will best work for you. Here are some I would recommend…
Cambridge Audio 751R
Emotiva UMC 200/UPA 500
Denon AVR – 4520CI
Denon AVR 3805 7.1
Yamaha RX A3020
Yamaha RX Z1 5.1
Sony STR – DN840
Denon AVR – E400
Next is the Blu Ray player. I think they are pretty self explanatory but just in case you don’t know. Blu Ray is the latest form of media that movies are placed on for home viewing. All blu ray players play DVDs and CDs. Some players even play HDCD (Hi Definition CD) and SACD (Super Audio CD). Visually blu ray players can deliver 1080 lines of resolution. Lately I have been seeing blu ray players as cheap as $50.00. I tend to believe this is because of the new 4k technology? Even still I say you get what you pay for. A Geo Metro drives like a Geo Metro and an S Class Benz well…like an S Class Benz. The better the technology and build quality, the better it is at accurately reproducing the video on disc.
Blu Ray Players:
Oppo BDP 105 $1,200.00
Denon DBP – 1611 UD $499.00
Cambridge Audio Azur 651BD $799.99
Panasonic DMP – BDT500 $300.00
Samsung BD F7500 $179.99
Sony BDP S5100 $99.99
This is too large of a topic to really tackle now so briefly…
6 speaker set up
Fronts Speakers: Music and special effects.
Surround: Ambient sound, Moving sound.
Subwoofer: Bass! Rumble and Explosions.
These are starting to get popular. If you are short on space and want to keep it minimal this is for you. You won’t get the same level of sound but is a decent substitute.
Vizio S4221w-C4 $249.00
Pioneer SP-SB23W $399.00
JBL Cinema SB400 $549.00
I give props to all my sources…Sound & Vision, Home Theater and Crutchfield.
In today’s modern world where convenience trumps all, some things still hold true. You get the best sound from a quality stereo set up! Yup a good old fashion stereo. Many folks out there have traded in their systems for an all in one desk top mp3 player. That’s cool. However if you can why not do it right? Trust me you will enjoy your music that much more.
This is actually a great time to pick up the pieces necessary to build your own killer system. Being a DJ at heart my pleasure comes from sharing with others. I will share some model information you can research for yourself to build your own killer system.
You can go new or pick up some classic vintage pieces for a great price. First you need to decide whether you want to go with separates or a receiver? For those that don’t know separate’s are: separate amplifier, pre-amplifier and tuner. A receiver is basically all 3 in one or Integrated (amplifier and pre-amplifier only). Keep in mind you get better sound with separate’s and they are typically more expensive.
This list is not the best of the best by any means. It is however my attempt to point you in the right direction so you may begin your quest of building a great system! Keep in mind a lot of the pieces recommended are vintage and you will have to pick them up used. You can find most of this stuff on ebay or stores that sell vintage audio equipment. If you buy something on ebay unless noted, you probably want to have it Bench Tested by a qualified service technician. They can make any necessary part replacements to ensure your purchase performs at the level the manufacturer intended. Try not to let the idea of buying used equipment discourage you. So here you go…
Recommended Key components:
Adcom GFA 555II
Adcom GFA 5802
McIntosh MC 2300
McIntosh MC 2205
Adcom GFP 750
Creek 5350SE (Integrated)
Sansui AU919 (Integrated)
Pioneer SX 1250
Thorens TD 125 MKII.
Technics 1200 MKII
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable
Mcintosh MCD 205
Music Hall CD 25.2
Ah! NjoeTjoeb 4000 (Can be found new at upscaleaudio.com)
Sennheiser HD 600
A good pair of speakers is mandatory yet it’s something I can’t recommend. I can tell you what I like sonically but your taste may be different? Do your own research. Think about speakers you’ve heard and what you liked about them?
What are your musical preferences? Is it House or do you listen to everything from Blues to Classical? It makes a difference as all speakers don’t reproduce all music well. Speakers with a larger woofer usually reproduce House, Hip Hop and Rock well. However that is not always the case, some bookshelf speaks handle those genres fine. Some manufactures include a chart to show what genres the speaker does well with and where it may struggle. I have a pair of NHT SB3 bookshelf speakers. They sound great with Jazz and Downtempo stuff but struggle with more bass heavy material. Most importantly it’s about the overall construction and quality!
Then think about your space. Is space an issue? You could go with a Book Shelf Speaker, if not go with a Floor Standing speaker. Most importantly get speakers that make you and your ears smile! Here’s what I have learned; a lot of companies make good speakers. Find out what model/speaker put them on the map? When did they make it? Are they still making speakers on that level? Sometimes they do and many times not! Like with many businesses, when the bottom line becomes the main focus and ownership changes, you can see a drop in the level of quality. Check out reviews on current and past models. Reviews are a useful tool to help you sift through the mountain of choices out there.
Don’t rush the process! Take your time and if possible listen to the speaker multiple times with music you know well. Hopefully this will net you a pair of speakers you can enjoy for a while.
When the time is right I hope to snag a pair of these;
These were in many of the recording studios back in the day.
Turntable cartridges: This is a choice you have to make yourself. Almost like speakers, do your research and pick up what will work for your tastes. You will probably run across a lot of DJ cartridges in your quest. Keep in mind that they are typically made for loudness, back cueing and to scratch. You want a cartridge that specializes in overall fidelity casually listening.
Last but not least invest in some quality connects. The audio connects that come in the box are usually cheap. It is worth it and contributes to the overall sound!
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”