GIMME SHELTER- Stereo woes: When the music stops

Sinisa "Z" Maricic, Crutchfield Corp.

Q: How can I get the most out of an old stereo system? What are the options I have to replace my old stereo equipment? 

A: To improve old equipment, make sure to use high quality cables, so that they send the full sound quality from the receiver to the speakers. A 100 percent copper cable will improve sound quality. 

If you have two speakers, make sure the length of wires between them is the same. Keep wire lengths as short as possible, since longer lengths cause more signal loss. For example, if you have one two-foot wire, and one 15-foot wire, the two-foot wire will allow the speaker to sound better. 

Positioning is also important. You want speakers to be at ear level. This means if they are in a hallway, you want them up high, but if you are sitting down, you'll want them set lower. Make sure to position the speakers an equal distance away from you, and keep them at the same height. 

If you set up the correct positioning, you will create what is called a "sweet spot," which is where the system sounds the best. In a TV room, you would want the couch to be in the sweet spot.

If your old stereo breaks completely, you might want to upgrade to a surround-sound system. If you have the money to purchase a whole new system, you can buy a "home theater in a box" consisting of a central speaker, left and right speakers, and a subwoofer, for about $300.

But if you can't afford a new system, you can replace speakers individually and build a new system over time. 

Sinisa "Z" Maricic