Much as I like sound bars and other compact, affordable audio solutions for the living room, there's something to be said for an old-school speaker setup -- especially when it's still affordable.
From now until May 9, Fluance has the AVHTB 5-speaker surround-sound system for $199.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code AVCNET at checkout. Regular price: $249.99.
When I said old-school, I meant it: this is a five-piece, wood-enclosed setup consisting of two floor-standing towers, two compact surround (i.e. rear) speakers, and a full-size center channel.
What's missing, alas, is a subwoofer, but if you decide your movies and TV shows need more thump, more low-end power, it's easy enough to add one to the mix. (Fluance sells one for $249.99, but you could use any third-party 'woofer. Like this one for $57.)
Needless to say, you'll need to pair this with a stereo receiver that supports at least five-channel audio. If you don't have one and still want to keep things on the cheap, Best Buy offers a refurbished Sherwood 7.1-channel home theater receiver for $79.99 shipped.
Interestingly, CNETback in March -- of 2003. (Also interesting, it was priced at $199 back then -- not including shipping -- but has long since sold for $250.)
I'll refer you to that review if you want the full scoop on these speakers, which, according to a Fluance rep, have "evolved in quality over the past 10 years as the Fluance brand has grown." Other than that, they're still pretty much the same set -- and with a lifetime warranty to boot.
The key takeaway, then and now: "This five-piece home-theater speaker package offers shockingly good sound for a mere $199."
If your home theater is suffering under the weight of built-in TV speakers or a sound bar that's not getting the job done, this is your chance to save a few bucks on a major upgrade.