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SHOPTALK : Woofers and Tweeters for (Almost) a Song : Harmon Audio Outlet is a place where audiophiles and bargain hunters both can be happy.


Residents of Ventura County are lucky to be here. The great weather. The beach at their back door. And all the advantages of proximity to a major metropolis. But now the county is also home to the one and only Harmon Audio Outlet store in the country. Whoa. Great sounds at great prices.

There are plenty of places to buy stereo gear at a discount. But most don't carry the truly high-end items this Oxnard outlet store has. There are other advantages. Like salespeople who really know their products. (These guys don't sell refrigerators and toaster ovens in between the stereo sales.)

The Harmon Audio Outlet, which is in the Oxnard Factory Outlet on Outlet Center Drive, carries merchandise with the names of Pyle, JBL, Infinity and, of course, Harmon-Kardon. While all of these companies are now owned by Harmon-Kardon, they all retain their signature sounds.

Most of the merchandise consists of "B" stock (which may have minor cosmetic imperfections) or slow-moving or discontinued merchandise. All this translates to big savings for the customers. At the same time, the store offers a 30-day refund policy and full factory warranties.

From home theaters to car speakers, this outlet store has great deals. We saw three complete stereo systems ranging in price from $549 (originally $1,006) to $844 (originally $1,536). These systems include CD player, receiver and JBL speakers. But any of these components can be purchased separately.

We had heard that JBL speakers are of high quality, but we were impressed to learn that 70% of theaters built in the last decade feature JBL. We chose a discontinued pair that were favored by JBL employees.

If the in-laws who must have everything you have start to turn green, you can reassure them. This store accepts mail orders and will ship anything they want.

And don't be put off by subversive sounding words like subwoofer or tweeter . Sign up for one of the store's free seminars to learn more about the technology that will best suit your music needs.

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