merits of allocating $ to 2.o channel vs 5.1


I am a older guy who knows very little about the audio world.  Got a new Sony Bravia TV and them some Echo Dots and starting streaming music.  Decided my 1990 Pioneer reciever and JBL and polk speakers  should get an upgrade!  Actually playing Alexa on it is fine for me, but the TV is awful with it.     I started readiing a lot on forums etc, reviews etc, and it is indeed overwhelming - perhaps because there are so many choices and presumably quality items, and inherently subjective. 

I was thinking of a 2-3k budget and many reviews suggested the Elac Debut for a 5.1 system.  Then I stumbled on the Buchardt S400 reveiws,  Then I found some members here and elsehwere prefer to allocate their budge to the best front speakers and call it a day e.g. get 2 $1000 speakers rather than 5 $400 ones.  Intellectually, I like that idea.   I am curious about folks reaction to this philosophy.  While it is of course possible I would add more speakers in the future that is not my intent.     

I am also curious extending this concept to getting the best bookshelf speakers as opposed to floor standing.  Given that floor standing speakers have more components, doesn't the same principle apply - getting the best components for your dollars rather than more components.  

Being a newby I am curious also about the process of buying.  As illustrated by a recent thread, one often says they think about buying X, and what do you think and then tons of alternatives come in.  Other than audio shows, it seems the retail market has changed a lot since 20 years ago.  I live in Los Angeles and when I look for retailers, it seems Magnolia (best buy) is the major player.  I found one audio outfit in L.A and another in Orange County.  So unless I am missing something, I can listen to what those folks carry and not much else.  

As to my particulars, I stream pretty much everything. Play station vue/ Netflix and currently Apply music but open to exploring more like Tidal or others.  The system will be in a large master bedroom (about 600 sq ft) with cathedral ceiling.  Current receiver also works ceiling speakers in bathroom and shower, but I assume most new receivers have Zone 2, so that is not an issue? Had planned on about 500$ on an AV receiver, but if I go 2.0 maybe a stereo receiver will work.  It is not all clear to me how these factors work into the equation as some say certain speakers are easier to drive, or more forgiving for lesser inputs. 

thanks much in advance

In my experience, a good dealer can do a LOT more for you than a box store.

When I was a penniless boy, I went to Jonas Miller Stereo in Beverley Hills. Yep, one of the best in the world. Treated me like a Hollywood mogul. Showed me the best, sold me what I could afford - and it sounded respectable, even beside the SOTA which was also on display. Everything in the store was a reflection of Jonas’ personal taste, and that was a high bar indeed. I remember him saying of a highly reviewed cartridge, costing far more than some of his offerings, "That’s the best cartridge I won’t have in my store."

But expect to pay retail. Sure, you can buy things for 60% off, on sale, somewhere else. But that may be because that’s all they are worth.

Go to a good dealer - no - a great dealer. They have a reputation to maintain and they will sell you something that you want to listen to, not something that you wait to turn off.

Just my views. YMMV.
Hi Terry

Thanks.  I don't disagree.  I was surprised when I looked for dealers, and didn't find many.  In LA, like you at least once were, and found only a few.  Are there some highly recomended in Los Angeles.  thanks 
Sorry Zabor, I moved north long ago, so I have no current knowledge of LA.. I suggest that you find a dealer for Magnepan or Audio Research or Mark Levinson. Anyone carrying those brands has a reputation to uphold.

When you find a dealer or two, I further suggest taking your question to him or her. Ask what you can get in two channel and in 5.1, and see what strikes you as good.

I prefer two good channels to 5.1 mediocre ones. But I don't know what's on offer.

Good luck!!
I would get a surround receiver just so you won’t be limited if you every want to add more channels.

If it’s for more than a loveseat directly cemeteries, you will very much want a center channel. Surrounds can be $100, they don’t matter that much. 99.9999% of setups for movies benefits from a subwoofer or two.

* Denon X3400: $600 or $500 refurb. Audioholics did some slight measurements on the older gen, it’s still an excellent/musical power amplifier even though it’s not a dedicated stereo unit. I would also suggest the $20 Audyssey app to edit the target curve of the room correction to one like this: The default curve has too little bass and treble, I would likely forgo it if you don’t want to use the app (my Denon is too old to support it, so I used the manual EQ on it using my calibrated mic to take measurements myself).

* NHT C3: $1000. One of the best bookshelf speakers for that price. It is however bass limited as it’s sealed, which is where the subwoofer comes in. It also has a matching center if you ever want to get one. They are in California, they mention you can visit their office, so maybe they have a demo room.

* HSU VTF-2 MK5: ~$610 shipped. Hands down the best subwoofer under $700. Their HQ in in California and they have a demo room (they sell speakers as well).

I found a long list of LA area dealers.  Not sure how current it is but there's no shortage of choices.  If I were you I'd make sure to at least listen to the Vandersteen 2CE Sig II.
THanks much for your help, Jon and MZ.  Will check out NHT and Vandersteen.  

Jon, I have completely avoided all graphs since they I have no idea what they are telling me.  Is there a link to something that helps a newby learn what some of the more significant ones mean.  FYI, I have pretty much decided against Onkyo's (and Denons) - the Amazon reviews are just too lousy.  For the 3400, 40% 5's and 25% 1's,  For me, not something I want to chance.  I realize that these reviews are often worth very little, but ....