Sometimes I fear that we are working in an industry that is alien to the real world.
We live in this little bubble of audiophilia trying to put together audio/visual systems that will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck – systems that have such a sublime level of performance and realism that they can bring tears to your eyes (and they often do). Then we wake up and realise that compressed music played through a Bluetooth speaker or earbuds is all that is required in the greater world. (Sigh).
We shout from the rooftops that there is an alternative, another world of musical bliss that you would love – if only you knew it existed. Alas, we are also realists and understand that our industry is not big enough or powerful enough to overcome the marketing influence of the Apples and Googles of this world, which ultimately steer the perception of what our industry represents in the minds of the broader population.
For decades I have been bemused by writers who list among the prestigious icons of other industries audio brands that represent little more than the best marketing spin of the time. These journalists seem capable of accurately recognising the finest watchmakers of the day, the most expertly engineered performance cars and luxurious boats, wax lyrical on gorgeous kitchens and resplendent furniture manufacturers but invariably stumble when it comes to audio and video.
I recently came across an article that was so wide of the mark that it highlights the ongoing perception problem this industry faces. In this case, the report covered an overseas audio/visual and automation installation. Admittedly we got off to a bad start when the client was described as an ‘elderly gentleman’ of 65 – making him six years my junior!
However, the description of the client as a ‘keen audiophile’ and that ‘…the audio quality (of the system) had to be exceptional’ kept me interested. The client’s belief that ‘….he would need to invest in the speakers to get the quality he wanted that would last the test of time’ bode well.
So I read on with enthusiasm, only to discover that the author’s assertions of what a great audio system was quickly fell apart. The much-vaulted speakers sell for $279 (the pair). The receiver used in the home theatre system sells for $499, and while the 5.1 theatre speaker pack is not sold in Australia, it is available for the equivalent of A$500 overseas. At the article’s conclusion the writer asserted that the goal of assembling an exceptional audio system was achieved ‘….the man and his daughter have the luxury, high-quality multiroom audio set up they have always dreamed of’.
To be clear, I am not in any way being critical of the equipment used or the installation. I am sure that it serves its purpose well and lives up to the needs and expectations of the owner. Assuming it is well built, there is a rightful place for every piece of audio/visual equipment, irrespective of price, and I am aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this industry or the enjoyment that music can bring.
What I do object to is the portrayal of a system of this quality as an audiophile product – which it obviously isn’t. I am sure that many of you, our readers, also recognise this fact, so what is the harm? The danger lies with those new readers to our industry looking for advice and guidance—those who would appreciate quality and are perhaps ready to spend the necessary funds to achieve that goal.
In this case of this article, the advice and guidance implies that for not much more than $1,000, you can purchase an audiophile-quality system. This is the audio-visual equivalent of telling a budding motoring enthusiast that they can buy a brand new high-performance sports car for $15,000.
This type misrepresentation within the industry is not new, and this will not be the last time it happens – far from it. In this instance, what galled me was that the article in question was from one of our industry publications!
We should know better!!