I have long admired the business acumen of the luxury watch industry.
This is an industry manufacturing products whose primary purpose is to accurately record the time, something that most are very good at. Yet the industry has been built around the sales of very expensive variants, watches that can cost as much as a performance motor car, despite being no better at its primary function than a watch costing the same as a decent bottle of wine. To top it off in many cases it is necessary to place an order (or, as one company terms it, an expression of interest) and join the waiting list.
The Audio Visual Industry is based around product with the primary function of reproducing music and/or video, and like the watch industry it is possible to pay as much as a performance motor car, or as little as a fine bottle of wine. The difference is that in this industry as prices increase so does performance, the product simply gets better at its primary function as it becomes more expensive. As an industry we do a very poor job of relaying this information.
This has nothing to do with lack of suitable products. Take for example the Yamaha YH-5000SE headphones which are just arriving on our shores. Like a luxury watch the first thing that you notice is the craftsmanship. These headphones have been meticulously designed and assembled, channeling a piece of fine jewelry – or a luxury watch (they are hand manufactured in Yamaha’s Kakegawa factory in Japan). More importantly there is much more to these ‘phones than craftsmanship, they are also superb performers, easily justifying their $7,499 asking price.
When we opened Len Wallis Audio in 1978 the go-to headphone was the Yamaha HP-1, a fabulous headphone using their patterned ORTHODYNAMIC driver, now known as the Planar Magnetic driver, and currently used by almost every high-end headphone on the market. Some time ago Yamaha went back to the drawing board with the intention of refining the ORTHODYNAMIC driver. Six years later and after over 1,000 alternative diaphragm designs were prototyped and tested the YH-5000SE was born.
This is an over-ear, open back design with a frequency response of 5Hz (yes – five hertz) to 70 kHz and weighing only 320g. They are open, dynamic, tonally correct and have an impressive bass response.
There is something very special about a using good pair of headphones, you become so intimate and connected with the music.
Have a listen to the YH-5000SE’s, you will see what I mean.