Things are moving forward; they may not be they way we thought they would be
(change never is), but things are moving forward nevertheless. We live in
the computer age and in an age of efficacy. Because of this new age, this
bright new world will make us more productive as individuals.
In recent years, the audio/video marketplace has changed dramatically.
One of the main reasons for this is, of course, technology. Not only has
the performance of the products themselves changed for the better, but
so has the way we find out about the products. I am one of those high
end designers that make all of the tweak toys that you see to make your
systems sound and look better, and I have a story to tell.
At the height of high end, around 1995, audio companies had more
customers than they knew with what to do. My little company, RoomTune (a
tweak acoustical product), had on board 950 dealers in the United States
and 37 countries abroad. There was a new high end company opening up
every minute to share in the profits. One would think this would be a
good thing, but as the new faces came in, there was not an increase in
people helping the hobbyists achieve their goals. It was obviously time
to move on from the turntable days and the paperback magazine days and
time to embrace the computer age. Everything else in our lives, at this
time, became computer based. The Internet was exploding with more
information than ever before. We had our own personal libraries right
where we wanted them.
I remember writing an article back then about how your home systems
were about to become computer based and about how the need for many of
the parts that we were used to was going to change. Along with that, I
talked about the new world magazine, (the Internet or e-magazines) and
how, through online magazines, we would be able to increase the quality
and lower the price tag of high end. Another thing that I mentioned was
that we could engage in a new relationship with our clients (and they
with us) that would revolutionize the industry.
And as a matter of fact, after 10 years, the way we look at this
industry is completely different. The internet is the world's user
manual. It not only provides a one on one contact between designer and
user, but it also provides a real time event report which allows us to
be more informed about our particular interest.
In my hobby, you had to
wait once a month (if you were lucky) to talk about how to help your
clients to achieve better sound. The Internet now allows us to talk back
and forth as the event is taking place. This is magical for high end. On
my forum, TuneLand, we step through a person's system in a matter of
hours now. I, as a designer, can get a firsthand blow by blow
description from someone of what that person is hearing and we together
can make the necessary adjustments to their system on the spot. The
guesswork has been removed from the equation.
Another important thing that has happened to our particular industry
is that the cost factor has all been but eliminated. You see, the price
of the technology in the computer business is not the only thing that
has changed. The research that has been poured into audio is starting to
pay off as well. It has been said that a typical high end audio person,
over 10 years, buys on average the equivalent of 5 systems to find one
that is satisfactory. This has completely changed. The larger audio
companies like Magnavox and Sony are producing products at low end
prices that are out performing the expensive high end products by a big
margin. On my forum we have recently been shocked by how far superior
the common Best Buy™ type of low price DVD/CD players have compared
sonically to the expensive high end pricey front end models. We are
finding the same results with some of the other electronic components
that we are testing. Here's my point. Things are moving forward; they
may not be they way we thought they would be (change never is), but
things are moving forward nevertheless. We live in the computer age and
in an age of efficacy. Because of this new age, this bright new world
will make us more productive as individuals.
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