My little rant about the sound orientation of contemporary high-end audio gear, audiophile word meaning and the aesthetics of our beloved gear…
Great, quiet time on the plane and a perfect opportunity for some contemplation and summing up about the Lisbon Audio Show and high-end audio shows/presentations in general.
I've enjoyed as anything the beautiful Lisbon show-hotel surroundings and especially general mood of this profound time loop, where elegance is a mandatory norm.
So why all the fuss? It's about time to embrace high end audio as a part of luxurious industry. In our niche industry the first and foremost real luxury should be of course the enjoyment of the high performance music reproduction. At present times most of high-end and ultra high-end products comes with the hefty price sticker. Objectively for most people any product costing few thousands dollars or euros is of instant and mandatory luxurious labelling.
What I do miss and expect from high end audio companies is a proper mindset and attitude. What many still cannot process and figure out is importance of brand recognition and what kind of appeal does it have for the end user. Talk about proud ownership alone the technical marveling. These days any high end audio company needs to hanker and aspire for a strong brand projection with a genuine story, real technical know how and upmarket aesthetics in reaching that specific recognition.
Honestly, in sick and tired of hearing the same old excuse and comment regarding the the looks of high end audio gear. “We put all of our money in the sound”. Yeah, that great, but usually for the price of small car or flat there is no way to design a product looking worth the given $$$? For the money we're all being charged, compromising on the aesthetics is false. It should follows no compromising on the built in materials and solutions with the same attention being given. Period.
Everything, from the first contact with the product packaging up to the manual needs to be addressed in most refined way, what to talk about product itself.
High End Audio industry came to the stage where the old holly word 'audiophile' become a synonym for something utterly non music related. Many products become a philosophical so called technical statues with a worrying fierce dissecting sound orientation. Instead of reaching to the core of music, many of them are trying to clinically address a certain sound orientation or pursue a certain idea.
Despite all of so called design bravery and boldness end results of many products are pushing the high end audio to a shameful position.
If any system or sole audio component can embrace and reflect the real attributes of music, high end designation is assured. If not, we're talking about HiFi origins or something completely different. Audiophile word sole, used to stand out for something profoundly musical in its nature.
Now, imagine combining everything written above and materialize it into the product or a system acting in intuitive wholeness. Pack everything into the show conditions and it's things are getting even more complex.
So how to objectively judge any system. With all accounted it goes down to the basics. Does it sound like real people playing, illusion of real performers being there and creating a realistic reflection of musical event.
This quite quickly rules out heck a lot of audiophile kitten attributes, thus finding real gems worthy of high-end audio designation is a very hard task.
Industry needs to reinvent? Yes and no. We need a clear focus and real standards. Something that will ignite people, open up the doors to realism and engage the real encompassing.
There is no excuses and many brands and their sheep followers are instantly nervous just for brining the topic up.
21st century high-end audio gear should relate to the real language of the music and project themselves with much different aura. High performance should go hand in hand with the high quality customer service, top notch aesthetics and complete brand projection that gives the end user a proud ownership feeling as a rule.
If we want to move out of the man cave, solitude freak ego tripping, we need to at least lay down the rules and speak up. Modern high-end audio products must come with the feeling of proud ownership, bespoke customer service, exquisite looks and non compromising musical output. Period!
Text: Matej Isak