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The 1st of April - Audiophiles Day

Beauty insideYes, this is our holiday. It’s really funny that most of us having good education and common sense are easily assified by marketers and sales persons. Have you ever dreamed about those fascinating tube amplifiers with miraculous warm sound and hot air over device? (recommended for countries with cold climate). And how about those funny tiny glittering cones, advanced power cords and precious interconnection cables with very strict and serious arrows? You might think that wireless audio connections will put an end to this cable cheating. I’m not sure; I’m waiting for the first air conditioning system specially designed for listening/home theater rooms (... you know, some wireless audio digits could be slow because of dust particles causing so called “air-jitter” ...). It’s worth to mention the quality of modern over-compressed audio CDs and prices of iTunes songs with just tolerable 128kbit/s quality and restricted usability. And finally if you still want to have clear sound at home you have to buy Blue-Ray player and wait a little bit for all your favorite music reissued on new media by recording industry. Looks like joke, isn’t it? Definitely it’s our Day.

Why this happens. In layman’s terms this could be explained as follows. On the one side there are users of audio equipment (audio consumers) – emotional and even passionate music lovers having only their subjective impressions for grading sound quality and measuring their satisfaction. In practice it’s too hard to evaluate sound quality ignoring music used, appearance of audio equipment, its brand and price. Very often consumers are disunited, misinformed and manipulated by the other side – manufacturers. The latter are better organized and like any business they have clear goal and simple parameter for measuring their satisfaction – profit. Do you think now the manufacturers are the evil? In no way! Quite the contrary they operate almost perfectly using every market opportunity to be successful. The problem is that they don’t receive appropriate feedback from consuming side. Formally we can vote with our money for one or another manufacturer but we actually don’t know for whom. Our decisions are mostly emotional and driven by false concepts and ideas. In short: manufacturers know almost everything about sound quality, consumers – very little. Economists will tell you that such asymmetric information leads to marketing of low-quality goods as higher-quality ones. And we ourselves are responsible for the situation. We just love miracles and ready to be fooled by supplying side. Definitely it’s our Day.

What to do. Generally talking we (consumers) have to be better informed and organized in order to be able to influence the audio market which is driven by audio manufacturers today. Being more specific our purchasing decisions:

  • have to reflect our real needs
  • have to be cooperative

Obviously this is not possible without both existence of audio quality metrics and broad interchange of information and opinions between members of audio community. While reliable hearing-wise quality metrics is still under development (SoundExpert proposed its own one) effective communication environment already appeared. Forums, blogs, social networks and collaborative recommendation services are excellent places for consumer’s cooperation (and even for cooperation between both sides – consuming and producing). Of cause, due to democratic and free nature of discussions the results can also be misleading and even completely unexpected (favorite example from my own experience is on Winamp forum where I announced possibility of testing high bitrate coders at SoundExpert; few minutes later my post was suspected of SPAM and “changed slightly” by admins; since then I visit this wonderful thread from time to time as a self-training practice). Nevertheless freedom of expressing opinions, critical state of mind and self-irony are the virtues equally necessary for audiophiles and the market nowadays.

Have a nice Day! Our Day.

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