Tag Archives: audio industry

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

It’s called sell out and make a bunch of money. It’s to Paul’s credit that he didn’t take this route with PS Audio, as I’m sure there could have been suitors and a sale.

Big vs. small

I am struggling to think of a smaller company that’s gotten better after being acquired by a bigger one.

I cringe at the aftermath of Harmon’s purchase of Infinity, and JBL, and I wince at the results following Sound United’s big gulps of Denon, Polk, Marantz, B&W, Def Tech, Boston, and Classe. The list seems to be endless.

None of those brands retains any semblance of its former glory.

And it’s not just the audio industry. Shop in Whole Foods after Amazon’s purchase.

Surely there must be some advantages to being swallowed by a bigger company with heavy resources and financial freedom.

I just cannot think of any.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Emotional tuning

I was attempting to describe to a good friend outside our audio industry what we do in engineering. It was a strange conversation explaining how, through materials, design choices, and component types, we can wring emotions from music. A real head-scratcher, that.

Yet that is what we do—handcraft our products to perform as we wish, to reproduce the sound the way we would want in our own homes.

I suppose it’s not a lot different from engineers that design toasters or cars. They might also have the skillset to make it easy or hard to get the toast right; easy or hard to drive the car from point A to point B. The question at hand is one of intent. Do they care enough to make it personal? Is producing an outcome that appeals to them personally part of the game plan or are they simply meeting a predefined spec? Or worse, waiting for the clock to strike quitting time?

I believe what separates remarkable from mundane is personal touch. The Black and Decker toaster for offer at Wal Mart isn’t likely as personable as what I hand-curated for my kitchen. Not if one cares about the quality of toast. Or music. Or anything we take personally.

All designers are capable of emotional tuning. Most either are unaware of their abilities or simply punching the clock.

If you want to connect with your gear, make it personal.


Never put an ops guy in charge

In response to yesterdays post about passion reader Richard writes:

“I have always believed that in a Technology company, you should NEVER appoint an Ops guy as your CEO. The very qualities which make for a great Ops guy – caution, discipline, methodology, risk aversion – are anathema to the process of developing and executing on a vision.

As a person who built his career outside of the audio industry, I think one big problem the high-end has is that it is built to serve a niche customer base, yet spends its time self-flagellating over why it fails to make significant headway in mainstream consumer markets. The high-end functions as an immature industry. The skill set needed to serve its existing market ill-equips it to serve the other. It is seriously fragmented, and lacks organizational cohesion and leadership. Not within individual companies, but across the industry. Leadership is a person that makes people want to quit their jobs and go work for that guy. Who in the high-end fits that bill? Who is the high end’s Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Elon Musk, or Bill Gates? I hear a lot more of the opposite – business owners who people wouldn’t care to work for!

The high end routinely wrings its hands over the great white hope which is the mainstream consumer market. We all get the desirability of great sound. But we make the mistake of trying to sell the great unwashed on our vision of audio nirvana. We try to turn them on. But mainstream consumers don’t really want great sound, even if they might like it when they hear it. They want a lifestyle choice. A lifestyle choice is something you feel the need to have. We buy what we need, we commit to it, but we mostly content ourselves with coveting the things we want. As an industry, our challenge is to conceptualize a lifestyle choice that EVERYBODY is going to feel the need for. Like the iPhone, they won’t know what it is until they see it. Who in the high end has that vision?

But wait … the iPhone WAS that vision! The iPhone has already brought high-end music to the masses. We all know that iPhones are phones, they send texts, you can blog on them, play games on them. But most of the ones I see have a set of headphones plugged into them. This is the lifestyle choice that meets Joe Public’s needs. Dammit, I have an iPhone (and a pair of ATH-CK100′s), and it meets MY needs, such as they are, for portable music! This IS high end music reproduction for the mass market. And the mass market is very happy with it.

Don’t quite know how I got here. It wasn’t what I planned to write when I started typing…”

Thanks.  I am glad that came out.  It is well said.  We need both.

Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.