Tag Archives: Devialet

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.

Our own worst enemy

In a recent Facebook post Michael Beckerman posited:

“High-end audio, in every iteration, is essentially a victim of it’s own success. They have been so good at what they do, for so long and have gotten so close to absolute perfection, that they have essentially pulled the rug out from under themselves with their own (technical) success. What do you tell (mass market) customers when what they already have is closer to perfect what they ever dreamed possible? How do you sell them new stuff when what they have now is more than good enough in their minds? When you are that close to a point of optimal, how do you continue to sell anyone on the idea of “better”? “

This is a very insightful observation but one that could benefit from breaking it down and changing its thought just a little. There are two interesting concepts at play: bringing the mass market into the fold, and where do we go once we’re in.

Bringing the mass market into the fold has long been the holy grail of the high-end. We even had our own lobbying group called AHEA that would try and route the unwashed into high-end audio. It didn’t succeed for any number of reasons, not the least of which was all the petty bickering among its members. But, I digress. I believe this idea of broadening high-end’s appeal is possible but not by trying to change minds about the purpose of a home stereo system. Rather, the equipment itself needs to change to suit the habits and goals of newbies. What success the French company Devialet has had would bear that thought out well.

The bigger question of where do we go now that we’ve arrived at the point of near-perfection is a subject worthy of an entire post, which we’ll cover tomorrow.

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

Wires

Here’s something we can’t all agree upon. Wires matter. Cables matter. In all the years I’ve been involved with high end audio no other subject has been as hotly debated. And I won’t be adding any fuel or water to the fire in this post.

I suppose a disclaimer’s in order. I know that cables matter.You don’t have to agree.

One of the key advantages of an integrated amplifier is the lack of connecting cables and all that goes along with them like connectors, and interface circuitry. There are great advantages to be had by removing the complex tangle of interconnects commonly associated with separates–not the least of which is eliminating clutter and keeping the spouse happy.

But engineering a product means compromise, and compromise is a word not appreciated by perfectionists seeking the holy grail. Perhaps a gentler term would be intelligent choices.  Yes, that’s a better phrase with less negative connotation (though the results are the same). However we wish to phrase it, when we pick up sonic ground by eliminating wires, we give up the advantages of separation, both physical and electrical. So it’s always a balancing act that’s never straightforward.

Take the interesting Devialet integrated as an example.

The folks at Devialet have built a very popular integrated with many novel circuit innovations. They’ve placed all the guts into a gorgeous machined chassis that one might associate with luxury goods, yet it’s not luxury priced. The sound is good, more than acceptable for an integrated the wife and friends would ogle over. It’s taken advantage of the positive features available to the integrated designer: lack of wires, lower costs, and the synergy of components, and in exchange, it’s given up perfection of sound.

Just as in food where we can select how we choose to get our nutrition: perfection of flavors via many separate dishes, or comfort food via eating a tasty integrated stew, what you wind up with has everything to do with what your starting goals were.

Both approaches are equally valid.