Specialist Retailers & Integration
This industry has and will continue to change. It was born out of a desire to extract the best musical interpretation out of the replay formats available at any given time.
This has led to the creation of some extraordinary, and often very expensive, products such as Krell amplification, Focal Utopia loudspeakers or the Continuum turntable.
Many have commented that this quest for perfection has alienated a large proportion of the public due to the increasing costs of producing products of this calibre. There is some substance to this criticism, but perfection, in any industry, has never been cheap.
The best cars, boats, watches etc. are all out of the reach of the ordinary consumer, but they push the boundaries of what is possible, and become aspirational. I will never afford a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, but it does not dampen my enthusiasm for the motoring industry.
One downside of traditional Hi-Fi systems is that they were almost always anchored to one area of the house, limiting their potential for enjoyment as you went about your daily tasks.
Recent technologies have changed this. Your personal music is now available wherever and whenever you want. It has become an integral part of your home design - and this has given rise to a new breed of audio salesman, the A/V Integrator.
But has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction for the sake of convenience?
Systems are now much simpler to access and control. The concept of having music (and video) distributed throughout your home (and indeed with you at all times) is easier and cheaper to achieve.
System designs today are all about running cables (or not, given the recent trend towards wireless distribution), control protocols, content storage and access and ensuring that the system does not impose itself on the aesthetics of the room or environment. There appears to be less and less emphasis on performance – which surely should be a primary goal - with the emphasis being shifted to the issues mentioned above.
Surprisingly the concept of performance appears to be one of the last considerations for many people. I must admit that I find this a foreign concept. It is like buying a chair without concern for comfort. Is it because some people do not believe that they can distinguish good audio from bad? I can assure you that unless you have a serious hearing deficiency that this is not the case.
It is possible that many people believe that all systems sound the same – again this would be very wide of the mark!
In many cases we have become so caught up in the physical attributes of the system that we forget to concern ourselves with performance. In part this is a result of the people who are involved in specifying the system in the first place. We are finding an increasing number of systems being designed by people with no background in audio.
As an integrator/retailer we are exposed to new products and new concepts on a daily basis. At my own retail outlet we (and other companies like us) are passionate about what we do. We have the facilities to test and evaluate, which we do on an ongoing basis. More importantly we have the facilities that allow you to hear the products that we are suggesting.
However we are constantly stumbling across system designs that either will not work or are based on technologies that date back 20 years (which is a lifetime in this industry!) and which are invariably put together by people with no grounding in this industry.
If you are in the process of building you are already dealing with numerous companies or individuals. The plumber is looking after the plumbing, the electrician the electrical, the security company the security etc. I doubt that you would have the plumber doing the electrical work, so it only makes sense that the audio/video distribution should be consigned to the A/V Integrator.
Consider employing the services of an expert in this field, just like you would with other trades. You may find it costs you more money in the long run otherwise.
About the Author
Len Wallis is a guest contributor to StereoNET. Len's experience within the Hi-Fi and Audio Visual industry in Australia extends more than 40 years, and Len is the propietor of one of Australia's leading and most successful specialist outlets, 'Len Wallis Audio', established in 1978. Len has been recognised with numerous awards for excellence in business both nationally and internationally.
Len's experience within the Hi-Fi and Audio Visual industry in Australia extends more than 40 years, and Len is the proprietor of one of Australia's leading and most successful specialist outlets, Len Wallis Audio, established in 1978. Len has been recognised with numerous awards for excellence in business both nationally and internationally.
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