WHY WE LIKE WHAT WE LIKE – THE SEQUEL
I think what people often want to know is the details about why we like one thing and not another.
In our report we say we do not like a particular line of amps because the sound it generates is compressed and lacks air and micro-dynamics and a sense of rhythm.
I suppose you may ask: Don’t all amps have similar problems? If it is so bad, then why oh why is it so expensive? My dealership says they sell a ton of them, if they are so bad, why do so many people buy them? The print media say they love their products and gives them ephemeral awards periodically – don’t they see and hear everything – why wouldn’t they know if it was good or not?
I will try to answer these hard questions, though to some degree the real answer to most of these questions is that people in general are not logical and often do not make the wisest or most enjoyable choices in life. Just look around when you are out driving at all the different models of cars people are buying – many of which are known to be pretty darn poor examples of engineering and safety and are really unpleasent to drive.
Don’t all amps have similar problems? The corollary is: there are always tradeoffs when you can’t buy the best, aren’t this amp’s tradeoffs valid?
No, all amps do not have similar problems. Well, yes, they do, but not in this magnitude, they are not this gross. They do not stray from the Path such a large distance. And, yes, these better amps exist, even at this price point. These other amps are just not carried by your dealer, or are not hooked up at your dealer because they are not as impressive for the customer who spends only 20 minutes to a few hours listening to a system before buying.
If it is so bad, then why oh why is it so expensive?
One reason is that, in the set of all amps that are designed to impress a customer during short listening sessions – amps that are priced less are worse and amps that are priced more are better. Dealers have a tendency to carry things that sell well. Things sell well that have good marketing and a good supply chain. This costs money. But let’s be fair, construction, materials, warehousing, offices, parts aquisition, design, all cost money. There are vrey few people in this industry getting rich.
My dealership says they sell a ton of them, if they are so bad, why do so many people buy them?
The customer who spends only a small amount of time listening to a system before buying, often with few comparisons available at the given price point, is likely to be impressed by IMPRESSIVE systems. A highly musical and realistic system will be nice and relaxing but a LOUD and agressive system with oodles of bass will often be an obvious improvement over their smaller system at home. And there will be little doubt in the customer’s mind that their (male) friends, who also will not be listening to the system overly long, will also approve of the purchuse. They in fact, may go out and based on their short yet oh so impressive listening session at their friends house, buy a set of those amps for themsleves. In this way the systems-that-are-unpleasant-to-listen-to-for-extended-periods virus spreads. This is true of other consumer products as well: it is well known that speakers that sound brighter sell better in showrooms, as do video screens that are overly bright and colorful.
The print media say they love this company’s products and gives them ephemeral awards periodically – don’t they see and hear everything – why wouldn’t they know if it was good or not?
Well, for one, most reviewer’s systems suck. The average audiophile often has as good of sounding equipment as the average reviewer. Putting a component into one of their systems, often a balancing act of bright vrs. dull, dynamic vrs.compressed components, is asking the component to particpate in this balancing act. And if the component is not ‘bright’ like the component it replaced, or compressed, like the component it replaced in the system, then the reviewer will not like it. And, realisitically, in systems like this they will not even hear the component, masked as it is by the problems in their other components.
For another one, most reviewer’s rooms suck. Well, that again make them like the rest of us.
Reviewers are also nice people, they know the manufacturers personally. It is really, really hard to say something negative about a product a friend is involved with. It makes you feel like a shit (and I should know. The only counter to this is the forlorn faces and extreme distress of the really, really upset people who save and scrimp and finally buy something that they really can’t afford, only to come to find that it sounds like hell, even though the industry and net hype led them to belive otherwise).
And finally, the real answer is: The industry lives on Hype. All consumer industries do. It is what keeps the industry (magazines, manufactureres, dealers, forums) alive between innovations.
So the short answer is: no, they do not know if it is good or not, except in a gross, it didn’t blow up, kind of way. And nobody cares.
Well some people care.
Some people are angry at this situation and want to do something about it.
We are some of those angry people. And yeah, we get some flak for saying what we say – but not all that much actually – most people are good people, even in our hobby / industry 🙂