Some Reflections on Decadence of Audio
For some reason one tends to believe that everything that is new is automatically better than old. That is true to some extent but if one looks at a much broader picture one will find a lot of inconsistencies to this prevailing logic. One needs to ask him/herself a question as why there has been such revival in demand for vinyl, valves and old speakers. The prices for example for good copy of LP have dramatically gone up while 20 years ago people were dumping their vinyl collections in order to buy digital formats. Why? Well, perhaps those unique commodities getting scarce and perhaps there is some nostalgic factor too. On the other hand, perhaps some people have had enough of digital, DSD etc and are simply not satisfied what the modern technology offers. Perhaps there is very little value in digital as it can be infinitely copied at no loss to the producer and at virtually at no cost? In our view, most of the products offered today are too much concerned with money making than with delivering quality. In today’s prevailing mainstream business model is generally about cost leadership as opposed to achieving excellence by improving quality of products. It is really counterproductive to the notion of high end audio as high end is not about marketing or looks or features a product has but about what materials it is made of. Back in the days, when cost was less of a factor one really was looking to improve the quality by using better materials and designs. If one looks through time there has not really been any improvement in audio since the 1930s. Our record collections were exchanged multiple times starting from mono shellac LPs, stereo vinyl, tapes, CDs, DVDs, MP3s, SACDs, Bluerays, DSDs, Hi Res online streaming… The hardware & media have been changing, the cost of producing media reduced virtually to zero (drastic reduction in hardware cost also been achieved) and at the same time quality did not really improve since the invention of LPs. A paradox- you may ask?
We as a society derive some benefit from innovations from time to time. However, the newer technology gets eventually commercialized the quality becomes less important as the reduction in production costs becomes the main driving factor. Most mainstream companies at that point of time think that the product cycle is over and something new is needed. That cycle tends to repeat itself perpetually. A real phenomena that is. At some point of time people just run out of ideas and then there is a need to “re-invent the wheel” to continue to derive profits from their inventions. At that point of time, the low cost production becomes the main objective.
Instead of following the next big technology, we at SW1X Audio Design™ prefer to focus on an established technology and stay with by taking it to its maximum possible performances level, where its true potential is reached. That is how we define High Performance Audio. We, therefore do not chase the latest specs of a contemporary technology such as DSD, switching mode power supplies, hybrid Class D amplification or remote streaming currently in fashion because fashion comes and fashion goes. If the technology such as valves, digital filterless A to D conversion or vinyl playback passed the test of time, then it can be considered as timeless, we then strive to adopt it and to optimise it in all our designs. As a result all SW1X Audio Design™ products are some of the most unique audio products available today. Combined with finest components, materials and power supplies, we employ the most innovative circuits on the market.
To be continued …
Dr. Slawa (SW1X) Roschkow, 06.2017