Okay, enough about business. Let’s take a look at a much bigger question, one that’s been prompted by the furor surrounding the introduction of Neil Young’s Pono player.
In case you haven’t been following it, the Pono Player has had a slate of extremely negative reviews from the popular online press—some saying it provides no audible difference from compressed files from iTunes, and some even going so far as to call high-res audio a complete and total scam.
Make no mistake: these are not just skeptical or lukewarm reviews. Many of them are downright inflammatory and dismissive.
Why such hate, I wonder? After all, this is just a simple product for playing back music. It’s not even horrifically expensive. Why call the whole foundation of high-res into question? Why imply that anyone who hears a difference is deluded or foolish? Why insult all audiophiles who are looking to improve their sound? Why not just say, “Well, I understand that these guys are trying to offer higher resolution music, and some people may hear a difference, but I don’t, let’s move on to the latest Android phone.”
So that got me thinking, and led to a question: Can audiophile products ever bridge the gap to a more general audience?
I think they can.
In fact, I think that many of the necessary “ingredients” are already in place. In fact, bridging the gap may be inevitable. I think the market for audiophile products can and will grow.
But I also think that we can speed (or hinder) the process. We can make decisions about communications, features, and price that broaden audiophile products’ reach…or doom them to a ghetto.
How? Well, I’m not gonna claim to have all the answers. But I think I can at least post some directional signs to a brighter future.
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