Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A fool and..

Many product areas have got to the point where they have a problem. Modern technology and manufacturing techniques have made it possible to create perfectly adequate items for very low cost. The watch market is a perfect example. The Swiss industry built a reputation on making quality items in an age where dozens of moving parts needed to be precision manufactured to make a good watch. There was an actual functional difference between a cheap watch and an expensive one.

Quartz movements ruined all that. Suddenly it was possible to make a watch that was more accurate, reliable and robust than the best mechanical one for about five bucks. So what did they do? With some exceptions, they continued to make "prestige" watches, which these days consist of mercurial fashions made from ludicrously decadent materials. (I'd provide links to examples, but the industry seems to revel in the most egregious use of Flash that I've seen anywhere).

High-end audio has, like any other field catering to those with more money to spend than is needed to build a well-performing product, produced a whole subset of the industry that sells stuff that is sold as "premium" but has absolutlely nothing to support that claim. The "audiophile" area seems to attract an unusually high level of pseudo-science. With all that in mind, I think it's worth mentioning that it is at least fun to point and laugh at some of the more extreme examples of what those idiots will buy:
Apparently, "OPUS MM unleashes thrilling levels of performance...". That may well be so, but OPUS MM also unleashes thrilling amounts of cash from your obviously overfull audiophile wallet. Your shiny new speaker cable will set you back a truly outstanding thirty thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars, and no cents. I'll say that again: $30,750.00

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