Audiophile vs Videophile
October 14, 2004
"Step Into High Definition Home Theater"
For years audiophiles reveled at the new line of speakers, pre-amps, amplifiers and source components that continued to get better and better. Today, in terms of capable audiophile-grade technology, we are literally light years beyond where we were—even a decade ago.
It has always been this love and passion for audio that PSB Speakers and a few others were built on. And these factors have all played a major role in the development of our speaker line. Our lineup of speakers in the Alpha thru the Platinum series all ensure that our customers old and new will find something that meets their needs while accommodating their budget and listening preferences.
We simply cannot afford to discard the foundation this company was built on. We helped to create the world of high-fidelity home theater through our passion for music and movies — and through our products. It was high performance audio that transformed 20-inch televisions into big screens. It was audio that gave birth to home theater and yet, in recent years has been left out by many with the advent of high definition television and home-theater-in-a-box.
The Road to a New Consumer
During the late ‘90s, the consumer electronics industry was booming, literally with the sounds of multiple speakers pouring out the doors of retailers. ProLogic became 5.1, and grew into 6.1, 7.1 and beyond. Consumers had more disposable income and audio seemed to be an appropriate place to dispose of it.
Then, an interesting thing happened. As consumers became more-and-more obsessed with “everything high resolution;” DVD players, displays, cameras, printers, etc., the world of high fidelity took a backseat as a new format of audio became the craze—MP3.
MP3 is probably the best and worst thing to ever happen to the consumer electronics industry. It was the low-resolution MP3 format that stunted the growth of the audiophile and literally placed speaker companies on “pause.”
With a low-resolution format sweeping the globe in popularity—aimed at the more, faster, cheaper (free downloads anyone?) consumer, who would bother with paying money for high fidelity?
The consumer electronics industry responded by wielding a gun and shooting itself in the foot. Yes, I’m talking about “home theater in-a-box.” Ah yes, a new category aimed at the more, cheaper, faster animal. Companies once known for televisions began to manufacture speakers that looked like electric shavers, and sounded like electric shavers, but nobody knew the difference, because everything sounded horrible anyway.
High Fidelity Back on Track…Almost
Then another interesting thing happened, the consumer began to demand improved compression-format audio. And it wasn’t long after that a couple of companies, armed with marketing budgets and new compression algorithms created a new form of “lossless” compressed audio formats.
All at once there were literally millions of music-thirsty consumers born into a new generation of audiophile. And all at once we were faced with a new customer—with the same wants and needs of the customers of yesterday—high performance sound at reasonable prices.
With literally millions of new audiophiles born of MP3, and high-definition television sales and programming increasing by the day, the industry suddenly became quite polarized. Effectively we have two consumers, the Audiophile and the Videophile. How ironic that while many readily credit the home theater industry (and big screens) as being spawned by the popularity of audio, now in many cases audio takes a back seat at the retail level.
High Definition Home Theater
Before the days of the “big screen” it was always audio systems that made those little television screens seem so much larger. Sadly, many who are buying plasmas and DLP TVs and anything high-definition capable spend thousands on the size of the screen and, yet, invest little into the audio support that it warrants. Effectively, the videophile defeats itself by not matching the sound performance to the picture performance.
Let me put it more plainly. You can have high definition video. And you can have high definition audio. But you can never have high definition home theater without a balanced marriage between the two.
The demands placed on the industry by audiophiles and videophiles have helped to shape and improve both audio and video. In fact, the new trend in flat-panel displays as well as significantly lower prices on single-gun projectors has created a new set of challenges in application specific installs. For example, PSB Speakers got into the market to build in-cabinet speakers early on, and yet waited to see how the emerging markets would expand before introducing our in-wall and most recently on-wall speakers. So in essence video buying trends have created new demands by savvy consumers, and today PSB offers speakers for literally every installation application.
It will take a strong commitment from manufacturers like PSB Speakers to continue to offer high performance loudspeakers at reasonable price points, and from dealers who are willing to stand firm in teaching consumers the benefits of a solid audio system. Remember home-theater products are built to meet your wants. So with products built for you and dealers who are waiting to welcome you into the showroom to demonstrate what has been built for you—what an exciting time this is for consumers!
Invariably your audio or video wants will help to shape your purchase. One experiment that we recommend you try (and you can try this at many of PSB Speakers dealer) is to audition a larger display, say 50-inches or bigger with a home theater in-a-box package. You'll discover the "beeing there" excitment is missing. Now watch the same demo with the same screen and a high performance speaker package. (Any PSB speaker system will work, for example.) If you’re really brave, try to find a similar demo on a smaller screen. Again, you will see the effects for yourself—audio makes or breaks the home theater experience. Our network of dealers is eager to demonstrate the excitement of true high definition home theater without expectation because we’re all committed to sharing our passion for what we do.
PSB Speakers has been around a long time and has seen many changes and changing customers. And we’re certain there are many more to come. In the end, we’re just happy to be a part of it and enjoy the challenge of remaining at the forefront of high fidelity sound.