Home sound and video shows are fascinating and even exciting events for those in search of the Perfect Home System (that they can realistically afford!).
At one such expo took place in Melbourne last week-end. Most of the country's A/V wholesalers and retailers of note had their wares on display and demonstration. Must admit I didn't attend, but I received a very interesting few comments from a young man who has worked in the industry for quite a few years, both in wholesale and retail "Hi-Fi" and Home Theatre installations. The company for which he works currently is a wholesaler/importer of several of the better brands of stereo equipment, so he is familiar with a range of very high quality systems, both analogue (record players) and high-definition or CD music sources.
He was "on deck" at his company's display for much of the time, but managed to have an extended coffee break so that he could investigate the very best systems on offer at the show: stereo systems that frequently cost about the same as the median-priced inner suburban home in Melbourne. Scary just to think about it. The "cutting edge" music sources were usually servers (hard drives) playing high resolution 24bit, 192KHz sample rate, hopefully recorded at that resolution, audio files - WAY better than CD standard: just consider all those extra "bits"!
He listened carefully. He compared. Was he "blown away" by the sound of all these state-of-the-art music playing systems? How impressed was he when he was listening to a set-up that cost 20 times what the average person would be prepared to pay?
It's the law of diminishing returns when it come to spending obscene amounts of coin on a stereo. Impresses the friends, acquaintances and family, but.
He regularly hears live music, performed on real instruments by talented human beings. This is his "reference" sound experience.
What he heard at the show was impressive in a way - detailed, dynamic and rhythmic....
But not convincing: very far from "You are there!". Sterile, clinical, somewhat uncommunicative and uninvolving compared to a real performance of acoustic music - that is the acid test of any recording/replay chain.
The speakers and amplifiers and other non-digital equipment were fine: a few comparatively subtle differences are evident when comparing "apples with apples", and even some bargains are to be found when you budget is relatively tight.
He was so impressed by the fancy digital players that he is now saving up for a decent record player.