To Hans Wetzel,
[Quoting your latest feature, “CES is Dead: An Obligatory Missive”]: “My fancy new Hegel Music Systems H590 integrated amp-DAC ($11,000) is sitting idle as a $349/pair of bookshelf speakers, a $549 app-controlled subwoofer, and a $699 integrated amp-DAC occupy my time. Hand on heart, I am not missing my Hegel.”
Wow! Hans, this is very encouraging coming from somebody that owns components that I can only dream of owning. If you can honestly say you are not missing your $11,000 integrated amp-DAC, then I can feel that, just maybe, I can be happy with a modest system without constantly wondering what I’m missing. And isn’t part of the fun of putting together a modest system, the discovery of how good the sound can be? We live in exciting times where the use of computer-aided design and manufacturing processes help in producing real high-fidelity products at affordable prices.
And to add to the perspective of who the “audiophile and/or home-theater geek on a budget” is, it’s not just those living on or below the median United States salary. As an electrical engineer working for a large automobile manufacturer, I have a salary that is well above the national average. However, my wife stayed home to raise our daughter, and only just recently started working again. Meanwhile, we have been paying for private high school tuition, saving for retirement, investing money to pay for college for my daughter, and taking family trips, not to mention all the everyday expenses of being a homeowner. So, while I could conceivably spend more on audio equipment, it is hard to justify spending over a thousand dollars on a single component. I’d rather retire earlier with a modest system, than work longer to have my dream system (yeah, I’m in my 50s. You’ll probably talk the same way when you get there). It’s why I drive a 2003 Dodge Neon and am happy living in my modest, mortgage-free home.
I really like the direction you and the SoundStage! Network are going with the Access site. There are quite enough audio publications that follow and review high-end audio; we need some balance. The whole SoundStage! Network can be akin to picking up the latest issue of Car and Driver, or Road & Track. Yes, there are reviews of drool-worthy six-figure sports cars, but there are also reviews of vehicles for the average Joe to read, that if done well, can help a person decide which vehicle to consider for purchase. Looking forward to seeing what this year brings. Keep up the good work.