Retail prices of HiFi

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  • 03-28-2012, 12:32 PM
    Talk about memories....
    I distinctly remember the AR-3a, and how much better it was than the AR-3 that it replaced. I also remember that Consumer Reports (clearly illustrating it had no business rating loudspeakers) stated that the new 3a was inferior to the 3 it replaced, and that the less expensive AR-2ax was actually a better loudspeaker. All of that was total nonsense.

    I worked for the long-defunct Lafayette Radio at the time, and it was company policy to place the midrange and tweeter controls of all speakers competing with the Lafayette-branded "Criterion" speakers in their mid positions, whether or not that was the preferred setting. By doing so with almost any AR speaker, it made them sound lifeless and dull, but by maximizing the settings on the Criterion speakers, in many cases the Criterions sounded better.

    I do know that virtually no hi-fi salesman liked AR speakers for two reasons: they weren't the most dynamic sounding speakers around, and it was virtually impossible to make a decent profit selling them. In the case of the Lafayette Criterion 3X, an acoustic suspension design that sold for $89.95, had a store cost of only $31. The AR-2ax, which retailed for $102.40 (a 20% discount off the $128 list price) cost the store $86. Which was the better speaker? Certainly not the Criterion 3X, but I'm sure I don't have to say which one sold better.
  • 03-28-2012, 03:38 PM
    A few other social factors not accounted for which impacts the decline.

    1- Most of our fathers who had and showed us Hi Fi are gone so the Grandkids don't see it.
    2- There are less of us now with decent Hi Fi to introduce people, friends, children to
    3- Music programs in schools are getting silenced every day so kids don't even know what music is
    4-The cost of a ticket to see a concert is now financial rape so less people go see decent shows
    5- Not many people in the inner city ever see the Orchestra, due to cost or snobbery

    So overall, there is less and less exposure to good music, good musicians and good recordings. All the Record Companies seem to push anymore is lip-syncing bimbos that can't write their own music,
    3-note screamer bands, and sleepy time singer-song writer types.

    Now we get into what some others have said

    6- Portable Players for digital (handheld cassette players did not add much to the equation)
    7- The Internet and file sharing
    8- Parents who allowed it run rapid and out of control
    9- Kids getting used to hearing stripped down versions of songs thru $0.59 ear buds
    10- Kid above finally gets a job and buys a stripped down version of a real audio system at the Big Box store mentioned below

    and then the Audio problems themselves

    1- Way too many brands that really don't offer anything different
    2- Way too many cheap brands or mediocre with good PR or just plain Name Brand recognition
    3- Pimply Sales Boys that know nothing about Audio, Good Sound, or Music
    4- Big Box stores that get the masses because of huge diverse inventories
    5-Lack of large enough B&M stores to carry enough different items to make any kind of educated decision or comparison

    I do remember when I was first getting into audio. Soundex was a little tiny store front with racks of receivers and speakers like those Vintage guys at AK have. It wasn't big enough for the traffic they had.

    Next they moved into an old 3 story house with rooms. Still stacks of new and used equipment but going out the door many times an hour.

    Then they built the massive 22 Showroom building. Again, always a sales guy writing up an order or taking a phone order. I did have to wait in line at times.

    Gone but not forgotten and sadly missed. Still a few other decent stores in the area carrying a good range of gear but who knows for how long.
  • 03-29-2012, 04:53 AM
    Plenty of excellent points, Hyfi.

    But I'll repeat what I've said before many times -- the big "social factor" that killed hi-fi was the consumer preference for video. It was no coincidence that the the decline of hi-fi was coincident with the rising popularity of the VCR and recordable and pre-recorded video. People shifted their interest and their funds to VCRs and better TVs.

    Home theatre sound recaptured some interest in sound, but it's still true that the mainstream market still prefers the biggest, 3D'est, slimest TV and is content to match it with HT-in-a-box.