Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 34
  1. #1
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    6,826

    Is quality really important to us?

    I attended a local meeting of a few ISF/Cedia trained installers last night and walked away with a very interesting perspective regarding quality when it comes to both audio and video presentations.

    One of the first trends most of us began to notice was this move towards cheap components. It seems that even those folks who can afford to get better sounding, better built components are instead going for mediocre quality stuff. But they want it to sound like the expensive stuff!

    Two of the video guys have complained that once they properly calibrate a projector according to SMPTE standards, the customer wants them to turn up the contrast or brightness to damaging levels. Now why would one purchase a $20,000 projector, and not want it calibrated properly I will never know.

    The audio guys have tons of complaints. My pet peeve is this, once you tweak the response of the system(get a reasonably flat house curve) the customer wants the sub turned up 10db more!!!!. That results in a flattened soundstage, and tipped system balance. Yeck!

    The customer wants X speaker because it looks so cool. One problem, it SOUNDS like cow plop.

    The customer wants the speakers placed behind the screen. He tells me that after purchasing a NON preforated screen. When you tell them it will sound horrible, eh do it anyway. Can anyone tell me a better way to waste my time.

    You are asked to design and put together a sound system for X size room. It requires that more than one sub is required for that size room. The customer says it cost too much, but the want the same performance you get from two out of one. Riiiight!!

    Here is my best one. I was putting toether a install for a un-named director. His screening room is pretty large, and probably would require some large efficient speakers to fill the room with sound. I get this call from him shouting he wants a M&K speaker package that he saw in a small mixing suite at his studio. I tell him those speakers are way to small to work in his setup. He insist, I purchase them knowing he will melt them in a week. Guess what, I get a call a week later with him complaining that two of the speakers sounded distorted. He melted them while trying to overdrive them.

    I read a recent poll in a RIAA sponsered mag that said most people would prefer low resolution downloads off the net, rather than either of the high resolution formats. I found that rather alarming in that it tells me that we prefer convience over quality. When asked if these people had hometheaters, more than half said they did, but still preferred downloading lossy data with a low bit rate rather than purchasing a high resolution disc.

    We now see that all of the cries for affordability has lead to many quality control issues. I have heard many stories here at audioreview, and on other online forums of people buying electronics and having them fail within weeks. Hometheater mag even tested both the audio and video quality of a $45 DVD from a unheard of manufacturer and found that it couldn't even downcovert a anamorphic encoded DVD to 4:3 analog television cleanly, and the audio DAC's were so cheap that aliasing was evident with CD playback.

    Were have we gone wrong here? What happen to pride of ownership of good quality equipment? What happen to audio as a long term investment?

    Okay, off my soapbox now. You all can return back to your rrrrregularrrly scheduled program.

    What are your comments?
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

  2. #2
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    3,326

    It all comes down to this;

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible

    Were have we gone wrong here? What happen to pride of ownership of good quality equipment? What happen to audio as a long term investment?

    Okay, off my soapbox now. You all can return back to your rrrrregularrrly scheduled program.

    What are your comments?
    Most people don't like music, they just like the way it sounds.

    As silly as this statment is, there's a lot of truth in it. I can't think of but a handful of people that I know personally that take the time to just sit and listen to music "for the joy of it".

    I CAN think of a lot of people who have music playing in every room of the house, although it's nothing more than backround music to them. You've probably installed a few of thier systems!

    For all the advancements in audio quality, the same cannot be said for peoples attitudes.
    When you don't consider great audio worthwhile, why pay more for quality components?
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  3. #3
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717

    Not a big surprise, unfortunately.

    We live in the era of instant gratification.

    Why wait to be able to afford the expensive, high quality stuff when this cheaper crap will do just as well at less than half the price? Why should I get in my car and drive down to Tower Records when I can sit my fat a$$ at the computer and download the songs I want. Yeah, it doesn't sound as good as a cd but I never like every song on the cd anyway and let's be real, my Rio/iPod/iRiver ain't that great to begin with.

    The other trend you're seeing is that as HT's become more and more mainstream, they will be forced to appeal to the lowest common denominator. This means ease of set-up, aesthetics, and "wow" factor will take precedence over sound quality. The mainstream consumer wants something that matches their decor while impressing their friends with rattling explosions, even if it's at the cost of balanced, high quality sound. Remember that article Wooch posted a while back regarding Boston Acoustics new priorities? WAF and aesthetics were the leading factors in design, not sound quality. Scary.

  4. #4
    Utmostjamin1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    198

    Cool the customer is always right

    Don't forget this axiom " The customer is always right" I work in the horticulture industry and its the same thing in our industry. people buy a little burning bush and plop it down 2 feet from their window not realizing the plant will get 15 feet high and 15 feet wide. Arrgg! I love retail. One thing ive figured out is that customers will do whatever the *#@% they want, whether its right or not its their money. I guess thats why I don't work retail I can't stand it when people listen to what you have to say and then do the opposite. drove me up the wall.

    I guess thats what I liked about a police officers job........" the customer is always wrong"

    LMAO

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    6,883
    Wow T, quite the tall soapbox you've built yourself today. I'll try to address a few things from my vantage point.

    First off, I think that this trend towards expecting more for less has always been there. The difference is that right now, in all aspects of consumer goods, you're getting huge price declines for manufactured products all over the place. People go to a store (increasingly WalMart) and can now find a $6 toaster and an $80 color TV. Compare that to what those same items would have cost just 10 years ago.

    It may seem like people no longer care about quality, but I'm not altogether sure that the mass market was ever all about quality to begin with. I think the big difference is that big ticket items that used to be out of reach for a lot of consumers are now available at more affordable price points. Let me give you some perspective on what I'm getting at.

    The Marantz receiver that I grew up with cost $600 in 1976. That's for a 75 watt/channel two-channel receiver. In real dollar terms (after accounting for inflation), that $600 receiver today would cost about $2,000. If I budgeted $2,000 for a two-channel receiver, I'm sure I could buy something much better than that Marantz (which was a decent receiver). And at that price point, it's easy to build something with higher quality.

    If you could not afford a receiver back then, the alternatives were much more limited, and the drop off in quality from component-based systems to the next step down was much steeper. The quality at the entry level price points is a lot better now than it ever was, but the trade-off is that those products are not built to last.

    Just look at TVs and how disposable they've become. In 1974, when color TVs cost $800 (worth over $3,000 in today's dollars), you would repair them because they cost so much. Now, you can get a TV with better picture quality than that older set for around $100. That thing breaks, no sense in repairing it. Think of how much TV you can now buy for $3,000, but how many people are spending that much on a TV when there are so many lower priced alternatives available?

    As far as audio quality goes, the consumers opting for MP3s and other lossy downloadable formats are the same consumers that would have opted for prerecorded cassettes and 8-tracks 25 years ago. Comparing an 8-track to an MP3, what would sound better? Keep in mind that cassette sales passed LP sales before the CD was introduced, so it's not like people were concerned about the dropoff in sound quality between the formats. The difference in audio quality between a CD and a lossy download is a lot narrower than the difference between LPs and prerecorded cassettes.

    As nostalgic as people get about vinyl, my recollection of that era was that the majority of record players that I saw in people's homes were the BSR or Garrard record changers that you typically found in those all-in-one systems (y'know, the ones with the lid on top and a record changer dropped in). Unbalanced tonearms, noninterchangeable cartridges, and stack spindles that listeners used to drop up to 10 LPs during a listening. Hardly the best way to eek out optimal performance from vinyl. Even a $20 CD player from the local drug store would provide better performance than those record changers provided, irregardless of any digital vs. analog arguments.

    And your story about consumers wanting to bump up the bass or crank up the brightness is also a pretty consistent tale. Just because a consumer has the money to afford a nice system doesn't mean that they will necessarily take the time to use it properly, or even know if what they're watching/listening to is any good to start with. People have always cranked up the brightness and sharpness, and that's how manufacturers default the settings on TVs out of the factory. And bumping up the bass is another constant.

    Around the dotcom boom, I knew a lot of people who used their stock options to buy a lot of high end equipment. Having a high end system did nothing to evolve their appreciation for music or even develop their sense of things to listen for.

    All in all, I think you're right that most people care more about price than they do about quality. But, that's pretty much how it's always been. The difference is that the cheaper stuff is a lot better now than before, so it drives how people perceive value.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    1,370
    You have us at a disadvantage, since you actually have to go into strangers' homes and witness them squandering their opportunities. Money is certainly no guarantee of excellence or appreciation. At its worst, it can mask a multitude of sins. It's easy to forget that good eyes and ears require dedication, work, and practice. The ability to recognize quality is not god-given, but once learned, it often spreads across boundaries; it's contagious and self-validating. Our culture stresses speed and convenience, neither of which is conducive to the kind of attention that it takes to listen and see well, especially since the baseline of acceptability is generally good enough in a paint by numbers society. Besides, someone is usually available to do what we can't or won't do, if we pay them enough, and appearances can pass for reality at a distance. A long-standing traditon in this culture is to relegate aesthetics to the idle and impractical. But those of us who have any sense of enthusiasm know just how much practical knowledge participates in matters of sensibility. One cannot exist adequately without the other. Personally, I think that serious hobbies like audio/video are signs that people are looking for something to capture their full faculties and elevate them out of the mundane. People will always be able to obtain wonderful things but not have any idea of how to take proper advantage of them. So much the worse for them; that's their misfortune. In a complex world, not everyone can be expected to have the same interests. Nevertheless, anything worth doing is worth doing well. People wasting their home theaters are the least of our worries, but they may well be a sign of a kind of mediocrity that gets a lot of encouragement. Celebrate those who can learn, teach, and enjoy without restraint. Thankfully, we all have a chance to be among them.

    Ed

  7. #7
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,246
    Just in case nobody wants to say it, I will. Americans (I know, not all you guys live in the U.S.) are stupid, but not just a generic brand of stupidity. I'm refering to a stupidity that is punctuated by illogic and contradiction. I'll never forget this article I read when the first one-piece iMac came out. They took a group of consumers gave them boxed versions of the new iMac and a Dell (if I remember correctly) and then asked them to rate specific aspects of their experiences with the new computers. The group unanimously marveled at the ease with which they could hook up the iMac and were really satisfied with that. And on the other hand, they were pretty unanimously frustrated with hooking up the Dell with all the wires, connectors and what not. But when asked which computer they thought was the better value, they unanimously proclaimed the Dell was the better value because it CAME WITH MORE STUFF!! That is the type of studipty that is punctuated by contradictory illogic. And that is what came to mind when I read your post Terrence.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    223
    The word that springs to my mind is "Erosion". Little by little, the emphasis on quality in all areas of life is slowly being eaten away. The movement is always toward the lowest common denominator -- what is quick, what is easy, what is cheap. At some point in time, it won't be that folks simply appreciate the convenience of things like mp3 over better sounding formats; no they won't even realize that something of better quality is possible. The end result? A continual lowering of our expectations and standards. I know I will come off sounding melodramatic and generally like an ol' fart, but this decline really does bother me. I don't think that we as a society realize we are all the victims of our own apathy and mediocrity.

    For me personally, I am surrounded by this mediocrity in most areas of my life on a daily basis. It's like trying to hold back the tide to fight against it. It's a shame to be looked at strangely because you really do care about doing your job well; about the quality of your work and not just the paycheck. For me, the audio hobby has increasingly become an oasis from this prevalent mindset, so it saddens me to see that it too is in decline.

    Years ago, I took some fencing classes. LOVED IT! I remember the first day of class our instructor asked a simple question... "Why fence? It isn't as though this is the way men settle a score or even fight wars anymore: It's not likely to come in handy on the street or even be practical for some other application. So why fence?" We all just stood there dumbfounded not knowing what to say, but after an uncomfortable pause he opened up his mouth and said "Because it makes you a better person. That's why. You must demand excellence from yourself. As you sharpen your skills, the sword will sharpen you." Hey... what better reason does one need?

    Q

  9. #9
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    223
    Quote Originally Posted by edtyct
    You have us at a disadvantage, since you actually have to go into strangers' homes and witness them squandering their opportunities. Money is certainly no guarantee of excellence or appreciation. At its worst, it can mask a multitude of sins. It's easy to forget that good eyes and ears require dedication, work, and practice. The ability to recognize quality is not god-given, but once learned, it often spreads across boundaries; it's contagious and self-validating. Our culture stresses speed and convenience, neither of which is conducive to the kind of attention that it takes to listen and see well, especially since the baseline of acceptability is generally good enough in a paint by numbers society. Besides, someone is usually available to do what we can't or won't do, if we pay them enough, and appearances can pass for reality at a distance. A long-standing traditon in this culture is to relegate aesthetics to the idle and impractical. But those of us who have any sense of enthusiasm know just how much practical knowledge participates in matters of sensibility. One cannot exist adequately without the other. Personally, I think that serious hobbies like audio/video are signs that people are looking for something to capture their full faculties and elevate them out of the mundane. People will always be able to obtain wonderful things but not have any idea of how to take proper advantage of them. So much the worse for them; that's their misfortune. In a complex world, not everyone can be expected to have the same interests. Nevertheless, anything worth doing is worth doing well. People wasting their home theaters are the least of our worries, but they may well be a sign of a kind of mediocrity that gets a lot of encouragement. Celebrate those who can learn, teach, and enjoy without restraint. Thankfully, we all have a chance to be among them.

    Ed
    Speaking of quality... This is an excellent post. Very inspiring. Thank You, Ed.

    Q

  10. #10
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    1,370
    Thanks, Q. Sir T put his finger squarely on an outlook that can be very frustrating--to say the least. The fact that it evoked a broad response from people only goes to show that this pursuit of ours--any elevating pursuit, really--is far from irrelevant.

    Ed

  11. #11
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    I have a completely different take on this subject.

    What is quality? In terms of a piece of electronic equipment, quality does NOT mean durability, or longevity. Nor does it mean superior performance. It is very wrong to equate these to quality. Quality means that the object accomplishes its design goal within the pre-determined parameters for failure. If it does what it's designed to do, it's of good quality, period. If an object is designed to operate for 2 years before failure, 99% of the time, at a price of less than $100, then they are "high-quality" if they do just that. If it exceeds expectations, it's higher in quality, if it doesn't meet expectations, it's lower in quality. Too often expectations (at the consumer end) are unrealistic, and "poor quality" is unfairly assigned. I don't think Sony or Panasonic claim their $40 players will last 25 years without failure 99% of the time.

    You want something that last longer? You'll have to pay for it...if it's designed to last 5 years and only lasts 4 though, I'd argue it's of lower quality. It doesn't accomplish the design goal.

    You can't just examine "quality" in isolation, either...value should enter the picture.
    Consider a DVD player that cost $100 with a life-expectancy of 2 years, and another that cost $600 with a life expectancy of 8 years. Consider also that the $600 player is a better "performing unit" (in year 1), but with diminishing returns as they are, the differences are subtle, and to many, offer no real benefit.
    You can buy 4 $100 DVD players over 8 years (probably with some feature upgrades along the way) and be $200 ahead of the guy that bought the $600 player. Now you have to ask, given the differences in performance, was the $200 savings worth it? Maybe...but I doubt it.

    If you bought a DVD player in 1998, you probably got a very basic player, no progressive scan, doesn't play DVD-R's well, etc...the guy that kept buying the crappy cheap ones has spent less money and has had more DVD player over that same period of time.

    I think the trend to "disposable" equipment has more to do with people not wanting to invest paying a premium for durability or longevity in something that they figure they will upgrade 2 or 3 years down the road anyway. So cheap electronics come out.

    Nothing wrong with that. Does anyone today really care if their Commodore 64 lasts 25 years? My cell-phone has more computing power and is cheaper in absolute terms.

    As for sound quality or video quality...If people are happy with what they have, power to them. I don't think audiophiles should dictate to the masses that they need to spend more money than they'd like to have something they wouldn't use or appreciate. It would be nice if stuff I liked was cheaper because of better economies of scale, but you can't have it all.

    Though it can be frustrating when people you car pool with blast a lousy 128 kb/sec MP3 through even lousier factory speakers. But hey, that's their choice to make, not mine.

  12. #12
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,994
    I've said this a million times,the now generation likes quanity,mp3's and ipod. Older guys like me like quality over quanity.
    Look & Listen

  13. #13
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Troy, New York
    Posts
    4,288

    Unhappy I read a story once...

    back in Junior High or High School... I was always into Science Fiction or "Speculative Fiction" as I like to call it. This whole conversation reminds me of a classic short story called "The Marching Morons". In thumbnail. a hustler from the 50's is accidently placed in suspended animation and reawakened in the distant future. A future wherein the 10% that can think and reason for themselves are held captive, litterally and figuratively, by the cretinous 90% that can't. Those that can think ask the man from the past to help them come up with a "final solution" for their idiot problem which he does in novel fashion. Their problem was that intelligent people stopped having kids or families while the mentally less than stellar kept right on having kids by the bushel full. While this premise may sound spurious, Sir TT's experience with the director's HT sound system sounds like it came right out of this story...

    Sigh kinda makes me sad...

    Da Worfster

  14. #14
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    1,370
    kexodusc,

    Your points are important ones to make, but we have to be careful of liberating the term "quality" so much semantically that it loses bite. Your statement is a good look at the market from a certain perspective, but maybe at the cost of being too forgiving. To me, "accomplishing a design goal within pre-determined parameters of failure" would come under the heading of "truth in advertising" as much, if not more, than the heading of "quality." Someone who buys a plasma TV that he expects to last 60,000 hrs, but in fact lasts 40,000 may not sacrifice all sense of "quality" to the lost 20,000 hrs, especially if he, and presumably others, happened to enjoy the plasma during its lifespan. He may well, however, "qualify" his opinion of it and distinguish its build quality from its visual or feature quality, or he may just say, with a hint of comprehending irony, the company was generous with its time estimate. But it's hard to tell how long a piece of equipment will last, at any price point, and those that don't last as long as hoped, aren't necessarily lemons.

    When dealing with design parameters that cluster around features and performance, however, truth in advertising is highly elusive. It might be refreshing for some of us to hear a company say, for example, that a particular display has false contouring, mediocre scaling, inaccurate colors, etc., but, hey, what do you expect for the price? What we generally get is either silence on the issues or vague hyperbole about how good the product is, which is anathema for an uninformed public neither willing nor able to do the necessary legwork. You'd think that the admonition, "you get what you pay for," would be a lesson well learned by now, but people are surprised and disappointed all of the time. The assumption that advertisers want you to make is that you are buying a "quality" product, regardless of how much it costs. Obviously, not everyone will be able to afford high ticket items that perform superbly and look elegant (forget last forever), but as a culture, if we tend to default to the lowest common denominator--to those only in search of a bargain or to those who don't much care what they get--we wouldn't be doing justice to "quality" no matter how honest we were about it. This is not to say, however, that affordability and quality are polar opposites. In audio/video, we certainly know that they can be happily compatible, and some companies are better at matching them than others. We also have a sense of how the law of diminishing returns applies. Honesty, if it is even possible in marketing, is not the same as quality--no more than honesty about prejudice is a substitute for not having it.

    Even within the modern reality of disposability and planned obsolescence, products ought to show respect for the consumer. Most of us will always have to make compromises based on income and other variables, but that will not mean that we won't care about the products that we purchase to use and enjoy in the here and now. I agree with you that no one should presume to dictate to the masses, of which all of us are a part. But having a sense of excellence and gracefully imparting it is not dictating. Let the chips fall where they may. High-quality A/V is a small enough niche that no mass exodus toward better products or information is likely to happen, but a conspicuously healthy respect for quality can have all sorts of consequences in all sorts of places. Happiness is a notoriously relative term. We can all be content with anything if we are ignorant of alternatives. This is as true of psychological outlooks as it is of DVD players. I'm as guilty as anyone else of laziness and shortsightedness, but we owe it to ourselves, as well to everyone else, to show that we can wake up from time to time. Then if we should decide to buy something shoddy that is a mere temporary convenience, at least we'll know what we're doing, and won't mistake it for something else.

    Ed

  15. #15
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    356

    What Motivates People...

    Interestig rant...

    I think people make rational decisions based upon motivates them. When we look a someone else's actions, they might seem strange to us because we do not understand their priorities.

    About 10 years ago, my mother-in-law drove a red convertable Jaguar, the decked-out one. White top, tan leather, it looked GREAT. However, as a vehicle it left a lot to be desired. For its size, it was tiny inside. I could not sit in it. With the top down, I had to cock my head to one side. The hood was enormously long. It was not particularly quick. Handling was a bit sloppy. It required premium fuel. Most of all, however, everything broke on it. Did I mention the price?

    If someone was looking for performance, quality, and value, that old Jag was the most irrational purchase possible. However, if someone was looking for style over all else, it makes perfect sense.

    Consider "fashion", and all that can be wrapped up in it. Function, preformance, value, and longevity are not in the picture at all. The goal is an emotional reaction to how one feels about themselves, and more importantly, how they think others feel about them.

    I bet most of the readers here tend to be very logical and mathematical. Hence, functionality, performance, and value. Don't forget doing things the right way! I am guilty as charged. I simply cannot understand fashion because it is so illogical to me.

    Here is a good one. I busted out last night when I heard this, however, Wife did not find it so funny...

    She wants to re-upholster two chairs we have. (Furniture people grow on trees around here, they will almost work for food.) They are nice chairs, very decent quality. Problem, they are red. She wants them blue, in order to better match the room we are putting together. However, we have spent a ton of money lately, she wants to keep the cost down. So she comes home with some crappy blue fabric for $5.00/yard. No way are we going to rip off nice fabric to replace with this junk, I told her. Well, she says, better fabric is 2 to 3 times as much and we'll need 20 yards.

    Her exact words that I found so funny. "I hate to put cheaper fabric on... However, I do not want to spend a lot. The chairs will not be so nice or last as long... but that's o.k., no one is going to be sitting on them anyway." I fell on the floor.

    And that is totally logical to her. Amazing.

    jocko

  16. #16
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    223
    Kex,

    I understand the point you're making and it may only be a matter of semantics, but I wouldn't use the word "quality" to describe what you're talking about. To me, the word "value" best describes this property. I'd have to say that quality does mean such things as durability, longevity, and superior performance, otherwise how would you be able to describe these properties. I think quality is a singular property, something is either high quality or not, whereas value is a measure of one property against another. If something does not perform exceptionally well it may not be a very high quality component, but if it can be obtained for an very good price, it may still be considered a good value. Conversely, it is possible to have a component which is very high quality, but doesn't really represent a good value to most consumers. Some very high quality audio components fall exactly into that catagory.

    Like I said, Kex. I understand the point that you're making, but I can't say that I agree because I think the terminologly is wrong.

    Q

  17. #17
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,994

    Talking

    Quility, listening to a cd on your nice HT. Quinity,downloading 5000 cd's onto something and walking around while you lister to them.
    Look & Listen

  18. #18
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025

    Quagmire, Ed

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Kex,

    I understand the point you're making and it may only be a matter of semantics, but I wouldn't use the word "quality" to describe what you're talking about. To me, the word "value" best describes this property. I'd have to say that quality does mean such things as durability, longevity, and superior performance, otherwise how would you be able to describe these properties. I think quality is a singular property, something is either high quality or not, whereas value is a measure of one property against another. If something does not perform exceptionally well it may not be a very high quality component, but if it can be obtained for an very good price, it may still be considered a good value.
    I have to disagree, quality is comparative too...Quality is probably the most subjective trait of any product. I would think a Lexus sedan to be higher quality than a Ford F-150, but if I'm towing 1500 lbs every day, I'm pretty sure that Lexus will break down first...it all comes back to design goals. If you only need a parachute to work once, you don't really care if it's made with leather, gold, made etc...as long as it does the job it was designed to do. Part of its design goals include the cost aspect, hence the quality and cost must be related. In my above example, both are vehicles but have different features (and possible uses). In this case the cheaper one might be "higher quality" for certain uses. Maybe I'm biased having worked for Honda, that was certainly the definition Honda used, and I'm aware of its acceptance in other manufacturing firms as the definition of quality.

    To me "truth in advertising" means the correct dissemination of features and price...power windows are either there, or not. Quality is too subjective a term to describe tangibly. You'll rarely see a company promise a level of tangible quality (ie: rate of failure less than 1%, etc..) Instead they walk a fine line and allow the consumer to fill in the blanks.

    I think we are discussing semantics here though. Perhaps it's about time the consumers started demanding specs on quality such as "rate of failure, expected longevity, etc" in addition to the performance specs we all want. Then we could flame a company that refuses to provide this info, or misleads us.

    I think Sir Terrence is right about changing values, however. When I worked for Honda, our customer research revealed our customers to hold Quality (typical definition, ie: longevity, durability, no break-downs etc) higher than Price, Performance, Safety, and Ergonomics. (on a side note, Honda's internal research suggested the US manufacturers had closed the "quality gap", but perceptions remained in the market).
    GM customers value Performance and Price almost equally, with Quality a distance third.
    I may be out of touch, but at one point in time, Volvo's customers viewed Safety as the most important feature.
    If I tell somebody to build me something, for X dollars, that performs in such a way, and is reliable 89% of the time, the product is of high quality if it accomplishes that. I cannot complain if the manufacturer meets my expectation. If I expect reliability 99% of the time, but buy something that has reliability only 89% of the time, I was either lied to, or I compromised. If I compromised, I only have myself to blame.

  19. #19
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    1,370
    I had almost finished a post when I lost power--an omen? Anyway, I agree that semantics is a big part of this discussion. That said, the car companies don't have a monopoly on what "quality" means to people. Language use is too slippery for any one pragmatic definition to dominate. However, to the extent that "quality" means "characteristic" or "feature," kexo is right to privilege design parameters. Interestingly, though, the term by itself has assumed the sense of something superior rather than merely generic. And the term "value" has acquired two senses, almost completely at odds--either cost effectiveness or monetary worth. Both a Honda and a Jaguar will get you from point A to point B (though the Jag may break down more). Each has more value than the other for completely different but not necessarily conflicting reasons, despite the shared descriptive term. The comparison of apples and oranges usually isn't controversial. A truck can haul, and a Lexus can seat comfortably. No one's going to lose any sleep debating this point. Nor is anyone likely to get all worked up because, say, leather, as opposed to cloth, makes for quality seating, even if the justification for the term turns out to be price alone.

    We can generally see through or ignore distinctions that boil down to semantics or discontinuity. Relative quality comes up only when we expect a certain group of items under a single heading to perform similar functions. Quality is also at stake when things generally don't perform well because not enough people care or can tell--whether longevity, function, WAF, or construction is the root of the problem. At the risk of triviality, take a DVD player. The very name implies competence at various tasks, but how many tasks and how much performance at what cost, compromise, or margin for error? And how obligated is a manufacturer to tell you? As kexo says, somewhere along the line, consumers are responsible for what they purchase, but consumers don't alwyas come into the world, or the store, knowing what to look for. Companies and advertisers have had a field day giving people less than they can at their price because, for one reason or another, they were able to traffic on ignorance (or, less perjoratively, lack of knowledge). This happens all of the time; it's almost built into the system. On a board like this one, we're hoping to get information that isn't always forthcoming through the readily available channels. To some extent, consumer responsibilty correlates with level of interest and conscientiousness, but not completely. Business cultures have their characteristics, too, and in a complex, specialized society, much can be hidden. If a company gets the idea that it can make a few bucks deceiving the public, it just might. The tactic has been successful enough to repay repetition.

    Kexo wrote, "If I tell somebody to build me something, for X dollars, that performs in such a way, and is reliable 89% of the time, the product is of high quality if it accomplishes that. I cannot complain if the manufacturer meets my expectation. If I expect reliability 99% of the time, but buy something that has reliability only 89% of the time, I was either lied to, or I compromised. If I compromised, I only have myself to blame." True, but how much of what you own is a result of your own specifications. Most of what you have, you purchase. What you purchase is largely amenable to your research, but not completely. A great deal of your information comes from manufacturers and their advertisers. If we're lucky, an independent press will help to pick up the slack. But a great deal of what we use may as well be a black box, and we don't have time to reinvent it ourselves to determine whether it's up to snuff.

    By the way, this isn't a rant on anyone. I mainly agree with kexo, Q, and everything written in this thread, it's just a damn interesting topic, and I can't resist running my mouth, er fingers, off.

    Ed

  20. #20
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    Weird, before my last reply to you and Q simultaneously, I had a 500 word essay on the go to you alone, Ed, then my power cut out too...guess it wasn't meant to be.

    I'm reminded of a little hanging my barber has in his shop, something to the effect of:

    "We offer service three ways:

    Good, Fast, Cheap

    You can have any two of the three:
    If you want it quick and cheap, it won't be good.
    If you want it cheap and good, it won't be quick.
    If you want it quick and good, it won't be cheap."

  21. #21
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    1,370
    kexo,

    We defy fate and press firmly ahead. As for the barber, thank god I'm thinning. Nice talking to you.

    Ed

  22. #22
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    223
    "I have to disagree, quality is comparative too..."

    Oh I'm not saying that there aren't degrees of quality, this is certain. In fact it is up to the discriminating consumer to evaluate the quality of a product compared to the price being asked. To me, that is the process of determining its value.

    "...Quality is probably the most subjective trait of any product."

    Sorry, but I totally disagree. What is subjective, open to interpretation, etc... is OUR PERCEPTION of the product's quality. The intergrity of the product itself does not change in response to our opinion of it.

    "...it all comes back to design goals. If you only need a parachute to work once, you don't really care if it's made with leather, gold, made etc...as long as it does the job it was designed to do."

    And if you were inspecting the chute before your jump and found that it was constructed of tissue paper... what would you think of its quality then? But to play devils advocate for a moment, lets say that you had mistakenly heard that this was the latest greatest material being used in modern parachute design. Your belief or perception is that this is a fine quality chute, plus it's being offered at half the price of conventional parachutes. None of your beliefs about the parachute are going to change the fact that if used, it is going to disentegrate, and you are probably going to plummet to your death. The parachute seemed a good value to you, but only because you misjudged the properties of the material and thus, the overall quality of the parachute. The properties of the chute material can be objectively and scientifically tested. That a particular brand of parachute is made with high grade materials and to exacting standards will determine the overall quality of the product. Whether or not it represents a good value to the customer is open to interpretation and is a highly subjective thing.

    "You'll rarely see a company promise a level of tangible quality (ie: rate of failure less than 1%, etc..) Instead they walk a fine line and allow the consumer to fill in the blanks."

    My point exactly. The customer filling in the blanks is the subjective aspect of this process evaluating various criteria (including their perception of the quality) against other things like cost, functionality, style, availability, etc... to make a determination as to the product's overall value to them.

    "If I tell somebody to build me something, for X dollars, that performs in such a way, and is reliable 89% of the time, the product is of high quality if it accomplishes that."

    And if somebody else builds the same type of product and it is reliable 92% of the time it is made to an even higher standard of quality. But it may hold little value to the consumer if they want to charge 10 times as much for it. Whether or not someone is willing to pay that price to get the extra 3% reliablity is up to them. It may be needed or highly desired by one person, but not that important to another. Its value is determined by the consumer but the added reliability or "build quality" is determined by the manucturer. The numbers to support the better build quality are either there or they are not and that is not up for interpretation.

    I do agree it is a matter of semantics in what you call it, but I also think there is an important distinction between the two principles.

    Q

  23. #23
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Sorry, but I totally disagree. What is subjective, open to interpretation, etc... is OUR PERCEPTION of the product's quality. The intergrity of the product itself does not change in response to our opinion of it.
    No the characteristics of the good remain fixed, however its use will play huge role in determining quality. You will typically see quality defined as "the customer’s perception of how a good or service is fit for their purpose and how it satisfies stated and implicit specifications." (source: International Standards Organization)
    The key here being "satisfying needs." I'm afraid unlike a physical property, quality is subjective, quality is based on perception. Something used in 2 different functions may exhibit different quality characteristics, it may be successful in one function 100% of the time, yet successful at another only 90% of the time. The physical properties remain the same, yet degree of satisfaction changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    And if you were inspecting the chute before your jump and found that it was constructed of tissue paper... what would you think of its quality then? But to play devils advocate for a moment, lets say that you had mistakenly heard that this was the latest greatest material being used in modern parachute design. Your belief or perception is that this is a fine quality chute, plus it's being offered at half the price of conventional parachutes. None of your beliefs about the parachute are going to change the fact that if used, it is going to disentegrate, and you are probably going to plummet to your death.
    Your tissue paper chute example leaves out one critical aspect of my argument...the design goals/needs...it is unlikely that a chute using tissue paper would accomplish its goal of getting landing the body safely and under control. It's also unlikely the manufacturer or the consumer would expect it to land the person intact. However, if it's goal was to kill the me, then it would accomplish that very well. If the manufacturer claimed it would land me intact and it failed more than acceptable parameters (which are probably exceptionally high for parachutes), then it is poor quality. If by the grace of good this tissue chute landed me intact 100% of the time, what difference does grade or cost of material make?
    If you use copper tubing to deliver hot water in your home, or platinum tubing, is the platinum of higher quality simply because it costs more, oxidizes at a slower pace, is more maleable, etc?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    The parachute seemed a good value to you, but only because you misjudged the properties of the material and thus, the overall quality of the parachute. The properties of the chute material can be objectively and scientifically tested.
    My point exactly, if I misjudged the properties of the material, and wasn't lied to (or misguided) by the seller, how can I blame anyone but myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    And if somebody else builds the same type of product and it is reliable 92% of the time it is made to an even higher standard of quality.
    No, it is made to higher degree of reliability, added quality only exists if there is a net benefit of having 92% reliability in this case. If 92% is unecessary and yields no benefit to me, even if costs are equal, I am indifferent to either selection. Quality is very much about meeting needs. One cannot look at the measurable properties in isolation of the designed purpose of the object in question, or the demands of the consumer. Sometimes these don't necessarily equal the same thing, this is where expectations come in. This I think is the real topic of this thread, the gap between corporate design goals and consumer expectations at certain price points.

  24. #24
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    223
    Funny, I know of many companies and manufacturers which have "quality control" programs in place to ensure that what they send out the door meets certain standards. This function is not in the control of the consumer. What you are describing to me would relate more to the marketing of a product and "customer satisfaction". There may definitely be a correlation between the quality of a product that gets sent out the door and the customers' satisfaction, but they are not one and the same.

    "No the characteristics of the good remain fixed, however its use will play huge role in determining quality."

    No, its use may determine the degree of customer satisfaction, which I once again assert is a determination of its "value" relative to the consumer, but it doesn't change the product. The customer either values the quality of a product or does not.

    "No, it is made to higher degree of reliability..."

    And how is this accomplished? If a manufacturer doesn't use a higher quality material, a better design, or better methods of construction, then how is reliability inscreased. The consumer doesn't determine this, the consumer only responds to the increased reliability and places a value on the product.

    "This I think is the real topic of this thread, the gap between corporate design goals and consumer expectations at certain price points."

    This we agree on. ;-)

    Q

  25. #25
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    6,826
    Some of the comments and observations in this thread are very interestering.

    Keep it up folks!!
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Do CD players make a difference in sound quality?
    By hershon in forum Home Theater/Video
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 01-31-2005, 07:54 AM
  2. Real deal about mp3 quality.
    By Kaboom in forum General Audio
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-23-2004, 09:04 AM
  3. Help! Question on DVD player audio quality...
    By Sammy EX in forum General Audio
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-12-2004, 07:50 PM
  4. Component versus S-video quality
    By lsmike in forum Cables
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 03-20-2004, 08:21 PM
  5. ConsumerReport's rating of HD direct-view TVs.
    By Smokey in forum News & Rumors
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-18-2004, 09:56 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •