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Friday, January 16, 2009

Final CES Note - The Audio Hit of the Show

It seems that the big hit of the high-end audio portion of the CES show comes from an unusual source; professional audio. What's the difference between the two, you ask? Pro audio equipment is built for the rigors and abuse of long hours in the studio while hi-end audiophile audio is built for delicate listening at home at lower levels. The hi-end guys are used to selling a few items a year at vastly inflated prices (like a pair of speakers for $125k, a simple power cord for $2k, or an "audiophile" volume knob for $500) mainly to wealthy businessmen who've never heard anything better and have bought the hype.

The audiophiles have always looked down upon the pro guys as some kind of Neanderthals that wouldn't know quality audio if we tripped over it, but we (the pro audio guys) have always known better. Now, some vindication.

It seems from all reports that Allen Side's Oceanway Monitors were the hit of the CES show, at least in the ears of the many dealers and customers there. At a mere $34k (complete with all amplifiers, crossovers, AND installation), the monitors beat by a long shot any so called "audiophile" product at the show in repeated listening test. One Japanese dealer even placed an order for 40 (!!) pair and set numerous end-users scrambling to sell off their $125k white elephants before their value drops to nothing.

Having mixed on early custom version of the monitors at A&M Records Studio back in the early 80's when I first landed in Hollywood, I can say that these speakers are the finest large monitors you'll ever hear. They never sound loud, only big; and you never get ear fatigue either!

$34,000 is a lot to pay for a pair of monitors and realistically out of the price-range of most listeners, even pros. But if you've got the dough, you might as well buy the best! Maybe the audiophile guys should learn to trust the pros that listen for a living more often.

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