One of the things we’ve been discussing with people on our facebook pages is the lack of understanding many people have regarding the equipment needed to play music in the home. Generally (and not amongst people who own a decent audio system) there is a sense of scepticism. “You spent how much?” is something I’ve heard many times when I have answered a friends question about my system at home. It’s usually followed by “you must be crazy” or “you’ve more money than sense”. I explain that I don’t have a lot of money, don’t drive a particularly expensive car and I don’t take expensive holidays in distant resorts. I save and save until I can afford to upgrade my system at home. But I might as well not bother; such is the skepticism and sense of outrage that some people have towards a good music replay system.
At such times I realise that the hi-fi industry have done little collectively to explain the truth; that better equipment gives better sound at home.
Usually the worst of this ridicule is saved for truly high end products that are very highly priced. One example is the Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus pictured above. Another is the Naim Audio Statement Audio System.
These products stand outside the “normal” audio market and not particularly because of their price. In reality such products are proving ground for new technology.
The Rega Niaad turntable above is a perfect example. Rega have been working on a truly high-end record player for many years now. The Niaad is a result of a desire to make the very best turntable that they possible can and yet it is quite likely that it will never appear on the open market. If that’s the case then why bother?
The answer is simple; a great deal is learned when you spend time and money developing something truly extraordinary. Call it a statement product or a “blue sky” project. It takes a brave director and deep pockets to develop such a product because cost is usually not an object. But the benefits can be immense.
Because a turntable is pure engineering then it is a victim of the materials it uses and the tolerances of those. Improve the tolerance of every component and you will end up with a product that measures the vinyl more effectively. The problem is Rega already developed high tolerance components throughout the signal chain. In manufacturing tolerance is everything and improving it costs a lot. Often it involves new tooling, new raw materials and often the design or modification of existing materials. These things are not “off the shelf”.
In the case of the Niaad there is currently no end in sight for the product and no decision has been made to manufacture the product commercially. We’d love to see and hear it and look forward to doing so at some point. But we have already seen the benefits of the Niaad project appearing in the new P series turntables. These start at £248. It’s just an F1 car proving new technology that ends up in the family saloon.
Toys for the rich?
That may be how it seems to people who don’t have the full picture. In reality however the Nautilus gave birth the 800 series, the 700 series and the budget 600 series; products that are well within reach of most people. Technology proven at the high end available in your home.
It’s the same with Naim Audio and their Statement product. Of course a few of these wind up in the hands of the rich but in reality the tech from these products winds up filtering down to the Muso and Uniti products as well.
In our experience the seriously wealthy are far too interested in bling to spend their money on good quality hi-fi systems. They want status products and hi-fi doesn’t have a great deal of status. Again this is a failing of our industry and an inherent lack of understanding on the part of the general public who often believe that they “can’t tell the difference anyway” and that hi-fi is for anoraks. It’s their loss.
One of the reasons Moorgate Acoustics tries to invest in companies who manufacture cutting edge products is that they move forward the art form. They make it possible to make better sound. Sound is what we’re all about and we know that high end developments almost always trickle down to the affordable end of the market before long.
Discover the story of the Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus loudspeakers here
Discover the story of the Naim Statement here