W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

[Audio] Why good engineering never wins

Engineering is not just about building something - a monkey can do that

Building something that performs well.

And building the best while working within limits.

And cost is always one of the limits.

If a product of a specific performance is required, a well-designed product would be cheaper for the same performance.

Cheap parts can be used to achieve same or better performance than a design using expensive parts.

This translate to lower costs. And if the market is perfectly competitive, lower prices. Consumers are happy. Designers incapable of reducing the cost die off.

This is practiced almost everywhere.

But, when it comes to audiophile equipment, things can be different.

An amplifier with NE5532 and electrolytic caps for output, versus an amplifier with (insert discrete op-amp here) and PIO caps for output, which one would you think performs better?

Majority of fanatics would choose the latter.

Even though it may not be. Remember that engineering is about building the best for the least.

Or heck, say the two amps perform identically, but one uses cheaper parts through good design, the other uses a design from the 80's. The cheaper parts one is priced cheaper while the more expensive one is priced more expensive.

Which would people think performs better?

More expensive, more expensive parts, no doubt.

Even if the well-designed one is priced the same, people will look at it, and go for the more expensive-looking one. And then claim it is value-for-money because of the more expensive parts for the same price.

So a well-designed product is being penalized for being cost-effective.

And that is why people pay so much for wood.

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