Furniture store hi fi

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One of my unrealized long term goals is to provide the means to build full systems, a function dealers used to provide, and some still do. Those special few.

Years ago music systems were integrated consoles, one piece of furniture that had everything to make sound in our living room. Set the console where you wanted it, plug it in, music comes from vinyl or radio. It was designed as one unit, integrated to work perfectly unto itself. Once the idea of the console stereo took hold, and as often happens, performance went downhill–the cabinets became more important than the contents. Furniture makers who knew nothing of audio stuffed good looking furniture with as low cost equipment as they could find, placing more emphasis on the furniture than the components inside; a trend we still see today, although in a different guise.

Once manufacturers figured out the public tended to buy consoles for how they looked, rather than how they sounded, the logical retail outlet was the furniture store, not the radio shop. People were often disappointed with the sound once they got them home. To solve that problem and regain their business, the electronic manufacturers, who promoted quality over looks, took the electronics out of the speakers, and began selling separate metal enclosures through modified radio shops that became hi fi stores instead. But once we had many parts to a system, and often from different manufacturers, it became the job of the dealer to curate bits together to form systems that matched: amps that could drive speakers and still sound good. Much of what we see today is the remnants of this paradigm shift from furniture that made music, to separates that drive furniture with speakers inside.

The advent of home theater, catalog, and internet sales have changed forever the way dealers stay in business. Few survive on the old idea of 2-channel mix and match for customers. And so we are left to fend for ourselves. For the most part.

And it occurs to me the burden of system curation might rightfully fall to the manufacturers instead–which is where it started, before cabinet makers fancied themselves as hi fi manufacturers, and furniture stores as outlets for music systems.

Funny how sometimes we come full circle–though that circle is typically a spiral–rarely meeting in the same place more than once.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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