The lowly receiver

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In the "good old days" the electronics for a hi fi system was all in one box that usually included a power amp, preamp and radio tuner. We found them in consoles and built in cabinets. They were very convenient.

Separates have appeared, on and off again, since the late 1940's and the lowly receiver has been with us ever since (it peaked in the 70's and 80's).

The idea of a complete stereo system in a box has many appealing qualities: lack of interconnects and connectors, each piece designed specifically for the task at hand, same design team and controllable environment. It also has a number of negative ramifications: shared power supplies, increased noise within the chassis and the chance to cut corners.

But I wonder if now the time might be getting ripe for the introduction of a true high-end one-box stereo system? After all, we now know enough to create one without compromise. The advantages would be really big: convenient, better performance than all those separates, the system tweaked as a whole, possibility of an amazing connected interface to control everything and help the high-end stay up with today's desire for compact and easy.

Is the world of high-end ready for such a thing?

I have been impressed with some of the better Japanese receivers of late. They are pretty good performers - not something I would own yet, but they do demonstrate that it is indeed possible to offer the level of quality and specs you would need to engineer into them. Their biggest problem is they are still trying to be the everything-to-everyone Swiss Army knife.

The disciplines and engineering resources needed to do this would be big and perhaps prohibitive to most high-end companies.

What might be interesting is if three or four high-end manufacturers joined together (gasp!) and designed such a product - each company contributing the design of what they're best at - and then packaging their own version of the consortium's design into their own product. Now that would be a hoot, but probably nothing more than a pipe dream.

Is the world ready for that?

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Paul McGowan

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