Is anything really new?

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One of our readers asks the question “is anything out there really new or just incremental advances to old technology?” Good question.

I think the answer is yes, but with some qualifiers.

Let’s take loudspeakers. The vast majority of loudspeakers are based on the same driver technology of a cone, a voice coil and a magnet. Tweeters, on the other hand, are almost never a cone because most are domes – but they started out as cones – so there’s something new that’s stuck. But still, domes have been around for a long, long time – so maybe nothing truly new here.

How about electrostatic and ribbon? While new to many, these are actually decades old technologies being refined by companies like Martin Logan and Magnepan.

Indeed, I can’t think of any really new speaker technology today. How about on the horizon?

What I see off in the distance is a trend to all-in-one speakers with everything you need to play music built in – wireless, high-end, DSP corrected, single box creating three dimensional audio and awesome sounding. Now, that’s new and innovative and blending some of the old with some of the very new – or is it?

I am reminded that actually everything was an all-in-one approach in the beginning. The old hand crank Victrolas, console stereos were all one-box wonders. In fact, the “new” was when we separated everything and we’re just now coming back full circle making old new again – just with a twist – but what a twist!

New might be direct-to-vinyl eclipsed by the tape recorder,LP’s eclipsed by CD’s, wire eclipsed by fiber optics – but one could also argue these are just improvements of what came before.

I think new is a point of view and one different for us all.