Rising tides

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When the 6th largest economy in the world, California, raises automobile emissions standards the rest of the world is forced to go along and we all benefit from cleaner air. When the European Union sets new standards for electrical efficiency that forces every manufacturer to change its power supplies worldwide, we all benefit from using less energy. And when a company in our own small community of high-end audio sets a new bar for performance standards so radical we’re all forced to follow suit, the entire music-loving community of audiophiles benefit (though some may go kicking and screaming).

The cliche, of course, is that a rising tide floats all boats—a phrase commonly attributed to President John F Kennedy, who used it in a 1963 speech to combat criticisms that a dam project he was inaugurating was a pork-barrel project.

When we first launched the Power Plant in 1997, there were almost no AC power products on the market. MIT had its parallel box of caps and inductors called the Z-stabilizer and George Tice had built an isolation transformer, but they went mostly unnoticed. The PS Power Plant regenerator was a revolutionary new concept in high-end audio, one that sparked the interests of thousands, and spawned an entire product category of differing designs.

Though it wasn’t a government mandate, it exerted the same pressure to jump on board or be left behind.

When Ivor Tiefenbrun introduced the Linn LP12 in 1972, the world was forced to change—not because he had invented the turntable (he hadn’t), but because he introduced a table that outperformed just about everything else at a price people could afford. The LP12 became the defacto standard. If others in the field wished a stake at the table, they had no choice but to roll their sleeves up and meet the challenge—just like car manufacturers who want to sell in California, and power supply manufacturers who want to sell in Europe.

Competing ideas in a free market place, unencumbered by the heavy hand of monopolistic companies, are the engines that bring needed progress.