Affordable absurdity

To Doug Schneider,

I wanted to comment on the letter from David V. regarding affordable reference components. I really feel that David hit the nail on the head for me because this has long been one of my biggest complaints about audiophile publications. I read a lot of audiophile magazines and websites because I'm genuinely interested in the subject and want to build the best system I can. But I am not rich. I have a better-than-average income, but not in my wildest dreams could I afford or, perhaps more accurately, justify spending $20k+ on a piece of stereo equipment. And yet I constantly see reviews describing a reference component costing $20k+ as "affordable." I don't get that. $20k is only truly affordable to the tiniest percentage of the population. It doesn't mean that the component is not worth the money, but don't insult readers by describing it as affordable.

At the same time I'm interested in getting the best equipment that I can reasonably afford. A lot of times when I begin reading reviews I look at the price to decide whether to even bother finishing the article, because in many cases I know that I will never be able to buy the piece being reviewed. I understand why those items are being written about because they do provide a reference point, but I feel that too much ink is devoted to equipment that only that tiny percentage of people can actually afford to own. I guess what I'm getting at is what David V. alluded to. It would be nice to see reviews of truly affordable equipment and have their performance pegged to the best. Maybe that's a simplistic description, but it would help people who don't necessarily have easy access to dealers and can't audition a lot of equipment personally.

Stephen Graham

You and David make very good points. I cringe when I read a review of a component that costs thousands and thousands of dollars and it’s called “affordable.” It’s worse yet if one of our reviewers writes it. After all, what do most reviewers know about “affordability”? I might know one writer who is incredibly rich (maybe), but most reviewers live on modest incomes and don’t even pay full list price for the stuff they buy.

To me what’s affordable is the Paradigm Atom Monitor v.7 I reviewed this month ($400/pair), not the Magico Q3 ($38,950/pair) that we have highlighted as a Recommended Reference Component, the Revel Salon2s that are my reference speakers ($21,998/pair), or the Vivid Giya G2s that I just set up to review ($50,000/pair). That’s not to say these three speakers aren't great speakers or that they can't be good value, just that they’re not affordable for the average person, which is the point you and David make. Calling them that would simply be absurd. . . . Doug Schneider