Sensitivity to marketing messages is quite useful when you consider buying audio components. Weigh how audio component promotion tries to influence you. Consider the associations that marketing messages call up in your mind and ask, "What is this company really trying to sell me?"
For example, you may detect snob appeal -- a psychological play for value perception based on secondary motivations about your self-image and possible self-judgment. Elitism coddles the ego to hide excessive pricing or to excuse the uselessness of flashy cosmetic design. Buying overpriced gear so folks might envy you is too indirect to be musically rewarding. It's like mentioning your second cousin married a former pop music star's ex-spouse. Could that actually help an audio gear purchase to go well?
Many audio product vendors only have one way to make a profit -- by selling an audio component. Marketing messages may try many things to get you dissatisfied with your existing components and sell you a new one. Snob appeal is a typical tactic. However, it offers little help with obtaining any good value.
So if a marketing message says you'll "play music like a Boss," that earns at least one demerit. If an ad drops famous customers' names, that could be useful if they are highly regarded musicians, but not if they are simply celebrities. Critical discernment gives you significant advantages. Be perceptive and benefit.
Most helpful of all, a well-designed product is its own best marketing. A simple, truthful description will immediately reveal obvious value if it's present, or the lack of it. All this matters to Audio Lovers because it simplifies configuring a high-value, fully satisfying music system.
Specific reference to useful features and functions predict greater musical pleasure if they directly enhance listening. Credible details about reviewed musical performance also help. For example, if the marketing message about a Tube Buffer promises "listeners report their music gains enhanced clarity, warmth, and smoothness" and "wider, deeper soundstage with greater instrument separation and better placement," that is highly relevant.
Judge for yourself if the component comes with a money-back, satisfaction guarantee and audition period. Then you can listen to familiar recordings with this Buffer in the signal path and discern both the musical fidelity and the company's integrity in the same session. And your risk is limited to the cost of returning the product.
You can enhance musical realism in any audio system including the one you already have by these means --
- Eliminate common faults from your system like poor speaker orientation.
- Apply anti-vibration to all of your audio components.
- Maintain your interconnects. Treat them against invisible corrosion.
- Optimize your listening room's acoustics.
And there's much more possible. I authored the popular iHi-Fi Audio Setup Guide to help Music Lovers access high quality listening at least cost. The Kindle e-book price is all of $2.99 on Amazon.com. This is probably the cheapest high-end music component ever released. Be confident that reading it will give you at least one musical improvement that repays the cost and reading effort.
Are you are already getting the very best music that your present system can produce? You won't know until you apply system optimization. Learn how to set up your present audio system well. Good system setup makes it possible for any music system to sound its very best. Until you achieve a great setup, the best potential is not in buying new components because the new gear would also lack good setup.
First, optimize the system you already have. This is potentially very rewarding. Only then can you accurately gauge where you stand and be confident you can get some new piece of gear to sound its very best. If you still insist on be an elitist, why not be an audio setup snob? At least then you're proud of a skill you have mastered rather than simply buying some component that anyone could purchase to assert social rank by demonstrating a level of wealth. And still, someone else will always be wealthier.
The music we choose is the soundtrack for our lives. Make it the best it can be.
-- Joseph Riden