The Digital Dilemma: Sellout, or Survival?
In a recent post by a member of one of my LinkedIn groups, the writer offered a perspective on the current state of salesmanship in our community with evangelistic zeal. The focus of his ire was what he perceived to be an over-reliance on soundbars by residential technology integrators. He took his peers—systems designers and sales people—to task.
He argued that they were applying soundbars as a panacea for the challenges of audio for video. He further asserted that media systems professionals were promoting the degradation of the audio experience and contributing to the erosion profit.
Considering his argument from the other side of the proverbial coin, you could counter that the explosive growth of soundbars is simply a response to end-user demand. We might argue that soundbars have created sales opportunities where, perhaps due to economic pressures, none might have otherwise existed. But an audio enthusiast or professional might likely agree with the assertion that the business is sliding downhill.
Not unlike Robert Plant, I’ve been “trying to find a bridge” ever since I read that LinkedIn post. Are we really on some downward slide as an industry? Was the writer an overzealous audio freak? Are his observations the result of some inherent negative influence by digital technologies on speaker design? Or, as our subject asserted, has the consumer’s expectation of quality in a home media system been diminished by the lack of salesmanship or professionalism in our ranks?
Soundbars began as the result of a simple condensation, or synthesis, of traditional passive speakers. Quickly, soundbars began to incorporate digital attributes at gigabyte rates. Like the Borg charging across the universe, soundbars assimilated digital technologies, without prejudice, on a mission to seize dominance of the home media system.
Soundbars and their predecessors, desktop speakers, now carry digital inputs, digital signal routing, digital amplifiers, digital performance management and wireless capabilities as they continuously evolve. They have morphed so quickly, we can’t even recall their primordial analog beginnings of just a few short years ago.