Hard Times and the High End

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Magico M5
Hard Times and the High End

Just recently a reader with the screen name "blackfly" posted this cogent comment to the thread on the $89k Magico M5 loudspeaker:

Personally, I very much like the M5, and would love to own a pair should I ever be able to afford it. And yes, the rest of the system would be commensurate with the needs of the M5. But I must admit reading the reviews/threads regarding this is somewhat amusing considering the fact the U.S. economy is on the brink of collapse and we are talking like nothing is happening. Some peoples' houses are not worth what the M5's are, yet it seems lost on some (perhaps most) that these speakers are on par with luxury cars, more actually if you factor in the room needed and the equipment to run it.

Does this mean I think the M5 is a waste or not worth it? No. In fact, I am sure (and I know a fair bit about CNC machining so I can appreciate the front baffle) it is superlative in every way but it is hard to hear clearly the music and subtle nuances when your stomach is growling because you cannot afford food. I suppose you could rationalize that if you are interested in this hobby you must have some means but the number who were and now are none is surprising, and considering most wealth is tied up in investments the very audience for gear like this is dwindling fast.

I think the audio world is going to take a real hit in the next year or so and it might include Magico. You do not make something the market cannot buy and it would be a real loss to see the M5 go but a reality nevertheless. 

You can read my response to blackfly at www.avguide.com/forums/magico-m5-loudspeakers. But the issue he raises goes well beyond Magico M5s or the ultra-high end. The economy has affected buyers in every sector of the market, from budget to state of the art, because buyers in every sector scale their purchases to what they can afford--and today they can generally afford less. Moreover, even if they are still in a position to buy, many of them aren't because they're afraid to. No matter how much money you have in the bank you have to be able to give yourself psychological permission to spend it, and as we all know fewer are in the mood to do that right now. 

To be honest, I don’t know what the future holds for high-end audio at any and all price points. I do know that many high-end companies are having a very bad year. (Magico, BTW, isn’t one of them.) God knows the rest of the economy is in such a shambles that what happens to our hobby seems, as blackfly says, the least of it. Everything depends on how deep this recession goes and how long it lasts, and at the moment no one can say.

What I do know is that, barring a second decade-long Great Depression, TAS will still be around to report on this little industry. And what I also known, as I said in different words to blackfly, is that amazing things like M5s and Soulution electronics would remain amazing even if there were no market for them.