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New from the audio analyst©, Part 2 - What’s Causing the Stir in Affordable Audio Gear Today?

06-04-2024 | By Greg Weaver | Issue 133

David W. Robinson and Greg Weaver:  Audio buds from way-back! Long Valley, NJ, 2023. (photograph by Bill Parish)

I make no excuses for being able to listen to my music daily on a synergistic two-channel audio system that I've assembled over the decades, one that costs more than three times what I paid for my home and property here in the Midwest.

Keep in mind that my current system didn't just fall into place. Rather, it is the result of the ongoing metamorphosis of system upgrade after system upgrade over my entire working career, starting with my paper route when I was just eight years old. It is the culmination of everything I've learned and worked for over my entire life, an ongoing audio journey, one that now brings me—and many of my audio buds—such regular monumental emotional satisfaction. In fact, I worked two years past when I had expected to retire to be able to afford my dream loudspeakers, the Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 9s.

But do you ever wonder when, or even if, the ever-increasing prices we see being charged for luxury audio gear, the product category I have chosen to focus on and to define as "Hyper-Audio," will ever level out and stop increasing every time you go online or open a HiFi magazine? I know I have.

That very premise has led me to focus even more closely than before on what can be accomplished both in real-world spaces—like a living or family-room, rather than a dedicated, treated listening room—and with gear that anyone can easily afford, not just Oligarchs or Hedge Fund managers. This premise has spurred a series of episodes on my channel called "Second Space."

There can no longer be any doubt that as we enjoy the benefits derived during this current, renewed golden age, witnessing a surfeit of exceptional high-fidelity audio products, the reality of trickle-down from the Hyper Audio strata of gear has made it possible for you to buy products of remarkable quality and exemplary performance that simply weren't possible just ten or fifteen years ago. Think I'm kidding? Take a look at the amazing level of performance one can expect from a minuscule and absurdly affordable DAC, one that sells for less than a hundred bucks! I think you'll be as impressed as I was. Have a look, and a listen…

E174: The Amazing S.M.S.L SU-1 DAC https://youtu.be/23PcIVcdEaw