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These £80k audio system sound wonderful, however who’re they for?


OPINION: Within the early knockings of November, I attended an indication for the Wilson Audio Alexia V, a pair of audio system that value £80k – or £79,888 to be precise.

In fact, when coping with merchandise as costly as this, all the eye goes to be on the worth. I not too long ago reviewed an £11,999 8K TV and even that appears small fry in comparison with the price of these audio system.

These audio system aren’t for most individuals, clearly, and lots of make the error of fixating on the worth for a product that’s not aimed toward them. In case you can afford this speaker, then you’re the supposed goal market. It’s so simple as that.

The Wilson Audio Alexia V sounded nice, as you’d assume they need to when related to amplification and sources that presumably rack up a number of thousand kilos in value. However Peter McGrath, our presenter for session, additionally mentioned the audio system are “comparatively environment friendly” and may very well be run off a 50W amplifier, indicating they’re simple to drive – a formidable technical achievement.

They sounded extremely clear, nearly putting you within the setting the place the music was recorded. Anybody who buys the Alexia V can be impressed by the element, decision, readability and lack of noise they afford to music, whether or not it’s vinyl or streamed from the companies resembling Tidal and Qobuz.

However that wasn’t my foremost takeaway from the presentation, although. It was a remark I heard off-hand about individuals elevating their eyebrows concerning the worth (right here I’m going fixating on the worth), and that individuals wouldn’t say the identical if we had been speaking a couple of kitchen renovation or somebody shopping for a Ferrari.

The gist, I believe, is that these issues are accepted as being costly, however on the subject of hi-fi merchandise resembling a speaker or a pair of headphones, we’ve got it in our minds that they need to be comparatively inexpensive and if not then individuals tut and shake their heads.

And they might have some extent. In case you’re the kind of one that is after a high-performance speaker and have the pockets to pay for it, then why wouldn’t you?

Peter McGrath Wilson Audio
Peter McGrath in entrance of the Wilson Audio Alexia V

However the remark additionally had me spiraling in different instructions, so put together yourselves for a little bit of ramble concerning the hi-fi trade generally.

The music we listened to on the speaker was both intellectual in nature or (nice) recordings of stay performances aimed toward drawing consideration to the speaker’s traits. It will possibly, nevertheless, result in a barely elitist notion of a lot of these audio system and together with the worth suggests these audio system are to be appreciated by a sure sort of individual and that pool shouldn’t be a giant one.

Throughout any demonstration, every time the presenter asks if anybody wish to recommend some music, it at all times flashes throughout my thoughts that somebody ought to say A-ha’s Take On Me for enjoyable, or perhaps System of a Down’s B.Y.O.B – songs individuals may really come throughout on Spotify and Tidal.

There’s at all times been one thing of a disconnect, a chasm to leap over in these conditions, the place you’re feeling as if you must consider intelligent music decisions in order to not come throughout as some type of easy barbarian. Whenever you attain this stage it appears to err in direction of style, as if you happen to ought to hearken to Tchaikovsky and Bach slightly than Britney Spear’s Poisonous. You’re in rarefied air and should breathe accordingly.

And that makes me consider whether or not there’s a generational divide in how hi-fi sells itself, as if it’s just a little too caught in its personal methods at occasions.

It doesn’t really feel as if youthful individuals are diving into hi-fi with as a lot relish as older generations did, and even barely costly merchandise appear to trigger not only a detachment when it comes to their accessibility, however they’re nearly for individuals with an acquired, particular style. Hello-fi shouldn’t be a necessity, however a want and other people usually should debate costlier purchases slightly than merely going out and getting it.

There may be, I’d say, a conflict between the comfort that prospects need – a single or two field speaker system that may be a minimal fuss to make use of – and the utility and high-performance hi-fi producers wish to present with gadgets that don’t scrimp on high-quality music or the necessity for high-quality sources. A 128kbit/s Spotify stream shouldn’t nonetheless be a factor in 2022.

There’s room for each comfort and high-quality sound, however I do surprise if hi-fi nonetheless has that pull to attract individuals, particularly these of a youthful age, into its orbit. Whereas audio system just like the Wilson Audio Alexia V are undoubtedly nice, the market they’re reaching for is about.

It’s not of their DNA, however I’d like to see what Wilson Audio might do on the different finish of the market, and see if they may change a few of these youthful, impressionable minds.

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