- Aug 1, 2019
I agree, my original Mission Cyrus one from 1983, had a phono stage that I would put on par with a Naim Stageline. Indeed when I had a Naim Nait 5i, I used the Cyrus phono stage until I got a Naim 202 and a Stageline, to my surprise the Cyrus phono stage was in some respects better/different than the Naim. The latter had more PRaT, the Cyrus was more open as far as I recall.I find it astounding that an author for What Hifi does not understand is that a significant amount of the vintage gear sounds a whole lot better to many than newer products and certainly proposes better value. Surely there's a nostalgia element as well, but in the world of Hifi , especially High-end the quest for aesthetics has always been essentially tertiary - just think of those horns! I for one welcome the return of the vintage look. Definitely has the cool factor for me.
I don't replace Hi-Fi equipment very often. I have an 18 year old Art Audio Quintet Integrated valve amplifer, 13 year old Spendor A5 speakers and an 11 year old Quad Elite CD player. Two years ago I got the notion in my head to replace the power hungry valve amplifier. Surely after 18 years, solid state would have developed to a point where it could out-perform my old amp? I home tested several highly-thought-of modern designs. None of them could hold a candle to the Quintet. They may have controlled the bass better or had more detail, but they all lacked one important feature - the foot-tapping involvement and mid-range presence that a valve amp has in spades. So I have abandoned the search for a new amp and have had the Quintet serviced by the manufacturer (New power supply capacitors and new valves where needed). So for me, it's not an infatuation for nostalgia, I never moved on from the older designs.
Well supposedly he's technical editor....I find it astounding that an author for What Hifi does not understand is that a significant amount of the vintage gear sounds a whole lot better to many than newer products and certainly proposes better value. Surely there's a nostalgia element as well, but in the world of Hifi , especially High-end the quest for aesthetics has always been essentially tertiary - just think of those horns! I for one welcome the return of the vintage look. Definitely has the cool factor for me.
The music reproduction industry now has two options - 1] to make products which major on the latest technology, for these products to 'do more' in terms of connectivity, control, boil an egg, let the cat out ....
I think the HighEnd Show 2022 in Munich offered modern systems as well and not in a small number! Probably it's only a matter of perception? If you look at turntables, I guess they will always look 'nostalgic' but you'll find the best turntables in point of quality, running smoothness, accessories, etc. today and not in the past. On the other hand you'll always need to have a look at the 'inside qualities' - Aston Martin, Rolls Royce they are but brand new, have but a nostalgic outside -> customer won't buy a modern Rolls Royce I guess...
Interesting take. Of course, this particular trend is not operating in a vacuum. There is a cultural shift to designs of the past; witness, for example, the growth of mid-century furniture and design aesthetics not only in the antique market but also in many consumer items made now. Equally, architecture is rediscovering a 1960s/70s aesthetic against the shrinking size of modern boxes where a kitchen shares space with a television and a sofa. Part of this, I think, is a desire to embrace a time when things were less 'throwaway', and when furniture was made of solid wood and not chipboard covered in a1mm veneer for hideous prices, and dare I say it, when a loudspeaker was a reasonable item of furniture rather than vinyl wrapped black block. I might also add that things lasted longer, rather than some chipboard atrocity from IKEA. For many people, wood is simply nicer than plastic and clean lines are more pleasing to the eye, heck, for me a tube amp has a style all of its own, distinct from bland silver and black boxes. I'm not necessarily saying this is a good or bad thing, but it is a thing!
Maybe their memory of some of 1970s UK manufacturing and design is not good!However possibly the biggest fans of 'Made in England' products are in China and Japan! 🙂
\This guy is not hi fi a nut, , he seems to know very little about hi fi enthusiasts and the way our minds work ,much less about the equipment manufacturers and basic economics, if the majority of audiophiles didn't want retro designs the manufacturers simple would not make them ,besides as another poster pointed out most of these retro designs are built with modern tech anyway, as for vinyl well any fool knows it has more soul than digital ( except for sacd which comes close) especially playing RCA living stereo 1950s originals or reissues or warner classics , and sorry digital downloads which are not DSD don't even come close to physical media and their the majority, he's probably on a career journey towards hi tech gadgets working for apple or something ,take no notice he will be gone in a few months ??I find it astounding that an author for What Hifi does not understand is that a significant amount of the vintage gear sounds a whole lot better to many than newer products and certainly proposes better value. Surely there's a nostalgia element as well, but in the world of Hifi , especially High-end the quest for aesthetics has always been essentially tertiary - just think of those horns! I for one welcome the return of the vintage look. Definitely has the cool factor for me.
This retro trend is more than a love of the old look or the old sound. There is a lot of sentimentality thrown in too, or so the manufacturers appear to think.
The article talks about Wharfedale introducing a new version of the Dovedales and Astons. They intend to make them in a new facility in England despite being a Chinese company and having their own factory in China. It would be precisely the same design, sound, look, materials, build quality, finish and everything whether made in China or England. The days of Chinese manufacture being poorer is a long way behind us. Anyone who is prejudiced against Chinese manufacturing can’t have an iPhone. According to tradingeconomics.com in 2020 average UK manufacturing wages were over 3 times average Chinese ones. And as the What Hifi article on Timberworx suggests there’s a lot of labour in loudspeakers. So they are deliberately increasing their manufacturing costs to make precisely the same product!
The retail prices will be higher and substantially so. Factories, retailers, distribution companies and VAT mark ups are usually based on percentages. Every increase of £100 in manufacturing costs won’t lead to a £100 increase in retail price but much more. Depending on the margins taken this could be between 3 and 6 times as much.
No pretence of it being a better product, no pretence of better sound per pound, the exact opposite in fact. Their market research must make them believe for retro products some customers will pay more, probably a lot more, maybe several times as much, for precisely the same product if it comes with a made in England badge. This is just charging for sentimentality. It’s not just in the UK this applies - assuming they intend to export the products. Maybe there is a market of anglophiles living abroad for this stuff.
Its ironic that much of this sentimentality is about 1970’s products, hardly a glory period for UK design and manufacturing. UK manufacturers of motorbikes, televisions and hifis couldn’t compete with the Japanese and the motor industry was consolidated into British Leyland – remember the great hope the Austin Allegro!
Last week a Danish online retailer listed the Dovedales for the equivalent of £5185 a pair. The product looks similar in construction and build costs to the Lintons - similar looking cabinet, stand, mid-range, tweeter but smaller woofer. Even the designer just called them Lintons on steroids. But the Lintons are made in China and retail at £1250 a pair. This Dovedales’ price, if anywhere near correct, looks to include a lot for sentimentality.
Dewy eyed sentimentality about glory days, which weren’t so glorious, is driving the retro market as much as sound quality. Give the customers what they want, satisfy their prejudices. That’s good for business.
well Spendor make retro classic speakers and there not made in china they purchased a furniture maker to make their cabinets just down the road lol however their speakers are a bit pricy compared to the others in the same quality level so we cant have both ways ,cheap and Chinese or hand built by brits and bloody expensive