I’m beyond quite sure that a significant number of electronics engineers and designers came to their craft by way of a deep interest in music and related electronics. I’m also very sure those same engineers, as well as a segment of the world’s population are familiar with what some would refer to as “audiophile” or “high-end” audio components – the term “boutique audio” also comes to mind. No matter what term is preferred, it all means extremely expensive, far beyond the consumer price targets today’s EOEMS aim for.
In the case of audiophile/high-end components, the goal of the design is to reproduce audio signals as accurately as possible. In the case of music reproduction, the diehard audiophile wants to feel as if he or she is in the concert hall, hearing music exactly as it is being performed with no distortions or colorations.
Of course, audible perfection is a pipe dream at best because human hearing changes with age, particularly with losses of hearing in the upper frequencies. Hearing changes at any age depending on the length of time one is listening and at what sound-pressure levels. Essentially, perfection cannot be achieved in the psychoacoustic arena as opinions as to what is perfect audio reproduction are both infinite and mostly inane. Perfection, i.e., perfect specs, can only be seen on an oscilloscope screen and rarely, if ever, heard and/or appreciated.
One company sometimes associated with the audiophile market, if only for slick-and-sleek looking components, is Netherlands-based Bang & Olufsen. For approximately 90 years, the company has been cranking out unique-looking audio components such as turntables, cassette recorder/players, CD players, receivers and speakers. See below for a few examples of the company’s older products.
B&O Cassette Deck
B&O Speaker Systems
B&O Compact-Disc Player
To “better serve the extreme wealthy true connoisseurs and design enthusiasts”, Bang & Olufsen has made an exclusive selection of its most iconic products with all aluminum parts replaced by solid 24 carat gold. Dubbed BnO Gold, the company wants to “combine the best sound, the timeless Danish design and the scarcest precious metal this planet has to offer us to create a product close to perfection.” Okay, there’s that term perfection again.
The collection consists of the BeoSound 9000, BeoLab 8000, and BeoLab 6000 speaker systems and the 103-in. BnOVision television. All are cast in solid 24 carat gold, which accounts for a $2.9-million price tag for a pair of speakers. You can acquire the lot for a mere $17.4M, which comes out to about 192 kg of fine gold. The collection was exhibited for the first time to the general public on December 10, 2015 at the Masters of LXRY 2015.
In terms of anxious buyers, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are high on the list. Gee, who could’ve guessed that!? The bottom line about perfection, audio quality is objective and the price of gold is subjective. Any objections? ~MD