There is an interesting difference in the outlook of the two 'lead' reviews in this issue. One – the Neat Acoustics Ekstra – is in part designed to meet the concerns of a value-conscious world, where every penny counts. While no loudspeaker will ever cost pennies, the Ekstra is attainably priced for most enthusiasts these days, by making a good loudspeaker in a cabinet that keeps the overall price down.
The other is the Wilson Audio Sasha DAW, which makes no such compromises, and as such costs an order of magnitude more than the Neat. I'm buoyed that both exist, because it shows continued diversity and range in audio. We need products that don't cost a fortune, but we also need those that do, and for the same reason: growth.
I am less convinced by 'trickle down' arguments for high-end devices, even though the Sasha DAW utilizes a lot of trickle-down from higher-end Wilson speakers. Those technologies that raise the standard of the Sasha DAW are unlikely to make it into true entry level loudspeakers. But what these products can do is act as an intuition pump and a standard that other companies can strive to achieve.
Meanwhile, at more down-to-earth prices, we still need a range of damn good products that inspire and excite people enough to listen to more music. Often for the first time at a decent performance level. The 'I didn't know you could do that' moment such products create is the point where a love of good audio is cemented in place. While few may upgrade to bigger and better, 'few' is still better than 'none'.
However, we need to be more accommodating of products at a variety of levels. There's a tendency among some audiophiles to be dismissive of lower-end audio; you may live on fois gras and caviar, but some people survive quite comfortably on ham and eggs, and unless you want to sound like audio's Marie Antoinette, best keep schtum. At the other end of the scale are the definers of all things 'rip off' (which typically means 'just that bit more than I can afford'). To them, not everyone has the same budget as you, and while you think anyone who spends more is a gullible rube, there are plenty of people who spend a lot less who think you are pretty credulous, too. Just sayin'...
Hi-Fi+ is saddened to learn of the passing of Jason Hector (who reviewed for this magazine in its early years) and Richard Dunn of Nene Valley Audio fame. Our thoughts are with the families of both at this difficult time.