Lifestyle products. They look good but, in the high-end audio world, do they necessarily sound good? Perhaps not twenty years ago but in 2019 there are a good number of highly attractive pieces of audio hardware that easily hold their own against conservatively-styled (or functionally singular) rivals: hello Devialet, Micromega, Metaxas & Sins, Campfire Audio, Dynaudio, Q Acoustics, Volumio, Peachtree, KEF, ELAC, B&W, Sony, Roon Labs (above) et al.
Of course, lifestyle products aren’t for everyone but their very existence signals ever greater aesthetic and functional diversity in the hi-fi world. And greater diversity – especially with multi-function products designed to look good – means improved relatability to those previously repelled by the idea of having a pair of loudspeakers and a rackful of separates in their living space. Lifestyle products sell people on the idea of better sound before they even hear it.
The ‘lifestyle’ label is losing its teeth as a pejorative descriptor. It incorrectly implies that those who care about form, function and sound quality can’t have their cake and eat it too. In 2019, they absolutely can.
Click play on the latest episode of the Darko.Audio podcast to hear TONEAudio’s Jeff Dorgay and I kick this can down the road. We also discuss the differences between AXPONA and Munich High-End and the possible implications of Amazon introducing a hi-res streaming service.