More choices, few opportunities. The internet allows us to see and read about (and salivate over) more audio products than ever before. But, in the Age of Information, it is ironic that there are actually few opportunities to “taste” all that is available. If it is not available at Best Buy or their high-end store, Magnolia, you may never hear many of the audio products you see on the internet–even if you have a specialty audio store in your market.
Whether groceries or flat panel video monitors, American buys most of their products at huge retailers, sometimes called Big Box Stores. These large retailers have an immense array of products, but, there are countless more that can not be displayed. Best Buy/Magnolia is the largest retailer of home entertainment equipment, but, they must carefully choose what appeals to the majority of consumers.
The worldwide selection of brands and models is immense. Perhaps you are looking for something different than what the majority of consumers want. You might be able to find it at an independent audio specialty retailer. But, specialty stores have gone the way of the corner hardware store. Yes, there are a few specialty audio stores left, but, in many markets there is only one still in business. And these small stores can not accommodate and display all the products not shown at the big audio/video chain stores.
Audio manufacturers lose sleep over this problem. So many choices and so few opportunities for the consumer to actually “taste” their products. Earlier we reported on the “buzz” created by a new loudspeaker model, the Magneplanar 1.7 from Magnepan, a small Minnesota company. It is the audio equivalent of your flat panel video monitor– big, but, very thin (only 2 inches). Magnepan has a novel solution to the small audio manufacturer’s dilemma. Magnepan borrowed a marketing idea used by grocery stores of offering tasty little morsels while you shop.
Over 41 years, Magnepan become known to hardcore audiophiles for their large, flat-panel ribbon speakers. As stereo stores from the ’70s began to disappear and fewer consumers had a Magneplanar dealer in their city, Magnepan decided to “hand out appetizers”. They designed smaller versions of their large models that were beloved by audiophiles. Magnepan is totally upfront about their intentions. They would like you to sample this MMG “appetizer” for 60 days because they know the statistical probability that you will keep it– or trade it in for one of their larger models.
It appears to be a can’t-lose proposal for the consumer. So, why don’t other manufacturers do the same? Well, Magnepan explains that their technology lends itself to “appetizers” and this idea just won’t work for video monitors or amplifiers. A little “appetizer” amplifier won’t do a better job of powering your speakers for a movie or music. To get better sound out of your system, you need a BIGGER amplifier– not smaller. To get a better picture, you probably want a bigger video monitor.
Of course, the larger Magneplanars models will outperform the “appetizer” MMG model, but, Magnepan makes the claim that it is the technology that is fundamentally different from your box speakers. And that difference in sound reproduction can be “tasted” with a small version of their large models. With a hint of humor, Magnepan “warns” consumers that if you try the MMG, you run the risk of new speakers in your future.
For more information on Magnepan, go to www.magnepan.com.