How can 30-year-old receivers sound better than new ones?

Jul 28 2011

Take this with a grain of salt, but I'm sure my dad would agree with this guy. I'll let the debate begin...

The receiver engineers have to devote the lion's share of their design skills and budget to making the features work. Every year receiver manufacturers pay out more and more money (in the form of royalties and licensing fees) to Apple, Audyssey, Bluetooth, HD Radio, XM-Sirius, Dolby, DTS and other companies, and those dollars consume an ever bigger chunk of the design budget. The engineers have to make do with whatever is left to make the receiver sound good. Retail prices of receivers, the ones that sell in big numbers, never go up. The $300 to $500 models are where most of the sales action is, just like 10, 20 or 30 years ago, when their $300 to $500 models weren't packed to the gills with the features I just listed. Something's got to go, and sound quality usually takes the hit.

C|Net

Comments

That's why I use an amp from Advance Acoustic. No features, no surround, endless power... but sounds way better on 2 speakers than my brother's wonderful 7.1 that did cost more than a car...

I've never been a fan of receivers, either new or old.  I'm an old school audiophile and I've always liked using separate components.  As I got older I succombed to the fact that sometimes separates aren't always the ideal solution and I replaced my preamp, switchers, and various processors with a single preamp/processor.  I still use separate monoblock power amps for each speaker in my 7.1 system. 

The key to great sound design is to use separate power supplies for each component.  Trying to power 7.1 channels plus a preamp and all of the switching and processing circuits takes its toll on the overall sound.   Power amps need their own robust supplies, which is why I'll never use an integrated solution.  A quality receiver can sound quite good, but it will never sound great.

Meh - while the devices share the same name they have different purposes and are designed to met different requirements.  Today's AVR is a hub for audio and video, so there are compromises intrinsic in that functional shift.  If all you want is the best stereo sound, that trade-off may not be palatable - in which case you should choose the right component for that goal (like a discrete amp).  

The sad truth is your hearing changes every 10 years (and not in a good way), so you should actually buy the most expensive equipment in your 20's, and then back off from there.   Smile

Sadly this is not limited just to receivers.  Why is it there isn't a single TV on the market that actually does what it is supposed to do?  Why do I constantly have to weigh the pros and cons of every single display I see?  If it's not poor color accuracy, it's poor black level.  If it's not poor black level, the gamma is off.  If the gamma is right, there's not enough light output.  Round and round we go.

Whatever happened to selling products that were actually worth the money people pay for them?

richard1980 wrote:

Sadly this is not limited just to receivers.  Why is it there isn't a single TV on the market that actually does what it is supposed to do?  Why do I constantly have to weigh the pros and cons of every single display I see?  If it's not poor color accuracy, it's poor black level.  If it's not poor black level, the gamma is off.  If the gamma is right, there's not enough light output.  Round and round we go.

Whatever happened to selling products that were actually worth the money people pay for them?

Seriously?  Last year I paid about the same (in actual dollars, taking inflation into account it would have been less) for a 58" 1080p plasma as I did for a 43" 720p DLP six years before that.  I am hard pressed to think of a single metric where the DLP comes anywhere close to the performance levels of the new set - had I waited a few months it would have been an even better deal.  I got tremendous value for the money.

Think about all of the things a modern AVR does that an older one can't, that's not back sliding - it's progress.  Sure the two devices are called the same thing, but it doesn't mean they are the same product - and that's where I think the original article went wrong. 

And I guarantee you there is something wrong with both of those displays.  Neither of them perform correctly.  There's not a single TV on the market that performs correctly.  The closest thing to "correct" was the Pioneer Kuro line of TVs.  CNET actually uses one of the Kuro TVs as their reference display for all other plasma TVs.  No TV has ever matched the performance of the Kuro they use, and even their reference Kuro has picture quality flaws.  But since it's the best they have ever seen, it is still their reference display.

I think there's a very big problem in the TV industry.  Instead of trying to make a TV that works correctly, it seems the manufacturers would rather add more features to their already crappy TVs.  It's sad that the main selling points today are Netflix and 3D.  I can assure you, I do not enjoy watching Netflix on my Panasonic display that has serious picture quality flaws.  I would much rather have a TV that works correctly, with or without Netflix.

FWIW, I've owned the last 3 generations of Panasonic plasma TVs.  I've stuck with Panasonic because overall they are still the best performing TVs currently on the market.  That said, I've also watched the picture quality go from bad to worse over the last 3 years.  The 2009 models suffered from rising black levels.  The 2010 models also suffered from the same thing, although to a lesser degree.  But in addition to the rising black levels, the 2010 line also suffered from floating blacks.  Now the 2011 models don't have (so far anyway) the rising or floating black level issues, but now they have floating brightness (whites) and the gamma is way off from where it should be.  But good luck trying to get Panasonic to fix the problems....every time anyone calls them out, Panasonic claims these issues are "features" that were by design.  I wonder what "features" the 2012 models will have.  Perhaps they will all come with an automatic fire starting device that will keep you warm on a cold winter night.  Who cares if it burns down your house....it'll be a "feature".

richard1980 wrote:

And I guarantee you there is something wrong with both of those displays.  Neither of them perform correctly. 

Nothing is perfect, but more importantly that's OT.  The real question is whether a $X thing (in this case a TV) now is better than a $X thing 30 years ago.  In this case the answer is obvious.

richard1980 wrote:

There's not a single TV on the market that performs correctly.  The closest thing to "correct" was the Pioneer Kuro line of TVs.  CNET actually uses one of the Kuro TVs as their reference display for all other plasma TVs.  No TV has ever matched the performance of the Kuro they use, and even their reference Kuro has picture quality flaws.  But since it's the best they have ever seen, it is still their reference display.

IIRC MLL is the only metric where Kuro (RIP) has not be surpassed.  This Kuro actually provides an excellent case study for why we get the products we do.  In it's era it was the gold standard, the problem of course was that 80% as good was 20% of the cost - which proved the set's downfall.  Doesn't matter if something is "perfect" if you can't build it at a price people will pay.

richard1980 wrote:

I think there's a very big problem in the TV industry.  Instead of trying to make a TV that works correctly, it seems the manufacturers would rather add more features to their already crappy TVs.  It's sad that the main selling points today are Netflix and 3D.  I can assure you, I do not enjoy watching Netflix on my Panasonic display that has serious picture quality flaws.  I would much rather have a TV that works correctly, with or without Netflix.

That's a matter of perspective; I suspect that OTT features sell better than MLL (cough LCD).  IMO there has never been a better time to get a display; the price/performance ratio has never been better.

Yes, the TVs we have today are better than those we had 30 years ago if you look at a few different things, such as size (both viewable and actual size/weight), pixel count, and extra features.  Even though today's TVs have bigger screens, are thinner and lighter, have the ability to display more pixels, and come loaded with many extra features, do they actually perform better?  Sure, a 50-inch 1080p TV looks better than a 19-inch 480i TV, but only because it's bigger and has more pixels.  But does the 50-inch 1080p TV of today offer a better picture quality?  IMO, no.  IMO, CRT TVs are still king when it comes to picture quality.  Unfortunately, the excellent picture quality offered by yesterday's CRT TV has been replaced with "I can hang it on my wall and watch Netflix.  My picture quality is crap, but it looks good hanging on the wall.  Here, put these glasses on and watch the horrible picture quality in 3D!"

babgvant wrote:

IIRC MLL is the only metric where Kuro (RIP) has not be surpassed.  This Kuro actually provides an excellent case study for why we get the products we do.  In it's era it was the gold standard, the problem of course was that 80% as good was 20% of the cost - which proved the set's downfall.  Doesn't matter if something is "perfect" if you can't build it at a price people will pay.

Having 5 different TVs that each match or exceed a different area of Kuro performance does me no good.  Having 1 TV that matches or exceeds the Kuro performance in all 5 of those different areas actually does me some good.  That's my major complaint.  I can't go buy 5 different TVs and mix them together to come up with one awesome TV.  Instead, I end up with 5 different TVs that each have their good points and their bad points.  The Kuro line was the only line that seemed to ever mix all those different performance levels into one TV.

It costs a lot of money to create an awesome TV today.  But I also think the manufacturers are spending money on things like Netflix and 3D technology when they could be spending that same money trying to get a perfect picture out of the device.  The downside is most consumers seem to be more worried about whether the TV can connect to Netflix or whether it will look good hanging on the wall than they are about whether or not the TV has a good picture quality.  I have a feeling a TV with an awesome quality wouldn't cost so much money if it wasn't loaded down with all this extra stuff.  But consumers have dictated the price point and features they want...as a manufacturer, you are literally forced into making a crappy TV because that's what the consumer is saying they want.

Electronics aside, this is a trend we see all throughout the economy.  Back in the day, you could buy a Craftsman wrench and get a very good wrench.  Unfortunately, along came Wal-Mart with their $5 wrench, and consumers started buying wrenches at Wal-Mart.  Why?  Because the wrench at Wal-Mart is cheaper.  Consumers didn't care if the Craftsman wrench was actually better.  The $5 Wal-Mart wrench was "good enough"....mainly because it was $5.  This caused a chain reaction, with the end result being what we have today:  Craftsman tools are not anywhere near as good today as they were many many years ago.  They've had to refine their production process to try to compete with companies like Wal-Mart, and in the end, quality has suffered.

I think the answer is very clear:  Quality means virtually nothing in today's world.

richard1980 wrote:

Yes, the TVs we have today are better than those we had 30 years ago if you look at a few different things, such as size (both viewable and actual size/weight), pixel count, and extra features.  Even though today's TVs have bigger screens, are thinner and lighter, have the ability to display more pixels, and come loaded with many extra features, do they actually perform better?  Sure, a 50-inch 1080p TV looks better than a 19-inch 480i TV, but only because it's bigger and has more pixels.  But does the 50-inch 1080p TV of today offer a better picture quality?  IMO, no.  IMO, CRT TVs are still king when it comes to picture quality.  Unfortunately, the excellent picture quality offered by yesterday's CRT TV has been replaced with "I can hang it on my wall and watch Netflix.  My picture quality is crap, but it looks good hanging on the wall.  Here, put these glasses on and watch the horrible picture quality in 3D!"

Modern TVs look better because they are better.  CRT is good for some things, but it doesn't scale - no one wants a 500lb TV.

Tell you what.  My parents have an 20" CRT, I'll trade you it for a 50" Panny Plasma.

richard1980 wrote:

Having 5 different TVs that each match or exceed a different area of Kuro performance does me no good.  Having 1 TV that matches or exceeds the Kuro performance in all 5 of those different areas actually does me some good.  That's my major complaint.  I can't go buy 5 different TVs and mix them together to come up with one awesome TV.  Instead, I end up with 5 different TVs that each have their good points and their bad points.  The Kuro line was the only line that seemed to ever mix all those different performance levels into one TV.

You could just pick up a VT25 (or VT30) and skip the other 4.

richard1980 wrote:

It costs a lot of money to create an awesome TV today.  But I also think the manufacturers are spending money on things like Netflix and 3D technology when they could be spending that same money trying to get a perfect picture out of the device.  The downside is most consumers seem to be more worried about whether the TV can connect to Netflix or whether it will look good hanging on the wall than they are about whether or not the TV has a good picture quality.  I have a feeling a TV with an awesome quality wouldn't cost so much money if it wasn't loaded down with all this extra stuff.  But consumers have dictated the price point and features they want...as a manufacturer, you are literally forced into making a crappy TV because that's what the consumer is saying they want.

Electronics aside, this is a trend we see all throughout the economy.  Back in the day, you could buy a Craftsman wrench and get a very good wrench.  Unfortunately, along came Wal-Mart with their $5 wrench, and consumers started buying wrenches at Wal-Mart.  Why?  Because the wrench at Wal-Mart is cheaper.  Consumers didn't care if the Craftsman wrench was actually better.  The $5 Wal-Mart wrench was "good enough"....mainly because it was $5.  This caused a chain reaction, with the end result being what we have today:  Craftsman tools are not anywhere near as good today as they were many many years ago.  They've had to refine their production process to try to compete with companies like Wal-Mart, and in the end, quality has suffered.

I think the answer is very clear:  Quality means virtually nothing in today's world.

I think you'd defined the problem wrong by ignoring cost.  Solutions that work provide "quality".  If I can buy a $20 wrench that works as well as a $5 one, but will last 30 years instead of 5, the additional 25yrs don't necessarily provide value to the casual consumer (ignoring that they'll be able to buy a new one in 5 yrs for $1) so for most buyers the right amount of quality per $ is the Walmart model.  You can complain about the decline in quality all you want, it won't change the fundementals of how markets work.

In the long term we (as consumers) get what we demand.  The reason why we get the feature balance in the products we buy is because we want those things.  OEMs like Panasonic and Samsung provide an excellent balance of PQ and features at a reasonable price where Pioneer thought there was enough of a market for the "perfect" TV to bring a model to market; we both know how that worked out...

babgvant wrote:

Modern TVs look better because they are better.  CRT is good for some things, but it doesn't scale - no one wants a 500lb TV.

Tell you what.  My parents have an 20" CRT, I'll trade you it for a 50" Panny Plasma.

Make it a 1080p flatscreen 50" CRT and I'd likely jump on it...as long as you are paying shipping Laughing

babgvant wrote:

You could just pick up a VT25 (or VT30) and skip the other 4.

The VT25 suffers from floating blacks, and the VT30 suffers from fluctuating brightness as well as inaccurate gamma.

babgvant wrote:

I think you'd defined the problem wrong by ignoring cost.  Solutions that work provide "quality".  If I can buy a $20 wrench that works as well as a $5 one, but will last 30 years instead of 5, the additional 25yrs don't necessarily provide value to the casual consumer (ignoring that they'll be able to buy a new one in 5 yrs for $1) so for most buyers the right amount of quality per $ is the Walmart model.  You can complain about the decline in quality all you want, it won't change the fundementals of how markets work.

In the long term we (as consumers) get what we demand.  The reason why we get the feature balance in the products we buy is because we want those things.  OEMs like Panasonic and Samsung provide an excellent balance of PQ and features at a reasonable price where Pioneer thought there was enough of a market for the "perfect" TV to bring a model to market; we both know how that worked out...

I do not define quality in terms of cost.  Either a product is of high quality or it isn't.  Cost is irrelevant.  If you put dog crap on a bun, called it a hamburger, and sold it for $1, why should I buy it?  I'm fairly certain I would not like the taste of your "hamburger".  I want a hamburger made out of beef, regardless of cost.  Unfortunately, what seems to have occurred in the TV industry is all the beef hamburgers are gone, but they have been replaced with dog-crap-on-a-bun.  Everyone is just selling a different flavor of dog crap with different things to dress it up.  No matter how you dress it up, you can't change the fact that it's still dog-crap-on-a-bun.  And sadly, the manufacturers have managed to convince everyone that eating dog crap is perfectly acceptable...and nearly everyone is agreeing that dog crap tastes great.  Forgive me if I happen to disagree with them.

richard1980 wrote:

Make it a 1080p flatscreen 50" CRT and I'd likely jump on it...as long as you are paying shipping Laughing

Exactly the point.  If anyone had made a 50" 1080p CRT (if they exist I'm not aware of it); you might as well bolt it to the floor because the size and weight would make it a permanent fixture.

richard1980 wrote:

The VT25 suffers from floating blacks, and the VT30 suffers from fluctuating brightness as well as inaccurate gamma.

Meh.  I have seen limited reports of the VT25's floating black issues on AVS Forum, but never having seen it myself (I have one) or [IIRC] read it mentioned in a pro review I'm skeptical that it's a widespread issue with the display.

richard1980 wrote:

I do not define quality in terms of cost.  Either a product is of high quality or it isn't.  Cost is irrelevant. 

Nothing occurs in a vacuum, pretending otherwise isn't very useful outside of academia. 

richard1980 wrote:

If you put dog crap on a bun, called it a hamburger, and sold it for $1, why should I buy it?  I'm fairly certain I would not like the taste of your "hamburger".  I want a hamburger made out of beef, regardless of cost.  Unfortunately, what seems to have occurred in the TV industry is all the beef hamburgers are gone, but they have been replaced with dog-crap-on-a-bun.  Everyone is just selling a different flavor of dog crap with different things to dress it up.  No matter how you dress it up, you can't change the fact that it's still dog-crap-on-a-bun.  And sadly, the manufacturers have managed to convince everyone that eating dog crap is perfectly acceptable...and nearly everyone is agreeing that dog crap tastes great.  Forgive me if I happen to disagree with them.

We don't live in a binary world; the products we choose from aren't either perfect or crap - they lie somewhere on the spectrum b/w the two.  It's not productive to call something that delivers 90% of the quality at 50% of the price "crap". 

babgvant wrote:

Meh.  I have seen limited reports of the VT25's floating black issues on AVS Forum, but never having seen it myself (I have one) or [IIRC] read it mentioned in a pro review I'm skeptical that it's a widespread issue with the display.

Not owning one, I can't say that I have seen it myself.  Even if it isn't a widespread issue, there are other slight flaws.

babgvant wrote:

We don't live in a binary world; the products we choose from aren't either perfect or crap - they lie somewhere on the spectrum b/w the two.  It's not productive to call something that delivers 90% of the quality at 50% of the price "crap".

If there's dog crap on the hamburger, it's a hamburger with dog crap on it.  It doesn't matter if there's 100% crap or .000000001% crap....there's still dog crap on the hamburger.  Our government has decided that an extremely tiny amount of dog crap in our food is acceptable.  I'm fine with that...even though there are small amounts of dog crap allowed in our food, a product that contains an allowable amount of dog crap is virtually identical to a product that contains no dog crap.  However, if you give me a hamburger that has so much dog crap on it that I can clearly see it, you should not expect me to eat it.  And that's my complaint with the TV industry.  Rather than selling hamburgers with an extremely small amount or no dog crap, they are blatantly selling hamburgers that clearly have dog crap on them.  Rather than try to clean up the dog crap and sell a nice clean hamburger, the TV manufacturers have decided to try to camouflage the dog crap by adding things like lettuce (Netflix) and tomato (3D).  You previously stated "In the long term we (as consumers) get what we demand.  The reason why we get the feature balance in the products we buy is because we want those things."  Well the problem I see is that consumers are so busy demanding lettuce and tomato that they are ignoring the dog crap.  By not demanding the manufacturers fix the dog crap problem, consumers are saying "Dog crap is fine as long as it contains lettuce and tomato", and as long as consumers like dog crap, that's exactly what they will get.  What's even more disturbing than consumer acceptance of dog crap is the manufacturers bullying consumers into it.  Ultimately, the manufacturer controls the pricing and production, and if they simply stop making clean hamburgers or price them out of range of most consumers, most consumers will be forced to accept the dog crap.  Over time, the consumers get used to it, and eventually dog crap hamburgers become the norm.  That's exactly what has happened now.  Manufacturers bullied consumers into liking dog crap, and now dog crap is the norm.

While some people may accept the dog crap, I oppose it.  Regardless of what has to be done or how much it costs, the right answer is to feed people clean hamburgers.  I'm certain if TVs were required to be as "clean" as food, we wouldn't have an issue.  TV manufacturers would figure out how to make the TVs perform correctly or they would go out of business.  At that point, one of two things will happen.  Either every TV on the market will be expensive, or TV manufacturers will figure out how to get the desired performance cheaper.  Either way, the TVs will perform correctly, and even if all the TVs are expensive people aren't going to stop buying them.  Consumers would grow to accept the higher price tag.  While I don't necessarily like the idea have having to pay higher prices, if that's what is required to get products that perform correctly, that's what I'll do.

richard1980 wrote:

Not owning one, I can't say that I have seen it myself.  Even if it isn't a widespread issue, there are other slight flaws.

Kuro isn't perfect either, from what I've heard the whites aren't that white...

richard1980 wrote:

If there's dog crap on the hamburger, it's a hamburger with dog crap on it.  It doesn't matter if there's 100% crap or .000000001% crap....there's still dog crap on the hamburger.  Our government has decided that an extremely tiny amount of dog crap in our food is acceptable.  I'm fine with that...even though there are small amounts of dog crap allowed in our food, a product that contains an allowable amount of dog crap is virtually identical to a product that contains no dog crap.  However, if you give me a hamburger that has so much dog crap on it that I can clearly see it, you should not expect me to eat it.  And that's my complaint with the TV industry.  Rather than selling hamburgers with an extremely small amount or no dog crap, they are blatantly selling hamburgers that clearly have dog crap on them.  Rather than try to clean up the dog crap and sell a nice clean hamburger, the TV manufacturers have decided to try to camouflage the dog crap by adding things like lettuce (Netflix) and tomato (3D).  You previously stated "In the long term we (as consumers) get what we demand.  The reason why we get the feature balance in the products we buy is because we want those things."  Well the problem I see is that consumers are so busy demanding lettuce and tomato that they are ignoring the dog crap.  By not demanding the manufacturers fix the dog crap problem, consumers are saying "Dog crap is fine as long as it contains lettuce and tomato", and as long as consumers like dog crap, that's exactly what they will get.  What's even more disturbing than consumer acceptance of dog crap is the manufacturers bullying consumers into it.  Ultimately, the manufacturer controls the pricing and production, and if they simply stop making clean hamburgers or price them out of range of most consumers, most consumers will be forced to accept the dog crap.  Over time, the consumers get used to it, and eventually dog crap hamburgers become the norm.  That's exactly what has happened now.  Manufacturers bullied consumers into liking dog crap, and now dog crap is the norm.

While some people may accept the dog crap, I oppose it.  Regardless of what has to be done or how much it costs, the right answer is to feed people clean hamburgers.  I'm certain if TVs were required to be as "clean" as food, we wouldn't have an issue.  TV manufacturers would figure out how to make the TVs perform correctly or they would go out of business.  At that point, one of two things will happen.  Either every TV on the market will be expensive, or TV manufacturers will figure out how to get the desired performance cheaper.  Either way, the TVs will perform correctly, and even if all the TVs are expensive people aren't going to stop buying them.  Consumers would grow to accept the higher price tag.  While I don't necessarily like the idea have having to pay higher prices, if that's what is required to get products that perform correctly, that's what I'll do.

Every analogy breaks down at a certain point, but I'm not sure this one ever really worked.  IMO, an imperfect CE device isn't similar enough to the eating feces to make it work.  Modifying it a little, % lean would probably be a much better choice.  With that in place the main problem with the approach is how anti-consumer, anti-market and elitist it is to outlaw anything that wasn't 100% lean.  Who would make those regulations?  Who would enforce them? Why should consumers be forced to pay for your definition of quality?

You don't have to like it, but we've already worked out a system of product segmentation that works pretty well.  Good luck changing it to revolve around your desires to the detriment of most other consumers.

babgvant wrote:

Kuro isn't perfect either, from what I've heard the whites aren't that white...

I never claimed it was.

babgvant wrote:

Every analogy breaks down at a certain point, but I'm not sure this one ever really worked.  IMO, an imperfect CE device isn't similar enough to the eating feces to make it work.  Modifying it a little, % lean would probably be a much better choice.  With that in place the main problem with the approach is how anti-consumer, anti-market and elitist it is to outlaw anything that wasn't 100% lean.  Who would make those regulations?  Who would enforce them? Why should consumers be forced to pay for your definition of quality?

You don't have to like it, but we've already worked out a system of product segmentation that works pretty well.  Good luck changing it to revolve around your desires to the detriment of most other consumers.

I'm not suggesting that we need rules and regulations.  Rules and regulations aren't necessary.  Consumers ultimately control the market.  And any time consumers give their money to a company, they are sending two very clear messages to that company:

  1. "This product is what I want."
  2. "I am willing to pay your asking price for this product."

By not giving their money to a company, the consumer sends one or both of the opposite messages, which forces the company to either lower prices or come up with a better product....or pull out of the market like Pioneer did.  Consumers are the ultimate tool to steer the market.  Unfortunately, consumers have steered the market in such a way that features are more important than picture quality.

Why should consumers be forced to pay for my definition of quality?  They shouldn't.  But they should have the option....and they don't.  Is it unreasonable to think that perhaps $2000 could buy better picture quality than it currently does?  If consumers had demanded better performance in the past, we would have that performance today, and perhaps the Kuro would have been put to shame already.

And I'm not trying to change the market.  I'm simply stating my case that TVs of yesterday were better performers than TVs of today.

Since we're talking about quality > price stuff.  How do you view high end industrial grade projectors or even mid-grade stuff like the JVC DLA-RS4000U?

I have no hands-on experience with projectors, so I can't answer that question.

Wow, quite a heated thread here; some very loud opinions being tossed about.

richard1980 wrote:

  1. "This product is what I want."
  2. "I am willing to pay your asking price for this product."

By not giving their money to a company, the consumer sends one or both of the opposite messages, which forces the company to either lower prices or come up with a better product....or pull out of the market like Pioneer did.

That's simply not correct.  You've obviously never worked in sales or marketing.  What it really says is:

"This is the highest price I'm willing to pay for a product with features closest to what I'm looking for."

By not giving your money to them, all you're telling them is that another company's product is closer to what you're looking for or that you aren't their target demographic.  You're invisible.  However, to get the outcome you're looking for, there would need to be a ton of people out there willing to buy the most expensive TV on the market.  If enough people did that, manufacturers would get this message:

"Customers are begging for more expensive and feature-rich TVs than we're offering.  Let's meet that demand."

This is where the law of supply and demand comes into play and why you see the products you do.  If someone offered your mythical "perfect" TV for $100 million, how many do you think they'd sell?  What size would that "perfect" TV be?  Is that the size every person in the world wants?  Not a chance.  Nothing is perfect.

In reality, the market works more like voting for an elected official.  Who do you vote for?  Generally, the one who you think is going to do the least amount of damage.  (Or, the one who--somehow--manages to convince you he actually has your interests at heart.)  Just like with purchasing goods, you don't have the option of waiting for the perfect candidate.  If you don't vote, then you get to sit back and deal with whatever the majority chose.  If you don't buy a TV because none of them are "perfect" (which is a biased, personal choice, BTW:  see my "perfect" TV size reference above), you don't get to watch TV or you have to deal with whatever is available.

Actually, there is one other option available for you, much like elections:  build your own TV or run for office.  In both instances, you'll quickly find out why "perfection" is impossible.

richard1980 wrote:

I never claimed it was.

True, but as we work backwards you did say:

richard1980 wrote:

Having 5 different TVs that each match or exceed a different area of Kuro performance does me no good.  Having 1 TV that matches or exceeds the Kuro performance in all 5 of those different areas actually does me some good.  That's my major complaint.  I can't go buy 5 different TVs and mix them together to come up with one awesome TV.  Instead, I end up with 5 different TVs that each have their good points and their bad points.  The Kuro line was the only line that seemed to ever mix all those different performance levels into one TV.

This point was in reference to that statement and the subsequent follow that the VT25 matches or exceeds the Kuro in every metric but MLL (at a much more reasonable price I might add). 

richard1980 wrote:

I'm simply stating my case that TVs of yesterday were better performers than TVs of today.

I can agree with that, but only after narrowing the scope of decision criteria beyond the limits of reason and practicality. 

Quote:

Did Pioneer KURO have the best blacks at the time they were on the market? Yes they did - but Panasonic was very close behind even in KURO's heyday. Today Panasonic's, LG's and even Samsung's plasma HDTVs are better than Pioneer KURO sets, yet somehow the KURO sets continue a legacy that respectfully many customers were not willing to support.

...

It's time to finally get over Pioneer's KURO brand of plasma HDTVs. Pioneer has and we all should follow their lead, as there are exciting, new, high performance HDTVs that are just plain better. KURO will always have its spot in home theater history but as of today, that's where they belong - as a page in the story of the development of HDTV.

A couple quotes from the Op-Ed "It's Time To Get Over Pioneer's KURO HDTV" published at Home Theater Review this morning.

Luckily, we live in the new America now where if any information or data disagrees with my world view, I can dismiss it as lies and propaganda! Wink

We (well, those with deep pockets) can also simply silence any and all critics, trampling all over the supposed first amendment.  And, with that thought, I depart from the political aspects of this thread...

skirge01 wrote:
richard1980 wrote:

1.   "This product is what I want."

2.   "I am willing to pay your asking price for this product."

By not giving their money to a company, the consumer sends one or both of the opposite messages, which forces the company to either lower prices or come up with a better product....or pull out of the market like Pioneer did.

That's simply not correct.  You've obviously never worked in sales or marketing.  What it really says is:

"This is the highest price I'm willing to pay for a product with features closest to what I'm looking for."

I disagree.  Just because someone is asking me to pay $x for a product, and I agree to do so, does not mean $x is the highest price I am willing to pay for that product.  All it means is I am willing to pay $x.  You cannot definitely say I would not pay $x+1.

skirge01 wrote:

By not giving your money to them, all you're telling them is that another company's product is closer to what you're looking for or that you aren't their target demographic.

Again, I disagree.  "Another company's product is closer to what you're looking for" is not exactly correct.  Just because you don't buy a $10,000 TV with awesome specifications does not mean the TV that costs $700 and has terrible specifications is closer to what you are looking for.  If the $10,000 TV was reduced to $700, and you still bought the TV that was originally $700, then you could make such an assumption.  Otherwise, all it means is you don't want to (or can't) pay $10,000 for a TV, but you are willing to pay $700.  It absolutely does not mean a TV with terrible specifications is what you are looking for.  And there's always the case that both TVs are made by the same company.  So the "another company's product" part is clearly wrong.

skirge01 wrote:

However, to get the outcome you're looking for, there would need to be a ton of people out there willing to buy the most expensive TV on the market....
....
This is where the law of supply and demand comes into play.  If someone offered your mythical "perfect" TV for $100 million, how many do you think they'd sell?

First, "the most expensive TV on the market" doesn't have anything to do with how well the TV performs.  Perhaps the most expensive TV on the market has terrible specification...but it's very large...let's say 10,000 inches.  At the same time, it's quite possible a more reasonable $5000 price tag is associated with a 50-inch TV that has the best specifications.

Second, to answer your question about the $100 million TV, you wouldn't sell very many of them.  But it doesn't matter how many you sell.  The only thing that matters is making sure supply equals demand.  Whether that be 1 TV or a million TVs, it doesn't matter.  If demand doesn't equal supply, you have to change price or supply.  That means if demand is higher than supply, you either add more supply or drive down sales by raising the price.  On the flip side, if demand is lower than supply, you are left with no choice but to lower the price.  No matter what situation you are in, you will eventually reach a point known as economic equilibrium, which is the point at which supply equals demand.  The price associated with equilibrium is the fair price for the product at the time...be it $100 million or $1.  The only hurdle becomes making sure the fair price still generates a profit.  But even that is easily accomplished if you do it right.

babgvant wrote:

This point was in reference to that statement and the subsequent follow that the VT25 matches or exceeds the Kuro in every metric but MLL (at a much more reasonable price I might add).

According to CNET's review of the 65VT25, the Kuro had better black level, color accuracy, and reflection reduction.  Additionally, David specifically stated in another article "The Elite PRO-111FD is still the only television I've awarded a perfect 10 in picture quality. None of the myriad sets I reviewed in 2009 or 2010 could compete. I still use the PRO-111FD as my reference 2D television, and anticipate doing so until something better comes along."  He also stated "For those reviews I will continue comparing flagship models against the best-performing TV ever, even if that TV seems a little long in the tooth. Maybe I should just move on, but every time I turn on that reference Kuro and see its picture in person, it's too tough to turn it off."

So I go back to my original point.  The VT25 does not perform as well as the Kuro reference in at least 3 different categories.  If some other TV has managed to surpass the Kuro in those three categories (or any other categories not mentioned), that does me no good unless that TV at least matches every other aspect of the VT25 or Kuro reference.  That "much more reasonable price" you refer to is not for a better product...it's for an inferior product, though I admit it is only inferior in certain aspects.  After all, the VT25 has features not found in the Kuro display....but those are features, and have nothing to do with performance.  Having a Netflix application doesn't make the picture quality better.

As for the article you quoted..."Today's Panasonic's, LG's, and even Samsung's plasma HDTVs are better than Pioneer Kuro sets..."  I'm sorry, I'm at a loss for words.  I can't argue with a moron (not you, him).  I don't understand why you even posted the article, unless you are trying to prove how stupid some people are.

mpatnode wrote:

Luckily, we live in the new America now where if any information or data disagrees with my world view, I can dismiss it as lies and propaganda!

Unfortunately, sometimes it really is a lie...  See the quote above.

richard1980 wrote:

So I go back to my original point.  The VT25 does not perform as well as the Kuro reference in at least 3 different categories.  If some other TV has managed to surpass the Kuro in those three categories (or any other categories not mentioned), that does me no good unless that TV at least matches every other aspect of the VT25 or Kuro reference.  That "much more reasonable price" you refer to is not for a better product...it's for an inferior product, though I admit it is only inferior in certain aspects.  After all, the VT25 has features not found in the Kuro display....but those are features, and have nothing to do with performance.  Having a Netflix application doesn't make the picture quality better.

You're correct, my memory failed on that point.  That said, we got side-tracked on the Kuro as it isn't really an e.g. of how 30yr old tech is better than current.  It's more of a case study of how defining "better" incorrectly kills products.  Clearly consumers would rather pay much less for something 85% as good (knocked 5% off from the previous 90% to correct for the 0.121 difference in gamma et. al. forgotten before Wink).

richard1980 wrote:

Second, to answer your question about the $100 million TV, you wouldn't sell very many of them.  But it doesn't matter how many you sell.  The only thing that matters is making sure supply equals demand.  Whether that be 1 TV or a million TVs, it doesn't matter.  If demand doesn't equal supply, you have to change price or supply.  That means if demand is higher than supply, you either add more supply or drive down sales by raising the price.  On the flip side, if demand is lower than supply, you are left with no choice but to lower the price.  No matter what situation you are in, you will eventually reach a point known as economic equilibrium, which is the point at which supply equals demand.  The price associated with equilibrium is the fair price for the product at the time...be it $100 million or $1. The only hurdle becomes making sure the fair price still generates a profit.  But even that is easily accomplished if you do it right.

I suspect that Pioneer would take issue with the "easy accomplished" part of that statement.  After all, their imperfect reference display proved economically nonviable far below the $100,000,000 mark.

babgvant wrote:

I suspect that Pioneer would take issue with the "easy accomplished" part of that statement.

Nothing is easy in the middle of a global financial crisis.  I should have clarified.

babgvant wrote:

After all, their imperfect reference display proved economically nonviable far below the $100,000,000 mark.

Look at Pioneer's financials.  There is a direct correlation with Pioneer's ability to sell home electronics (not just TVs, but home electronics in general) and the recession.  Pioneer was doing great before the recession.  They started doing worse at the beginning of the recession (late 2007).  The recession took a sharp downturn in 2008, and during that same time Pioneer showed a massive drop in home electronics sales, while plasma TV sales still accounted for approximately the same percentage of overall home electronics sales as the year before (this is key because it clearly shows that in 2008, Pioneer plasma TV sales were matching the performance of the rest of their home electronics).  The recession lasted into 2009, and during that time Pioneer's home electronics sales continued to plummet.  Then in 2010, we emerged from recession, and as if by magic, Pioneer's home electronics sales start climbing. There's only one conclusion that can be drawn:  Pioneer's ability to sell TVs and other home electronics was directly impacted by the recession that lasted from late 2007 to 2010.  Obviously Pioneer was impacted so much by the recession that they had to withdraw from the plasma TV industry.

The following statements come directly from the Home Electronics section of Pioneer's annual reports for each of the fiscal years indicated (Pioneer's fiscal year ends on March 31):

FY 2007 (ended March 31, 2007):  Home Electronics sales increased 3.9% year on year to ¥368.6 billion (US$3,123.9 million). Plasma display sales declined slightly due to a drop in overall OEM (original equipment manufacturing) sales, despite increased sales of own-brand models in Europe and North America. Plasma display sales accounted for approximately 48% of Home Electronics sales. Meanwhile, sales of DVD drives, DVD-related devices and DJ equipment rose, while sales of DVD recorders fell year on year.  In terms of geographic sales, sales in Japan declined 19.7% to ¥65.9 billion (US$558.1 million), while overseas sales increased 11.0% to ¥302.8 billion (US$2,565.9 million).

FY 2008 (ended March 31, 2008):   Home Electronics sales decreased 8.8% year on year to ¥329.5 billion (US$3,295.3 million). Plasma display sales declined due to a drop in sales volume mainly in North America and Europe. Plasma display sales accounted for approximately 40% of Home Electronics sales, compared with approximately 49% in the previous fiscal year. Sales of DVD drives and Blu-ray Disc-related devices rose, while sales of DVD recorders fell. The operating loss in this segment was ¥18.0 billion (US$179.7 million), compared with an operating loss of ¥15.8 billion in the previous fiscal year. This was mainly attributable to the larger loss in the plasma display business due to falling sales, despite a smaller loss in DVD recorders reflecting a reduction in development expenses.

FY 2009 (ended March 31, 2009):  Operating revenue decreased 36.5% year on year to ¥209.3 billion (US$2,135.3 million). This was largely a result of lower sales of plasma displays and DVD drives. Display product sales accounted for approximately 38% of Home Electronics operating revenue in fiscal 2009, compared with approximately 40% in fiscal 2008. In terms of geographic operating revenue, operating revenue in Japan declined 33.0% to ¥31.0 billion (US$316.4 million), and overseas operating revenue fell 37.1% to ¥178.2 billion (US$1,818.8 million). This segment recorded an operating loss of ¥38.6 billion (US$394.1 million), compared with an operating loss of ¥17.9 billion in the previous fiscal year. This was mainly due to lower sales and deterioration in the gross profit margin chiefly in plasma displays.

FY 2010 (ended March 31, 2010):  Home Electronics sales decreased 36.3% year on year to ¥133,329 million, mainly due to lower sales of plasma displays and DVD drives, despite higher sales of Blu-ray Disc-related products as an optical disc joint venture commenced operations. In terms of geographic sales, sales in Japan increased 29.3% to ¥40,096 million, while overseas sales declined 47.7% to ¥93,233 million.

FY 2011 (ended March 31, 2011):  Home Electronics sales grew 16.2% year on year, to ¥157,565 million. Despite a decline in sales of plasma displays, from which business Pioneer withdrew in fiscal 2010, in Europe and North America, there was a large increase in sales of Blu-ray Disc drive-related products from the commencement of operations at an optical disc joint venture in the second half of the previous fiscal year, and sales of AV receivers, primarily in North America, grew as well. By geographic region, sales in Japan roughly doubled to ¥83,249 million, while overseas sales declined 20.9% to ¥74,316 million due to the appreciation of the Japanese yen.

Pioneer suffered a total loss of 64% of their home electronics sales due to the recession.  It's no wonder they shut the doors on the TV division.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the Kuro TVs killed the TV division, as you seem to imply.  Pioneer certainly wasn't the only company to react to the recession like this.

richard1980 wrote:

Nothing is easy in the middle of a global financial crisis.  I should have clarified.

When dealing with a product with high fixed cost and [most likely] high marginal cost getting costs under control is not easy even w/o a global financial crisis. 

richard1980 wrote:

Look at Pioneer's financials.  There is a direct correlation with Pioneer's ability to sell home electronics (not just TVs, but home electronics in general) and the recession.  Pioneer was doing great before the recession.  They started doing worse at the beginning of the recession (late 2007).  The recession took a sharp downturn in 2008, and during that same time Pioneer showed a massive drop in home electronics sales, while plasma TV sales still accounted for approximately the same percentage of overall home electronics sales as the year before (this is key because it clearly shows that in 2008, Pioneer plasma TV sales were matching the performance of the rest of their home electronics).  The recession lasted into 2009, and during that time Pioneer's home electronics sales continued to plummet.  Then in 2010, we emerged from recession, and as if by magic, Pioneer's home electronics sales start climbing. There's only one conclusion that can be drawn:  Pioneer's ability to sell TVs and other home electronics was directly impacted by the recession that lasted from late 2007 to 2010.  Obviously Pioneer was impacted so much by the recession that they had to withdraw from the plasma TV industry.

...

Pioneer suffered a total loss of 64% of their home electronics sales due to the recession.  It's no wonder they shut the doors on the TV division.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the Kuro TVs killed the TV division, as you seem to imply.  Pioneer certainly wasn't the only company to react to the recession like this.

First I don't think Kuro killed the TV division directly, but it is telling which product lines were jettisoned and which stayed.  Shocks determine who has their business (supply chain, cost curves, long/short term flexibility) in order clearly Pioneer's PDP business was soft. 

Looking at the data we have available it appears that even before the recession Pioneer's PDP must have been pretty close to the break even point and as the demand dried up they were unable to get costs under enough control (the why is not relevant here, but it would be interesting to know - i.e. long term external contracts, materials cost, lack of substitutable inputs, etc.) to keep the product viable.

I think you are ignoring the fact that we were in a recession, and people simply didn't have the money to spend on high quality TVs at that time.  I don't think that's the same as demand drying up...it's more like demand temporarily going through a drought.  Eventually people will get back to where they were before the recession, and they'll have that money to spend on a top-of-the-line TV.  The market needs to be ready, and right now I don't think it is.

Of course, now that Sharp and Pioneer have brought back the Elite name, perhaps the future will be a little better.  Maybe it will inspire Panasonic to stop trading off one problem for another in their TVs.

richard1980 wrote:

I think you are ignoring the fact that we were in a recession, and people simply didn't have the money to spend on high quality TVs at that time.  I don't think that's the same as demand drying up...it's more like demand temporarily going through a drought.  Eventually people will get back to where they were before the recession, and they'll have that money to spend on a top-of-the-line TV.  The market needs to be ready, and right now I don't think it is.

I'm not ignoring that at all.  Demand is demand, the why matters but not in this case.  What we have is a case study where a producer has an inflexible cost curve producing near the break even point.  When demand dips they can no longer make a profit in the long term so they exit the market.  Back in Econ 100 this would have been a gimme on the test.

richard1980 wrote:

Of course, now that Sharp and Pioneer have brought back the Elite name, perhaps the future will be a little better.  Maybe it will inspire Panasonic to stop trading off one problem for another in their TVs.

Yes, the problem with Sharps TVs is that they have the wrong label on the outside and don't cost enough.

babgvant wrote:

When demand dips they can no longer make a profit in the long term so they exit the market.

If demand had dipped permanently, I would agree.  But it didn't.  It dipped temporarily.

babgvant wrote:

Yes, the problem with Sharps TVs is that they have the wrong label on the outside and don't cost enough.

You lost me.  Sharp hasn't done anything in the past to impress me, but there's a first time for everything.  And the $6000 and $8500 price tags for a 60 and 70 inch LCD TV certainly makes me think these sets could very well impress me.  I would hope the performance matches the price tag, but you never know.

richard1980 wrote:

If demand had dipped permanently, I would agree.  But it didn't.  It dipped temporarily.

Shocks expose fragility.  A producer that can't keep their supply story in order during a shock is one with a fragile/close set of curves.  The temporary* dip was enough to produce a market exit.  Given the fact that Pioneer has sold off or licensed most of what made the Kuro, a Kuro, reentry is unlikely.

* I would argue that given the advances in display tech, at a much lower price point, achieved by Panasonic, Samsung and LG have permanently shifted demand but that's a different topic.

richard1980 wrote:

babgvant wrote:
Yes, the problem with Sharps TVs is that they have the wrong label on the outside and don't cost enough.

You lost me.  Sharp hasn't done anything in the past to impress me, but there's a first time for everything.  And the $6000 and $8500 price tags for a 60 and 70 inch LCD TV certainly makes me think these sets could very well impress me.  I would hope the performance matches the price tag, but you never know.

Sarcasm, Sharp is an also-ran.  I doubt that charging more for a Sharp TV with an "Elite" moniker is going to fix the fundamentals.

richard1980 wrote:

And I guarantee you there is something wrong with both of those displays.  Neither of them perform correctly.  There's not a single TV on the market that performs correctly.  The closest thing to "correct" was the Pioneer Kuro line of TVs.  CNET actually uses one of the Kuro TVs as their reference display for all other plasma TVs.  No TV has ever matched the performance of the Kuro they use, and even their reference Kuro has picture quality flaws.  But since it's the best they have ever seen, it is still their reference display.

That's what I like to hear!    I'll hang on to my Kuro for dear life.  Smile

I don't think we need to take that with a grain of salt. Analog components are expensive and that's where the signal lands after all the digital processing. I am not an audiophile but like good sound. It also does not mean that you buy a class A amp that cost upwards of $10k.

Many people focus on features that they don't use for the most part but forget about sound quality and good amplification that will be used every time they turn on the receiver.

At the very basic a receiver needs a good transformer, so if you see two receivers with similar features from the same brand with different price then check their weight.

We computer geeks overlook the analog side of things as capacitors, resisters and inductors were boring as is circuit theory but DSP is fun. But analog is where it gets real.

One should also remember that $300-$500 even in the 80s was considerably more "money" than $300-$500 in the 2010s due to inflation.  So you were spending quite a bit more money in the early 80s and getting a lot less features.

 

Having inherited a sub-$1000 80s sound system, I can say that 'out of the box' most of the stuff I listen to on my $250 modern setup sounds better.  The 80s speakers were superior, large boxes with a 10", 8", 6" and tweeter in each box.  They were also huge and ate up tons of floor space.  My new speakers are small, wall mountable, but don't put out the same punch.  I could turn the 80s system up so loud that you could hear it in every room in my childhood 2 story house.  My current system can get loud, but it distorts at those volumes.  There might be some frequency ranges that aren't be reproduced as well (either from the amp or speakers), but I can hear a virtual person walk around me, something my old stereo couldn't do.

The article's view that you can get better sound out of an old receiver is interesting.  But I think buying separate power-amps and running a full rack system is the way to go if one is really looking for quality.

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