But today, audio in all forms seems to be losing traction yielding to other technologies and Pioneer made an uncomfortable business decision, one that I am sure was not as easy to make as just a stroke of an accountant's pen. For example, record sales in general are down as is just about everything in the audio realm and many companies are feeling this same urge.
Business decisions are fine and necessary for a company to survive. Abandoning a sinking ship makes sense and with Pioneer's decision we see signs that soon there will be less and less quality mid-fi to lure people into the high-end. It's not that Pioneer's A/V sales were bad (over $1 billion last year), they just were declining (although their car audio business is booming, pun intended). Onkyo and Baring Private Equity now control the ship and I hope together they steer it to new heights.
What does this say about the mid-fi and high-end community in general? Are we a dying breed that will one day be relegated to antique stores, museums, and exotic collectors? Will your entire DSD collection be one day wiped by a simple press of the DELETE key? It makes me shudder to think.
RIP, Pioneer Audio and their high-end Elite line. Hopefully, the new owners will have the dedication to persist as other struggling audiophile companies today are. They all feel the pinch of change. It would be sad to see all of the great work Pioneer engineers created over their history lost forever falling prey to the dreaded but essential balance sheet. I believe Onkyo will be a good infusion to this new team of owners but time will tell.
This makes me recall a similar tales of companies gone by. R.T. Bozak, Crown International, Phase Linear, Fisher, Apogee and many, many others succumbed to a similar fate and I am sure more will fall in the future. But history demonstrates that others will rise up out of the ashes and carry on the torch - the Phoenix. Hey, maybe that would be a great name for the new products if they decide to drop the old Pioneer name!
I feel sad that my Pioneer PL-L1000A turntable has now made one more step to being officially called an antique -- but maybe that is a good thing! Just feeling a bit melancholy - even though the Denver Broncos at the moment are winning even though Wes Welker just took a cheap shot to his head.
Yours for higher fidelity,
Skeptics are essential to keep us sane; skeptics do little to keep us inspired. Philip Rastocny, 7-16-2014