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Is it bad for one company to virtually rule the HT electronics industry?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by JohnRice, Jun 18, 2019.

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  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    An equity firm called DEI holdings is on the verge of virtually monopolizing the majority of mainstream HT audio electronics. Very soon, if it hasn't already been completed, this firm will own Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Integra, Pioneer and Pioneer Elite. That's like Ford, Chrysler and GM all being owned by the same company. They also own Polk, Definitive Technology and Boston Acoustics, but there is such a vast range of readily available speakers, that doesn't concern me as much.

    So, aside from Yamaha and Harman/Kardon (Harman International is another example of the same problem), one interest has control over the overwhelming majority of mainstream HT electronics. My impression is that this can not be good for consumers. The competition between these brands is what drives innovation, and more importantly, helps manage prices.

    Opinions?
     
  2. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I'm of two minds on this.

    One of my concerns with audio in general (also with all media, but I'll stick to audio for now) is that I think we have two many redundancies, that is, things that compete with each other to do the same general function. Lossless audio is an example: we have lossless Dolby TrueHD, and there's also DTS-HD MA. Want object-based audio? There's Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. But maybe your receiver only supports one of those formats but not both, and then maybe the disc you've just purchased is encoded in the format that your receiver doesn't support. I don't understand why it's necessary to have multiple competing formats that all do the same thing, where each studio can elect to use only one, so that the consumer has to spend more money on hardware that's compatible with a wide variety of formats, instead of there being a universal format that everyone could just use consistently.

    If there was only one manufacturer of home theater audio components, in theory, that company could be in a position to end all of that nonsense and just declare one format the one that people will use.

    At the moment, this seems to be a little bit of a non-issue because any new receiver will likely support all of those formats. But when those formats were being rolled out, it was a lot more difficult to find one receiver that supported them all. But you have to figure that somewhere down the line, someone will want to revise audio standards again, and we'll wind up in exactly the same position.

    Something like that could be a real benefit to consumers - no more half baked format launches, no more niche formats all springing up at the same time to do the exact same thing in the same way with slightly different branding, etc. But that's not just up to the manufacturers - studios still choose to adopt codecs that aren't widely used, and companies that design the codecs still insist on launching redundant products. It's probably not realistic to imagine a consumer electronics company caring enough to tell them to knock it off.

    But I think the downsides to having only one manufacturer are obvious - with a lack of competition, there's less incentive to innovate (so maybe that reduces the number of useless innovations, but also hampers useful ones too), and prices have the potential to skyrocket out of control.
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    The thing about the audio format argument is... the home audio electronics manufacturers don't drive that. Those audio formats are developed by entirely different companies, and supported by the studios. The companies who design and manufacture the equipment we use to play back those soundtracks have zero say in the codecs used in the soundtracks. They are just left to manufacture equipment that plays whatever formats are in the marketplace. Plus, where the universal adoption of DD and DTS was bumpy and slow, the move to DD-HD and DTS-HD was almost simultaneous. The move to Atmos and DTS:X was nearly simultaneous. Even though Atmos appeared first, most if not all Atmos compatible units had DTS:X added later with a firmware update. There were some early adopters who were left out by jumping in and buying units that were never DTS:X compatible, but that's always the hazard of early adoption. Common sense dictates that any time a revolutionary new format, such as Atmos comes out, you're best off waiting a few months for the inevitable response from DTS.

    I've never had a problem with competing formats. Both Dolby and DTS are better for having the other to keep them on their toes, and we're the beneficiaries. Competition is healthy. Conglomeration isn't good for anyone, other than the few who invest in it.
     
    Josh Steinberg likes this.
  4. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I think it is awful news and dread the future of home theater receivers.

    I have had bad experiences with Onkyo. From my experience both receivers I owned from them lasted less than three years, and I had issues with them before that which leads me to believe quality control is not a top priority for them. I just feel that all the receivers manufactured under one company will be of the same disposable type of hardware-cheaply built, high cost garbage that is neat for a while but soon a frustrating boat anchor, or large paperweight. Yamaha wasn't top on my list for receivers, but they are now.
     

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