As I write this review, I’m smoking a 1926 Dunhill shell briar pipe packed with Dunhill’s London Mixture -- a lovely, mellow blend -- and I’m struck by a disconnect in cultural referents. While a new, unbroken-in pipe -- a Dunhill, say, or a Tsuge or Eltang -- is a challenging pleasure, the old, eminently smokable “estate” pipe represents a functioning connection to our cultural history. Despite its age, my 86-year-old artifact still functions as it was intended to: you can smoke a bowl of good tobacco and indulge in pleasures similar to those of any number of smokers who may have possessed this very pipe throughout its life. Indeed, when I’m worm food, someone else will revel in this little slice of history, just as I do now. Pretty cool, when you think about it.
Audio represents a very different proposition. Audio benefits from constant technical innovation -- which has advanced in massive increments, especially over the last four decades. One may appreciate an 86-year-old loudspeaker for what it was in its day, but one would certainly not expect it to render the full range of sound that today’s speakers can. Indeed, when a musician goes into a modern recording studio, he records on a sophisticated, multitrack digital console. I don’t think that musician would care for the sound quality rendered by a wax cylinder cut with a steel stylus. We can honor the innovations of the past without fooling ourselves that they can compete with the technologies of today.
Another recent technological innovation is widespread e-tailing: the marketing and selling of goods online. A number of savvy audio manufacturers are running with the best of both innovative worlds, marketing excellent products directly to the consumer via a website. As we’ve noted in earlier reviews, Aperion Audio and Yambeka Audio offer superior products at astonishing prices, and thus redefine the notion of affordable, high-quality audio.
Enter Fluance, offering their SXHTB+: a five-speaker home-theater system for $374.99 USD including shipping.
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