Tony Federici: Accurate in the USA Page 6

I think we need to try to communicate that message more. That it really doesn't matter whether you buy X product or Y product—as long as you're not buying Z, which is basically an appliance, you're way ahead of the game. Even on cost. Products in this end of the industry have genuine resale value. When somebody buys a mass-market product, that money's gone. The product has no intrinsic value at that point. The customer may have laid out $2000 on an audio system, but that $2000 is gone. They lay out $5000 on an Aragon system and it costs them less than the $2000 they laid out on the other audio system because it has an intrinsic resale value.

Atkinson: Where is this industry going to be in 10 years' time?

Federici: I think in general we'll use the term "home entertainment" for music, for the reproduction of sound as accurately as possible. I think we'll be far stronger than anyone anticipates. As people have more freedom of what they want to listen to, with what they want to watch, and as the new technologies come into play and the access to it becomes a lot easier, this whole industry is literally going to explode.

The question becomes: Based on what we discussed earlier, in terms of people not knowing what live sound is anymore, will people really care about quality? Will they just be just buying an appliance? If people stay at home more and don't even go out, and just listen to artificially reproduced sound and become completely unfamiliar with live sound, is that what we're all headed for?

Atkinson: I was looking around yesterday at the Academy for the Advancement of High End Audio dinner: a more homogeneous group of people in terms of age I've never seen. The age span of 35 to 50 pretty much covers everybody involved in high-end audio. And the thought struck me: We're all pretty homogeneous in age—not in gender, there are lots of women in this industry—and your customers and my readers over the next 10-20 years are all going to be a generation younger than we are. This industry has ridden the baby-boom wave, but it could be argued that the wave is running out of momentum. How does the high-end industry relate to people who don't have the same shared experiences?

Federici: I think it's do-able. I don't have a problem with that. Think of the question in terms of software, not hardware. The younger generation is still going to movies produced by our generation. I don't think that what we have here is a failure to communicate.

I go back to what I said earlier: It is our job to reproduce sound, the original event, as accurately as possible. That's what it really gets down to. I think that cuts across any generation gap. What you're attempting to do is the reproduction of reality. Which, I guess, has been a human goal since the first cave paintings. I think we're safe in that area.

Postscript: At the end of 2000, Mondial Designs was acquired by Klipsch. While Paul Rosenberg remained with the company he cofounded, Tony Federici appears to have left the audio business.—John Atkinson