Tom Hannaher of ZVOX Audio and I were chewing the fat about the state of the consumer electronics business when the subject veered over to flat-screen TV manufacturers. They're all under incredible pressure to slash prices while they load on more and more features, and it's getting kinda scary.
I've had folks in the TV biz tell me not to wait any longer to buy a flat display because the manufacturers are starting to substitute lower-quality parts to keep lowering retail prices. But long before they do anything drastic that would affect picture quality or reliability, they cut audio quality. Where five years ago they might have invested $4 of the budget on speakers, they now might spend a buck.
It's the same sorry story with power amplifiers; the accountants are pinching pennies everywhere they can. Hey, it makes sense. TV buyers obsess about image quality and maybe read the reviews, but sound--it's an afterthought. On the dealer's showroom floor they never have the sound turned on, and there's a good reason for that. It sucks.
And since most flat-display buyers wind up using the sorry speakers built into their awesome looking TVs, they're missing out. Now sure, the sound may not be all that awful to the average person, but that's mostly because they so easily get used to hearing no treble, no bass, no dynamic range, and as Tom put it, "Flat TVs have flat sound." Most, something estimates range as high as 80 percent, of folks just settle and never upgrade to better speakers. That doesn't make any sense.
Tom's company is here to help. It makes great-sounding, highly affordable speakers designed to work with just about any TV. I wrote a rave review of the ZVOX 325 here at CNET. If you have high def video, why settle for lo-fi sound? Sleek and skinny new ZVOX models are coming soon.