You still haven't answered the question. Compared to what is the SSP-800 targeting a niche audience?
If we look at the AV industry as a whole then clearly the high-end makes up a smaller portion. That is if we limit high-end to mean high cost. It's not always the case that something has to be expensive to perform well given the economies of scale of some companies. But for the sake of simplifying this discussion let's assume it means both.
We can now narrow down the high-end field into two groups, one that is interested in making a statement and one that is interested in making good sound. I like to believe the latter makes up the majority. I also like to believe that these people are going to be interested in getting the most performance for their dollar. Performance could mean different things to different people but this group will primarily be interested in getting the best sound quality that they can afford. Other factors will go into the decision and will not be based on SQ such as convenience features. But what sacrifices will one need to make to satisfy both of their criteria? It's a two sided question if you look at it from the manufactures point of view too.
Classe' built the SSP-800 to process sound. Historically speaking that's all surround sound processors did. It wasn't until standard definition video processing entered the picture (
) that SSPs became AVPs. However, current and future market trends seem to indicate that people want high
definition audio and video content. The SSP-800 caters to these people for HD audio in the same vain that the SSP-600 catered to them for SD audio.
If you take look back at the evolution of surround sound development, in the last 15 years, it remained relatively constant, with respect to 5.1 digital playback. Video on the other hand has seen rapid development and progress which doesn't look to be slowing anytime soon. I think one could reasonably predict, given previous events and with fairly good accuracy, that surround sound of the future will again remain steady with the advent of the new audio codecs. Video, however, will continue to shift.
People and companies like Classe' that have a little gratuitous foresight, see these trends continuing to gain momentum. The choice to separate audio and video processing, among other things, from the SSP-800 was a prudent move going forward and a necessary one to bring uncompromising audio performance to a lower price point. With respect to the high-end market this was not a niche decision but the proper thing to do.
Originally Posted by MarketingProf
Not sure what your analogy is supposed to convey. If you are suggesting that most people don't play vinyl, then yes, of course. All I'm saying is that in the high end, more people do play vinyl than in the mid- and low-fi crowd, so by leaving out a phono preamp as even optional, you reduce the size of the market.
For nostalgic reasons vinyl is staging a minor comeback but it will never regain market dominance. Its position now and forever is truly relegated to the select few. There is no place for vinyl in the high definition world and it has no business being in an SSP. To pay $18K just to "gotta have it", aka Simaudio CP-8, would be foolish for most and down right stupid for a Marketing Professor sitting on the receiving end (if you know what I mean). ( I am giving you some credit here that you wouldn't succumb to marketing pressures.
But it is hard for me to imagine that someone putting this $8k pre/pro in a system would rely on the PS3 or even BD30 upscaler only.
I would have to ask you in return who in their right mind would ever consider buying the PS3 or BD30 to play SD content in the first place? People, including yours truly, bought the PS3 for its ability to playback HD content, and it does that superbly.
The fact that it does not have auto room correction (as previous models have) leaves the listener with having to physically correct the room (which I believe can often lead to better results, but that is not my point here). Others on this thread have complained about this feature being left off this model when it was included in previous models, albeit with some debate. Some have even recommended a professional acoustician be hired. Niche? Yes.
None of the previous models performed room correction but they did support automated speaker calibrations. The SSP-800 is the first of its kind in the Delta Series to offer room correction tools. People that are serious in getting the most from their system will spend the time or the money to achieve the best that it can provide and use the right tools for the job. People that are ignorant of room correction practices or just plain lazy will seek convenient automation. I know a few high profile people that are honest enough to admit that. However, some of these people also know what’s best and they will always return to controls that require manual intervention to achieve the best performance possible. Anyone that is willing to compromise sound quality just for convince (at this level) have misguided interests or they are in the other
Yes, niche. I have no doubt that this pre/pro will give very high quality sound reproduction--I would expect no less from Classe. But, the person who buys this unit has to be interested in more than just "high quality sound reproduction." That certainly is one major factor. My point is that this person also has to want to correct their room manually, have a separate VP (or not care about it enough to leave to source or projection components, which is usually inferior at this point), only has a few analog sources, etc.
There is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
, that the SSP-800 cannot do with the proper ancillaries AND
deliver top tier audio performance to boot.
Yes, that is a fair statement. However, given the above design choices, and I'm NOT saying that they are wrong design choices, the niche gets even smaller. Why these design choices?
Simply because it makes sense to build the right tool for the right job. I ask, why cram a bunch of stuff into a box that you may not need and most likely will never use? Worse yet have to pay for it just to get that feel good moment knowing that you have it... "just in case"?
Also, implicit in most of the above arguments is the assumption that adding the features I mention will somehow automatically reduce sound reproduction quality, but we know this is not true, with the possible exception of VP. Auto room correction was on previous models and is optional--one does not have to use it if he feels the sound is degraded, but it could improve it. A phono preamp could be made an option for those who want/need it. More analog inputs should not degrade the sound in any way.
True but it will drive up the price, aka Simaudio CP-8.
Why spend on redundancy when you don't' need to?
In the end, I guess I'm just baffled by some of the design choices made.
It could be that you haven't been involved long enough in this area of interest to understand why. The choices are obvious to those that have. I'll agree that the SSP-800 is catering to a specific demographic but it's not a niche market. Not in the least (with respect to high-end as it was defined).
I get the feeling that the SSP-800 appeals to you more than you are willing to let on. If I am wrong then either you have your sights set on something more exorbitant which concerns you or you are trying to come to terms with the Swiss Army knifes which frustrates you.
Let me help. If you get the SSP-800 you can always add what you need when you need it. Recurring Sales = Marketing 101 eh? LOL