Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Disco Daze

NHT is not particularly fast at product development but when we finally get it ready to produce, we typically have a product that really performs well for its intended purpose. 

With every new product, the important details are labored over every step of the way.  By the time it is finished, we have taken it home, listened in every conceivable scenario, corrected problems, argued about voicing, and listened some more.  When done, that new product has become a part of our brand psyche, and part of the family.

This is why I hate discontinuing products.  It feels to me like abandoning a favorite pet by the roadside. But if you have taken the time to read this blog you know that NHT is once again a small, independent company.  This has forced us to look at what we offer and reduce the models to a select line of our best and most successful speaker systems.  

The changing - and contracting shape of the traditional audio business is diminishing the supplier base; another reason to take a long hard look at what the consumer market considers relevant. For years NHT bought drivers from a number of suppliers located primarily in Japan and Europe.  While more expensive, we supported these companies because of their investment in innovation and parts consistency, two key elements for building great-sounding speakers.  There are lots of driver suppliers springing up in Asia, and many are quite competent, but they do little R&D and most lack consistent suppliers for their components.  This actually has less impact on our new product development as we can design around problems, but makes supporting older models increasingly challenging.

Lastly, the newest reason for discontinuing speaker models: technology.  Electronics makers have been dealing with this for years, but not us speaker guys.  Our fundamental technology has not changed since 1940... at least not until recently.  In NHT's case, it's called Xd.  Xd represents the advanced use of DSP in the correction of loudspeaker performance.  Even though we began shipping Xd two years ago, the underlying technology is still considered radical and new.  It is dependent on microprocessors and is expensive to implement even in its most basic form.

Our original model is still one of the most amazing sounding loudspeakers I have ever heard, and we firmly believe the technology represents the future, which is why we decided to put it on hold until a new design is complete.

This is a longer story - stay tuned for part 2.


L. Maxwell Ward said...


Good to see this blog. Hearing a little bit about the decisions that are being made and what's coming down the pipe will go a long way towards reassuring us customers, especially after having seen the company look like a sinking ship towards the end of last year.

But posts like this help me look forward to owning "Son of Xd" in a couple years when I have the money to do so...

swingbug said...

It's not leaving your favorite pet on the roadside. It's just taking your dog out of the dog show.

As to those older models, my Model 1s still proudly sit on my shelf, a birthday gift from when I was 16, back in the stone age. They're a little worse for the wear on the outside, but they still sound great. Maybe they're not fancy, but they're still part of the family.

You don't have to justify your product decisions. Just keep making speakers. That'll do.

JoeCreative said...

Loudspeaker design is a dinosaur, the meteor already hit, but nobody told those big lizards they were extinct, they just keep foraging on the same old twigs and berries. Takes chutzpa to break the status quo in the loudspeaker market. You and the guys have vision, something that the majority of the industry lacks. If nothing else, thanks from an underpaid audiophile for continuing a legacy of affordable hi-fi with killer performance and solution standards. I know it may have been easier to throw in the towel in the face of all the adversity NHT has faced over the years. Not so easy to chop off your own leg, even when it gets heavy and tends to not respond to commands. Yeah, the ol' roach survived a milennia. So did sharks and crocs. Wish you the best, find your daily dose of fun hidden in the challenges.

-Joe D.