What is sustainability in audio and how do we measure it?
Is it how much electricity your giant Class A amplifier wastes as heat? Is it the amount of preciously rare metals used in your car-sized speakers? Is it the chemicals used in manufacturing and how the factory gets rid of them? Is it shipping? What about quality? What about obsolescence? Or old tech vs. new tech? Is vinyl playback greener than streaming? And what about our innate tendency to never really settle down with a system, to always be on an ever-steeper upgrade path towards audio nirvana?
The Green Choice
In the netherworld that is internet hi-fi forums it is quite common to read something like this: ‘Wow, this is the last DAC I’ll ever need’. Followed by something like this: ‘yeah right, famous last words…’. Why is that so common as to be universally understood that the new DAC that brings joy to begin with will be replaced within a month or a year? What happened to that joy?
Going green on audio is about making the right choices when you invest in hi-fi, and do it the right the first time. To buy the right gear for you. To make deliberate decisions and stick to them. To rise above audiophilia nervosa and instead of replacing the DAC or cartridge you cherished last week buy some new albums – or give €100 to a reforestation project. It will make you feel better and music will sound sweeter.
Some might think that buying gear in the used market automatically makes it green. That is not correct. Rather, buying used is an essential part of the problem of hi-fi not being sustainable. Why? Because it is part of the circular buy-sell tendency that is at the heart of overspending, consumerism, and, ultimately, unsustainability. The audio world, as the world in general, needs to produce fewer things, but of higher quality.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining: when we buy less gear, we can buy better gear.
On these pages under Sustainability we will post articles about how we as audiophiles and gearheads and music lovers can make greener choices when we invest in hi-fi.
This is a new site and going forward from here is as much a learning-by-doing kind of thing as it is a clear and finished project. We will learn as we move forward.
Hopefully, so will you…