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Do the Politics, Religion, or Country of Origin Affect Your Audio Buying Decisions?

Steven Stone wades gingerly into the personal politics of purchasing audio gear…

I will admit from the very onset I have serious reservations and mixed feelings about this week’s subject. On the one hand, it can be argued that EVERY buying decision is a political act. But on the other hand, there’s the countervailing concept that purchases should always be based solely on the relative merits of the product compared to its competition and how well it will perform. Everything else is irrelevant. 

AR-politics1acopy.jpegObviously for some buyers the point of origin of an audio product is of critical importance. Some U.S. manufacturers proudly display the fact that they are made in the USA. And over the years I’ve seen and heard comments from a sizable number of U.S.-based audiophiles that they would never buy a product manufactured in any country but the U.S. OK…But this position does not work if your goal is to assemble the finest audio products available. It’s a big world out there and there are a lot of fine minds for whom U.S. English is not their mother tongue, who are designing world-class audio gear… 

Politics are another thorny issue. What if the owner/designer/head person at a particular company has strong political positions that they post of their Facebook page? Would you not buy from a particular firm because you disagree with their political stance? What about the reverse – would you only buy from a manufacturer with whom you share similar politics? 

To muddy the waters further – many times I’ve found that audiophiles whose politics were aligned with my own had radically different and at times diametrically opposing views on audio matters. Conversely, I’ve interacted with folks whose politics I abhor who had similar views on audio. Weird, huh? 

AR-politics3a.jpgAnd then there’s the other big one (bigger than politics?), religion. Frankly, I don’t care about that – Mormon, Israeli, Fundamentalist Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem – to me as long as someone isn’t actively trying to convert me or printing weird scree all over their products (sorry, Dr. Bonners) I’m agnostic toward religious affiliations. After all, once I have purchased the product, how much someone tithes and who they tithe to is their own business, not mine… 

In my audio reviews I have always tried to remain country-of-origin agnostic. I always list where a product was made, since that is a piece of info that is important to some audiophiles, but a product’s country-of-origin has never had an influence on my overall opinion of a piece of gear. But I do feel, and have stated it numerous times in reviews, that buying a component from a firm that is closer to you has the advantage that when (not if) a piece needs repair or refurbishing, if the manufacturer is nearby the cost of shipping and aggravation level will be lower. 

Does favoring products made nearby make me into a jingoistic “Buy American” booster? Not necessarily. But in the case of large, heavy components (such as loudspeakers) the goal of buying locally gives a buyer a leg up when it comes to support, which has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with finding the best product for an individual’s situation. 

AR-politics4a.jpgIn the end, everyone’s own personal politics do play a part in their behavioral decisions. We all vote our economic ballot. As to whether an audiophile’s macro politics (Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal) are more important than micro-politics (what is the best choice for me based on personal needs) is a personal decision. And what goes into making that decision goes a long way in defining who you are, both as a person and as an audiophile…

What do you think?

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