While the Great Recession rages on, there are signs of recovery and hope in the AV business. One such ray of sunshine is the boom in sales of higher end AV preamps. We don't mean the $30,000 flagship units which are priced and designed to sell in lower volumes to the Uber-rich. The AV preamps that are selling like hotcakes are the $10,000 and under category. In many cases some of the top contenders in this category are actually selling out, resulting in waiting lists for consumers looking to upgrade to audiophile sound packed from a preamp that knows its way around five or six HDMI inputs, Dolby TrueHD, 9.2 channel outputs, room correction and more.
The players in the game (in no particular order) include the Anthem D2v ($7,995) the Classé SSP-800 ($8,000) the Krell 1200u ($10,000) and the Cary Audio Cinema 11a ($4,000). Others in this space are doing well in terms of U.S. sales - these higher end players have captured the attention of those AV enthusiasts who are looking to upgrade to the best Blu-ray has to offer. Another theme is that all of these AV preamps having deep audiophile roots are machines capable of making stereo music sound fantastic.
One prominent dealer suggested: "True enthusiasts want the most out of HD formats like Blu-ray and even satellite TV. You can't make a traditional stereo preamp output 7.1 surround sound no matter how hard you try. It won't switch HDMI either and consumers want a preamp that does it all while meeting their audiophile needs."
Delays aren't that long for users waiting to get units but some dealers are thinking twice about selling floor demos, especially at deep discounts - which was standard operating procedure for many dealers over the past 18 months. Top-level AV preamps are hard to come by and the dealers know it. Many of them are selling for premiums on Ebay and Audiogon. Without question it's good news.