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January 05, 2009

Towards A Greener Hi–Fi?

Towards A Greener Hi-Fi?


beoleb 5

Beolab 5 an ecologogical hi-fi solution?


I found a forum on Green Hi-fi on the Gramophone site recently. I must say I was disturbed by the rather cavalier and selfish attitude of many of the contributors. The fact of the matter is that domestic power consumption is growing at a rapid rate and a lot of this is due to the rapidly growing numbers of various entertainment systems. A TV in each room, large numbers of teenage stereos and increasingly, budget surround systems etc. The replacement of old light bulbs with nergy efficient ones simply isn't going to ease the situation. Better design of buildings to incorporate energy gathring devices as well as better buildings can help reverse the ever increasing power demands. But better design and more thoughtful use of tens of millions of domestic entrtainment systems must be a part of adapting to the mounting global crisis of energy shortages and overproduction of CO2. Now this isn't to take a hair shirt attitude to one's listening pleasures, it does point to the need for an awareness of how energy demanding certain products are and in this respect a similar guide found on Fridges to be placed on AV equipment would make a good start. Plasma screens are far more power hungry than LCD ones for example.

The Ethical Consumer has a green guide to Hi-Fi which deals with the ethics of a wide range of companies such as sourcing wood for example.The following comments most hi-fi enthusiasts would probably agree with on grounds of quality of product anyway:

Buying a hi-fi
For readers concerned about environmental issues, the best advice is to choose separates. This approach allows consumers to obtain or replace only the functions they really want (CD, Tuner, speakers etc) and leave behind the unnecessary features (remote controls, lots of flashing lights). Generally speaking, separates are easier to repair and longer lasting. They are also of course, more expensive.


On the 22nd May their table was last updated with Arcam coming out as the company with the bst ethical rating. With the likes of Samsung and Panasonic near the bottom of the pile many buyers of Quality British Audio products can feel pleased. Given that I'm getting and Arcam tuner I could feel a bit smug xcept that I didn't know about this league table when I did it, however it will inform future buying policies.


For the niche market this Blog on the ecological upgrading of old Quad and Revox equipment is fascinating...Quad Spot . Here are the basic points in their ethical mission statement:

  • Print less documents. Invoices, manuals, documentation... will be sent in pdf format.
  • Only use 100% recycled unbleached paper for those documents (like address-labels) that need to be printed.
  • Only use 100% recycled packaging-material.
  • Only use ROHS-compliant electronics components
  • Only use lead-free solder
  • Only use 100% "Green" electricity
  • Make the ecological aspect an essential negotiation-point with our suppliers
  • Advise our customers about ecological solutions

Another Hi-Fi company with a clear set of ethics is Van den Hul. I did know about this and it has influnced me in my decision to order a pair of The Integration interconnects. Here is an extract from their general information:

Other important criteria with the design of our products are: the durability of our products, an optimal protection against environmental influences and the application of environmentally friendly raw materials in all aspects.

A J VdHul

AJ Van den Hul founder of the Dutch cable and cartridge company


More Efficient Amplification: Going D Class


It is clear that amplification is the big power user and here digital amplification which is still in its early days has to be viewed as the future. Here a Stereophile article on a more upmarket digital amplifier from Yamaha shows what can be done. 500 watts and running cool is here compared to an MF behemoth.

Yamaha 500 watt digi amp


The Yamaha MX-D1 500 watt per channel digital amplifier from 2005


Musical fidelity 1Kw monoblocks

Musical Fidelity's  1KW monoblocks. A small power station is needed for this lot!


The MFs are clearly a case of total excess and signify an ecological disaster trail. This seems to be a case of male alphas doing a bit of the 'mine is bigger than yours' stuff. There is no doubt that excllent sound systems can be produced without going to such extremes as this comment on ICE Power a form of class D amplification shows:

ICEpower is a radical improvement. Even super-high-end audiophile companies like Jeff Rowland and Bel Canto are using it in amplifiers that cost factors more than Rotel charges for this little honey. (See link to Rotel article in webliography)

Beolab 1 ice powered


The elegant Beolab 1 which is ICE powered

The fact is the designs are already out there the will to buy them and allow them to develop is another matter!

Webliography


B & O ICE amplification.  Perhaps this is the best route?


Rotel's use of ICE power from B&O


Direct Digital Amplification Improves Efficiency.......


STMicroelectronics Digital Amplifation 2008


Onkyo Digital Amplifier




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