For the people, By the people - Audio products improve with crowd sourcing
The crowd sourcing craze has really created a mark for itself in the audiophile market place. No longer do people need to purely accept what manufacturers are offering, no we the people get to have a say in the design an manufacturing of those products. As a software developer myself, I've seen the transition in the software world from the waterfall model to the Agile development process. A faster more iterative process that relies on getting customer feedback early on.
The old way (waterfall)
1. Company comes up with a product idea
2. Company funds development hoping to sell product - creating the product they "hope" the customer will want
3. Company designs and builds product (months to years)
4. Company brings product to market and starts selling it (And hopefully it meets consumers needs)
The new way (agile/crowd sourced)
1. Company comes up with a product idea
2. Company pitches it to customers
3. Customers pay up front for the product (usually at a discount to account for the risk involved and the time)
4. Company & paying customers have a dialog about what the product "should" be
5. Company develops product and provides ongoing feedback with customer
6. Product is complete (months to a year) and shipped to customers
This new model is certainly not w/o risk, but it is a very intreguing model as it has lots of benefits to us, the music/video loving customers.
The ongoing campagin from LightHarmonic Labs is a great example of this process. The Geek Pulse (http://igg.me/at/geekpulseaudio/x/5211485
). I've watched the product morph from a generic DAC/Headphone amp into a product tailored to the needs of the more than 2000 people who have been funding it. Support for Bluetooth has been added, so have balanced headphone and line outputs, a dual mono design, and a separate Linear Power Suppy to provide the cleanest sound and more. They have been taking input from all the customers and crafting a product. Heck they even threw up their initial look and feel design as a piñata for discussion and have had over 200 different posts where people are providing ideas and mockups. Every one building off of the mockups before and everyone enjoying the process. They have really engaged their customer base in a way that has never easily possible in the past, and as a result, the Geek Pulse, just as the other products listed above, will be much better for it. Hearing the initial reviews of the Geek Out makes me really look forward to next spring/summer when my pulse will arrive.
I've personally backed several different campaigns:
I've contributed to several different products in this category:
* LHLabs Geek Pulse - (http://igg.me/at/geekpulseaudio/x/5211485
* Olive One Media Player (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/olive-one-all-in-one-home-music-player-designed-by-you/x/5211485
* UTurn Audio Turntable (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/uturnaudio/the-orbit-turntable-0/
And there other others that are interesting as well:
* Grain Audio - Speakers/Headphones/Amps (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2096575920/grain-audio-play-loud?ref=search
* California Headphones (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/californiaheadphones/california-headphones-premium-metal-and-leather-de?ref=live
* LHLabs Geek Out (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gavn8r/geek-a-new-usb-awesomifier-for-headphones?ref=search
* SicPhones Headphone Amp (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1682246865/sicphones-a-high-end-silicon-carbide-headphone-amp?ref=search
* BlueTube (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1969365167/bluetube-audio-vacuum-tube-amplifier-with-built-in?ref=live
* Auris Wifi Doc (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/auris/auris-skye-wifi-for-your-dock?ref=live
I think that this speaks to future for this market. It allows smaller companies and teams to provide products much more closely aligned with customers needs.
I look forward to delivery and playing with all of these projects as well as looking for more.
Thanks for reading... I'm happy you made it down this far.