There were a lot of tremendously awesome things to see and touch (or not) at the NYIAS this year. Alfa Romeo’s vintage roundup was an extremely distracting highlight, and it was only one of many.
From a purely automotive side, there was quite a bit that was drool-worthy. Some highlights:
- Ford GT “Supercar”. At $400k, this thing looks like it actually costs every penny.
- McLaren 570S. It’s just a bit less than half the price of the Ford, and looks as exotic. Also, it’s not a Ford, so it’s probably actually worth it. The specs on this thing are insane, but the look of it says “bite me, Lambo”. The deck was so mobbed, I never really got a good shot of it, but it’s big track-only brothers (the P1 GTR in yellow-with-green and 675LT in grey) were absolute monsters.
- Toyota’s FT-1. This thing looks just plain dangerous. I mean that literally — the doors are pointy. The whole thing looks like an anime illustrator’s wet dream, but the look actually works.
As for “The Project”, Alex and I learned some very interesting things about the intersection of high-end auto and high-end audio.
- Harman International is into just about everything. With the possible exception of Meridian and Burmester, Harman is the only serious player — especially so, with B&O now under new management. That is, it isn’t a terribly competitive space. Given Harman’s incredible investment, collecting all of the various brands, you have to assume that this is where they feel the money is in high-end audio. In cars. It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to see that they’ve probably nailed it.
- No one in the auto industry knows anything about audio. There may be a couple of unicorns out there, but statistically, they’re irrelevant. The only audio stat these folks know is measured in watts.
- Audio-in-auto has not yet reached it’s Golden Age. The world of the aftermarket is probably “where it’s at” in terms of the purists’ pursuit of sonic excellence, but even in cars costing more than a NYC apartment, the audio system is almost never more than window dressing.
- Even with all that said, high-quality sound in an automobile is hardly the oxymoron that The Audiophile seems to innately believe. In point of fact, some of these systems are not only “very good”, they’re downright excellent, and at prices (added to the base, that is) that are embarrassingly cheap. That’s true even the “over the moon” audio systems in cars mostly likely to only show up driven by a Saudi prince. It’s refreshing, actually.
Over the next few months, I’m going to reach out to a few PR contacts I made to see if we can wrangle a few longer-term tests out of them. Mainly because I want a McLaren in my driveway. Or a Rolls. That would be superb. I’ll keep you all posted, to be sure.