Monitor Audio believes that buying hi-fi parts is more sustainable in the long run than all-in-one systems.
The company’s technical director, Michael Hedges, made the claim at the request of Which Hi-Fi? about the company’s sustainability efforts and whether it sees a long-term future for divorces.
“I think if you have an all-in-one with all the electronics in one box and the speakers, it’s probably the least sustainable direction for a speaker,” he says.
“I think the most sustainable is probably a separate speaker super integrated with passive parallel speakers because if something goes wrong with the electronics you can change that. But there is clearly a trend towards simpler, smaller systems and we need to sort of design for that and try to account for it.”
He added that the nature of electronics means that incorporating advanced stuff like smart features can make a product obsolete as the industry is moving very fast right now. This is part of the reason why the company is considering the possibility of a modular approach, where some parts could be upgraded in the future, but has no formal announcements or plans yet.
“When we design our next platforms, whether for streaming or wirelessly active, we want to make sure we split the electronics in a way that we’re sustainable — the bits you need to upgrade can be upgraded,” he says.
Hedges added that as it stands, most of the effort is being put into designing loudspeakers to last and reducing the amount of waste generated by their packaging.
“If you have electronics, you shorten the life of a product if you’re not careful. So a lot of our attention is on the wood veneers, you know, where do they come from? Where did they come from? How do we build them? Where does the MDF of the product come from?” Hagen says.
“Then finally the packaging. And it’s the packaging. That’s the big one, because that’s the piece you often throw away. So we are moving towards removing poly end caps or polyfoams from our products.”
He added that the move was challenging as the company still needs to use packaging that is robust enough to protect the products during transit.
“It’s a tough one because it’s a really robust material for the environment where you have a 40kg speaker in a box, and we need to effectively protect against delivery drivers knocking them off the back of the truck,” he said.
“So we have to over-engineer the packaging. We’re moving towards EPE foams as fast as we can. While they’re still plastic, they’re completely thermally recyclable. So you can basically take those through the recycling chain and shape them, expand again, melt down, we expand them back into usable packaging, so it’s a closed loop.”
This article is part of Which Hi-Fi?UK’s special week-long Hi-Fi Week event. The event, which kicked off on 20 March, will see our team of experts celebrate the best of British hi-fi past and present. Make sure to keep checking our British Hi-Fi Week hub for all the latest news!
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