Monitor Audio thinks buying hi-fi separates is more sustainable long term than all-in-one systems.
The company’s technical director Michael Hedges made the claim when asked by What Hi-Fi? about the company’s sustainability efforts, and whether it sees a future for separates long-term.
“I think that it’s actually when you have an all-in-one with all of the electronics in one box, and the loudspeakers, it is probably the least sustainable direction for a loudspeaker,” he says.
“I think the most sustainable is probably a separate that’s super integrated with passive parallel speakers, because if anything goes wrong with the electronics, you can change it. But there is obviously this trend towards having simpler smaller systems and we have to sort of design for that and are trying to take it into account.”
He added that the nature of electronics means the inclusion of advanced things like smart features can age a product as the industry is currently moving very fast. This is part of the reason why the company is thinking about the possibility of a modular approach, where some parts could be upgraded in the future, but that he hasn’t any formal announcements or plans yet.
“When we design our next platforms, for streaming or wireless active we want to make sure that we split the electronics in a way that means we are sustainable – the bits that you need to upgrade are upgradeable,” he says.
Hedges went on to add that as it stands the majority of its efforts go into designing speakers that will last for a long time and in reducing the amount of waste generated by their packaging.
“When you have electronics, you decrease the lifetime of a product, if you're not careful. So a lot of our focus goes on the wood veneers, you know, where do they come from? Where were they sourced? How are we building them? Where's the MDF from on the product?” says Hedges.
“Then the packaging, finally. And it's the packaging. That's the big one because that's the bit you tend to throw away. So we are on a path to remove poly end caps or polyfoams from our products."
He added the move has been a challenge as the firm still needs to use packaging robust enough to protect the products in transit.
“It is a difficult one because it is a really robust material for the environment where you have a 40kg loudspeaker in a box, and we effectively have to protect against delivery guys knocking them off the back of the lorry,” he said.
“So we have to over-engineer the packaging. We are moving towards EPE foams as fast as we can. Although they're still plastic, they're fully thermo recyclable. So you can basically take those through the recycling chain, and form them, re-expand them, melt them down, we expand them back into usable, packaging again. So it's a closed loop.”
This article is part of What Hi-Fi?’s week-long British Hi-Fi special event. Started on 20th March, the event will see our team of experts celebrate the best of British hi-fi past and present. Make sure to keep checking out our British Hi-Fi Week hub for all the latest coverage!
These are the best speakers we've tested
Check out our picks of the best floorstanding speakers
Read our best stereo amps buyers' guide
2023 is going to be a great year for hi-fi separates, and I couldn’t be more excited