The Lexicon Oppo Fiasco
In light of the recent podcast and the Audioholics article on the Lexicon/Oppo debacle, I can’t help but think back on some of things I expected to find in this business when I got into it. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to demonize a lot of the people you read (or watch, or hear about). They become caricatures of real people. They are malicious or stupid or conniving or nefarious… the list goes on. But when you meet them, they tend to be just like you – humans trying to do their best with what they have. There are always extenuating circumstances, always reasons, always a bunch of behind the scene stuff you don’t know. That if you only knew, you’d understand.
I’m wondering what those are at Lexicon and THX.
Those two are in serious damage control mode right now. They both messed up. They know they did and they know they got caught. It is moments like these that I’m proud I work at Audioholics. There have been reviews out there of the Lexicon BD-30 where they obviously didn’t open the chassis. The didn’t compare it to the Oppo. They suggest they had both units in at the same time but if that’s true, how could they NOT notice that they are the same player? It is literally just a few screws before you figure it out. So either they are liars and they didn’t have both units or they are incompetent.
But do consumers of Lexicon products really care? I’m sure they would if then knew but most of them probably never will. They are too busy with their high power and high dollar jobs to research home theater equipment (sure, a generalization but probably an apt one). They have people to do that for them. And they really are getting a good player – it’s just not $3000 better than the Oppo BDP-83.
Who is really on the hot seat here is THX. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for THX. They’ve done a lot for the industry and while I don’t necessarily like paying more for THX branded products, I do think certification is a good thing. It guarantees performance. It gives consumers confidence that the product will perform as advertised.
That’s in jeopardy now.
Regardless of their protestations, THX passed a player that didn’t live up to their own bass management specs. We noted that when we reviewed the Oppo BDP-83. And thank goodness for us that it didn’t because that was like a thumbprint for the player. When the Lexicon BD-30 measured exactly the same, it was very easy for us to say, “Not only does it look like the same player – it IS the same player!”
THX is not a manufacturer. They can’t put out another product and say, “See, we did better this time.” They are a reputation. They live and die on it. And on this occasion, they’ve fallen on their own petard. While this will not, in any way, sink THX, it is a blemish. You need to look no further than the redaction of any mention of the Lexicon player from their site to know they feel the same.
From a personal standpoint, I want to congratulate Gene and Clint. Not for finding out that Lexicon dropped an Oppo into a Lexicon chassis – you could practically see that from the pictures. But for having the courage to bring it to the world. In this economy, every potential advertiser has to be cultivated. Every possible revenue stream has to be explored. The last thing anyone wants to do is to alienate two of the better known names in the industry (THX is probably one of the best known names).
But that’s exactly what they did.
That takes courage. The question is, what will Lexicon and THX do now? My guess – not much of anything. THX will retract the certification or make Lexicon resubmit. Depending on how the certification process/legalese works, they may be stuck and will simply downplay it from their side. Lexicon probably has little to worry about overall for reasons I’ve already stated. But it is times like these that revitalizes us at Audioholics. We love this stuff. The Skype’s have been flying, we’ve been on the phone with each other all day, and we’re giddy as schoolgirls before the prom. Today was a good day. I’m almost sorry it had to come at the expense of another. Nah, not really. I know there are more than a few that have had a good day at my expense. Karma’s a bitch and today it was my turn.