Monday 16 July 2007

That crazy pricing mechanism.

At some point, I intend to buy me one of these and one of these. And I'll be very happy about it, I'm sure. As ever, that's not what I'm blogging about.

Here's the thing. In most cases, combining multiple technologies in one box lowers the price, for sound economic reasons. Simple example: compare the cost of a car with anti-lock brakes to the combined cost of a car without anti-lock brakes, a set of anti-lock brakes, and getting the latter fitted into the former. And so on.

But not here, for some reason. For those of you who didn't follow the above links, or who did but didn't understand what the gadgets do, here's an explanation.

The Behringer 1622FX is a mixing desk with an audio/USB interface. The mixing-desk bit allows you to take lots of different sound inputs and blend them together into one sound output; the interface bit allows you to transfer the end result digitally to your computer. (And, as an aside, I have to take a moment to collapse in wonder that such a thing might cost less than two hundred quid. They'll be giving them away free with digital watches soon.) As I predicted above, a mixing desk with a built-in audio/USB interface is much cheaper than a mixing desk plus a separate audio/USB interface.

The Behringer BCF2000 is, confusingly, a hardware controller for the software equivalent of a mixing desk. Mixing desks tend to exist as pretty graphics on computer-screens these days, and, while they're very powerful and brilliant in all sorts of ways, twiddling the pictures of knobs and pushing the pictures of faders with a mouse is an utter pain in the neck compared to twiddling and pushing real ones with your actual real-life fingers. That's where the BCF2000 comes in: it has proper knobs and faders on it and it has a USB interface, allowing you to control an on-screen mixing desk using your hands. Excellent.

Now, here's the key thing: both gadgets have faders and knobs; both have a USB interface. You might think there was a great opportunity here to combine the two gadgets in one: simply allow the controls on the mixing desk to double as controls for your computer. Simple. It'd save some precious space on my desk. And you might think that a gadget that combined the technology in this way would cost, at the very most, about the same as the two gadgets added together, more likely even cheaper.

Well, I've been shopping around for a while, and, as far as I can see, if I were to buy two each of the 1622FX and the BCF2000, it would still be far, far cheaper than a single device that does both jobs. The cheapest I've seen is about eight hundred quid.

This makes no sense.

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