In a world now dominated by mass-produced, robot-assembled, injection-moulded plastic products, it is always refreshing to find a handcrafted product somewhere.
To many, especially those who are driven to the edge by mere profits, big equals better. To be big, it has to come at a price, and a dear one at that. Some companies press third-party manufacturers to mass produce products at cut-throat prices, invariably also driving labor costs down, and bringing sadness to the many would labor for very little.
At the same time, I dislike this notion of “planned obsolescence”, which basically means something you buy today, would become unusable or spoilt in a finite period of time, say one or two years. Through constant wear-and-tear, these products would reach the end of their usefulness, and then we have to buy a new replacement again. It is again, a by-product of an economy driven by mere profits.
It is therefore very refreshing to find a handcrafted product now and then. These products are typically not mainstream, but are appreciated by those who venture far and deep enough to find these products. And many of these products are beautifully made, and perform very well too.
I have always dabbled with sound and sights, and have been in photography and videography, and even broadcast journalism and podcasting at some points of my life. Sights and sounds are what bring forth emotive experiences for many of us.
To a filmmaker using hybrid videography equipment, one of the things we have learned is that while many modern cameras have evolved superlatively to produce great visual images and footages, the sound is often the Achilles’ heel. To a podcaster, musician, or independent voiceover talent, the sound recording equipment is the weakest link that potentially separates all the creativity and talents from reaching effectively to the outside world.
Therefore, not many consumers look at microphones seriously, and may even scorn at what seems like exorbitant prices for the premium microphones. The reality is that premium microphones sometimes can cost more than the DSLRs or mirrorless cameras or video cameras may cost, and the sound recording may make the subtle and yet discernible difference to the eventual video or film.
I am merely a hobbyist and occasional semi-professional videographer, because the social media environment fueled this demand. The world has moved on from print and even audio, to the spectrum of video. So I have rekindled my interest in videography in 2011, and started to research and experiment various audio and video equipment to see what may suit my commercial and hobby needs, and fit my budgets.
For desktop recording, I settled on a Blue Microphone recently, which is what I can afford, and works great for my needs. However, and pardon my utter ignorance, I just came across JZ Microphones, a Latvian company with a name-sake microphone designer Juris Zarins. I saw their online video about how they make their microphones – by hand. It is a fascinating video, and from the prices of their microphones, I can see why they command those prices. I would buy one if I can afford it, and need to.
In today’s world, no matter how connected it is, and how much social media and the Web has shrunk the world, it is still accommodating and large enough to embrace businesses of all shapes and sizes. Some may have great ambitions to colonize the planet with a shop in every village and town. Some may simply want to craft products lovingly and serve those customers they can, growing organically and slowly.
In a largely outsourced and plasticized world we live in, I find it refreshing and inspirational to find a small business that still does things the old-fashioned way, and thrive at that. I am glad I share this same ideology with kindred spirits. Who says small cannot be beautiful?