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Are there any young audiophiles?


WoodsDweller
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Or is this hobby mostly restricted to those of a certain age group?

 

Were there audiophiles back in the 1940's? Trading in their wind-up Victrolas for the latest electric amplified mono equipment?

 

Wikipedia says that "the first stereo two-channel records were released in 1958", even though "EMI cut the first stereo test discs using the system in 1933. It was not used commercially until a quarter of a century later." "In the UK, Decca Records began taping in stereo in mid-1954. In the early 1950s, companies such as Concertapes and RCA Victor began releasing stereophonic recordings on two-track prerecorded reel-to-reel magnetic tape. Serious audiophiles, the sort of people who would later be called "early adopters", bought them, and stereophonic sound came to at least some living rooms."

 

"After several years of experimental stereo broadcasts, and six competing systems, the Federal Communications Commission announced stereophonic FM technical standards in April 1961, and licensed regular stereophonic FM radio broadcasting to begin in the United States on June 1, 1961."

 

Were there really many audiophiles prior to the 1960's and the advent of stereo? That might place the head of the "audiophile wave" at people born around 1920 or so.

 

Are there any readers here under age 30? I'm curious. I posted elsewhere about a Stanford professor who tests his students every year, and every year more of them prefer MP3 to higher-quality formats. In other words, sound quality is not a priority for them. Whatever sound quality they get from their various playback equipment is "good enough" for them.

 

If you take the 25 years from the introduction of stereo to the introduction of the CD, there were huge improvements in the quality of home audio. In the 25 years since then there have been significant improvements, such as 5.1 surround, but diminishing returns seem to have set in. I wonder if that is reflected in the number of people who are focused on getting the best sound quality. Maybe the number of audiophiles started to drop off in the 80s, which would place the trailing edge of the "audiophile wave" at people born around 1970 or so.

 

What do you think? Is there a 50-year wave of audiophiles who provided a market for improved audio quality, but now the industry is being driven by more convenient playback at static (or even declining) quality levels?

 

16/44.1 source material, ripped via EAC to WAV. Linux (Fedora 10) machine -> USB -> Headroom Desktop Headphone Amp (Max DAC, Max module) -> Sennheiser HD650

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I am going to be brave and make my own observations and be liable to criticisims.

 

It would seem that the current music wave is ipod related (as the music server) and over time people may consider a hi-fi system and audiophile quality.

 

Keep on Upgrading!!!

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WoddsDweller,

 

I'm not sure about audiophiles, but there was a thriving HiFi community in the forties. I have a copy of the 1958 fifth edition of Gilbert Briggs book 'Loudspeakers' - the first edition was published in 1948. He dates the increased interest in quality music reproduction to the end of the second World War - interestingly one of the reasons he states is the large number of ex-servicemen with radio & electronics skills.

 

Max

-

 

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Significantly under 30 here.

 

I'd hazard that many audiophiles are older because they have higher paying jobs.

 

Also, if students prefer mp3s because it is what they're used to, then I'll agree with the above post; people just like what they're used to and there are a lot of cheap inexpensive mp3 players out there. I didn't read the article, but I'd bet that they controlled for everything but file quality and therefore used the same system for playback. What makes way more difference than file quality is whether or not you're listening to $100 computer speakers or even an entry level hi-fi system (probably $1500 ish). The people listening to mp3s wouldn't move to higher quality files without higher quality systems. I know that I bought good equipment before switching from mp3s because it didn't make any sense to do otherwise.

 

I think that the field is still advancing. Just look at Steve N. and Ashley James. Great strides forward for computer audio and sound quality in general. IMO, the industry is still alive and kicking, it just might be a little down at the moment but will come back once computer audio really gets going because it will integrate what young people already use for playback with good sound.

 

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I'm curious how much people actually think HiFi buying has changed in reality.

 

I'm in my early 30s, so this is based on my experience.

 

When I was younger, up to and including being a student, I went through a succession of cassette players and lo-fi record players, then latterly Midi systems with CD player and then (god please forbid me) a CD "getto blaster". Obviously I have none here today, but I would think my iPod with a £100-£150 speaker dock would out perform them easily.

 

As I grew older and got my own place, I first bought low end from Richer Sounds - £100-£150 each for Amp, CD players and speakers. Then progressed through higher end up to my current system of B&W CDM 7NT speakers, a Musical Fidelity A1008 integrated amp and Mac / iTunes.

 

The thing with modern times (apart from them being rubish) is that no longer do the same shops that sell big screen TVs sell medium end HiFi. You can't walk into Currys or Comet, and come out with a 42" plasma, AND also a reasonable Technics HiFi system and Mission speakers. No that isn't a high end system ... but gave people a taster of what they could have.

 

Maybe the world is just moving on and people see visual medium as more important. A shame as far as I'm concerned as I notice high end audio a lot more than Full Hi-Def video.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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There's a big change going on. But nothing's changing.

 

If you go to a hi-fi show, the same faces keep appearing, just a little older, a little more gray and a bit more deaf. These people have been going to hi-fi shows since they were in their 20s and 30s. Unfortunately, that was 20 or 30 years ago. They tend not to buy much, just replacements to products uneconomic to repair, but just want to reconfirm what they bought all those years ago is still 'as good as it gets'. Even if it isn't.

 

This is why there's a lot of inertia in giving up 'legacy' formats and why there will be a backlash against computer audio any day now. The manufacturers and magazines are getting wise to this revolution at last; the 'punters' will cling to their CD players for longer than is necessary just because they fear change.

 

There's also a small, but growing, band of younger people getting interested in high-quality music reproduction once more. Then, there are products like the AudioSmile Kensai loudspeakers, designed by people a generation younger than the average hi-fi show goer. These people aren't hidebound by tradition, or demand the world to stick to 1985 time.

 

vel, Zaphod\'s chust zis guy, you know.

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In the acoustic era, you used to have people arguing over which type of needles to use for best sound. When Belll Labs worked out the proper design of acoustic horns in 1925, and brought the technology for electric recording to the recording industry, many people were quite taken by the new quality of sound. There were local record societies, people had record concerts, and so forth. In the 1930s, audiophiles (then known as phonophiles) kept the industry afloat buying expensive classical albums, some by subscription only. RCA brought out "higher fidelity" sets and recordings in the late 1930s, and some people bought pro equipment from Altec and the like--in part an extension of amateur radio.

 

World War II was key--giving many people experience with electronics, plus V-discs (special recordings made for Army broadcast that were on vinyl) and in 1944, Decca (UK) introduced ffrr, which brought 78s to 10,000 hertz. After the war there was an explosion of interest in sound, which really took off with the introduction of the LP in 1948. By 1952, according to industry estimates, there were 1 million hi-fis in the U.S.

 

As to today's youth, worry not. There will always be plenty of people cementing their connection to music and technology through the pursuit of high quality sound.

 

People tend to prefer what they are used to, so it is no surprise if people are forming an emotional connection to music with mp3 artifacts, they will in any short term comparison tend to pick what they know and love. That's how taste works. Similarly, in the 1940s, several studies by Chinn and Eisenberg showed the listeners preferred limited high frequencies (as they were used to hearing on the radio) to higher fidelity sound. That was true even of subscribers to the Yankee Radio Network, which broadcast in (relatively) high fidelity on FM--unless the comparisons were sighted.

 

If you've ever auditioned gear, perhaps you've noticed how what you have at home often sounds "better" than what you audition in a shop--in part because you are habituated to the sound of your room, in part due to the gear. But then if you take a piece home and let it (i.e. your ears) "break in" then it achieves that comfort level and may please you more than what you had.

 

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I am only 23 so I am young for an audiophile. I agree with the higher payed older age statement. An example of the kind of questions I get from my age group is why spend money on a better system when you have a nearly full I-pod with Lady GaGa's latest album via the Itunes store you blare at your college party through the Sony boom box at distortedly loud levels? O_o They would rather buy a 12-pack of Natural Light. I'm glad I got over that quickly.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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... If no one else has said it (I haven't seen it) - Welcome to Computer Audiophile!

 

Me too - I'm the double nickel too and feel quite young ... at times. A lot of times, I still wonder what I'm going to be when I grow up!

 

Don't think I'm an "audiophile" though. I always choose less expensive ways to get to where I want to go than is the apparent norm in audiophile-land. I'm some sort of audio-hybrid who knows what great sound is, and can achieve it at home (and actually on the road.....) with a reasonable amount of regularity.

 

I've got to admit that right now I am lusting after the Magico Ultimate speakers that Chris got to listen to this last weekend. Lookie: http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/magico/magico.html - even if I hit the lottery, I don't think that I would be able to afford these.

 

To the OP: My father was pursuing 'Hi-Fi', the mono version, when I was brought into this world (1953) or soon thereafter. He was another of the war era (Korean) veterans with tech knowledge who built his own stuff - which sounded great. I know a few chronologically young wannabe audiophiles, but they don't make enough money to be able to even afford to build it themselves.... EXCEPT by using computers and using headphones. I too have faith that they will persevere to the end.

 

markr

 

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I'm 49 now, but have been an audiophile since I was about 18 or 19, having been introduced to quality audio by a college roommate. Before I'd even graduated from college, I'd managed to scrape together enough spare cash to own a used pair of Acoustat 3s, and a DIY Hafler DH-250 kit. One roommate had a JVC table with Magnepan arm and Grado, another had an NAD 3020 used as a preamp, and the whole thing sounded amazing in the spacious living room of our rented house.

 

When we'd throw parties, there would always be a gaggle of people listening enraptured from the couch within a few minutes after we started playing the first LP. Part of that had to do with the liberal intake of intoxicating substances, I'm sure, but mostly people just had no idea an audio system could sound like that. And mostly, they still don't. High-end audio, with its specialized lingo, specialized stores, lack of focus (not lack of availability) on reasonably priced solutions, and (unfortunately) significant percentage of snake-oil content, just doesn't do a good job of marketing itself.

 

 

 

 

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In all seriousness, I believe a percentage of the current younger generation will evolve into audiophiles, as did some of us.

 

During the late 60's we were shoehorning 8-track players into our cars and using aftermarket speakers with way underpowered amps. The sound was atrocious, but we didn't care, nor were we deterred. Then the cassette tape came along in the early 70's (thank God the 8-track was short lived) and our music became truly portable for the first time. The number of FM radio stations exploded during this time, allowing greater exposure to the incredible music of that era. (For you younger readers, radio stations were pretty incredible back then). And the Live music was affordable!

 

Was I an audiophile back then? If you include "love of music" in the definition, a definite yes. If you include the sonic capabilities of my systems, no. But I was trying. The thing I had working against me, and I would have to include almost all twenty somethin's both then and now, is lack of awareness, knowledge, and cash. I didn't have my first true "audiophile" system until I was 31.

 

We older audiophiles sometimes denigrate mp3's, but what did we listen to when we were younger- 8-track cartridges and cassette tapes and vinyl played with the most God-awful cartridges. Sonically not much, if any, better. Signs are good for the young audiophile: we are already seeing interest in this forum (this thread being an example), higher bit-rate mp3's, the Apple Store offering higher bit-rates, the number of HD downloadable web sites and a new interest in vinyl (sorry). These young people, as we did, will become more aware, knowledgeable, and not so cash strapped. And they, too, will join that ever rotating downward spiral of cash sucking, wife arguing, time consuming, audiophillia neurosis.

 

All this coming from an ex-twenty somethin' shit-kickin', beer guzzlin', !ot smokin, free lovin, concert going, bar hoppin', redneckin' soon to become an audiophile.

Don't let the long hair fool you.

Aaron H.

 

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And, when you up-and-coming young audiophiles get married, don't let your spouse deter you from your passion. Stand firm like i did.

It only cost me a new kitchen, appliances, and her "own" room to get away from me and my "always too loud" music.

 

I really don't have long hair, but I did.

Aaron H.

 

 

 

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I'm 32 but I've enjoyed HiFi as a hobby of sorts since my freshman year of college in '95. I've always loved music and wanted a killer stereo so after working a couple of full-time summer jobs I bought my first CD player (yes I was 13 years late to the party) and decent system. It was awesome! My first CD was "Anthology 1" by The Beatles. My uncle and I used to sit for hours listening to the studio recordings as well as outtakes on bootlegs so here was a legit behind-the-scenes glimpse to the boys working their magic with great sound quality. He always had a decent system and had a nearfield setup and point out all of the little things they'd do on their recordings that you'd have to actually listen for. My goal became to put together a stereo that would allow me to hear even MORE deeply into my favorite recordings.

 

Anyway, the music's always come first and I was stuck in the "audiophile" upgrade carousel for a while. I subscribed to Audio, Stereo Review, Listener, Sound N Vision, Stereophile, The Absolute Sound and would pick up issued of What HiFi? and HiFi Choice regularly along with copies of NME, Q, Uncut, Rolling Stone and Tracks (now Paste).

 

It got to a point where my equipment was worth more than my car and my music collection combined, all components on the legendary Recommend List, yet I found myself listening to the music, enjoying the music less and less. Instead I was listening for all of the typical audiophile nonsense that they talked about in equipment reviews and my favorite music didn't sound so hot. I finally put together a demo CD of my favorite songs and went to four different shops and listened to everything in my price range.

 

Nearly my entire system changed over the first few months after graduation and many on the other audio messageboards said I was downgrading or making a lateral move at best but for me it was an upgrade. My music, primarily rock music from the 60's-present, shined much more on my current system than it had on the recommended audiophile gear. I was back to listening for hours on end and enjoying the music again. IT WAS ABOUT THE MUSIC AGAIN.

 

Now I'm ditching the CD player for a music-server based system. After years of defaming the iPod and MP3's I broke down and bought one. We were (are) down to one good FM radio station in the Philly market and even it could get tiring. The attraction of having my entire CD collection at work was appealing and the convenience of the iPod (and AppleTV) have had a big impact on HOW I listen to music.

 

Sadly, the limiting factor as far as High Fidelity goes these days is the software, not the format or the gear. Well before MP3's came along and exploded the Loudness Wars were underway in modern day music and things haven't gotten any better since. Perhaps someday if my music tastes change my gear will as well but for now I'm quite happy with what I've got.

 

Bill

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Mac Mini->Roon + Tidal->KEF LS50W

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The young audiophiles all hang out at Head-Fi. The average age is somewhere in the 23 range.

 

IIRC, it's the biggest audiophile forum on the net hands down. So there are a lot more young'uns than you might think. They're just all listening through headphones.

 

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Thanks for the welcome. Actually, I've been around awhile, just haven't posted for awhile. I guess the "objectionists" made me feel insecure (sniff sniff).

But now that they are gone, might be more posts in the future.

 

I have read many of your posts and you are an audiophile. We all have budgets. We all have different goals with our systems. We all have different priorities. I guess the main thing is to always keep it in perspective and have fun with it. And above all, it's about the music.

 

Maybe time to let the hair down?

Aaron H.

 

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That's a very good point, Axon. It really is a pretty dynamic forum, and it's logical that the iPod generation would look to 'phones as both familiar and far more affordable than high-end stereo. Even I am almost as excited waiting for my Senn HD-800s to show up as I was my Magico V3s - though 'phones will never work as well for my beloved orchestral music as the best speakers do, they're great for lots of smaller ensemble stuff while parked in front of my computer working.

 

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As a possible member of da yout', I've never actually owned a speaker system that I would consider remotely acceptable. I started listening to music (and to classical!) when I was about 9, and it's been headphones only from that point on. They're just too high quality and too cheap to pass up.

 

That said, I've been off the upgrade wagon for phones on the better part of a decade now, and my wife really needs a better audio setup for her studio....

 

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... after listening to you guys here, that a prerequisite of being a true audiophile is to be young. Not necessarily chronologically, but mentally. Looks that way to me from here. Huh! Audio 'Cocoon'.

 

 

 

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... and I was aiming for good sound on my computer starting in 1996 when I first laid hands on Sound Forge 4.0. During childhood I grew up with Compact Cassettes and Vinyl records. During puberty I embraced the fascination of a CD player my parents purchased in 1987. From a neighbour my parents borrowed a "Test-CD": it was "Time Warp" from TELARC. Though I now know that this wasn´t a test CD it certainly made clear how good music would sound. Aside from the sound I was fascinated by the technical details TELARC wrote into the booklet. No other CDs my parents had made this technical information available. It was also the first time I was infected with music for movies (especially Jerry Goldsmith).

 

I was 12 years old at that time. But my desire for good sound went dormant for a while, I purchased CD and Vinyl alike (mostly because of money I chose the cheaper vinyl). My first Vinyl was Ofra Haza´s "Shaday", my first CD Don Johnson´s "Let it roll". Both are still existing. A visit to London in 1990 made me buy a TELARC cassette (!) - which looked and felt better than any other pre-recorded cassette at that time. And again: the technical information in the booklet. Why would anyone write something like that into a booklet? I figured they must have taken sound reproduction serious. I began to collect Erich-Kunzel-CD´s along with film scores and sometimes the occasional pop CD. In 1995 I purchased a Pioneer CD-player equipped with "Legato Link" which aimed to extend the frequency responce to 44.100 Hz by imaging frequencies. I was disappointed, the sound was awful. At the same time I´ve read about some DAT-recorders from Pioneer being able to record in 96 kHz. TELARC was recording in 20 Bit at that time - I dreamt about combining these two to 24/96. Mind you, that was in 1995. I thought, that this would improve sound!

 

In 1997 I stopped collecting Erich-Kunzel - the music was getting boring despite the good sound. It was just too easy listening for me compared to the originals. One year before that I started to try "remastering" some older CDs to make them sound better. I dreamt about original 24/96 but in that time this was still far away. In 1999 I fully embraced Surround Sound with a good speaker set (my first real speaker set) and a surround receiver from Sony (STR-DB 830 QS). I continued to "remaster" some pieces or complete CDs with my slow PC, monitoring sound with a Sony headphone - all in 16/44.1. I discovered GoldWave, WaveLab... I found out that music played over a HDD sounded better than the original CD it came from. Quite something...

 

When I now listen to some of these "remasterings" I do think "Gosh, you should´ve aimed for a BETTER sound - not some "pumped-up" sound. Early mistakes, I think. If something sounded better than before it was just pure luck. In March 2005 I purchased my first laptop (still in use today, running flawlessly & fast with Windows 7) AND my first 24/96 capable sound interface, the cheap Creative Soundblaster Live! 24Bit USB External. I began remastering with upsampled 24/96 and kept it that way, trying new resamplers every year (it took me a few weeks to figure out that the internal resampler from Creative was crap and that the XP kernel didn´t help it either). In 2005 I also purchased my Sennheiser HD-600 which took the place of my older HD-580. In the same year a friend of mine pointed me to organ music, specifically to a TELARC recording of Michael Murray "César Franck - Complete Masterworks for Organ". Still a wonderful recording. It re-sparked my interest in TELARC and other audiophile recordings (TELARC is not always audiophil). Now I began to collect organ music, at first from TELARC, then from MDG. Along the way I got interersted in other classical music, buying and buying...

 

With more TELARC-CDs I wanted to have more, more and more. I abandoned Surround in 2006 - it became boring - and returned to Stereo (I still have the Sony receiver - a trusty workhorse). My Creative interface wasn´t perfect anymore, because of some forum I knew that my headphone needed to be powered properly (the interface wasn´t providing enough and the Sony-Amp also made everything wrong). Now my goal is to have the best sound possible and to re-create 24/96 as much as possible from 16/44.1 - and as I´ve said it before, you can achieve around 60-70% of the original sound if you do it right. When I "remaster" something now (now I´m getting arrogant) I´m quite good at it. It´s subtle, tasteful and skilled - and in 70% better than the original. I know, quite a claim.

 

Since 1993 I use a green or black marker for the edges of a CD or DVD, and yes, I still believe in it. I also wash my CDs & DVDs (which by the way prevented my "Silence of the Lamb"-DVD from "rotting"). I believe in 24/96 or DSD - but now I know that it is not a cure, only a way to offer better way of producing music. I believe in the Hypersonic effect. Now I use a combination of a E-MU 0202 USB and a headphone amp from Corda.

 

Does this all make me an audiophile? I don´t know. I know a lot about technical facts and rumours about sound reproduction. If I can try them myself and actually hear a benefit, I use them for my advantage. I still buy CDs - a lot of them. Sometimes I also buy a Vinyl record but most of the time I prefer digital media. Orchestras are sounding just awful on Vinyl. Music is my hobby as is music reproduction. With the PC I experienced a wonderful machine that (though not optimized for music) plays everything to the wall I previously owned. I´ve never heard music better than now. When I play music over loudspeakers or on my mobile MP3 player sound is not that important. It is of course important but I know that at home I have superior means to fully enjoy sound and music, so mobile playing is not so important.

 

I consider myself an audiophile. I at least know that I have good taste when it comes to sound. But I´ll never be that arrogant and say I´m better than others who are not that much into sound as I am. Audiophiles are something of an elitist group - we (them?) are sometimes forgetting to connect to what is realistic. The question for me therefore is: is it good to be an audiophile? I began like everyone else. I still don´t know why I was so particular fascinated by the technical information TELARC gave in their booklets. I guess in the end it all comes down to a matter of taste.

 

Oh... sorry for writing so much.

 

E-MU 0202 USB wired with Monster USB Cable --> Audioquest King Cobra --> (sometimes) Corda Arietta --> Sennheiser HD-600

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Markr, as a side note I find it pretty interesting that the source used with the Magico M5 speakers at CES 2009 that blew alot of listeners away was a music server with the Pacific Microsonics DAC and the word "revolutionary" was thrown out there. I think we are on the right path with computers.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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Hi David - Wow, what timing! Over the weekend I flew to the San francisco bay area and went to lunch and dinner a few times with the person who created the music server used in the Magico suite at CES. I spent some time talking with him and I have to say nobody is doing what he is doing. His music server is far beyond anything else I've every seen. I also listened to that server in an amazing configuration at the Magico office with three Pacific Microsonics Model Two DACs and the Magico Ultimate speakers. I've never had a listening experience like that in my life.

 

MahlerFreak - Those Magico V3s are a fabulous speaker as well. You wouldn't believe all the engineering talent that goes into making a Magico speaker. Plus, the materials Magico uses are second to none. Nice choice!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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David, I don't have any doubt that audio on computers are the path forward. Some won't follow along, but they will be the minority. It is a pretty exciting future.

 

Chris - glad you made it back safely. Hopefully no plane transfer mishaps on the way back..... 8^)

 

Hear here - markr

 

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