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Cultural Death of Hi-Fi


GUTB
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Steorophile published and interview with a New York City dealer startup who is attempting to capture the interest of young New Yorkers by hosting many live events in their showroom spaces:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/noho-sound-intends-revolutionize-high-end-audio-retailing

 

The comments in this article are interesting. There is a lot of overt and barely-veiled skepticism about NoHo's chances at making it.

 

Here's the thing: anyone who attends audio shows knows that only middle-aged men and older attend them. If you see women they are the wives of the middle-aged men.

 

AXPONA:

13041340_1126631374047619_86090045108160

RMAF:

rocky-mountain-audio-fest-11-of-54.jpg

Munich:

high_end_munich_2016_crowds.jpg

 

If you see younger men, it's probably in the headphone section. I said "men" because women appear entirely uninterested in hi-fi.

 

Instead of hi-fi, young people are interested in turntables setups as retro-kitsch decor. These things don't sound good, and their owners will eventually grow out of it as they move, get married, etc and those collections will end up on eBay or in storage.

 

So, guys, what's going on? Is that young people are growing up with very poor spending power so they lose interest in things that they can't attain? Is it because modern pop music is so awful, that interest in hi-fi is never sparked to begin with? How does the industry and media bridge the gap -- can the gap be bridged? Is hi-fi just going to die and there's nothing anyone can do about it? Should we just be happy in our niche while it still shows a pulse?

 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, GUTB said:

Steorophile published and interview with a New York City dealer startup who is attempting to capture the interest of young New Yorkers by hosting many live events in their showroom spaces:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/noho-sound-intends-revolutionize-high-end-audio-retailing

 

The comments in this article are interesting. There is a lot of overt and barely-veiled skepticism about NoHo's chances at making it.

 

Here's the thing: anyone who attends audio shows knows that only middle-aged men and older attend them. If you see women they are the wives of the middle-aged men.

 

AXPONA:

13041340_1126631374047619_86090045108160

RMAF:

rocky-mountain-audio-fest-11-of-54.jpg

Munich:

high_end_munich_2016_crowds.jpg

 

If you see younger men, it's probably in the headphone section. I said "men" because women appear entirely uninterested in hi-fi.

 

Instead of hi-fi, young people are interested in turntables setups as retro-kitsch decor. These things don't sound good, and their owners will eventually grow out of it as they move, get married, etc and those collections will end up on eBay or in storage.

 

So, guys, what's going on? Is that young people are growing up with very poor spending power so they lose interest in things that they can't attain? Is it because modern pop music is so awful, that interest in hi-fi is never sparked to begin with? How does the industry and media bridge the gap -- can the gap be bridged? Is hi-fi just going to die and there's nothing anyone can do about it? Should we just be happy in our niche while it still shows a pulse?

 

 

 

 

What's going on is that, as you say, youngsters, for the most part simply aren't interested in SQ. There are many reasons for this, but among them are that few youngsters have any interest in, or knowledge of, classical music. Bringing the concert hall experience into the listener's home has always been the major goal of High-Fidelity. Today's music is all studio produced, using electronic instruments (mostly) and so the concert hall experience is pretty irrelevant. This lack of interest and knowledge in classical music, I blame on the US education system. Starting in the 1970's schools started eliminating subjects from the curricula that the bean counters considered of marginal value in "educating" our young. One of the first things to go was any form of music appreciation. Granted, 90% of all the kids who found themselves in a music appreciation class, hated it, but the point is that hated or not, these kids were, at least, exposed to classical music. The other 10% found that they liked it and a lot of them became audiophiles. I've a friend who's 19 year old son once told me that he saw no point in Hi-Fi at all! He can listen to his music on his iPhone through his ear buds and get everything out of it that he wants to hear anywhere he wants to hear it. I gather that this is a common attitude.

 

The next problem, as I see it, is that the audio hobby has a very bad reputation amongst the general population. The prices that much of this equipment carry, are off-putting enough, but the various tweaks and rituals that audiophiles are known for often seem downright nuts to the average joe. Speaker wire that costs eighty grand!!??, Lifts to keep that eighty grand worth of cable off the floor!!???, Specially treated clocks plugged into the wall to reduce noise? Mains cables costing thousands of dollars and are the size of a baby's leg? These things get out into the general population and generate a lot of tongue clicking and head shaking.

 

Finally, it's the fact that Hi-Fi is seen as a hobby for middle-aged and older men. Kids see that demographic as being something with which they simply do not want to be associated. "You're interested in Hi-Fi? That's an old man's hobby, why would you want to be associated with anything like that?"

George

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Smartphones!  This is where the vast majority of music is consumed by younger adults.  Ripping CDs in the 90s and early 2000s caused the birth of the DAP and the music market has never been the same since.

 

Let me put it another way:  Imagine any Hi-Fi show where there's a lecture on something most of us would find interesting.  Something like "DSP vs. physical room treatments:  Which is better?"

 

I imagine all the younger people looking at their phones the whole time during that seminar.  Hi-Fi is just TL;DR to them.

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1 hour ago, GUTB said:

So, guys, what's going on?

 

Right there in the second sentence. "...by appointment only..."

 

If I'm a young person with limited resources, that right there is going to make me assume that they wouldn't want my business.

 

My local hi-fi shop (Gig Harbor Audio) also has movie nights, live music events, equipment demos, wine tastings, etc. But I can also just walk in and browse the vinyl or ask to listen to any of the equipment any time I want.

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What I got from the article is that they're just another boutique shop that caters to big $ young adults who demand the "luxury retail experience".  Plenty of places like that these days to buy a Rolex or Omega, a luxury car, or fashion clothing. It's expected now.  NoHo just realized the level of suck-up needed to make the sale to this demographic has changed - dramatically.  Except that they call suck-up "relationships" and "fun".

 

99% or more of young people today aren't in this demographic, so I wouldn't call this a movement to bring audio to the young.  But perhaps the parties are an opportunity for extremely attractive young single ladies to become "interested" in "audio".

 

FWIW, my daughter has attended AXPONA with me for 3 or 4 years now.  She's 21.  While she does a lot of listening on her phone, she has a decent home system.

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My wife comes from a very large 9 sibling family. She has at last count about 30 nieces and nephews. We get together once a year for family reunion. 

 

Not one of them is an audiophile. Not one of them has ever heard of Tidal. One owns a turntable which she bought for $25 on Craigslist. She buys records for cover display. None of them care a wit about high fidelity. They go to live concerts where they have to wear hearing protection because the sound system is oppressively loud. They get their music over their telephones.

 

I wish the folks at NoHo luck. As an ex NYC person I can appreciate the criticism to "the attitude" of NYC retailers. However, they seem to me elitist in a different way. I visit NYC about once a year but I can't see myself ever phoning for an appointment. Perhaps it is because I am out of the age group that they are targeting. Their whole schtick is offensive to me.

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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everything has to be validated according to its appeal to retirees because they are a large demographic who are careless with how they spend their children's inheritance.  ;)

 

Speaking as someone who isn't quite so old as to have forgotten youth.  What good is a damn stereo costing more than a college education.  The long term cost of which is already going to kill any chance of owning a home or starting a family?  Oh right, this is just a plea for trust funder's to drop easily attained cash on easily attained goods for easily attained associations with adulthood.  

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Picture quality appeals to youth, strange isn’t it. They can buy a 1k tv with poor sound and still be very happy. I think it has something to do with awareness, not knowing the importance of good sound. It goes for men and women, young and old by the way.

 

When “unaware” people come to my place to watch a movie with the sound through my stereo, they’re always drawn into the movie, without knowing what the sound does to them.

 

Once you becone aware, a can of worms opens ?

 

 

 

 

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This isn't cultural death. Everyday devices are improving sound quality rapidly. My laptop's internal sound card has much better sound than Dragonfly Black. Only lacking is loudness. People won't need to buy audio gadgets separately, except headphones and earphones. In 10 years time, internal sound card will sound much better than now. Why should I have extra gadgets?

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Hi-fi is more accessible than its ever been, so we’re not even talking about large sums of money. Around $1k will get you in the door today. That’s the price of a decent TV or laptop. But if you go onto Reddit or Youtube you’ll see people showing off their sub-$300 turntables, not even bothering to put thier cheap speakers in position for stereo listening. It’s very evident that these are just lifestyle accessories and not for actual audio entertainment. 

 

So, is the answer — just don’t worry about it? Should dealers just go straight to Hell and take thier markups with them? At some point in thier lives will they learn about the beauty of a naturally talented and impeccably trained human voice? The sound of real instruments? The grandeur of a symphony orchestra?

 

 

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12 hours ago, new_media said:

 

Right there in the second sentence. "...by appointment only..."

 

If I'm a young person with limited resources, that right there is going to make me assume that they wouldn't want my business.

 

My local hi-fi shop (Gig Harbor Audio) also has movie nights, live music events, equipment demos, wine tastings, etc. But I can also just walk in and browse the vinyl or ask to listen to any of the equipment any time I want.

 

I agree in part with you.

 

The reason why I see some " shops" that are open by appointment only is that many of these are just hobby shops. A person with a full or partime job that also is a distributor/point of sales for a few audio brands. No one gets rich selling audio. All the good audio stores I know are an one or two person shop.

[br]

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6 hours ago, beerandmusic said:

younger men are too busy chasing younger women....living an active life, and working to make ends meet.

Free time is reserved for sex, parties, and laundry, and funds are reserved for sex, parties, and laundry....i miss the old days....

 

Lol, of all things young men spend their money and time on, laundry is one of the top 3 priorities you think. Things may have changed sines than I was younger....

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