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Article: It Is The Best of Times . . . Hands Down

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Hi @joelha, I absolutely love this article. If people read only one paragraph, they must read the final one. It really hits the nail on the head, at least for me. Some of the stuff that's possible today, wasn't even a dream of mine many years ago. I remember thinking, what if Apple sold lossless audio via iTunes? That would be the most amazing thing ever. I'd never have to leave the iTunes app or my house for that matter. Now, that seems laughable. We have high resolution streaming everywhere, all the time, different versions available, different mixes available, it's really endless. 


When I think about my audiophile wish list, it has some really cool items, but none of them are moonshots. They are all doable becuase of some of the things you mentioned. 


Thanks for the article. It's great to take stock in how far things have come and the enviable position we as audiophiles are in today. I'd say that even the most fantatical objectivists and subjectivists can agree upon the items you mentioned. That's saying something!


Nice way to start the week Joel.

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50 minutes ago, botrytis said:

Older audiophiles wonder why more younger people are not into audio - the bolded statement is one of the turn offs for them.


I disagree that higher prices have anything to do with younger people not being into audio. If anything, higher prices get younger people to notice that there's something out there that's better than what they have. As a kid I could never afford Mark Levinson gear, but it made me pay attention and save my money for it. It was aspirational gear. I purchased whatever I could afford, rather than stop being interested in the hobby. 


The $13,000,000 Rolls Royce Sweptail doesn't turn me off from driving or an interest in nice cars. It makes me realize there are people / companies out there striving for something better / different, and I love it. 

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2 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

The limited budget of young people make different technologies and services compete against each other.


Same as it ever was. Not related to younger people being uninterested becuase there is expensive stuff available. 



3 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

It's Netflix vs. gaming. Vs hq audio, live music, sports etc.


Same as it ever was, just with even more options.



4 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

The outcome, in my view, is much less focussed on music and its reproduction, and the gaming side may bear as many potential audiophiles as the music side.


This is exactly what I was saying. Young people have many things competing for their interests and dollars. 



5 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

However, the major industry doesn't offer too much interesting stuff for them,


Surely you must be joking. Or perhaps I don't understand what you mean by major industry.



5 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

the good offers are from outsiders/newcomers


I don't understand this. Must new businesses remain on the "ouside" and must established businesses refrain from "good offers?"



7 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

these are discussed at Reddit and other sources more prone to be read by younger people.


This seems to say that the original premise of young people not interested, is false?



6 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

The luxury segment bears almost no value for reasonable sound quality, imho


Value is always in the eye of the beholder and doesn't have much to do with the original statement of high prices turning younger people away from HiFi.




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2 hours ago, DuckToller said:

There is a strange thing about defining value.
You may value your debts not as important, but your depth holder values them as important, and then their nominal value defines the interest which is attached to it. As soon as your personal valuation starts to differ you may enter a high interest zone, afaik.

The high priced equipment sector, which in my opinion allows the industry to be kind of “self-nurturing” (which may have good and bad sides, depending which perspective you own), is imho out of any realistic reach for reasonable audio enthusiasts from the Millennials or Gen Z generations.

However, it is a high interest zone, where consumer attach a great personal valuation on equipment for personal reasons, which aren’t necessarily function / performance related. Imho, acting in these “zones” demands one of the two prepositions:
1) You can afford the to partake in that market, or
2) you can’t afford that, but you aren’t afraid of getting indebted for your hobby.

I would assume, that if not one these conditions are met, the luxury/jewelry side of the audio industry may not be particularly interesting for audio enthusiasts on the long term. To enhance this opinion with prices/nominal values in USD: 5k cables, 20 k Dacs, 40k turntables. 50k amplifier, 100k speakers (stereo set).
For opinion leader it might be necessary to present it for a couple of reasons I may accept, though the number of hobbyists maintaining a 250k audio system seems quite limited to me. And it’s not about technology, but about reality.
It might be as interesting as the antique car collection of one of the Dukes in the Loire valley. Oh, look!

Here are the numbers on which I base my assumptions:
According to NASDAQ, the USA has a Pareto division (20/80) on personal dept. About 80 % are indebted, the average dept (w/o mortgage) is almost 40 K USD (depending on sources), and only about 15-20% of households may earn more than 200k per year (which means they could afford that debt level if they continue to have that earning). I have seen an average of 10% of available income is used for the interest rates on debts in the US in 2023. As usual,  presenting numbers that are fundamental different may perhaps solve the way we look on the problem.

Given that Gen Z and Millennials are not proportionally represented in the debt free 20 %, I may conclude that a transition for peripheral interested in this hobby towards actively interested won’t work out  through the sheer fascination of extremes (in prices, sizes and technology). Actually, as always,  my personal view on that could be wrong or uninformed …

All numbers I can read about student loans, mortgages, consumer credits, credit cards etc. are indicting that the majority of people may need their lifetime to arrive at a debt free status. Which means as well that inheritances in the future will be far from gracious to the younger generations outside the top 20 % (wrt the fact, that this is quite a positive approach, the lower half is imho already a target for the upper one for wealth transfer, but alas I could be wrong, let’s see in 2050 if I was right …)

As there is a competition of suppression on the top 20 border, the American dream for perhaps 90-95% of the lower 80 stays just an illusion and the outlook for younger generations is even bleaker. This is America, today, seen from the outside, according to available numbers. Your number and perspective may be better. You can’t imagine how much I would enjoy that you would be more correct with that than me with my less enthusiast view on the situation.

A last word:
I have the deepest respect what you have achieved personally and your way of managing/moderating this site/forum.
I may think it’s quite exceptional and far above standard. Which otoh means that this kind of achievement in my personal view is not possible for:
a) everyone
b) everyone who tries,
c) everyone with interest and experience in the field who may like to take the risk and doesn’t fear the 24/7 hard work it needs to maintain success.

I may assume: It may work only for one or two handful from all of us, or less …

Acknowledging this does mean to me as well that you may have very specific view on the topic, that naturally differs from mine. And overlaps with mine only in parts at times. All good, if we can agree on that.

You would wonder if this would work for everybody the same way. But that’s another discussion …

Happy you did it, it worked for you and hoping that you’re continuing your hard work.

And now back to the response :

Hi Tom, as always, a thoughtful and respectful reply from you. Yes, we disagree but that’s part of what makes it interesting. 

An interesting article I recently read, Millennials Set To Become The Richest Generation in History. No clue if it checks out, but it’s food for thought. 



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1 hour ago, DuckToller said:

for the ones it is important, we are discussing and presenting opinions here about equipment, music set ups etc., and I hope that I am not mistaken that a couple of readers may agree with me and I am happy that others agree with your views, too !


All good Tom. Anyone who shares an opinion about audio, in a respectful way, is welcome and will benefit the community. 





2 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Would you disagree that with this multiplying of options and the introduction of advanced technology wrt marketing/targeting customers, the available stake for young people (16-30 years) in our hobby has changed in nominal size?



I’m a bit slow often. What do you mean by “available stake?”

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10 minutes ago, DuckToller said:

As a result of having less budget available the number of young/new audiophiles pursuing the hobby may be more limited than in the 80s.

This is probably the biggest issue for all manufacturers of goods and providers of services that aren’t “needed” to stay alive. The number of things vying for discretionary spending/ disposable income is huge today. Back when many members of this community were kids, there were 3 TV stations and they didn’t even have programming overnight. 

I think stratospherically priced audio could actually be better for the industry by making people aware that it actually exists. I don’t pay much attention to Rolls Royce, but when the company announced the $13M Sweptail, I stood up, shared it with friends, and still remember it years later. 

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